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A tale of two Romanos...

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Posted 06-24-2011 at 10:21 AM by Hazza

Legend has it, that after Maximo Romano won the Mexican National League Pitcher of the Year award for the second year in a row in 2015 someone quipped "Why don't we just call it the Romano award?"

And that's why the league bestows the award on the best pitcher the "Romano Award"

But it wasn't just Maximo from whom it got its name.

Antonio Romaro was born in Victoria, Mexico in 1984. And all his life he wanted to be a professional ball player. From an early age he showed fierce athletic ability and at a junior level showed incredible stuff. One of the scouts that observed him in his earlier years confided in me:
"When we looked at Antonio we knew he would be a big league player. He not only had that stuff that you dream about, but he had all the tools. He was the complete package."

When he entered the Mexican league in 2011 he made an instant impact. 17 wins and a 2.50 era would have made him Pitching champion if it wasn't for the historic 21 win season pitched by Miguel Macias.

Meanwhile Maximo Romanos was a different person all together. While Antonio was an athletic freak Maximo just "got" the game of baseball. Everything came naturally to him, and his physical gifts were not as obvious to scouts.

When it came draft time, Scout were not as impressed and Maximo didn't go until the 4th round. But if anything, that drove Maximo even harder.

"He just understood the game, and he wanted to show people that so he worked as hard as he could." Said a former team mate.

But Maximo made his mark in his first year, assisting Monterrey to the a dominant league title, himself pitching a 19 win season and a 2.96 ERA.

2012 was Antonio's year. 22-4 record with a 1.98 ERA. One of the best single performances by any pitcher in the Mexican league to date, and infact still the record for wins per season, and would have been for league ERA until Fernando Martinez's 1.81 ERA season this year.

But the big prize eluded Antonio, with his team not making the playoffs that year.

Maximo slumped, 15-14 with a 3.30 ERA that year. And followed it up with similar year the next.

2013 was again Antonio's year. 17-8, 2.00 ERA. And again he took the best Pitcher award. But still this herculean effort did not result in a league title.

But it all turned around in 2014. Maximo led the way to pick up the pitching title, and the league with a 17-6 3.10 era while Antonio missed most of the season with a hamstring strain.

In 2015 Maximo backed it up with a 19-5 2.58 ERA year, and another best pitcher award. Antonio pitched a 12-13 year. Even if on the field was disappointing, off the field Antonio finally achieved his dream: To sign for a Major league organisation in the USA.

"For Antonio it was not about the money." Said his father, "It was about being the best, and winning the title."

And that was the end of the dominance of the Romanos in Mexican Baseball.

Maximo continued having good years, being among some of the best pitchers in Mexico. But he never recaptured the award that now shares his name, or win another league title. And in 2018 he was traded away by Monterrey. And now is a free agent.

After signing for Honolulu Antonio never really kicked into gear. Three average, injury plagued years entailed before he was demoted to AAA (even with a five million dollar a year contract) where he had two very injury plagued years, never quite reaching the levels he reached in Mexico. At the end of this year, and another long term injury Antonio hung up his glove for last time.

"Even though he never made a huge impact in America," his father told me, "The fact that Antonio was able to have a go in America will do wonders for Mexican baseball."

"I scouted both players," Said a former scout, "I knew they were good, but I didn't realize how they would dominate Mexican baseball. I am just pleased that I was able to witness it."

For four years all you had to do was to look at any paper and Mexico, and know for sure that no matter what the name on the top of the pitching table was Romano. Two players with different styles and different careers. But both have shaped Mexican Baseball for good.
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