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#pounditMonday, October 3, 2022

Baseball

2-time MLB All-Star announces his plans to retire

Stephen Vogt in catching gear

Jun 29, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Stephen Vogt (21) jogs to the dugout at the end of the top of the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

At 37 years old, one former All-Star is ready to close his chapter on baseball.

Oakland Athletics veteran catcher Stephen Vogt told the Associated Press this week that he plans to retire after the 2022 season. Vogt adds that he hopes to move into a coaching or managing role upon his retirement.

Vogt opens up in his interview with the Associated Press about his up-and-down MLB journey, which included a lengthy wait to get called up, a career-threatening shoulder injury in 2018, and becoming a fan favorite with the A’s. You can read the interview in full here.

Now in his tenth season after debuting at age 27 in 2012, Vogt has indeed had quite a roller-coaster MLB career. He has played for six different teams and was designated for assignment by three of them. But now Vogt is in his second stint with the A’s, the team where he enjoyed his greatest success.

Vogt made All-Star appearances for Oakland in 2015 and 2016 and became a deeply respected clubhouse leader. While he is only hitting .166 this season after re-signing with the A’s in March, it only feels right that Vogt will retire in Oakland (joining this ex-teammate who plans to retire after 2022 as well).

Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez dealing with worrying injury

Julio Rodriguez running

Jul 4, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodriguez (44) rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Rodriguez is almost a lock to win AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2022. However, the Seattle Mariners outfielder is physically struggling as the regular season winds down.

Rodriguez left Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics with what the Mariners called low back tightness. Rodriguez left the game gingerly and was visibly frustrated as he made his way to the dugout.

Back issues have plagued Rodriguez for much of September. Though his play has not suffered, he has missed a handful of games, with Thursday being just his sixth appearance since Sept. 13. With the playoffs looming, this is certainly a concern, as the Mariners are well-positioned to claim one of the AL Wild Card positions.

Rodriguez has been dinged up a decent amount this year, but the lingering nature of the back issue is certainly a concern. The Mariners may need to be careful with him down the stretch at this point.

Clayton Kershaw makes major reveal about his future

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

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw turns 35 years old next March. Despite that, it does not sound like he plans to slow things down for at least one more season.

Kershaw said Thursday he is leaning toward playing in 2023 as long as he feels physically capable.

“As of now, I haven’t really thought a whole lot about next year. But I do think I’m leaning towards playing over not, for sure,” Kershaw told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. “I hold the right to change my mind, but as of today, I think that I’ve got at least one more run.”

Kershaw did not guarantee that he would do so with the Dodgers. While he is happy in Los Angeles, he did entertain an offer from his hometown Texas Rangers last offseason, and did not rule out considering the possibility once again. The left-hander is set to become a free agent again this offseason.

The three-time Cy Young winner has pitched at a high level all season, boasting a 2.39 ERA in 19 starts. He has dealt with some injury issues, but nothing that derailed his season.

Ex-World Series champion to retire after 2022 season

Kurt Suzuki in catching gear

Apr 16, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) walks to the dugout before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After 16 solid seasons, The Kurt Suzuki Show is coming off the air.

The veteran catcher Suzuki told reporters this week that he plans to retire upon the conclusion of the 2022 MLB season.

“I feel like it’s time,” said Suzuki, per Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register. “I’ve had a great run, won a World Series, All-Star Game. Played 16 seasons. I’ve accomplished a lot of things I never would have dreamed of. I felt like it’s time for the next chapter. My three kids, all they’ve known is baseball.

“They used to be excited to watch me on TV,” Suzuki added. “Now they want me at home. That’s kind of when you know. I’ve said from the beginning, family is always first. That comes first no matter what. The game will tell you, but also your family will tell you.”

Suzuki, who turns 39 in October, is currently on the Los Angeles Angels, his sixth MLB team. He is batting a career-low .179 in 48 appearances as a backup this season (and also suffered an on-field scare in May).

As Suzuki hinted at, he made an All-Star team with the Minnesota Twins in 2014. Additionally, Suzuki won it all with the Washington Nationals in 2019 (drawing some attention off the field after that World Series win).

Giants announce major new role for Buster Posey

Buster Posey in gear

Sep 6, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) reacts during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Buster Posey retired as a member of the San Francisco Giants at the end of the 2021 season, but he did not stay out of baseball for long.

The Giants announced Wednesday that Posey is joining the team’s ownership group and will sit on the organization’s Board of Directors. There was no announcement regarding how big a share of the Giants Posey purchased, but chairman Greg Johnson told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that the former catcher was putting “real money” into the organization at its current valuation.

Both Posey and Johnson indicated that the former catcher will take an active role as part of his new responsibilities, though he may not necessarily be seen frequently in public. Posey is expected to advise on baseball matters and may also play a role in free agent recruiting.

This will certainly be a popular move from the Giants, as Posey remains wildly popular with the fanbase. That certainly makes sense, as he won three World Series titles as the backbone of the franchise, and is rightly regarded as one of the organization’s best-ever players. Plus, it’s no secret that the Giants wanted to keep Posey around even after he had decided to retire.

While buying a stake of the Giants was no doubt expensive, there are reasons to believe Posey had the money to pull it off.

Longtime president Dayton Moore fired by Royals

Dayton Moore wearing sunglasses

Jul 17, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore watching batting practice at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have made a major change in their front office, parting ways with longtime team president Dayton Moore.

Moore confirmed that he had been let go, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal and Andy McCullough of The Athletic. Moore said he was “thankful” for the chance to run the Royals, but “disappointed” at not being able to see through the team’s current rebuild.

Moore took over the Royals in 2006, making him one of the longest-tenured executives in baseball. It took him nearly a decade to turn the franchise into a successful one, but the patience paid off as the Royals won consecutive AL pennants in 2014 and 2015. Kansas City narrowly fell short in seven games against the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series, but beat the Mets in five games a year later to claim the championship.

Since then, the Royals have failed to reach those heights once more. Kansas City entered play Wednesday at 59-89, and though there is promise at the MLB level, the team has clearly not progressed as quickly as ownership hoped or expected. The organizational culture had seemed to take a hit as well.

Moore is still just 55, so he has a decent chance of landing another executive job elsewhere if that is what he wants.

Yankees fans had cool gesture with Aaron Judge home run ball

Aaron Judge hits a ball

Aaron Judge on Tuesday night hit his 60th home run of the season in the New York Yankees’ 9-8 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, and some fans did something cool with his home run ball.

Judge led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo home run to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 8-5. Here is a look at the home run:

The home run was Judge’s 60th of the season, making him just the third ever American League player to hit 60 home runs (fellow Yankees Roger Maris and Babe Ruth are the others).

20-year-old fan Michael Kessler, who attended the game with three friends, got Judge’s home run ball. He gave it to the Yankees slugger, feeling it was his to have since he accomplished the feat.

The Yankees arranged for a meet-and-greet between the four fans and Judge. The Yankees outfielder hooked up the players with autographed memorabilia in exchange for the 60th home run ball back.

The fun didn’t end with Judge’s home run. The Yankees kept the rally going with a double, walk and single to load the bases. They won on a walk-off grand slam by Giancarlo Stanton.

Yankees fans may demand a lot out of their players and have high standards, but they can also be classy, like these kids.

Funny video of Daniel Vogelbach celebrating Mets playoff berth goes viral

Daniel Vogelbach at his locker

The legend of The Bach only continues to grow.

The New York Mets officially clinched a playoff berth Monday night with a win over Milwaukee. They will be making their first postseason appearance since 2016 and can also lock up the NL East division crown in the coming weeks if they manage to hold off the Atlanta Braves.

A funny video from the team’s celebration in the locker room subsequently went viral. The video showed Mets slugger Daniel Vogelbach sitting at his locker, phone on his lap, cap on backwards, and looking completely contented as he drank from a can of Bud Light. Take a look.

That is a man whose vibe is just living life. Even better was that Vogelbach was spotted in the corner of one celebratory team picture still at his locker with his phone and his beer as his other teammates posed for the shot.

Not to worry though, Vogelbach still got in plenty of merry-making in with his Mets teammates. The team shared a picture of Vogelbach with fellow slugger Pete Alonso. This time around, Vogelbach could be seen with a Miller High Life bottle in hand, the mark of a true gentleman.

Vogelbach was just acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates less than two months ago but has already won the hearts of Mets fans everywhere. In addition to posting an .824 OPS in 47 games as a Met, Vogelbach’s running antics and clutch hitting have turned him into a local favorite.

The ex-All-Star Vogelbach also has a pretty darn elite walk-up song to boot.

Dodgers legend Maury Wills dies at age 89

Maury Wills in a Dodgers hat

Maury Wills in 2009. Photo Credit: Cindy Murphy/Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0

Los Angeles Dodgers legend Maury Wills died on Monday evening at the age of 89, the team announced on Tuesday.

The Dodgers shared a photo of Wills and said they were saddened by the legend’s passing.

“The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened by the passing of Dodger legend Maury Wills. Our thoughts are with Wills’ family, teammates and friends,” the team wrote.

Wills played 14 seasons in MLB from 1959-1972. He played 12 seasons with the Dodgers, part of a season with Montreal, and two with the Pirates.

The 5-foot-11 shortstop was known for his defense and speed. He led the league in steals six times during his career, including in 1962, when he stole 104 bases. Wills won NL MVP that year, and the second of two Gold Gloves he received during his career.

Wills was a five-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and 1-time NL MVP. He won three World Series with the Dodgers, and batted .367 in the 1965 World Series win over the Twins.

Wills continued to work with the Dodgers well after his retirement. He helped teach during spring training and even mentored current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

Awesome photo of MLB legends having lunch together goes viral

Ozzie Smith waving

Jul 30, 2017; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Fame player Ozzie Smith is introduced during the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Clark Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Old-school baseball fans will enjoy the one-of-a-kind picture that is going viral this week.

An awesome photo made the rounds on social media of a lunch meet-up that several MLB legends recently had. Keith Hernandez, Johnny Bench, Brooks Robinson, Steve Garvey, Jim Kaat, and Ozzie Smith were among those in attendance. Actor Joe Piscopo was also present at the table. Take a look.

For those keeping score at home, that is four Hall of Famers at one table. Also represented are 65 combined All-Star selections, 70 combined Gold Glove awards, nine combined World Series titles, and five combined MVP awards (plus the guy who played Doug Bigelow in “Dead Heat”).

This year, we have already seen some phenomenal group pictures of iconic athletes go viral. But when it comes to baseball greats, it does not get much better than the picture that you see above.