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Trea Turner Embraces the Art of Hitting



Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Trea Turner has transformed himself into one of the best hitters in baseball. Lacking projectable power when he was drafted 13th overall in 2014 — Kiley McDaniel cited his upside as 10-12 home runs with a .420 SLG the following winter — Turner proceeded to become far more than the slash-and-burn type that many envisioned. His past three seasons have been particularly impressive. Playing with the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, he posted a sparkling .316/.364/.514 line with a 139 wRC+. Moreover, his right-handed stroke has produced 87 home runs over the last four non-COVID campaigns.

Turner — now with the Philadelphia Phillies after being signed to an 11-year, $300 million contract in December, and currently playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic — talked hitting prior to a recent spring training game.


David Laurila: Let’s start with one of my favorite icebreaker questions: Do you view hitting as more of an art or more of a science?


Trea Turner: “I think it’s more of an art, but we’re trying to use science to quantify it. Sometimes guys have good swings, but then you go into a game and you can’t necessarily hit. The game is more of an art than a swing.”

Laurila: Why are some players with good swings unable to hit in games?

Turner: “I think there are an unlimited amount of answers to that. I remember talking to one of my coaches in college and him saying that some people are swingers, and some people are hitters. There’s a difference. To me, hitting is being able to make adjustments and hit different pitches. And if you don’t have your best swing that day, you still have to be able to get hits and execute. The best hitters can kind of figure it out along the way.”

Laurila: At what point in your life did you go from swinger to hitter?

Turner: “Oh, I was never a swinger. I’ve been fighting since day one. I wasn’t a natural hitter. I don’t just wake up and step in the box like some guys, and be able to just naturally do it. I’ve worked on it a lot, kind of my whole life.”

Laurila: Even at a young age?

Turner: “I mean, I was a good player when I was younger, but I never had power. I hit one home run in school. When I was younger I couldn’t even pull the ball. I played up a lot, so guys were a lot bigger and stronger than me. I was hitting the ball the other way just because that’s all I could do. I was grinding.”

Laurila: How old were you when you started being able to pull the ball?

Turner: “Oh, I don’t know. Probably not until I was in high school? Maybe more like 12-13 years old, or… I remember that my dad would say he’d give me a dollar if I could pull the ball in a game. But yeah, I would say it wasn’t until high school that I really started pulling the ball.

“Now, I think my strength is pulling the ball, which is kind of funny looking back. But as a hitter you want to use all fields. The old saying that you want to hit the ball where it’s pitched is true to this day.”

Laurila: How much of the power you’ve developed is from added strength, and how much is from fine-tuning your swing?

Turner: “It’s both. I’m definitely stronger now than when I was younger, but I think it’s probably more about the swing. You gain strength as you get older, but you also learn your body, learn movements, learn patterns. So it’s more about using everything you have correctly. Sequencing is a big thing now. Making sure that everything is sequenced up is something I’ve tapped into in the last four or five years.”

Laurila: Has that been gradual, or was there a defining moment where you made an adjustment and something started clicking?

Turner: “There have been a couple for me. In college, I started leg-kicking, which helped me start getting a little bit more behind it. I didn’t have a ton of homers in the minors, but then in 2016, when I got called up, I hit a bunch and kind of realized I could do it at a high level. That was another step. And then, in 2019 when I was working with K-Long [hitting coach Kevin Long], I figured out how to do it the other way a little bit — not just pull side, but all over the field. I don’t have as much power as a Kyle Schwarber — guys like that — but being able to tap into it a little bit more has made me better.”

Laurila: Has your swing path changed?

Turner: “I would say it has a little bit. But I’ve always tried to have a flat swing because I feel like that gives me the most room for error and the most chance of success. Having a flatter swing allows me to hit a lot of different pitches, and that has always been a goal. Sometimes you do tinker a little. Your swing changes, your body changes a little bit, and I’m always working on that. But yeah, I’m just trying to have that flat swing.”

Laurila: How much do you look at the data when you’re working in the cage?

Turner: “Never. I’m not an exit velo guy. I’m never at the top of those charts. For me, it’s not about that. It’s about getting hits. I could roll over groundballs at 150 mph and my exit velo would go up, and people would be telling me I’m a good hitter, but I’d rather stay inside a ball and hit a soft line drive to center field for a hit. I think that’s where the art and science thing gets mixed up. I think it’s more about art and a little bit less about science.”

Laurila: That said, is there any science that’s helped you become a better hitter?

Turner: “I like comparing good and bad swings in the sense of body mechanics, like what fired first and whatnot. Here, and also being in LA, they have the technology where you can see all of those things. So, I like comparing swings, but at the end of the day it’s about making solid contact on the barrel, and not necessarily hitting certain numbers or certain angles.”

Laurila: Are you basically hunting fastballs middle and adjusting from there, or is your approach more nuanced than that?

Turner: “I would like to not talk about it… But yeah, for each pitcher you have a game plan. Different guys have different pitches, different arm angles, and different velos, so you’ve got to adjust to the pitcher a little bit. You can’t just go up there with one mindset that works for everybody. I kind of take a lot of things into account.”

Laurila: Any final thoughts on hitting?

Turner: “I like the art vs. science thing. That’s a good debate to have because there’s really not a right answer. But I do think sometimes the art of getting hits gets lost. Everybody wants to walk, and there’s launch angle, exit velo — you get all of these numbers on FanGraphs because of these things — but then you have guys like Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew, guys who simply could hit. There’s an art to that. I think it is a cool part of the game.”




