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#pounditMonday, August 8, 2022

Baseball

Video: Mets broadcast goes ‘Kill Bill’ after hit-by-pitch

Buck Showalter unhappy

The New York Mets have been among the teams in MLB hit by the most pitches this season, and another hit-by-pitch during Friday’s 9-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves provided an opportunity for the Mets broadcast to break out a new special effect.

With the Braves up 8-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning and one out, Atlanta starter Ian Anderson threw a pitch that just missed hitting Pete Alonso in the face. After Alonso got up from the ground, the SNY broadcast switched to a close-up of Mets manager Buck Showalter glaring out from the dugout.

While Showalter was on camera, the screen went red and slowly zoomed in on the manager’s face as the infamous Ironside Siren sound from the movies “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” and “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” played for close to 10 seconds. The siren was sampled from the intro to Quincy Jones’ theme song for the 1967 film “Ironside.”

In the two “Kill Bill” movies, the siren is played whenever Uma Thurman’s character, “the Bride,” sees someone who has wronged her. The siren indicates that there will be trouble ahead.

Thurman’s character would takes matters into her own hands in a violent manner, but Showalter and the Mets have not often retaliated.

SNY may have been playing off of Showalter’s probable frustration with the number of his players who have been hit this season. The Mets led the majors entering Friday with 70 hit-by-pitches, five more than the second-place Cincinnati Reds.

While Alonso was fortunate that the ball just missed him on Friday, he was hit in the face during Opening Day on April 7 against the Washington Nationals. The following day, Mets shortstop Fransisco Lindor was also hit in the face. That scary hit-by-pitch resulted in a wild brawl (see video here).

Miguel Cabrera addresses whether he will retire

Miguel Cabrera in the dugout

Mar 30, 2022; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) looks on from the dugout in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training at BayCare Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera has one year left on his current contract after this season and reportedly intends to play it out.

According to Chris McCosky of The Detroit News, Cabrera told McCosky directly that he does not plan on retiring after the 2022 season.

Cabrera said that he wants to finish out his contract and retire after next season.

On Thursday, Cabrera indicated to reporters that he was unsure about whether he would play after 2022 due to health reasons. The 39-year-old said that he has not been feeling well but is still trying to get out on the field and play.

While Cabrera has been worn down by knee injuries as he has gotten older, his career has been among the all-time best for a right-handed hitter. The 12-time All-Star has four batting titles and a Triple Crown. Cabrera has the 25th-most hits in MLB history (3,074) and the 27th most home runs (506). While he is hitting .268 this season, he had just four homers and a .332 slugging percentage entering Friday. Those power numbers are a drastic decrease from his prime.

In 2023, Cabrera is highly unlikely to produce at a level that warrants the $32 million payday he will receive. But his presence will provide fans in Detroit and around the country a chance to bid farewell to a likely future Hall of Famer.

Report: 2 NL teams named potential suitors for Shohei Ohtani in 2024

Shohei Ohtani smiles

Jul 19, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; American League pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) of the Los Angeles Angels smiles at fans before the 2022 MLB All Star Game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels did not end up trading Shohei Ohtani this season, but they may lose the star to one of a few nearby teams if he hits free agency in 2024.

The Athletic’s Jayson Stark spoke to some front office executives around MLB about what teams could vie for Ohtani if the reigning American League MVP makes it to free agency.

One of the executives told Stark that he believes Ohtani will opt to stay on the West Coast, and listed both the San Fransisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers as possible landing spots for the 28-year-old.

“My first instinct is to say Dodgers or Giants,” the unnamed executive told Stark. “But I actually don’t think he would go to the Dodgers just because it would look like he’s sticking it to the Angels. I could see him going to Seattle. But West Coast. That’s my guess.”

The Angels had been listening to offers on Ohtani prior to the August 2 trade deadline, but owner Arte Moreno was unwilling to give the go-ahead on a trade for one reason.

With the Angels at 44-61 entering Friday and an extreme long-shot to make the postseason, Ohtani figures to be one of the top draws for the fanbase the rest of the season. He is once again in contention for the A.L. MVP, hitting .258 with 24 home runs and 64 RBI. On the mound, Ohtani has a 2.83 ERA in 105 innings with 152 strikeouts and 24 walks.

