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Baseball

    Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited New York’s Yankee Stadium to watch her beloved team take on the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, and it only made sense that she found herself right at-home in “The Judge’s Chambers.” >> Read more trending news Sotomayor, a Bronx-native, took a seat in the rooting section named for rookie Aaron Judge as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2, The Washington Post reported. With a foam gavel stamped with “All Rise” in hand and wearing a black robe – both courtesy of the stadium, according to The Associated Press – Sotomayor could be seen smiling broadly as she cheered for the Yankees. Sotomayor has rooted for the Yankees since she was a child. She threw out the first pitch to kick off the 2009 season at Yankee Stadium.
  • Former major-league baseball star Don Baylor died Monday morning after a long struggle with multiple myeloma. He was 68. >> Read more trending news Baylor died at 4:25 a.m. Monday at St. David’s South Hospital in his native Austin, Texas, his son confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman. Baylor graduated from Austin High School as one of the first African-Americans to attend the school and the very first to play baseball and football for the school. He played 19 seasons in the major leagues and was a feared power hitter who was known for crowding the plate and taking a pitch -- lots of them. He was hit a then-record 267 times, an example of his toughness and fearless style. Baylor would have become the first black player in University of Texas history but for his decision to turn down a scholarship offer from legendary coach Darrell Royal to pursue a career in baseball. Baylor played for six different American League teams -- most notably the California Angels -- but also the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. Following his playing career, he became manager for the expansion Colorado Rockies with a six-year stint and later managed the Chicago Cubs for three seasons. He was drafted by Baltimore in the second round of the 1967 Major Leagues free agent draft and reached the majors in short fashion, making the club in 1970.
  • Rain delays during baseball games can become tedious, but not when the bullpens of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs get creative. >> Read more trending news While waiting out a 2½-hour rain delay in the top of the second inning Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, both bullpens competed against one another with dance-offs and mime acts.  The Cubs got it started with a variety of masks -- horses, chicken, an owl, a zebra and a unicorn. Then the Diamondbacks countered with T.J. McFarland putting on his uniform upside-down and dancing. But Arizona really gained an edge when four pitchers did their version of bobsledding, using chairs and leaning to the right and left, using their hands in sync to “steer” the vehicle properly. The Cubs answered back with Carl Edwards casting a line from a chair and “fishing,” catching a teammate who futilely flopped as he tried to disengage the hook. But the Diamondbacks won this battle with room to spare. Rubby De La Rosa became a human bowling ball as Arizona tried to convert a 7-10 split. De La Rosa rolled into Archie Bradley (the 7-pin) with the proper spin, causing the right-handed reliever to topple to his left and into Andrew Chafin. After an agonizing wobble, Chafin tumbled to the ground and the Diamondbacks converted the split. At that point, the Cubs’ bullpen conceded defeat. At least the bullpen pitchers fared better than a member of the Wrigley Field grounds crew, who tripped and got stuck on the tarpaulin as it was hauled over the infield. When the game resumed, the Diamondbacks also got the last laugh, winning 10-8 thanks to three home runs by Paul Goldschmidt.
  • The anticipation of opening a pack of baseball cards remains exciting for collectors of all ages, but a Tennessee man pulled an extraordinary card last week, and it was an emotional, life-changing moment.   >> Read more trending news Steve Winfree of Knoxville began dialysis for kidney disease in November and needs a transplant. On Thursday, Winfree, an avid collector, opened a pack of Topps cards. A special insert revealed that his wife, Heather Winfree, would be donating a kidney to him. As Heather filmed the event Winfree, 32, pulled cards of Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier.  Then he found a special Topps card with his own likeness on the front. As he read the back of the card he began to choke up, because he learned his wife was a match and would be donating her kidney. “Heather will be pitching a new kidney to him,” the card read. “They are sure to hit it out of the ballpark together!” “She kept saying, ‘You have a special insert there,’” Winfree told MLB.com. “I knew something was up because she never films me.” Winfree is an Atlanta Braves fan who collected cards as a youth. He said he stopped during high school but resumed his hobby “once I could afford it.” Opening packs of cards has been therapeutic for Winfree, his wife said. “There were a lot of times where we would be in the hospital and I would grab a pack and we would open them,” Heather Winfree told MLB.com. “The low-key fun gets our minds off the everyday stresses.” When he saw the special card, which resembles the 2016 Topps design, Winfree noticed the word “recipient” in place of where a player’s position was on the card. “I saw it coming,” he said. “But I lost it and I asked her, ‘You want to save my life?’” The emotional video of Steve Winfree reacting to the card has gone viral. He will receive the transplant at the Vanderbilt Transplant Center in Nashville. Steve Winfree said the response to the video has been gratifying. “Heather and I have been so overwhelmed with the kindness of people,” he said in a Twitter message Sunday night.
