Jacksonville Dragons designated hitter Jake Kapoor has pledged to give $1,000 to charities that help Syrian refugees every time he hits a home run this season, and Dragons owner/GM Eric Stetson has agreed to match his pledge. For the slugging Kapoor, who hit 29 homers last year while playing in Korea, the contribution may turn out to be substantial.
Kapoor, whose father is a Muslim originally from Pakistan and whose mother is an American Christian, explained his pledge as a dedication to the memory of his Pakistani grandfather, who was a refugee during the Partition of India in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of people died from sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims.
“We all have to learn to get along with people who are different from us,” said Kapoor. “That’s why I’m proud to be an American and proud to be a baseball player. We’re black, white, Latino, Asian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, but none of that matters, ’cause we’re all like brothers on the baseball field.”
Stetson said that he was proud of Kapoor’s decision and was more than happy to match his donation. “Jake is setting an example for all of us,” Stetson told reporters. “He understands that being a good person is as important as being a good player. He’s exactly the kind of guy we want in our organization.”
Kapoor said he will split his donations between three charities: Refugees Welcome, a German organization that’s “kind of like Airbnb for refugees,” which matches people with spare rooms with refugees in need of housing; and Mercy Corps and Save the Children, both of which provide emergency food and supplies and education for refugee children.
California Sharks manager Eduardo Aponte predicted this week that his team will win the Patriot League title this season. “I look around at my team, and I see a champion,” Aponte told reporters during a press conference from the Sharks’ spring training site in San Gorgonzola. “You know when you’re on a first date, and you get an idea whether it’s going to work out or not? That’s the feeling I have. I am dating a beautiful woman, and I believe we are destined for great things. I feel I will be shopping for a ring soon.”
Aponte lavished praise on the Sharks’ starting pitchers, saying that “I am confident that our rotation is superior to any in this league, or any other league. When I hear them warming up, it is like a row of cannons firing.” He also raved about the gloves and arms of his outfielders. “If opposing batters manage to hit the ball, it will go into the outfield to die,” said Aponte. Additionally, he praised the top-to-bottom strength of the California lineup. “We will not be hitting a great number of home runs,” Aponte predicted, “but we will be skilled at putting hits together. We will score runs in the old-fashioned way, and I am an old-fashioned guy, so I like this very much.”
This is the 45-year-old Aponte’s first managerial position. When asked how he could evaluate his team’s strength relative to the rest of the league before any games have been played, Aponte smiled and said, “I have played baseball since I was old enough to hold a bat, and I know what a winning team looks like. Also, I am making sure that will will be in perfect shape.” Aponte, renowned in his playing days as a fitness freak, is running his team through a grueling workout regimen designed to build the team’s endurance for a long season. “CrossFit could learn something from Eduardo,” said Sharks LF Kenneth Mader.
If Aponte’s championship promises are going to come true, the Sharks will have to prevail in a tough Western Division race. California’s rivals include the Silver City Outlaws, who built their team using sabermetric analysis; the Milwaukee Bear Claws, who have perhaps the league’s best hitter in 1B Felipe Mateo and a top closer in Oscar Buenaventura; and the Salt Lake Samurai, who recently expanded their front office.