Webb: Ventura will always throw fire

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World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Two

Yordano Ventura will always be remembered for “Let’s throw fire.”

“Let’s throw fire.”

Those three words became Yordano Ventura’s calling card during a career and life that was far too short, yet long on promise. I still can’t believe he’s dead at 25 years old, a shooting star who often burned so brightly but was gone in the blink of an eye.

As I woke Sunday morning and grabbed my phone, I couldn’t believe what I was reading: “Reports: Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura dead at age 25.” Perhaps I didn’t believe it at first. Maybe I was in shock.

When it became apparent that it wasn’t just a rumor, I didn’t throw fire. I threw water, as in a stream of tears, sobbing for a good 15 minutes. Yordano Ventura, the sometimes-frustrating, always-entertaining, firestorm of a pitcher is gone.

The lasting memory of Ventura will be the dominating performance in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series. With the season on the line, the 23-year-old throttled San Francisco to force a Game 7. He threw seven shutout innings, capping a World Series in which he pitched 12 1/3 innings, allowed two runs and had a 1.46 ERA. Without the heroics of Madison Bumgarner, he likely would have been the MVP as a rookie.

After an impressive rookie season (14-10, 3.20 ERA), the expectations exploded. Ventura didn’t handle it well the next two seasons, often struggling. He was about to be demoted in 2015 before Jason Vargas’ injury forced the Royals to bring him back before he reached Omaha.

He also started slowly last season before heating up during the summer months.

But the promise was always there. As a Royals fan, you didn’t miss a Ventura start. There always was a chance he’d dazzle, torching hitters with a triple-digit fastball and embarrassing them with a knee-buckling curve.

One of the last starts of his life was one of the most electrifying. On a hot day in late September, “Ace” mowed down the White Sox in the only nine-inning complete game of his career. Ventura often couldn’t find the strike zone, but on this day, he threw 72 strikes in 106 pitches. It was the kind of performance we hoped he’d deliver consistently.

Ventura also will be remembered for being temperamental. He wasn’t liked across baseball, drawing the ire of opponents after plunking them with 95-mph heaters, staring down hitters and igniting a couple of brawls.

As frustrating as he was, however, he was one of us, Forever Royal.

I’ll remember the exaggerated leg kick after blowing away a hitter. I’ll remember him staring down Troy Tulowitzki after freezing him with a filthy curve in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS. I’ll remember that he spent the day after the heartbreak of losing Game 7 of the 2014 World Series playing softball with children. I’ll remember that electric smile.

Above all, I’ll remember “Let’s throw fire.”

I’m into fitness, take 10: My first fitness assessment

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The running shoes have been a big part of my newfound health, but I won't be using them as often after my fitness assessment.

A few years ago, a fitness test was not on my want-to-do list. I’d rank it a few notches ahead of a Pink concert featuring Winger as the opening act. After the first assessment test of my life, I’ll be back for more in six weeks to get my body fat measured again. Especially after I was told to eat more, run less and do fewer situps!

These fitness blogs have been rather personal. Weight is a touchy subject, but I think that’s why this blog has been well-read, so I’ll share the results of the fitness assessment.

First, I have to brag. See, the fitness expert listed my body type as “athletic.” Let’s be clear … I have never been an athlete. There’s a reason I was a sports journalist for more than a decade. I did play basketball and baseball in high school. I even hit .500 my freshman year (and, no, not in two at-bats) before inexplicably giving up the sport (regret it to this day). And I still have a steady jumper from behind the arc!

Still, my body type has been fat for a good decade. To be listed as “athletic,” for the broad shoulders and frame to actually be visible, all I can say is …

WEIGHT

I clocked in at 214.8 pounds, my lowest weight since October 2001. That’s right, 10 years. And this 214.8 is much more healthy and stronger than the chubby, Taco Bell-laced 214.8 of 2001.

More importantly, I learned what I should weigh. I’ve said for months that 180 is my goal, and, hell, I thought that was still a little high. Amazingly enough, because of my body type, the ideal weight is between 188 and 199 pounds …

Instead of being 35 pounds away from my goal, I’m 15-27 pounds away. I’ve come this far, might as well go for 188, not 199, right?

BODY FAT

I’ve never had my body fat measured, mostly out of fear. I asked what my body weight was when I weighed more than 300 pounds. At 305, it was likely about 45 percent, maybe more. Think about that for a second. Half my body was fat. Today, it’s 25.6 percent. I’ve lost at least 20 percent body fat in the last 22 months. So virtually all of the 90 pounds I’ve lost were fat.

The 25.6 percent is in the “moderate” range. So long obesity. Sure as hell not missing you. I need to lose 6 percent to be in the “good” range. Once I get to 188 pounds, I’ll be at 14 percent body fat, which is very good.

Me at about 185 pounds in college. I'll look like that again, minus the hair, soon.

OTHER NUMBERS

Cardio assessment: 42.8 (60 percentile). High end of moderate and getting better.

Strength assessment: 65 pounds (fair). Not far from “good.”

Flexibility: 8.3 inches. Awful. I should probably stretch.

Calories: 2,283. That’s what I should be eating every day.

Body age: 42. Closing in on being my age. At this time to years ago, I had the body of a 60-year-old man.

INTAKE

I hate the word diet because that’s not what I’m doing, so I call the food I eat my intake. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. Anyway, I was told to monitor my calories. Not because I eat too much, but because I’m probably not eating enough. Doh. This is going to be difficult because I don’t starve myself. I’m rarely hungry. But I’ve got to eat more. If you don’t get enough calories, your body actually stores more fat. …

WORKOUT

I’ve plateaued, and with good reason. Running is great, but my body is accustomed to it. It expects it now. Also, I’ve been working my arms too much when lifting, and I’ve been doing too many situps. I knew all of this, but most of you know I’m pretty damn stubborn. The fitness expect was blunt: “Are you open to trying something different? Because I want to completely change your workout routine.” Less running and situps? Hell yeah, I’m open to that.

I’ll learn more next week when I go back for a quick training session to learn about my new routine.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

That I’m close. That I might have reached my goal by now had I done this assessment a few months ago. But that’s OK. The point is, I’m in good shape. I’m a few months away from looking and feeling the way I’ve wanted to for a very long time. And that my body type is athletic.