  • The son of former Atlanta Braves second baseman Keith Lockhart has been placed on life support after he was hit in the face by a baseball, according to media reports. >> Read more trending news  Jason Lockhart, 15, was hit Saturday, June 17, during a baseball tournament in South Carolina as he touched home plate. The catcher was throwing the ball back to the pitcher when it hit Jason in the face and broke his nose. Jason originally received stitches. While at a doctor’s office for a follow-up two days later to remove the tubes and packing in his nose, his nose began to bleed uncontrollably. A CT scan showed the fracture was worse than realized and there was a tear inside his nose, The Associated Press reported. Since then, doctors were working on controlling the bleeding. Keith Lockhart, who played with the Braves from 1997 to 2002 and is now a scout with the Chicago Cubs, has provided updates on social media and asked for prayers for his son. Jason underwent surgery to repair the fracture in his nose, but the bleeding persisted.  According to a Facebook post by Lockhart’s daughter, Sydney, who also has been providing updates on her brother’s condition, Jason was placed on life support Friday.  In part, she wrote on Facebook: “Last night they were able to put Jason into a paralytic state through meds and machines. This has helped stop any movement that could encourage or cause a bleed to begin.” The bleeding, however, continued. On Sunday night, Keith Lockhart wrote on Twitter that doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite hospital were closing in on a possible cause for the bleeding: Late on Sunday, Sydney Lockhart wrote on her Facebook page: The doctors decided to take Jason into surgery to do an endovascular embolization today. They went in to his arteries and blood vessels and found the two most practical areas that could be feeding the areas where Jason has been bleeding. They went into both arteries on each side of his nose and cut off the blood supply. They are hopeful that this is the source of the bleeding. The surgery was a couple of hours long and Jason is now resting still on the ventilator to keep his vitals monitored and keep him comfortable. They will watch him for 24 hours and then he will go into surgery tomorrow to have his nose repacked and this will give them an opportunity to look back behind the packing to make sure there are no other areas bleeding. We are tired here but hopeful. The prayers and support that everyone has given to us is overwhelming and we are truly touched. Thank you so much. WE FEEL SO SURROUNDED This article contains information from The Associated Press.
  • A security guard is being criticized on social media after ejecting a fan and taking a baseball from a child during an Atlanta Braves game in SunTrust Park on Wednesday night. After Braves player Rio Ruiz hit a ball down the right field line at the bottom of the eight inning, a fan reached over the outfield wall with his glove, snagged the ball and handed the ball to a child. Video appears to show a security guard jump over the wall and eject the fan from the stadium for interfering with live play. The security guard also told the boy that he couldn’t keep the ball he was holding, then took it from him. After Wednesday night’s game, Braves officials contacted the boy’s family and gave him a Freddie Freeman-signed ball, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The boy was also invited back to a game to celebrate his birthday in July. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Braves, 12-5 in extra innings. There was plenty of reaction on Twitter to the incident, from media and fans who watched it unfold on their televisions.
  • In the hours leading to the final game Thursday night in a contentious home-and-home series between the Braves and Blue Jays, fallout continued from Wednesday’s wild 8-4 win by Atlanta. It included confirmation of Freddie Freeman’s fractured wrist after being hit by a pitch, a two-game suspension for a Toronto player’s use of a homophobic slur, and more criticism of Jose Bautista for his bat-flip and stares at Braves players not at all amused by the antics. >> Read more trending news Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar was suspended two games by the Blue Jays for shouting a homophobic slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte in the seventh inning, which led to the first of two benches-and-bullpens-clearing incidents (Bautista would cause the second one just an inning later). Major League Baseball is also investigating the incident and could levy further discipline. Pillar, upset at being “quick-pitched” by Motte — Pillar struck out on the outside pitch to end the inning — shouted the slur at Motte, which was clear to anyone watching the game on television and reading Pillar’s lips, and audible to many fans in the seating sections behind home plate. Both benches and bullpens cleared as players raced onto the field, though no punches or shoving resulted before the scrum was broken up and play continued. Pillar called Motte after the game to apologize, and on his Twitter account Pillar said he’d used “inappropriate language” and that, “By doing so I had just helped extend the use of a word that has no place in baseball, in sports or anywhere in society today. I am completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible to have put the organization in this position.” Motte didn’t make himself available to reporters following the game or before Thursday’s series finale. Pillar wrote on his Twitter account that he had “apologized personally to Jason Motte, but also need to apologize to the Braves organization and their fans, and most importantly to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect I displayed last night.” Part of the team’s written statement said, “The Toronto Blue Jays are extremely disappointed by the comments made by Kevin Pillar” and that “in no way is this kind of behavior accepted or tolerated, nor is it reflective of the type of inclusive organization we strive to be.”  