Not About Winning or Losing

It's been said a million times over that baseball and sports in general aren't always about winning and losing. Some might argue those who say that more often than not find themselves on the losing end of the cliché. Just don't tell that to West Tenn pitcher Ricky Nolasco.

The 22-year-old Nolasco, named the Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher and the Diamond Jaxx Pitcher of the Year for 2005, might know better than anyone what winning and losing means in the overall picture. For starters, the Rialto, Calif., native has a family member currently serving in Iraq. And like many, he has been taken sharply aback by the quagmire of misery and despair left by Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast region.

"Being out here, it definitely puts things into perspective," said Nolasco, 14-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 27 starts for the Double-A club in the regular season. "It's unbelievable knowing we're getting paid to play baseball while so many people are coping and just struggling to stay alive in New Orleans."

Since Katrina made landfall on Mon., Aug. 29, the Diamond Jaxx have raised over $3,000 for the American Red Cross to assist with relief efforts. Donation cans have been - and will continue to be - passed around by Pringles Park ushers every night through the remainder of the post-season.

During their final regular season home series against Mobile, the Jaxx awarded one free general admission ticket to anyone with a $5 donation to the Red Cross, and one free box seat ticket with any $10 donation.

(Claire Clark, 9-year-old daughter of season ticket holders Jeff and Laurie Clark, opened a lemonade stand at Pringles Park on Sat., Sept. 3 to raise money for Katrina victims. She earned $40, placing $20 in a Red Cross can at the park that night and the remaining $20 in her church's collection plate the following morning. Jaxx photo--Stephanie Pierce.)

Nolasco and teammates have also done their part to ensure help for Katrina victims.

"We all got together and raised some money as a team to bring some supplies to those areas," Nolasco said. "We're saying our prayers and having our moments of silence for all of the victims."

Of course, everyone has been affected by the tragedy that was Katrina in some way or another. Some members of Nolasco's team, which inched one step closer to advancing to the Southern League Championship Series with a 2-0 win over Carolina in Game 2 of a best-of-five series on Thursday night, have closely related ties to communities and cities at or near the disaster areas.

Jaxx infielder and 2005 team MVP Ryan Theriot is a native of Baton Rouge, La. Manager Bobby Dickerson resides in Laurel, Miss., in the offseason and was recently excused by the team to tend to his home.

Other Cub players from storm-ravaged areas include Cubs pitcher Jermaine Van Buren, also from Laurel. Recent draft pick Justin Rayborn, who spent his rookie season with the Mesa Cubs of the Arizona Summer League, is originally from Pascagoula, Miss., and Iowa Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot is a native of Slidell, La., directly north of New Orleans.

"Ryan had family there (Baton Rouge), but they weren't in too bad of a situation," Nolasco said. "They just didn't have power for a while. They were safe. For us, we feel fortunate enough not to be stuck in the situation down there. I'm definitely thankful for that and I would hope a lot of people are. Our hearts go out to them."

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