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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Baseball

Chase Utley gives Mets the ultimate F-You

Chase Utley grand slam

Chase Utley, man. That guy sure knows how to play the villain like a regular Jack Parkman.

Utley delivered the ultimate F-You to the New York Mets on Saturday, his second game of a series that marked his first time playing in Citi Field since the infamous slide incident in last year’s playoffs.

As a refresher, Utley’s reckless slide broke Ruben Tejada’s leg during the NLDS against the Mets. He had a suspension overturned, but the slide led MLB to change its rules.

The slide became such a controversial point around baseball that it led the former longtime Phillie to become even more hated among NL East rival Mets fans. Their fans even sent him death threats.

On Friday, Utley proved he wasn’t shaken by the hostility from Mets fans by going 1-for-2 with 4 RBIs, including a bases-clearing double in the ninth to tie the game at five. On Saturday, he was even more productive.

First Utley struck out to lead off the game. When he faced Noah Syndergaard again in the third, the massive pitcher was ejected for throwing at Utley — and missing him — with a 99 mph heater. Utley struck out in that at-bat, too. But that would not portend what was to come.

Utley clubbed a solo shot in the sixth to break a scoreless game, all while Mets fans chanted “Hit him!”

As if that weren’t enough, he then mashed a grand slam in the seventh to put the Dodgers up 6-0.

So let’s just recap:

– Utley is hated in New York
– Utley is booed by Mets fans who want the team to hit him
– Syndergaard is ejected for throwing at Utley but missing him
– Utley rebounds from two strikeouts to hit two home runs

Utley now has 38 career home runs against the Mets, the most he’s hit against any opponent. He just loves making their lives miserable.

Alex Rodriguez shares daughter’s hilarious Parents Day assignment

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez’s daughter profiled her father for a Parents Day assignment, and her work gave us some interesting insights on the man himself.

What kind of insights? Namely that the man isn’t very adventurous in his home life, apparently. Also, he still has a Blackberry.

Cut an apple? Come on, A-Rod. Step it up. You can do better than that.

Also, as Rodriguez notes, he’s 40, not 43. Maybe he likes to seem older and wiser.

It’s still a nice little portrait into Rodriguez’s home life. And hopefully if the two play football together, he goes easier on her than he did on the Fox Sports video board back in October.

Report: White Sox in talks to acquire James Shields from Padres

james-shields-padres

The San Diego Padres look destined for another year of mediocrity, and they may be close to offloading one of their more expensive veterans as a result.

According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres are in talks to trade pitcher James Shields to the Chicago White Sox, and the discussions have “significant momentum.”

While a deal may not be imminent, the Padres are clearly looking to move Shields, and the White Sox have been after starting pitching help all season, so the pairing makes plenty of sense.

Shields is signed through 2018 and is owed another $65 million by San Diego. While the Padres are willing to kick in some money to make a deal happen, Shields can also opt out of the deal after 2016, which could complicate a significant return.

Shields has reportedly been on the block since the offseason, but he’s put up a 3.06 ERA thus far this season, so he has some fuel left in the tank. Just don’t let him face Bartolo Colon and you’ll be fine.

Dodgers send Julio Urias back to minors after one start

Julio Urias

Julio Urias made his highly-anticipated MLB debut on Friday night, but that’s all Dodgers fans will get to experience of him for now.

The Dodgers are sending Urias down to the minor leagues on Saturday, a day after he made his first and only career start.

Urias, a 19-year-old prospect the team signed in 2012, struggled with his control in his debut. The teenager allowed five hits and walked four in 2.2 innings against the Mets. He only threw 42 strikes in 81 pitches, striking out three. Despite giving up three runs and leaving down 3-1, Urias took a no-decision as the Dodgers scored four runs in the 9th to tie the game before losing 6-5.

The Mexican pitcher started on Friday in place of Alex Wood, who had a forearm issue. The Dodgers were unsure at the time whether they would keep Urias on the team to be a part of the pitching staff, but they decided to send him down.

Urias will return to Triple-A Oklahoma City for now where he was dominating the competition. Urias was 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA, having only allowed five runs in 41 innings. His strikeouts-to-walk ratio was also very strong with 44 Ks to just eight free passes.

