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#pounditWednesday, September 30, 2020

Baseball

Andrew McCutchen addresses his embarrassing baserunning blunder

Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen on Thursday addressed his baserunning blunder committed during his Philadelphia Phillies’ 5-4 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.

McCutchen was on first base after grounding into a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the bottom of the second inning to make it 3-0. Bryce Harper was batting with an 0-2 count and struck out on a pitch in the dirt for the second out.

McCutchen must have thought the inning was over, because he didn’t return to first and instead got picked off.

When called out by a fan for the blunder, McCutchen responded on Twitter. He owned his mistake and said he forgot how many outs there were.

Making a mental mistake like that is inexcusable, but at least he owned it. That’s probably not a surprise considering the Phillies outfielder has become known for his honesty. Remember what he said last year about signing with the Phillies?

Joe Torre has hilarious post about wearing a mask

Joe Torre

The subject of wearing a mask has become a heated one this year, but Joe Torre disarmed plenty with a funny tweet on the topic.

The former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers manager shared a photo on Twitter Wednesday of himself with a mask covering his face. Torre joked that if he can fit his mask over his large nose, nobody has an excuse for not wearing one.

People can continue to argue about the efficacy and rules surrounding masks, but most can agree that self-effacing humor is a big winner.

Now 80, Torre won an MVP award as a player and four World Series as the manager of the New York Yankees. He has worked for the commissioner’s office since 2011.

And if you’re looking for more on the masks subject, you can turn to Kerri Walsh.

Ryan Braun responds to Cardinals’ ‘absurd’ catcher’s interference allegations

Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun on Wednesday responded to accusations from the St. Louis Cardinals that he induced a catcher’s interference intentionally.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was called for catcher’s interference during the fifth inning of the Cardinals’ 18-3 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday. Molina was upset because his hand hurt from Braun hitting him with a swing. The two traded some words prior to the incident too.

A bench-clearing incident also ensued that involved some words between the managers.

After the game, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt raised suspicion about Braun’s intentions. Shildt noted that Molina had only been called for catcher’s interference one previous time in his lengthy MLB career.

The teams split a doubleheader on Wednesday, and Braun talked about the allegation afterwards. He denied any intent.

“It was all a bit confusing and somewhat absurd to me. I would never intentionally hit a catcher’s glove. I couldn’t do that if I tried,” Braun said on Wednesday, via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy.

Even if Braun calls the allegation “absurd,” the numbers do show Braun has a tendency to receive catcher’s interference calls. He has benefited from 11 such calls during his career.

Shildt and Brewers manager Craig Counsell were both ejected from Tuesday’s game, while Shildt was suspended a game. Molina underwent X-rays that were negative and was in the lineup for one of the two games Wednesday.

Jacob deGrom exits Mets’ start with possible injury

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom exited his start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night prematurely due to some issue.

deGrom allowed four hits, a walk, and three runs over two innings and left with his New York Mets trailing 3-0. deGrom gave up all three runs in the second inning.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was seen talking with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and head athletic trainer Brian Chicklo in the dugout after getting out of the second inning. deGrom expressed frustration by slamming a water bottle at one point.

Michael Wacha began warming up in the bullpen and replaced deGrom in the third.

deGrom’s reaction suggested there may have been something more going on beyond just his performance in the game.

The 32-year-old ace entered the game 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. His 1.67 ERA led the NL.

MLB postseason format will be true test of pitching depth

Shane Bieber

The MLB has officially announced its plans for the 2020 postseason, and pitching depth will likely be more important than ever in determining which team is crowned World Series champion.

Expanding the postseason from 10 to 16 teams means more games, and MLB is accommodating that with fewer off days. Perhaps the most notable thing from Tuesday’s playoff schedule reveal is that there will be no off days during the Wild Card Series, Division Series or League Championship Series.

A typical postseason series has days off for travel. That allows teams to use their best starting pitchers (and relievers, for that matter) in more games. In order to do that now, starting pitchers would have to pitch on fewer days rest. A team’s ace would only have three days off between starts if pitching twice in a Division Series.

In the past, a team could rely on three or four starters in the postseason. Now, the team with the most rotation depth may have an advantage over the team with the best ace. It will be interesting to see how that element plays out.

MLB, MLBPA agree to bubble plan for majority of playoffs

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been working on a plan to hold postseason games at neutral-site bubbles, and the two sides are now in agreement.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to play the Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series at neutral sites in a bubble-type environment.

Plans were already in place to expand the playoff field from 10 to 16 teams for this season. Rather than have a one-game Wild Card play-in, the first round will be a best-of-three series. Those series will not be played in bubble sites, with the higher-seeded team hosting them.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post shared some more information about the quarantine plan heading into the postseason.

Previous reports indicated that the American League will likely play its postseason series in Texas with the National League playing somewhere in Southern California. The World Series is expected to be hosted at Globe Life Park, which is the new home of the Texas Rangers. You can read more details of the 2020 postseason format here.

Dodgers’ Dave Roberts embarrasses himself with complaint about Trent Grisham

Dave Roberts

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts embarrassed himself with a complaint he made after his team’s 7-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Monday night.

Trent Grisham absolutely crushed a home run off Clayton Kershaw in the sixth to tie the game at one. Grisham pimped his home run with some serious admiration.

Roberts said after the game that he “took exception” to Grisham’s actions. Why? Though Roberts is OK with players admiring homers, he thinks more respect should have been shown for Clayton Kershaw.

This is an absolutely ridiculous complaint from Roberts.

Now we’re legislating under what circumstances someone can celebrate? Please tell us, Dave, how many years in the league does a pitcher need to have to be exempt from being celebrated against? How many Cy Young Awards or All-Star appearances does it take? What are the rules there?

And how can Roberts seriously make that comment with a straight face when his team was responsible for this incident a year ago. Allowing his team to celebrate against a future Hall of Famer like Madison Bumgarner pretty much destroys any complaint he could make for someone doing the same to Kershaw.

MLB hopes to have fans for playoffs, World Series

Rob Manfred

MLB is hoping to have fans in attendance for some postseason games this year.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke in an online event for Hofstra’s business school on Monday and shared his desires. He said they are hoping to have fans for the League Championship Series games and World Series.

“I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity,” Manfred said, via The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. “I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games.”

Manfred reminded those watching that MLB generates around 40 percent of its revenues from having fans present at games. Ticket sales, parking, concessions and merchandise make up a huge portion of team revenues. Playing without fans is costly for the league. That hurts owners and players, as there is less money available to pay players due to declining revenue. That is why they want to start getting fans back.

The NFL had fans at some games in Week 1, as did college football. For now, the ability to have fans largely depends on the permissions from local cities.

MLB is planning to host its postseason in two different cities for the Division Series and beyond. The Los Angeles area will host the American League and Texas will have the National League. Here is what the MLB playoff format will look like for 2020.

Steve Cohen reaches deal to become Mets owner

New York Mets logo

Another key hurdle has reportedly been cleared in the New York Mets’ sale process.

As first reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network, hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen has reached a deal with the Wilpon family to purchase the Mets. The only step remaining would be to get the approval of 23 of MLB’s 30 owners.

The Mets confirmed the agreement Monday afternoon.

Cohen looked to have a deal for the Mets earlier in the year, but it fell apart. He always looked to be the favorite, even after the second round of bidding opened up.

This news will be unwelcome to Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, who hadn’t given up hope on sneaking in at the last minute to make a deal. Their only chance now is that Cohen fails to gain the approval of enough MLB owners.

Report: MLB planning ban on champagne celebrations for 2020

Red Sox celebrate

Major League Baseball’s playoff celebrations are going to look different in 2020.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB is finalizing protocols to govern postgame clinching celebrations. One of the directives is expected to be a ban on alcohol in a bid to limit contact and enforce social distancing.

There will be other changes as well. The league will ask players to celebrate on the field instead of in the clubhouse, and to wear masks while doing so. The commemorative hats and t-shirts that are traditionally handed out during the celebration will be shared in a way that limits contact.

MLB can only regulate so much, and the league knows that. There’s not really anything they can do to stop players from hugging or celebrating in the clubhouse. The alcohol ban should be strictly enforceable, though.

Teams typically spend a small fortune on champagne for celebrations. There will be no need for that in 2020. It should create some odd sights in and around clubhouses, though.