The author: Jeremy Affeldt
The vital stats: Beacon Hill Press, 191 pages, $21.99
The pitch: Jeremy Affeldt gets the save.
Maybe that’s tough for someone in Southern California who’s supposed to consider the Giants a hated rival. But in a short, sweet and succinct autobiography, the San Francisco 33-year-old lefty relief specialist who has landed with the World Champions after trips through Kansas City and Colorado opens up about a religious awakening that will define his legacy more than just trying to strike out Detroit Tigers in key Fall Classic appearances.
From page 133: “I never thought about justice, poverty or other social issues when I was growing up. I once saw a homeless person and told him, ‘Get a job. You’re lazy. take a shower and cut off your beard. Go to McDonald’s and be a janitor. Do something, man.’ I rolled my eyes and walked away. I didn’t have a compassionate bone in my body — not for the kid who was getting bullied, not for the orphan in Africa, not for anyone.”
It didn’t even dawn on him until 20 years after the fact that, as a 10 year old with his family walking the streets of Thailand (his dad was in the Air Force), he was once grabbed by a man and almost pulled into a sex shop. His dad quickly intervened. Affeldt later learned about what human trafficking was all about, and realized that might have been an instance where he was about to be a victim.
With a clearer vision of what he wants to get out of his life along with his wife and three children, Affeldt has already started his own Spokane, Wash., non-profit youth ministry called Generation Alive, become involved in Not For Sale organization that fights human trafficking (and involved the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, A.J. Ellis and Shawn Tolleson and Skip Schumaker) and worked with the Something To Eat initiative.
Those who may know of Affeldt from the curious way he was once injured — slicing himself with a knife while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties — unfortunately he’s on the DL again with a strained oblique muscle. He’s already been struggling with his command and fought with an ERA near 6.00. The last time this injury happened to him in ’04, he missed two months. Reports are that he’ll return Tuesday.
Some may find Affeldt’s words here “too religious” and miss the message. If you’re on the same page, you’ll probably look at him in another light the next time he comes out of Giants’ bullpen trying to put out a Dodgers rally — as soon as the Dodgers’ trip to San Francisco next weekend.
“These days when I play ball, I play for the other guys on my team, that they would know the joy of winning,” he writes on page 171. “I play for the hungry, knowing that I get paid for exercising my gifts, I can give to help them. I play for those trapped in slavery, committed to ending the travesty of trafficking. I play for the thirsty, to help them continue developing wells in Africa and around the world. I play for the orphans and pray for a forever home for them.”
For someone who just signed a three-year, $18 million deal, that’ll amount to plenty of mouths to feed, wells to build and slaves to free.