Astros outfielder Hunter Pence has had a tough sophomore year in Houston as his OPS has dropped over 160 points since his third place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year season of 2007. But, the kid has a nifty way of biding his time when his baserunning gaffe (freezing at third base instead of charging home on an infield grounder) gets him benched the next day: he plays chess online.
Hunter Pence sat in his fold-up chair and stared at the alternating blue and white boxes on the page. He was reading about chess, a game the 25-year-old Astros outfielder has begun to study in place of the computer and video games of his youth.
"Kind of grown out of it, got a little bored," Pence said of Internet games such as Halo and Warcraft. "It's time for me to do something more productive with my mind and body. And I feel like chess is a little better for problem solving and to just sharpen your mind."
I would really love to make fun of Hunter Pence sitting in front of his Gateway laptop in the Houston clubhouse, logging on to the Yahoo! Chess boards with his screenname AstrozSlugger6969 and losing virtual chess matches to eight-year-old Estonian girls, but I never learned how to play chess and have always spent my life playing far less challenging games. So kudos, sophomore baseball player Hunter Pence. You have outwitted this baseball blogger, despite your past addiction to World of Warcraft.
Well, at least he's taught his brain to not run through sliding glass doors anymore.
(We owe a coupla cases of Coca-Cola C2 to the Baseball Primer Newsblog)