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#pounditSunday, September 26, 2021

Baseball

Shohei Ohtani hints that he could leave Angels in free agency

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani is under contract with the Los Angeles Angels for two more seasons. But he could end up leaving them if they don’t get their act together.

Ohtani on Sunday started for the Angels against the Seattle Mariners. The game unfortunately was a painful reflection of what things have been like for him since signing with the team.

Ohtani gave up just one run and struck out 10 over seven innings. He exited with the game tied at one. Then the Angels’ bullpen blew it and they lost 5-1.

Oh yeah, Ohtani also had a hit in the game while batting second.

Though Ohtani has played at an MVP level, the rest of the team has not delivered in the same way. Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, two of the team’s other top hitters, have missed most of the season. Their other pitchers haven’t really performed well either.

That all seemed to lead to his quote after Sunday’s game. Ohtani said that he and the team have not yet had contract extension talks. He was complimentary of the Angels and the team’s fans, but he emphasized his priority is winning.

Based on Ohtani’s message, the Angels have two seasons to show vast improvement. If they don’t, they risk losing Ohtani in free agency to a team that has been more of a winner (the Dodgers come to mind).

The Angels have not had a winning record since 2015 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. They have spent most of their free agent money on position players rather than pitchers. Guys like Rendon have been injured, while previous hitters like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Justin Upton have not lived up to their deals.

The Angels seemed to have recognized this issue and addressed it in the draft, albeit in an extreme manner.

Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina hilariously roasted by Cardinals teammate

Adam Wainwright

St. Louis Cardinals teammates Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are known for their remarkable longevity. That also opens them up to jokes about how old they are.

The Cardinals won their 14th consecutive game Saturday, matching a feat the franchise previously accomplished in 1935. That fact was great fodder for Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, who used the opportunity to roast his teammates over their age.

Nootbaar is 24 years old. Compare that to 40-year-old Wainwright and 39-year-old Molina and it’s pretty easy to see why that joke was begging to be made. That said, the young outfielder should probably be careful, because Wainwright in particular is serious about pulling pranks.

The camaraderie apparent among the Cardinals is probably a reason they’re doing so well. They’re on course to earn the second NL Wild Card spot, setting up a potential date with the Dodgers in a one-game playoff.

Look: Giants dress up as sailors in must-see photo

Giants captain sailors

The San Francisco Giants may have lost on Thursday, but that didn’t stop them from having fun afterwards.

Giants pitcher Kevin Gausman shared a photo on Twitter that showed some of his teammates dressed up. Brandon Belt is in the foreground as the captain. His “seamen” are lined up on the stairs of the plane behind him.

So what’s the deal? Belt recently anointed himself the captain of the team and even had a funny marking on his jersey to show it. He has completely embraced the persona. He also said he is the first one off the plane.

It looks like the team was having fun with Belt’s captaincy and gave him a crew. Some of the guys behind him include Logan Webb, Lamonte Wade Jr. and Zack Littell.

Maybe this is the kind of loose attitude a team in the playoff race needs.

Chris Bassitt shares awesome inspirational post after return from facial injury

Chris Bassitt

Chris Bassitt shared an awesome inspirational post on Twitter Thursday, the day he returned from a serious injury.

Bassitt was hit by a line drive during his start against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 17. Bassitt suffered a fractured cheekbone and jawbone. He also had to get treatment for his eye, where he had a huge cut.

Bassitt shared photos on Twitter of himself undergoing treatment at a hospital.

He also shared his reason for returning this season.

“Why did I come back? What’s the point? I’ll tell you why… We are the green and gold. Bob Melvin is our manager. Don’t make excuses and get your a– to work. If you won’t do it then we will find someone who will. This org turns you into a better person and im [sic] grateful,” Bassitt wrote (edited by LBS).

Bassitt’s return wasn’t just for show, either. He pitched three innings and allowed just one hit, one walk, no runs and struck out four.

Bassitt is 12-4 with a 3.16 ERA this season. It’s nice for the A’s to have him back.

Lenny Dykstra celebrates impressive streak with funny tweet

Lenny Dykstra

Lenny Dykstra celebrated an impressive streak with a funny tweet he sent on Thursday.

Dykstra was a three-time All-Star during his 12-year MLB career. He was a World Series champion in 1986 with the Mets and finished second in NL MVP voting in 1993, when his Phillies lost in the World Series to Toronto.

Now 58, Dykstra has had multiple legal issues since retiring from MLB. He has been hit with bankruptcy fraud, grand theft auto and drug possession charges, as well as indecent exposure. He has even served time in federal prison.

