The scouting reports on 17-year-old Zach Hodskins all say the same thing. The kid can play basketball.
“Talented player. Beautiful shot,” wrote one scout. “Blew past [defenders]. … One of the most deadly three-point shooters at the Scouts Focus All American Camp,” wrote another.
Eventually the scouts note the most remarkable part of Hodskins’ ability: He’s playing with one arm.
Despite being born without the lower half of his left arm, Hodskins shines as a guard for his high-school team in Alpharetta, Ga. His drive and determination, despite his athletic disadvantage, have made Hodskins popular beyond his home court—a YouTube video showing a Hodskins’ “highlight reel” has over 3 million views.
On Aug. 15 University of Florida coach Billy Donovan offered Hodskins a spot on the team for the 2014-2015 NCAA basketball season. Although the offer does not come with a scholarship, Hodskins now has the opportunity to play for one of the best college basketball programs in the country. Florida is a perennial powerhouse and claimed the national championship trophy in 2006 and 2007.
“When I’m out [on the court], I forget my arm isn’t there and just play ball,” Hodskins told Ohio’s News-Herald. “Passion and love for the sport helps me overcome all obstacles. To this day I haven’t come across anything I can’t do.”
Fans boo but baseball players typically stick up for each other. Disgraced star Alex Rodriguez is the exception. He’s playing while he appeals his 211-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs and tampering with an MLB investigation, but many players are saying what Red Sox pitcher John Lackey told The Boston Globe: “I’ve got a problem with it. … How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right.”
New York manager Joe Girardi and the rest of the Yankees have remained professional and diplomatic while talking to the media about the scandal, but Girardi has admitted he is “tired of the steroids” questions and several players have declined to talk to reporters. Fans have jeered Rodriguez before, during, and after games. Chants of “Steroids!” and “Cheater!” have broken out wherever the Yankees travel to play. Rodriguez has neither confessed to his involvement in the current performance-enhancing drug scandal nor apologized for his behavior. According to MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, the appeal process will not be concluded until after the season ends. —Z.A.
On June 22, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in last place in the National League West division, 10 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. Many journalists were taking pleasure in the failure of the team with the second-highest payroll in baseball, and the Los Angeles fan base was frustrated. But one of the glories of baseball is its changeability: Over their next 50 games, the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off one of the longest stretches of success in baseball history. The club won 42 out of 50 games—84 percent—to vault into first place.
The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals led by Hall of Famer Stan Musial was the last team to accomplish this feat. How did the Dodgers do it? Injured players returned, rookie sensation Yasiel Puig has been spectacular since his debut with the team in early June, and … the rest is mystery. But with a pitching rotation anchored by aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Dodgers are now the World Series favorite. —Z.A.