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Rubbish fashion: street art costumes of Kinshasa – in pictures – The Guardian



Falonne Mambu posing in her electric wires costume in Limete district, Kinshasa. As a performing artist, she raises issues about social development in her own country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is potentially the biggest electricity provider in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, decay and corruption have crippled the national Inga dam, which only works to the minimum of its capacity. Nowadays, only 19% of Congolese people have access to electricity.

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Montreal artist won’t change puppet that community groups say looks like blackface



MONTREAL — A theatre performance for children featuring a puppet that has been described as racist is continuing in the Montreal area.

Several Black community organizations have criticized the puppet as being reminiscent of blackface minstrel shows — racist performances during which white people portrayed exaggerated stereotypes of Black people for laughs.

But the show’s creator — Franck Sylvestre, who is Black — has no plans to change the puppet, which he said is a caricature of his own features. Sylvestre said in an interview he can’t accept the idea that he’s not allowed to create a caricature of someone who is Black because racists created caricatures of Black people in the past.

“That’s unheard of for an artist,” he said.


The play, called L’incroyable secret de barbe noire — French for The Incredible Secret of Blackbeard — first drew controversy in February.

A performance at a municipal theatre in the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield, Que., was cancelled after complaints by Black community organizations. The neighbouring community of Pointe-Claire, meanwhile, removed the play from its official Black History Month programming but allowed the performance to go ahead.

Sylvestre, who wrote the one-man show in 2009 aimed at kids aged five to nine years old, said he had never received a complaint about his show before February.

A series of performances of the play, which combines theatre, storytelling, masks and puppetry, begins Sunday in Laval, Que., he said, before he takes it to France for 30 performances.

Sylvestre said the play tells the story of a young man who travels from Montreal to Martinique — the Caribbean island where Sylvestre’s parents are from — at the request of his dying grandfather, who is haunted by his discovery of a mysterious wooden chest with a connection to the pirate Blackbeard.

Max Stanley Bazin, president of the Black Coalition of Quebec, describes the puppet’s appearance as “very, very, very ugly” and said he worries that seeing a Black person presented in such a way could cause emotional damage to young audiences.

“It will have an impact on them, it will have an impact on the mind of the young people who see this puppet, and that’s what we should think about,” he said in an interview.

People are more likely to speak out about racism now than they were in 2009, Bazin said, adding that he thinks Sylvestre should listen to community members and replace the puppet with a less controversial creation.

“If there are people in society who have said this isn’t right, you have to react,” he said.

Philip Howard, a professor in the department of integrated studies in education at McGill University, said he’s not sure the puppet is an example of blackface — but he said that’s beside the point.

“There is still very much the matter of representation and the potential use of monstrous and grotesque representations of Black people as a source of entertainment and even humour,” said Howard, who has studied contemporary blackface.

Howard said the intentions of the artist are less important than the impact of the performance on an audience.

“Here we have, in this particular instance, a whole community of folks that are responding and saying, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t love this, we don’t think this is OK and we’re particularly disturbed about it during Black History Month,’” he said.

Dismissing the opinions of Black people who have a problem with the performance demonstrates anti-Black racism, he said.

Sylvestre said he thinks much of the criticism comes from people who haven’t seen the play.

“It’s the job of the community to see what purpose these caricatures serve; are they, like blackface, denigrating Black people, or, as in my case, are they being elevated?” he said. “This character, he’s a strong character for me personally, and when I made it, I was inspired by myself.”

He said the puppet, named Max, is “like a great sage,” whose interventions lead to the play’s happy ending.

“Max, he was the voice of reason, he was the one who advised us, who mocked me when I made a bad decision, who was above me,” he said.

Prof. Cheryl Thompson, who teaches performance at Toronto Metropolitan University, said she didn’t like the puppet when she viewed a trailer for the play.

“I was extremely shocked,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

While blackface minstrel shows are primarily associated with the United States, Thompson’s research has shown that blackface performances took place in Canada, with shows in Montreal as recently as the 1950s.

Even though blackface originated with white performers, Black actors in the 1800s would also don the exaggerated makeup and participate in the racist performances for white audiences.

“It actually didn’t matter if it was a white actor in blackface or a Black actor in blackface, it was the caricature that audiences thought was funny,” she said.

Thompson said there’s room for theatre performances to be provocative. But performers, she said, need to engage with audiences and be willing to discuss artistic choices — especially when artists are performing for audiences whose histories might be different than their own.

“Why wouldn’t this person at least try to hear the voices of people who maybe have a different experience to him?” she said.

She said she wouldn’t take a child to see the show, especially during Black History Month.

“I just don’t see the uplifting messaging,” Thompson said. “I don’t see the messaging of ‘you matter,’ I just don’t see that celebration of life. I just see something that is steeped in a history of racial caricature and mimicry.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2023.


Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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Vancouver to remove unsanctioned spider art creeping-out transit riders



City staff are looking into how to remove a large metallic spider from under a high-traffic bridge on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

The artwork, which startled some arachnophobic SkyTrain riders when it was installed earlier this month, was created by pop artist Junko Playtime.

In an email to Postmedia News on Friday, city staff say they were made aware of the unsanctioned spider artwork located in a corridor for SkyTrain and CN/BNSF Rail.

The installation wasn’t done in consultation with the city or the rail corridor partners, city staff said. They’re trying to figure out the best way to remove the artwork so there is no damage to the bridge structure or rail lines.


Staff said the artist will have the ability to claim the work through the city’s impoundment process.

According to Playtime’s Instagram page, the eight-foot-diameter spider was installed at night recently on the north bank below the bridge between North Grandview Highway and Broadway.

Playtime, from Montreal, has gained a reputation over the past two years for installing very large and far-out insect like futuristic sculptures from scrap metal and household items.

The artist called this latest spider creation “Phobia 2023. Time to face our fears.”

— With files from David Carrigg


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