That history of issues led to this humorous tweet from Dykstra on Thursday:

That is pretty funny. But based on Dykstra’s recent history, it’s also impressive and a reason to celebrate.

Here’s hoping Nails can continue to extend the streak.

Video: Chris Sale had Javy Baez so fooled on this slider

Chris Sale Javy Baez

Chris Sale is known for his wicked slider. Javy Baez can attest to how dangerous it is.

Sale pitched five innings and picked up the win in his Boston Red Sox’s 12-5 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Baez actually walked and singled in his first two at-bats against Sale. But his third at-bat was a different story.

Sale had the Mets infielder 2-2 and then threw a slider that fooled Baez so badly that the second baseman swung at it despite it hitting him.

Did you see how much that pitch broke? Goodness gracious.

That was one of the four swing-and-misses Sale recorded with his slider in the outing.

Overall, Sale allowed two runs on six hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out eight and is now 5-0 since returning this season.

His slider remains elite.

Padres make more front office changes amid collapse

San Diego Padres logo

The San Diego Padres were one of the most exciting teams in baseball for most of the season. They were near the top of the NL West and competing with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Then August hit, and they began to collapse. Now, they’re unlikely to make the playoffs, and they are making some changes.

On Monday, the Padres told Sam Geaney that he would not return as the team’s farm director. Geaney had held that position since October 2014.

On Wednesday, we learned that the Padres made many more changes.

The Padres:
– Made Ryley Westman the new farm director
– Reassigned Mark Conner from scouting director to special assistant to the GM
– Made Chris Kemp scouting director

The Padres entered play on Wednesday 76-74, five games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card spot. They were 66-49 — 17 games over .500 — on August 10.

There was likely pressure on executive vice president A.J. Preller to make some changes amid the collapse. Preller has been the GM of the team since Aug. 2014. He received a 3-year contract extension in 2017.

Here is why Joe Davis, Orel Hershiser are not announcing for Dodgers

Joe Davis Orel Hershiser

Fans who tuned into Wednesday night’s Los Angeles Dodgers telecast for their game at the Colorado Rockies were likely left surprised. The usual play-by-play and analyst team of Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser was not on the call. Instead, Tim Neverett and Ned Colletti were announcing the game.

So what was going on? The Dodgers explained.

The Dodgers shared in a statement that Davis has tested positive for COVID-19. Davis is at home and isolating. Hershiser was deemed a close contact and is quarantining.

Neverett frequently fills in as the TV play-by-play voice of the Dodgers. He usually fills in when Davis is away on assignments calling other sports, such as college football games for FOX.

Colletti providing analysis is a new thing. The former Dodgers general manager has served as an analyst on Dodgers pre and postgame shows. However, the last time Hershiser was out, Nomar Garciaparra filled in.

Kevin Kiermaier has message for Blue Jays after being hit by pitch

Kevin Kiermaier

Kevin Kiermaier has a simple message for the Toronto Blue Jays after they hit him with a pitch on Wednesday.

Kiermaier was hit in the middle of the back by a pitch from Toronto reliever Ryan Borucki in the eighth inning of Tampa Bay’s 7-1 win over Toronto (video here). The plunking was retribution for Kiermaier taking a scouting report card the Jays dropped on the field on Monday.

So, what does Kiermaier think of it all? He said that the Blue Jays hitting him was a “weak move.”

More importantly, his message is that he wants to see the Blue Jays in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay is the AL East leader, while Toronto is battling for a wild card spot. The Blue Jays would need to win one of the wild card spots and then win the wild card game to match up with Tampa Bay in the ALDS. It is conceivable that that happens, but that’s on the Jays to keep winning.

Kiermaier would completely support Toronto doing all that because he wants to see them again and exact revenge on the field.

Video: Pete Walker goes nuts on Joe West, gets ejected

Pete Walker Joe West

Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker went nuts on umpire Joe West and got ejected from Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Jays lost the finale of a three-game series with the Rays 7-1. Jays pitcher Ryan Borucki was ejected for hitting Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch in the eighth inning. The hit-by-pitch was retribution for Kiermaier taking a dropped scouting report card the Blue Jays had made. Tampa Bay declined to return the dropped scouting report card to Toronto, which upset the Blue Jays.

One of the best parts about Wednesday’s ejection was seeing Walker go nuts on West.

Pete Walker Joe West

Man, was he heated!

Toronto had really no basis for being so upset when it was their catcher who dropped the scouting report. It becomes fair game as soon as you drop it on the playing field. And that pitch was absolutely intentional, so Toronto really has no argument.

Walker apparently was upset because Toronto was going to change pitchers anyway.

But Jays fans probably love the passion coming from Walker.