An inning later, Bautista repeated behavior that he has, on the other hand, become known for. With similar results as previous incidents, though he didn’t get punched like he did a year ago. With the Braves leading 8-3 in the eighth inning, Bautista riled the Braves when he homered off Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty and flipped his bat. As Bautista rounded first base in front of Jace Peterson, the Braves’ fill-in first baseman shouted to Bautista to let him know what Peterson thought of the bat flip and staring at O’Flaherty. Bautista briefly looked as though he were about to stop — Peterson said Thursday it would not have been pretty if Bautista had stopped — before the Blue Jays veteran continued his trot around the bases. “That’s something that’s making the game tough to watch lately,” O’Flaherty said afterward. “It’s just turned into look-at-me stuff, it’s not even about winning anymore. Guy wants to hit a home run in a five-run game, pimp it, throw the bat around — I mean, I don’t know. It’s frustrating as a pitcher. I didn’t see it at the time, but I saw the video — he looked at me, tried to make eye contact. It’s just tired. We’ve seen it from him, though.” This wasn’t anything quite like Bautista’s over-the-top bat flip against the Rangers in the 2015 playoffs, when he tossed it at least 20 feet in the air in the direction of the Rangers dugout. But given the game situation — Braves led by five runs and bases were empty — the flip and subsequent hard stares from Bautista irked the Braves. When Bautista crossed home plate and stared at Kurt Suzuki, the Braves catcher stepped up and told him what he thought of the whole incident, too. As they two exchanged words, the benches and bullpens cleared again. Order was again restored without punches thrown or ejections. After the game, O’Flaherty delivered a withering line about Bautista: “I’m surprised he’s ready to fight again after last year. But he’s throwing some looks around so … it’s what it is.” He was referencing a famous punch May 15, 2016, when the Rangers’ Rougned Odor hit Bautista with a devastating right hand, after the Texas second baseman took offense to Bautista’s hard slide and then punished him when Bautista dared shove Odor as things escalated. If Bautista had stopped at first base Wednesday, the stage was set for a potentially similar incident with Peterson, a former college football defensive back and linebacker who wasn’t about to back down if the situation had gone next-level. “I’m not out looking to start a fight,” Peterson said. “But for me it’s just about situations, I think different situations you can handle the way the game’s going and do things differently. Bautista’s a great player. I don’t think he did it with intent, but he did it. At that moment it kind of triggered me. I felt like we were disrespected a little bit. Now it’s just time to go on and play baseball.” In the first inning Thursday, Julio Teheran threw inside on the first pitch to Bautista and hit him in the thigh with the second pitch. This time, Bautista didn’t stare at the pitcher. He trotted to first base.
  • Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has reached an agreement to sell the team to a group of investors that includes New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, according to a report from the Miami Herald on Tuesday afternoon. >> Read more trending news There are 'other details to be worked out,' but that deal would have to be approved by Major League Baseball, according to an MLB source. The source told the Herald that Bush and Jeter's group has agreed to pay $1.3 billion for the team. Though both the Marlins and the purchasing group are confident that the deal will get done, the actual process could take months to finalize. The MLB source suggested that Bush, who recently ran for the Republican nomination for president, plans to be the Marlins’ “control person,” or the individual who would have ultimate control over franchise decisions. The report suggests that Jeter, too, will have an active role with the team. This news comes just hours after Marlins president David Samson ripped to shreds a Forbes magazine report suggesting that the Bush/Jeter group was the only one interested in buying the team. Forbes had reported earlier in the day that another potential ownership group — this one including Tagg Romney, son of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine was out of the running to buy the Marlins. “As with most things published by Forbes regarding the Miami Marlins,” Samson told the Herald, “this most recent story is also inaccurate. There are inaccuracies contained in each paragraph.”
  • On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. >> Read more trending news The Dodgers had opened the 1947 season at home against the Boston Braves, and 26,623 fans attended the game at Ebbets Field. Robinson went 0-for-3 in his debut, won 5-3 by the Dodgers. He made the game’s first putout, receiving a throw from third base rookie Spider Jorgensen to retire Boston leadoff hitter Dick Culler.  Despite the inauspicious debut, Robinson would play in 151 games. He hit .297 and won the first Rookie of the Year Award. He led the National League in stolen bases with 29 and collected 175 hits as the Dodgers reached the World Series. Robinson was the first black player in the major leagues since Moses Fleet Walker played 42 games for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884. It was Walker’s only year in the majors, and no black had been on a major-league roster until Robinson debuted in 1947.  Robinson would play 10 seasons, mostly at second base. He finished with a career average of .311. He played in six World Series for the Dodgers and retired after the 1956 season. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Twenty years ago today, baseball retired Robinson’s No. 42, in a dramatic announcement madeat Shea Stadium in New York by Commissioner Bud Selig, who was flanked by Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson; and President Bill Clinton.
  • Adventurous Mariners fans can enjoy a crunchy new treat while watching games at Safeco Field this season. A concession stand will offer toasted grasshoppers, tossed in chili lime salt. A cup of the bugs will sell for $4, according to ESPN. >> Read more trending news The stand will be operated by Poquitos, a Seattle-based Mexican restaurant. The bugs are popular snacks in Mexico, according to ESPN. The toasted grasshoppers are gluten-free, according to Poquitos, and full of protein, giving them a healthy edge over more traditional ballpark fare, like hot dogs. Check out the other wacky fare being served up at ballparks across the country this season.