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#pounditSunday, May 22, 2022

Baseball

Dodgers got hosed by umpire Paul Emmel’s 10th-inning strike call

A Paul Emmel strike call

Despite featuring 22 runs scored and 27 hits, Friday night’s game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies will most likely be remembered for a bad strike call by home plate umpire Paul Emmel.

In the tenth inning of Friday’s game, Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner got absolutely hosed on a call by Emmel. As the Dodgers trailed 12-10 with two outs but runners at the corners, Emmel ruled that a 1-1 Francisco Morales slider was a strike despite it appearing to be well off the plate. Take a look.

The pitch clearly looked like a ball in real time, and replays showed that it was about two or three baseball lengths off the dish. Emmel’s bad call also greatly changed the dynamics of the at-bat. Instead of a 2-1 hitter’s count against a pitcher who had already allowed three batters to reach base in the inning, Turner now had to protect the plate down 1-2. On the next pitch, he reached for one and grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

Despite the loss, the Dodgers still lead the NL West with a 20-11 record. But they have now lost three games in a row with this latest one coming courtesy of the worst strike call that we have seen since this one in last year’s playoffs.

Video: Max Scherzer prevented ceremonial first pitch

Max Scherzer ready to pitch

May 13, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets hosted the Seattle Mariners at Citi Field on Friday night, and there was a special first pitch ceremony scheduled for Japanese Heritage Night. But Max Scherzer wasn’t interested in any of that.

As Mikio Mori, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, attempted to the take the mound, he found himself blocked by Scherzer. The Mets ace was warming up and proceeded as if Mori didn’t exist.

Eventually, a Mets employee came onto the field and call Mori off.

There’s a level of intensity to Scherzer that every team would love, but it’s unfortunate Mori paid the price for that. He likely had his entire family in the stands for what was supposed to be a magical moment. Instead, he jogged off with baseball in hand and a mild level of embarrassment.

Scherzer, meanwhile, gave up just one run and struck out six over seven innings. But in the end, the Mets blew it late and fell to the Mariners, 2-1.

Tim Anderson upset with Josh Donaldson over tag

Tim Anderson talks to Josh Donaldson

Benches cleared during Friday night’s game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, though the matter was extremely minor.

Gerrit Cole struck out Gavin Sheets with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning with his Yankees leading 2-0. After the strikeout, catcher Jose Trevino threw down to third base to try and pick off Tim Anderson.

Josh Donaldson applied a forceful tag and simultaneously tried to push Anderson off the bag. Anderson took issue with the way Donaldson tried to tag and force him off the bag and said something.

The two initially traded words but seemed to settle matters. Still, teammates from both sides didn’t hesitate to come out.

Here’s a close look at the tag:

That was a pretty sneaky, garbage move by Donaldson, so it’s no wonder Anderson was upset. The good thing is that third base umpire Chris Guccione didn’t fall for it.

Clayton Kershaw gets positive news on SI joint injury

Clayton Kershaw smiling

Apr 13, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) returns to the dugout after seven perfect innings against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Clayton Kershaw on the injured list Friday, but there is some positive news.

Kershaw has been bothered by a sacroiliac joint issue (located in the pelvis). The southpaw told reporters Friday that he doesn’t feel well, but the good news is an MRI showed no structural damage.

Kershaw did receive an epidural to help with the pain.

The 34-year-old is in the middle of a brilliant season for the Dodgers. Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and has 32 strikeouts and just three walks in 30 innings. He tossed seven perfect innings against the Twins in his first start of the season.

Kershaw was extremely durable early in his career, but he has dealt with injuries in recent seasons. Last year he pitched just 121.2 innings, which was his lowest amount since his rookie season (not including the shortened 2020 season). He dealt with a forearm injury that kept him out of the postseason. In 2019, he had a shoulder injury. This year he is dealing with the pelvis/lower back issue.

The Dodgers still have Walker Buehler and Julio Urias to anchor the rotation, while Tony Gonsolin has been great to start the season. The Dodgers called up Garrett Cleavinger in a corresponding move.

Surprising Shohei Ohtani teammate has become quite popular in Japan

Shohei Ohtani finishes a swing

Jun 12, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani is enormously popular in Japan and has developed popularity in America too. But a surprising Los Angeles Angels teammate of his has also become a hit in Japan too.

Ohtani was the subject of a cover story by SI published on Friday. The story gives some insight into Ohtani’s personality and highlights his practical joker side. It also shared the funny detail about Tyler Wade, who has become popular in Japan.

The story states that Wade has “many admirers” in Japan due to his good looks. Ohtani even has a funny nickname for Wade.

From the SI story:

“Many Angels are famous in Japan because they keep showing up in photos of Ohtani; he recently informed Wade that the second baseman has many admirers abroad, and he now only addresses him as ‘ikemen,’ which means ‘hot guy.'”

Here is the ikemen:

Ohtani has been playing for the Angels for five seasons, which might make you wonder why Wade suddenly has popularity there. That’s because Wade previously played for the Yankees and was traded to the Angels in November. The 27-year-old utility man is batting .279 this season. He’s batting 1.000 when it comes to his popularity in Japan.

Ex-1st round pick Kumar Rocker signs with new team ahead of MLB Draft

Kumar Rocker in a hat

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker is greeted by fans as the baseball team heads toTD Ameritrade Park for their game against Michigan in the 2019 NCAA Men’s College World Series Finals at Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Omaha, Neb. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV / Tennessean.com

Kumar Rocker has signed with a new team.

Rocker was the No. 10 overall pick by the New York Mets last year, though he had the talent to arguably go No. 1. But he did not end up signing with the team because they had concerns over his medical exams.

Well, the former Vanderbilt star has a new team.

The Tri-City ValleyCats announced on Friday that they have agreed to terms with Rocker on a contract.

The ValleyCats play in Troy, New York and are part of the Frontier League, which is an official MLB partner league. Rocker should be able to sharpen his pitching ahead of the 2022 MLB Draft.

Rocker was the 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player while leading Vanderbilt to the national championship. He started 20 games for Vandy last season and had a 2.73 ERA with 179 strikeouts in 122 innings. He remains a top pitching prospect.

Video: Aaron Judge destroyed a 456-foot home run

Aaron Judge swings

Aaron Judge leads MLB in home runs this season, and he’s not hitting them cheaply.

The New York Yankees slugger crushed a projected 456-foot blast on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox.

Judge was facing Ryan Burr with his Yankees leading 6-4 in the top of the seventh. He took a 3-2 pitch down the middle and sent it out to deep left field.

What a blast.

That was projected to be a home run at all 30 parks, unsurprisingly. It had an exit velocity of 114 mph.

The Yankees have gotten off to a hot start in 2022. They entered Thursday’s game 22-8, which is the best mark in MLB. Unsurprisingly, they also have three of the league’s home run leaders in Judge (11), Giancarlo Stanton (9) and Anthony Rizzo (9).

Nearly the entire Cleveland coaching staff is in COVID protocol

Terry Francona talks with the media

Dec 12, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona talks to the media during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland’s game against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday was postponed due to COVID issues, which marked the first MLB game postponed this season due to COVID. Cleveland was not scheduled to play on Thursday, but they are set to be back in action on Friday against Minnesota. They will just have a very thin coaching staff.

Guardians pitching coach Carl Willis is set to manage on Friday. The reason he is scheduled to manage is because he’s the only man left standing.

Seven Cleveland coaches are in COVID protocols, including:

– Manager Terry Francona
– Bench coach DeMarlo Hale
– Hitting coach Chris Valaika
– Asst pitching coach Joe Torres
– First base coach Sandy Alomar
– Third base coach Mike Sarbaugh
– Hitting analyst Justin Toole

That’s quite a list.

Francona tested positive for the virus prior to Wednesday’s game but was said to be asymptomatic.

Cleveland is 15-15 this season. If they perform well this weekend without their coaching staff, Cleveland’s notoriously-cheap organization might consider going coachless for the future. Imagine the financial savings.

Bryce Harper battling through notable elbow injury

Bryce Harper in a headband

Aug 5, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper has not played in the outfield in some time, and that will continue for the foreseeable future.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi announced Thursday that Harper has been diagnosed with a small UCL tear. Harper will not throw for a month, but the team hopes to get him on a program after that.

The injury does not impact Harper’s hitting, and he will continue to be able to DH. He is hitting .269 with six home runs despite dealing with the issue for much of the season. That said, Harper has not started in the outfield since April 16, and that will not change anytime soon. Harper’s defense is a significant part of his value, so the team certainly misses him.

The Phillies have struggled this season and find themselves just 14-17 despite being a preseason contender. This would be much worse if Harper couldn’t play at all, but as it is, he will still be able to provide his bat and his clubhouse leadership.

Nationals run themselves into ridiculous ‘double play’

Nationals double play

The Washington Nationals made a remarkable series of baserunning blunders in Thursday’s game that led to one of the more ridiculous pseudo-double plays anyone will see.

The Nationals had a runner at second base with nobody out Thursday against the New York Mets, a seemingly safe situation to avoid two outs on one play. Josh Bell hit a routine ground ball to third, but Juan Soto tried to advance from second on the play. This ill-advised decision led to him getting tagged out. While Soto got himself in a rundown, Bell tried to take second, and seemed to have it when Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor threw the ball into right field.

Then Bell got greedy, trying to take third on the bad throw. He was promptly thrown out as the Mets recovered quickly.

Note that this is not technically a double play, since there was a lot of action between the two outs. That doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or ugly from Washington’s perspective.

The Nationals are 11-22 and heading for a lost season, and plays like this are why. This was arguably even worse than this ugly effort from the American League earlier in the season.