CEDAR RAPIDS – Tony Oliva turned 75 last week. He looks great, felt good enough to drink a beer in the press box during last night’s Cedar Rapids Kernels game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The former Minnesota Twins great obviously knows how to take care of himself. Part of that must be living stress free.
Oliva was asked what his reaction was to Milwaukee Brewers all-star Ryan Braun being suspended this week by Major League Baseball for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the whole Biogenesis thing that surely will cause more player suspensions.
“You know, if you think about that (too hard), you have too much of a headache,” Oliva said. “Really, I don’t think about it (much).”
In town for a prayer breakfast this morning, Oliva stopped by the ballpark to watch the Kernels beat Peoria, 6-2, sign autographs, do interviews and speak with the club before the game. He loves baseball and hopes all of this PED talk goes away soon.
“Baseball is still a great game. It’s a beautiful game,” he said. “I think if they know all these guys who have a problem, they should put it all in one basket and do all the suspensions at one time. Get it over with. You get tired of it. I think it’s time to move on from all of these things.”
Others rumored to be involved with Biogenesis include New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Their teams are in the playoff hunt, which makes possible impending suspensions that much tougher to stomach, Oliva said.
And it’s not just about their teams and teammates.
“If (a team) gets a couple of guys suspended, it could hurt many, many people,” Oliva said. “It hurts the team, but it could also hurt the people you don’t want to hurt, and that’s the fans.”
Just under 3,800 fans enjoyed a nice Kernels comeback. Peoria held a 2-0 lead until Cedar Rapids (62-39, 22-11 second half) scored six times on six hits in the seventh inning.
Niko Goodrum and Jorge Polanco had back-to-back doubles to begin the rally, with Adam Brett Walker’s sacrifice fly (his 90th RBI) tying the game at 2-2. Joel Licon doubled down the right-field line with two outs to score two go-ahead runs and had a great head-first slide toward the infield to elude a tag at home plate on Jonathan Murphy’s ensuing two-run single.
Tim Shibuya (1-0) got his first Cedar Rapids win in relief. Starter Brett Lee was coming off back-to-back complete-game victories but was limited to five innings and 68 pitches.
The Kernels host Clinton tonight at 6:35.
“This ballpark looks like a big-league ballpark,” Oliva said of his first trip to Cedar Rapids. “It’s better than a lot of the big-league ballparks I played in in the 60s. It’s beautiful, the facility. Everything here is very nice.”
Here is the game boxscore: