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Posted at 12:35 AM ET, 07/31/2014

Watch the Pirates turn a walk into an inning-ending double play

San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval tags Pittsburgh’s Gaby Sanchez out to complete a very unusual double play. (Ben Margot/Associated Press)

The top of the sixth inning between the Pirates and Giants gave us one of the wackier moments of this baseball season. Somehow, Pittsburgh turned a walk to load the bases into an inning-ending double play, even as the batter was heading to first.

Gaby Sanchez led off the inning with a walk, then got to second while Travis Snider made it to first on a fielding error. Jordy Mercer sacrificed to the first baseman, moving Sanchez and Snider to third and second, respectively, with one out. Then things got nutty.

Giants pitcher Jean Machi came on in relief and promptly walked Chris Stewart. But while Stewart was taking his base, Machi got the ball back from the catcher and noticed Snider well off of second base. Machi threw to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who chased down Snider. In the meantime, Sanchez had seen Snider running his way, so he left third base and headed for home. Once Snider was tagged out, Crawford threw the ball back to Machi, causing Sanchez to head back toward third. Machi tossed the ball to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who tagged Sanchez for the third out of the inning, and the second one which was completely unexpected.

Here, just see it for yourself:

Amazing! The Pirates had the bases loaded with one out, and a few seconds later, the Giants were prancing off the field in delight. And because karma’s, well, karma, Pittsburgh, which was leading 5-4 at the time, failed to tack on any more runs and wound up with a 7-5 loss.

Snider clearly was asleep at the wheel, thinking that, rather than that walk loading the bases, the walk had come with the bases already loaded, so all he had to do was trot over to third.

“Absolutely! It was 100 percent mental error on my part,” Snider told the Associated Press. “Offensively, we could have made something happen. Honestly, I was thinking about getting to third base and if he walked I’d get to third. That’s obviously not what you want to happen when you have first open. I take ownership for that mistake.”

That was a new one for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “You know, I have a buddy and we always talk about how if you watch enough games you’ll continually see something you have never seen before,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s the first time I’ve seen us walk into a double play.”

SPECIAL BONUS: As a reward to our loyal readers, here’s another zany moment from this game:

By Des Bieler  |  12:35 AM ET, 07/31/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francsico Giants

Posted at 11:52 PM ET, 07/30/2014

14 remarkable facts about the Twins’ newest pitching prospect

In a few months, Brandon Poulson has gone from an 8.38 ERA at Academy of Art University to a 100-mph fastball and a $250,000 signing bonus from the Twins. (Rob Garcia/Academy of Art University via Associated Press)

On Wednesday, Brandon Poulson is set to report to the Twins’ rookie club in Tennessee. There, he will sign his contract with the club, capping an amazing rise from complete obscurity. Here are 14 facts about Poulson, culled from stories by the Associated Press, Yahoo Sports and mlb.com, that make his story so unusual:

  1.  Poulson is a 24-year old right-hander who stands 6-foot-6 and a chiseled 240 pounds, with a 40-inch vertical leap.
  2.  He played some baseball in high school, but chose to play football at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College.
  3.  He left school to spend a couple of years working for John’s Excavating, his father’s business, which involved driving 18-wheel trucks and back hoes.
  4.  He decided to give baseball another try, and last year joined the Prune Packers, a team in a Northern California’s Sunday-night “Wine Country” league.
  5.  The manager of the Prune Packers is Joey Gomes, the brother of Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes.
  6.  Poulson says he “missed nearly three-fourths” of the Prune Packers’ games in 2013 “because I was busy working.”
  7.  People saw just enough of him that he was offered a scholarship with San Francisco’s Academy of Art University.
  8.  Poulson had an ERA of 8.38 with the school, striking out 24 but also walking 24 in 19 1/3 innings.
  9. He showed up at the Academy of Art’s pro day for position players, took off his shoes and ran a 60-yard dash in his socks — turning in an exceptional time of 6.6 seconds.
  10. He returned to the Prune Packers this spring and, with the help of the team’s pitching coach, slowly started improving his mechanics.
  11.  The MLB draft took place in early June. 1,215 players were drafted over 40 rounds. Poulson was not one of them.
  12.  Back in the Wine Country league, his velocity climbed from the 90s to 100 miles per hour, and he struck out 31 batters in 12 1/3 innings.
  13.  Twins scout Elliott Strankman said of Poulson, “He’s a physical specimen. He’s got the best pure arm strength I’ve ever seen,” and, “This is my sixth Draft and I’ve been around baseball, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. He just kind of figured it out.”
  14.  Because of the very sudden competition for his services, the Twins are giving Poulson a signing bonus of $250,000, about 10 times what an undrafted player would normally receive.

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By Des Bieler  |  11:52 PM ET, 07/30/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Brandon Poulson

Posted at 10:25 PM ET, 07/30/2014

Very short musical starring Jeremy Lin is also very odd

Jeremy Lin appears in a couple of filmed song-and-dance routines, neither of which seem to have anything to do with him joining the Lakers. (Jayne Kamin/Oncea/USA Today Sports)

A short film appeared on YouTube today called, “Jeremy Lin Goes Hollywood.” It is only about six minutes long, but it has two musical numbers, neither of which is about Hollywood. It’s hard to say what they are about.

Well, the first number has a clear message of “Cheer up, Jeremy,” and it has to do with being bummed out about getting “mean tweets.” It’s just hard to say why any of this is happening.

The second number is about … I’m really not sure on that one.

It is clear that a fair amount of effort went into this film. It co-stars three young men who are in the entertainment business, including Harry Shum Jr. of “Glee” fame, so there is a Hollywood tie in that sense. And, of course, Lin was recently traded to the Lakers. Except that the YouTube page refers to that trade and makes a point of telling us, “We filmed this shortly after the season was over,” presumably meaning that this was all done while Lin was still a Houston Rocket.

Anyway, here it is. Maybe someone can help me out in the comments section?

By Des Bieler  |  10:25 PM ET, 07/30/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Jeremy Lin

Posted at 07:59 PM ET, 07/30/2014

Magic Johnson’s reaction to the Donald Sterling ruling: A big, happy grin

Magic Johnson was all smiles at a Lakers press conference Tuesday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Magic Johnson was on hand at Lakers press conference Tuesday to help introduce Byron Scott as the team’s new coach. