“Son, You’re Not The Underdog Anymore” | Damien Semien Discusses The Journey Of His Son Marcus Who Signed $175M Contract With Texas Rangers

“Son, You’re Not The Underdog Anymore” | Damien Semien Discusses The Journey Of His Son Marcus Who Signed $175M Contract With Texas Rangers

MLBbro Marcus Semien’s father, Damien, vividly recalls walking into Marcus’ room to pick him up from his mother’s house, across the bay from San Francisco on the weekends, when the 31-year-old MLB All-Star was about six years old. 

The image of Marcus lying in bed and using his baseball glove as a pillow is still fresh in the forefront of his father’s mind 25 years and 160 major league home runs later. 

“Right when I saw that, I knew this kid was falling in love with the sport of baseball,” Damien Semien told MLBbro.com on the eve of his son’s introductory press conference with the Texas Rangers.

 

 

“So I said, ‘Ok,” Damien recalls, “let me see how it’s going to work. Something told me to stand back and let him learn how to love it. Once Marcus loved the game of baseball, I knew there was no turning back. He breathed baseball. He played on all of the El Cerrito Youth Baseball All-Star teams.”

 

Torch Carrier For Black Knights Of Baseball

Marcus Semien is one of a handful of Black MLB players who can be considered a superstar. The Bay Area native elevated into another stratosphere this season with the Toronto Blue Jays, setting a single-season record for home runs by a second baseman.

 

 

Semien’s historic season was so productive that he priced the Jays right out of contention and locked in early on a 7-year, $175M contract with the Texas Rangers, who lost 102 games this past season and vowed to turn the losing around with an aggressive pursuit of free agents.  

As the lockout gets under way, Semien has his blockbuster contract secured and he’s anxiously looking forward to the future as a cornerstone of the Rangers’ rebuild.

A Father’s Dream

Semien’s father Damien has played a huge role in his son’s development as a ball player and a person.

As Marcus introduced himself to the fans who will sell out The Ballpark In Arlington Stadium to see his five-tool ability up close for the next seven seasons, his Dad spoke with MLBbro.com from the perspective of a Black father who’s navigated an improbable journey for his son, who’s one of the 7.8 percent African-American players in MLB. 

 

TSL: Before we get into Marcus and his new contract, what are the three things that you feel you did right as a Dad to help your son overcome such long shot odds of becoming a pro athlete?  

Damien Semien: “1. I’ve told Marcus never quit what you start. 2. If you want it bad enough go get it. 3. Always put God first. Thank God for putting you in this position and always feed the blessing he gave you through hard work and love.”

 

Semien Gets The Bag, Beats The Lockout  

Siemien’s contract doesn’t just represent the value of Black baseball, but it serves as inspiration to the thousands of young African-American baseball players in youth leagues across the country, looking for a reason to believe that they could become the next Ken Griffey Jr., Mookie Betts or Marcus Semien. 

 

TSL: This entire contract situation must have been like a whirlwind to your family

Damien Semien:  “It is man, everything is happening so fast. It literally happened in the blink of an eye. Marcus called me on Thanksgiving and he gave me a little bit of insight into where he was as far as the whole process. Next thing I know, a few days after that. He was like, ‘this is where we are at Dad…Texas’.

Semien’s contract is more than just confirmation that he deserves to be paid in the Top 15-20 players in the sport. It’s vindication for a player who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox, traded to the Oakland A’s for two players no longer in the league and then ushered out of the door just as he was blossoming into an elite player in the sport.

Oakland Won’t Pay What Semien Weighs| Oh Canada!

Semien, who grew up in the Bay and was fortunate to play for his local MLB team in front of his family and friends for six seasons (2015-2020), was forced to go to Canada on a one-year, $18M “show me” deal, to prove that he was worth investing in long term. 

 

TSL: What was that situation like for Marcus and your family? Having to leave Oakland, leave the country to prove that he was worth the money.  

Damien: “Myself and Marcus –I can speak for him in certain respects — and my family, we owe a ton of gratitude to the Oakland A’s organization. He came over there from Chicago. He had that rough first year, but I love Bob Melvin because he stuck with Marcus. He saw something in Marcus. We all know the story. Melvin brought in Ron Washington (current Atlanta Braves coach) and they never gave up on my son.”

Fielding Guru Ron Washington Put His Magic Hands On Marcus

Washington is known as a fielding guru and has worked wonders with various players around the league, including 2021 World Series second baseman Ozzie Albies of the Atlanta Braves.

Those long hours executing Washington’s unorthodox drills worked wonders for Semien, who had a whopping 35 errors his first year at short in Oakland.

By 2019 he was a webmaster, making a respectable 12 errors in 161 games played. This season he made just eight errors in 146 starts at second base.

 

 

Damien says if Marcus could give Ron Washington “his right arm” he would.  “And I’d give him my left arm, “ Damien Semien tells MLBbro.com.

Because that man (Ron Washington) molded my son into the player that he is. So there’s no animosity towards Oakland at all.

“They had to do what they had to do and Marcus had to do what he had to do. It worked out for both sides.”

 

TSL: How did Marcus handle the mental adjustment of switching from shortstop to second base? Most shortstops are very territorial because it’s considered an elite position on the field. Some would even take it as a demotion.  

Damien Semien: “Marcus is undeniably a shortstop at heart. He knows that he can play the position and he’s proved that he  can play the position. He’s proved it at a high level.”

Marcus is a team player and he’s a baseball player first. Wherever you put Marcus he’s going to work his tail off to get right. If moving to second base helps the team win then Marcus will do it.

“He took the change in stride. His challenge was making the adjustment to a new position. That’s what motivated him all season. He was the best in the American League at his position.”

Texas Rebuilding With All-Star Infield 

That’s why when the Rangers — a team that went to back-to-back World Series with Ron Washington at the helm in 2010-11 — also signed Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager to a 10-year $325 million deal, Marcus and his Dad were elated. The move shows that Texas is committed to acquiring talent and quickly transforming a losing culture.

I love that. That’s beautiful. Those two (Semien & Seager) up the middle. That’s a good combination right there.

 

Next Level Sh*t

Marcus Semien has raised the market value for second baseman and also risen from super solid shortstop in a league full of great shortstops to the premier second baseman in the game. Quite a leap, and all he had to do was move 90 feet to his left. 

Damien Semien: “As a father, Marcus winning the Gold Glove impressed the heck out of me because I told Marcus before his career ended I wanted him to win one because that’s what he worked so hard at. We go back to that first year with the A’s when Marcus made all of those errors… that Gold Glove proved to the world that you made some mistakes and you worked your butt off to correct those mistakes.” 

 

TSL: Why was the Texas Rangers a perfect fit for Marcus? 

 

Damien Semien: “Marcus wants to be part of a rebuilding process. Texas didn’t have a very good year, but in the recruiting process Marcus was able to assess what they had and what they potentially got. That’s his biggest motivating factor right now. 

It’s going to be a good run here and he has seven years to get it going. But I think it’s going to get better very soon.”

Marcus knows the AL West up and down and I think they got a good shot with the pieces they are putting together. They will be right up there with Houston. 

 

TSL: What intangibles does Marcus bring to the Texas Rangers as a player and leader? 

Damien Semien: “He leads by example. He’s a quiet man but knows how to lead. He had a taste of the league and what it takes to win and how hard it is to win and he’s going to be able to show young players what it takes.”

Marcus loves the process to succeed. It’s contagious from what I’ve been told. I talked to a few of the A’s players that I know and they said, ‘man Marcus is contagious.’ 

“His work ethic, his every-single-day routine that he doesn’t veer away from… that’s contagious.” 

Family & Sports Is The Foundation

You can’t discuss the career of Marcus Semien without acknowledging the heavy influence and foundation in sports set by his grandfather, father and uncles. 

Damien says the Semien Family sports legacy dates back to his grandfather and was passed along to Damien and his brothers and then to Marcus who has young boys of his own.

 

Damien Semien: “They all had a pretty strong sports background and laid a good foundation in San Francisco. I played baseball, basketball, football, and ran track. But my first love was baseball.” 

 

Marcus was a great multi-sport athlete himself. A dynamic basketball player who starred on a state basketball team that went to the Finals and he played against the NBA’s Jrue Holiday.

 

Marcus was a star at Saint Mary’s High School in Berkeley, California. He hit .471 as a junior and .371 in his senior year.  He went to Cal Berkeley for college and experienced some ups and downs, but flashed enough raw skills to be considered an MLB prospect. 

 

Damien Semien: “But he has always been a very smart, humble and an appreciative young man. Money will never change Marcus. He’s humble even in his spending habits. He and his wife Tarah.” 

Semien’s wife has some solid sports genes as well. Both of Tarah’s parents are former college athletes. Her father, played college basketball at San Jose State and was with the 192nd overall selection during the ninth round of the 1981 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. Her mother also attended San Jose State and was a member of the volleyball team.

 

 

Damien Semien: “I also tip my hat to Marcus’ wonderful mother Tracy. She did an outstanding job with Marcus. Everyone knew our story. We weren’t together, so Marcus was raised at my house and her house. We raised a fantastic young man and no one can ever take that away from both of us.”  

 

TSL: Will this new contract put more pressure on Marcus who is already playing in a sport that sometimes devalues the contributions of Black players? 

Damien Semien: “Now as far as pressure, Marcus has handled it very well. He’s been in an underdog role throughout his career and he feels like he’s always had to prove himself every year over and over and over, but again that’s his motivation.” 


I just told him last night, ‘Son you’re not the underdog anymore.Everybody knows who Marcus Semien is now.’ He made it to the top so far. Now he’s got to stay at the top. That will be his new motivation. 

The Future Of Baseball Is Now

Marcus Semien is a grown man who beat all the odds and is living a superstar life that most people only see in the movies. But his relationship with his Dad remains the same. A union based on love, trust and support. Damien remains a positive voice and silent force in the life of an MLB star who seems to have it all figured out.  

Aaron Judge’s Sensational Season Has Earned Him A Huge Pay Day | It’s Up To The Yankees If They Want To Make Him A $250M Man

Aaron Judge’s Sensational Season Has Earned Him A Huge Pay Day | It’s Up To The Yankees If They Want To Make Him A $250M Man

Aaron Judge put the ball in the New York Yankees’ court this season, and with his contract set to expire soon, it’s time for them to cash him out with a major deal. Judge has had a special 2021 season and in doing so has put the Yankees’ front office on notice: It’s time for them to pay up.

You saw Judge’s worth Tuesday night when he hit a game-tying home run against the Toronto Blue Jays to start a big three-game series. He’s had a ton of big hits this season.

And best of all, for the most part, Judge finally avoided the injury bug after being hampered by it over the last few years.  He matched his career-high for batting average and doubles while also having the second-highest total of home runs, total bases, RBI, and runs scored in his career.

It’s not hard to tell Judge’s impact on the Yankee roster when you look at their stat sheet, because he leads in nearly every category.  No player has played in more games, recorded more hits, hit more doubles or home runs has a higher on-base percentage, slugging percentage or OPS, and higher WAR than him.  The only player that comes close in a few categories is Giancarlo Stanton, and he himself has been one of the best hitters in baseball during the second half of the season.

Judge started the third All-Star Game of his career this season, yet has never made much over $10,000,000 in any season.  This summer, he is scheduled to go through arbitration and in 2023, he’ll officially be a free agent.

“The ball is kind of in their court,” said Judge to reporters.  “I am just a player.  I just do my job every day.  I am not going to go running to anybody to say “Let’s talk about this.”  That’s their job to do, that’s what they get paid for.  I’m getting paid to be out there on the field.”

Well, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman, it’s time to do your job and pay Judge what he is owed.

With multiple big-money shortstops on the market this off-season, I have no doubts that the Yankees will open their checkbook to acquire one of them, but why not do the same for the guy that has been holding your lineup down since the retirement of Derek Jeter?