H/T NBC Sports Bay Area

Zack Greinke sent Whit Merrifield cool text message after trade

Zack Greinke at a press conference

Oct 11, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) speaks to the media before the Houston Astros and New York Yankees work out at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Greinke is known for being a man of few words. But when he speaks, his words carry meaning. And he apparently had a nice message for Whit Merrifield recently.

Merrifield was traded from the Royals to the Toronto Blue Jays ahead of Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Merrifield is a two-time All-Star and career .286 hitter. But this season, his numbers have been bad. His .242 batting average and .645 OPS are career-low marks.

Merrifield told reporters that upon being traded, he received a text message from Greinke of a tweet. He didn’t know what to make of it until seeing his former Royals teammate later that day.

“That was it. There was nothing else but the Tweet. And so, I saw him later on that day, and I was like, ‘Zach, I got your Tweet. What’s up?’” Merrifield said, via Sportsnet. “And he goes, ‘Yeah, man, I just want to let you know that you’re a good player. Even though sometimes the numbers might not show it.’”

That’s a pretty nice message from Greinke.

What the pitcher wanted to convey is indeed true. Merrifield’s expected numbers are much higher than his actual stats for this season, indicating the versatile player is enduring some bad luck.

Merrifield’s luck is turning too. In July, he batted .286 with an .826 OPS — numbers much more in line with his career stats. The Jays are banking that Greinke is right and that Merrifield’s stats don’t reflect the player the 33-year-old is.

Dodgers manager gives update on Clayton Kershaw’s status

Clayton Kershaw in the dugout

Mar 4, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) looks on prior to a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave an update Friday on the status of pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw left Thursday’s win over the San Francisco Giants after feeling tightness in his back while warming up ahead of the fifth inning. The three-time Cy Young Award winner said he felt something lock up.

“Just felt something kind of lock up there in the fifth and couldn’t really throw after that,” Kershaw said. “Something in my back again.”

Roberts joined MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM Friday and said that he’s not too concerned long term.

“I just can’t see it not being an IL situation. But I am optimistic in the sense that it shouldn’t be too long term of being down,” Roberts said.

Kershaw missed time earlier this season with a hip/back issue. He has dealt with back problems throughout his career.

The Dodgers have gone 12-3 since the All-Star break and have the best record in MLB. They have plenty of depth, but the absence of Kershaw could help the emerging Padres help close the gap in the NL West.

Mookie Betts got into it with Giants pitcher over celebration

Jarlin Garcia taps his head

Mookie Betts got into it Thursday with San Francisco Giants pitcher Jarlin Garcia over the team’s celebration.

For a few years, Los Angeles Dodgers hitters have celebrated big hits by tapping their head — something that is done by basketball players after big shots.

In the top of the sixth inning of Thursday’s game, Garcia struck out Cody Bellinger for the second out of the inning. Garcia then tapped his head using his left hand. He repeated the gesture after striking out James Outman, directing the gesture to Betts.

An inning later, Trea Turner homered, and Dodgers players responded by doing the gesture. You can see the full sequence in this video:

Betts acknowledged after the game that the Dodgers did a little extra with their celebration as revenge.

“You started it. I’m not going to back down at that point. I’m not going to run away from it. I’m not going to encourage it, but I’m not going to run away,” Betts said.

Both Garcia and Giants manager Gabe Kapler were ejected over the incident in the sixth. The Dodgers won the game 5-3 for their first four-game sweep in San Francisco since 1977.

Reason Angels owner would not allow a Shohei Ohtani trade revealed

Shohei Ohtani smiles

Jul 19, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; American League pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) of the Los Angeles Angels smiles at fans before the 2022 MLB All Star Game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels executives listened to offers for Shohei Ohtani leading up to the trade deadline, but owner Arte Moreno ultimately decided to keep the reigning AL MVP. His rationale behind that decision will not surprise you.

Ohtani is one of the biggest stars in baseball. While the Angels could have gotten a massive return for him, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Moreno told members of his team’s front office that trading Ohtani was not an option with both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon on the shelf.

Trout has not played since July 12 with a back injury. Rendon is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his wrist. Although the Angels entered Friday with a 44-61 record and have had a terrible season, Moreno obviously cannot stand the idea of having no star players on the field.

Most people agree that the Angels need to rebuild. In addition to being injured, Trout has a full no-trade clause. Rendon is out for the year and has not been able to stay healthy since he signed with L.A. in 2020. Trading Ohtani was the Angels’ best chance of starting over and acquiring significant assets, but Moreno did not want to risk selling fewer tickets in the short-term.

Ohtani is signed through 2023, so the Angels can still trade him this offseason. He sounds like he may be comfortable with the idea.

Whit Merrifield shares update on vaccine status

Whit Merrifield looking on

Jul 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; American League second baseman Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals (15) looks at the stands during warmups before the 2021 MLB All Star Game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays fans received some encouraging news regarding newly-acquired utility man Whit Merrifield’s ability to play in home games.

The Jays traded pitcher Max Castillo and infielder Samad Taylor to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday for Merrifield.

On Thursday, Merrifield told reporters that he has indeed gotten vaccinated against COVID-19. Merrifield will be in Toronto on August 12 when the team returns from a nine-game road trip.

According to the Canadian Government, travelers are allowed to enter the country 14 calendar days after receiving the single-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second shot of a two-dose vaccine. Given that Merrifield will be able to travel with the team into Canada prior to August 12, he may have been vaccinated at some point in mid-to-late July.

The two-time All-Star faced backlash in July for saying he would consider getting the vaccine if traded to a potential playoff team. That statement left Kansas City feeling insulted that Merrifield did not value their games enough to get the COVID vaccine.

Merrifield was one of 10 Royals players who missed the team’s series in Toronto against the Jays prior to the All-Star break due to his vaccination status.

In 95 games this season entering Thursday, Merrifield was hitting .240 with six home runs and 42 RBI. He made his Jays debut on Thursday in center field against the Minnesota Twins.

Could Tigers legend retire after this season?

Miguel Cabrera in the dugout

Mar 30, 2022; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) looks on from the dugout in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training at BayCare Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera is in the twilight of a distinguished career that may come to a sudden end after this season.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Cabrera indicated that he was unsure about whether he would play after 2022 due to health reasons.

“I don’t feel well right now,” Cabrera said. “I’m trying to do whatever I can to go out there and play, but I don’t feel really good right now.”

The 39-year-old slugger has been worn down by knee injuries as he has gotten older, forcing him to miss some time in 2022. Cabrera has played two decades in MLB, which is bound to cause some wear-and-tear on even the most conditioned players. Still, Cabrera had managed to play in 90 of Detroit’s 106 games entering Thursday.

If this season is in fact Cabrera’s last, he will likely go down as one of the most prolific hitters that baseball has ever seen. His 3,074 hits are the 25th-most in MLB history. He also ranks 27th on the all-time home runs list with 506 long balls, and has four batting titles and a Triple Crown on his resume.

Aside from collecting his 3,000th hit in April, Cabrera has struggled for most of this season. Entering Thursday, the two-time MVP was hitting .271 with just four homers, 36 RBI and 87 hits. Though Cabrera’s .271 average is respectable, he is lacking in the power department and his .657 OPS is by far the lowest of his career.

Cabrera is under contract for $32 million next season, and would forfeit that money if he decides to retire after this year. Regardless of what Cabrera’s future entails, he is almost certainly going to wind up in the baseball Hall of Fame one day.

New York Mets’ trade deadline acquisitions all fit the same theme

Buck Showalter in the dugout

Apr 8, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Buck Showalter (11) walks the dugout during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets did not seem to do a whole lot ahead of Tuesday’s MLB non-waiver trade deadline. But a closer look at their moves reveals their acquisitions all fit the same theme.

The Mets acquired Daniel Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin and Darin Ruf ahead of this year’s deadline. None of the three players have stats that would blow you away. But if you look at their splits, that’s where the difference is notable.

Vogelbach is batting just .236 with a .790 OPS this season. He has a .415 OPS against lefties. However, the left-handed hitter has a .918 OPS against right-handers.

Ruf is batting .216 with a .701 OPS this season. Against right-handers, he has a .570 OPS. However, he has an .886 OPS against lefties this season.

Vogelbach and Ruf can form quite a platoon at DH, with Vogelbach crushing right-handed pitchers, and Ruf destroying lefties.

Naquin is batting .249 with a .752 OPS this season. He has a .518 OPS against lefties and .819 OPS against right-handers.

Naquin and Mark Canha wouldn’t form quite such a complementary tandem in left since both are better at hitting right-handed pitchers. However, Naquin is another nice DH and outfield option to have against right-handed pitchers.

Not only did the Mets add three players who are strong platoon players, but they also got Jacob deGrom back this week. His return to the team will likely be the best addition of all.

The Mets seem to be well set up for a playoff run this season.