The promising youngster will likely be back with the big club before the end of the season.

PK Subban will give Jose Bautista ticket to Raptors game for a bat flip

Jose Bautista bat flip

Jose Bautista’s flip against the Rangers during last year’s playoffs was so epic that he’s now being asked to bat flip in exchange for goods.

The Blue Jays began a weekend series against the Red Sox on Friday but did so without one of their best players. Bautista served the one-game suspension handed down as a result of the brawl against the Rangers earlier this month.

With the Raptors and Cavaliers playing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Toronto on Friday, and Bautista needing something to do, the Jays right fielder reached out to P.K. Subban in hopes of securing a ticket.

The Canadiens defenseman seemed willing to part with the ticket, for a small favor. Subban wanted Bautista to do a bat flip during Saturday’s game. Bautista declined because, well, he doesn’t want to be suspended again.

It’s tough to blame Bautista for turning down the offer, even if it means not being at Air Canada Centre to see what should be a good playoff game in person. I guess you can’t fault Subban for trying either. Since it doesn’t appear Bautista will be bat flipping anytime soon, you can re-watch the greatest one ever here.

Yoenis Cespedes open to spending rest of career with Mets

Yoenis Cespedes Mets

Yoenis Cespedes seems to have found a home in New York.

The Mets outfielder says he loves playing for the Mets, and he feels as though he could for a very long time.

“It’s like I said from when I got here last year, it feels very much at home here,” Cespedes told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “It feels as if I’ve been playing here a very long time. And I could spend the rest of my career with this team.”

Cespedes has proven that his torrid 2015 was no fluke, as he’s started 2016 in much the same fashion. He’s hitting .301 with 15 home runs already this season, and it has come as a surprise that he’s taken such a step forward at the age of 30. Cespedes has an explanation for it.

“You don’t usually see someone at this age making adjustments,” Cespedes said. “However, when you meet someone in this league that’s 29 or 30, they’ve probably also been playing longer than the five years that I have. So I think if they feel like they have to make adjustments, they probably make them earlier in life.”

Cespedes made it clear this past offseason that he wanted to stay with the Mets, but with lingering questions about him, he only got a 3 year deal with an opt out after 2016. Cespedes will be able to make a fortune if he keeps this up, making that opt out more likely. Cespedes loves New York, but whether the occasionally thrifty Mets are willing to pay up long-term is a different question altogether.

Report: Family of Chase Utley received death threats after NLDS slide

Chase Utley takeout slide

Chase Utley’s family received death threats after his slide broke Ruben Tejada’s leg during the 2015 National League Division Series, according to a report.

Mets fans were so furious with Utley’s slide that his family was targeted with death threats, and Utley did not stay in the same hotel as his Dodgers teammates when they made the trip to New York, though that was mere coincidence.

“That was the plan prior to anything,” Utley said, via Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. “It was probably better off that way.”

Utley is laid back about the whole situation, and the fact that Mets fans viscerally hate him. He called the boos “part of the deal” and said he has no extra incentive to shut up Mets fans. He just wants to win.

The Dodgers had, and continue to have, Utley’s back with regards to the controversial slide.

“Chase was playing the game the way he’s always played,” said teammate Clayton Kershaw. “Obviously you never want anybody to get hurt. The game being in the playoffs, and all that stuff, magnified everything. But there’s been a whole lot of slides a lot worse than that over the course of baseball [history]. Some of the stuff he had to go through, it wasn’t fair.”

Interestingly, in stark contrast to how Mets fans viewed the slide, at least one Mets coach had no problem with how Utley played the game.

“Your player got hurt, so everybody was upset about it,” said Bob Geren, who was the Mets’ bench coach during the 2015 season but now holds the same position with the Dodgers. “But you look at it, and that was just the way the game has been played since I played. In fact, I’ve seen some of the other ones in the ’70s that were incredible.”

I understand Utley being booed by New York fans, and that’s fine. But death threats are unacceptable, especially against the guy’s family. He’s a hard-nosed player who made a poor slide.

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