Judge will be 30 by the time he hits free agency, so a deal similar to that of Fernando Tatis’ (14-year $330M) may not be best for New York’s sake, but something along the lines of $150-$200 million for at least a three or four-year span may be what it takes to make him a Yankee for life.

Before this season, Judge was ranked as the 21st best player in the Majors according to MLB Network.  Fast forward to September 2021 and I guarantee you cannot show me even 10 players that you would rather have on your roster over him.  He’s going to finish in the Top 5 in the American League in MVP voting and might have been able to make his case for winning the award if not for the seasons of Shohei Ohtani and Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Judge has the opportunity to show Yankees Nation he is with all the smoke that comes with October baseball.  If he is able to carry the Yankees into the postseason and on a run for the World Series title, their front office is going to have to hand him a  pen and a blank check.

JP Crawford Is On His Way To A Second Gold Glove & Possibly His First Taste Of MLB Playoff Life

JP Crawford Is On His Way To A Second Gold Glove & Possibly His First Taste Of MLB Playoff Life

As the 2021 season is coming to an end, one player is out here balling and showing why he’s one of the best in the game.

That player is our fellow MLBbro J.P. Crawford. Crawford has been tearing up lately and he’s been a big reason why the Seattle Mariners are still in the playoff hunt.

He continues to show why he’s a Gold Glove winner and he’s on the verge of winning his second straight Gold Glove award. Crawford is a competitor and always wants to put his team in the best position to win games.

And he can do just that on the field and at the plate. 

 

On Tuesday, September 21st, the Mariners were playing in a must-win game against the Oakland Athletics, and Crawford made a big-time play. During the game, he made a diving stop at short to throw at a runner to end the inning. For some, it may have seemed like a tremendous play, but for Crawford, it was another play because that is something he does consistently.

“He lays out, gets up and throws an absolute dart across the field,” manager Scott Servais said. “That ball should’ve never been close. He’s got that kind of defensive ability.”

Not too long later, he made another diving play which he made look effortless. He just brings that swag to the game and makes those difficult plays look easy.

“It’s just something you just react to,” Crawford said after the game against the Athletics. “You just try to judge whether it’s gonna be an in-between hop or a long hop. So many thoughts can go through your head in such a short amount of time to where you just react to the ball. You just don’t think about stuff like that. You just make the play.”

While he’s been out here making plays on the field, his bat has been electric. During his last seven games, he’s hit .364 while slugging .545. He’s hit one home run with four RBI during that span. As of September 27th, he’s been on a five-game hitting streak and has hit safely in seven of his last eight games.

J.P. Crawford Continues His Rise Up The Shortstop Ranks

 

Throughout his career, Crawford has always displayed his athleticism on the field and that’s a big reason why he’s one of the best in the game. His teammates have certainly taken notice of his abilities and they know that the sky’s the limit for him.

“J.P. Crawford, man, I feel like every night it’s something special with him,” teammate Marc Gonzales said. “He should just have his name etched on it right now. The guy’s special. We call them ‘the unicorn’ for a reason. He just does it all. I hope everyone appreciates him as much as I do.”

“There’s a lot of really good shortstops in the American League, but nobody flashes the leather like J.P.,” Servais said. “It’s just the range, the athleticism and his ability to finish plays. He’s a Gold Glover if I’ve ever seen one. There’s no question about that.”

The 26-year-old is looking for his first playoff appearance and the Mariners are fighting for that Wild Card spot in the American League. J.P. Crawford is a name that people in baseball will be talking about for years to come.

FRONT STREET

FRONT STREET

Tim Anderson and Tyrone Taylor are two MLBros with multi-homer games on Thursday. TA7 went 3-for-4 with two bombs in a 7-2 White Sox win over the Cleveland Guardians. Milwaukee’s 27-year-old rookie Taylor also had a day with two homers and 5 RBI, including a grand slam in the first inning.

FRONT STREET

FRONT STREET

Marcus Semien hit another blast last night for his 41st homer of the season. Semien has joined some exclusive company and sits just three homers from breaking the all-time single season record for second baseman.