By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we go over baseball happenings, the story of Cameron Bynum’s reunion with his wife, and Sam Howell’s Korean roots.
Ohtani head the list of MLB honorees
Shohei Ohtani won the American League Most Valuable Player award for the second straight year. The Los Angeles Angels pitcher/designated hitter enters an uncertain future as of the time of this writing. He’s exploring his options into free agency. Despite not being able to play the last couple months of the season, Ohtani earned the award with a strong first half of the season on the mound and with his bat at the plate. Due to an arm injury which will keep him from pitching in the upcoming season, Ohtani had surgery and rehab to get ready for the 2024 season.
In addition to the MVP award, Ohtani won the Silver Slugger Award given to the best offensive player at each position. He became the seventh player to win multiple Silver Slugger Awards as a designated hitter. Ohtani led the American League in home runs, extra base hits, and total bases.
Arizona Diamondbacks’ right fielder Corbin Carroll earned the National League Rookie of the Year. Carroll, a native of Seattle, was one of the key players that helped the Diamondbacks make it to the World Series. Carroll’s .281 batting average, 29 home runs, and 90 runs batted in sparked the offense for Arizona.
Ha-Seong Kim of the San Diego Padres became the first Korean-born baseball player to win a Gold Glove. Kim earned the award as a utility player for the Padres. Kim plays second base although he also can play third base and shortstop. Major League Baseball added the utility category last year recognizing players with defensive versatility.
Also winning a Gold Glove was Cleveland Indians left fielder Steven Kwan. It was Kwan’s second Gold Glove in as many seasons in Major League Baseball.
Wakamatsu managing Oakland B’s
A majority of Major League Baseball owners voted to move the Oakland Athletics franchise to Las Vegas. The news was not surprising due to the lackluster attendance at A’s games and ownership looking elsewhere to build a stadium for the franchise. The result means that Oakland will be without a team in 2025.
Stepping up for the Oakland community, an independent league baseball team will hope to fill the void for baseball fans in the bay area. The manager of the team is Don Wakamatsu—a former Major League Baseball player who managed the Seattle Mariners from 2009-2010. He also managed the Texas Rangers in 2018. Along the way, the 60-year-old has served as a coach and scout for Major League Baseball teams. He was an assistant with the Kansas City Royals when they won the 2015 World Series.
The team will be named the Oakland B’s which is in jest to the A’s that will leave for Las Vegas in 2025.
After two interceptions, Bynum reunites with wife
Minnesota Vikings’ safety Camryn Bynum is a proud Filipino American. Recently on social media, he showed himself delivering Filipino food to some of his teammates. He’s also used social media to petition his wife to join him in America.
After the Vikings defeated the San Francisco 49ers, helped by two interceptions from the former Cal alum, Bynum took the chance to use his postgame interviews to ask for help in getting his wife to the United States. Due to visa issues, Lalaine Bynum has not been able to watch her husband play. But, the plea from Bynum helped facilitate the process. After his interview, Bynum received several offers of assistance including the embassy in the Philippines.
Lalaine Bynum was able to make it to the U.S. on Nov. 12 to watch her husband and the team play in a victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Howell recalls Korean grandmother
This year, the Washington Commanders quarterback is rookie Sam Howell, who is part Korean and is very proud of his heritage. His American grandfather met his Korean grandmother, Han, after the Korean War. Han became a widower soon after the two moved to the United States to settle in North Carolina. Han learned to become self-sufficient and involved herself in several businesses.
As a grandmother to Sam, she attended every game he played while in high school and at college at the University of North Carolina. She passed away in November 2022 so she was unable to watch her grandson play for the Commanders in a regular season game.
However, Howell’s relationship with his grandmother piqued his interest in his Korean roots. In an interview last spring, Howell said, “I’m super curious about my Korean heritage, and I think I’m even more curious now that my grandma is gone, because she was the big thing I had connecting me to that, and I always had her to tell me about it,” Sam said. “I’m very proud of my background and where I come from, and I just think it’s an awesome part of me that I want people to know about.”
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.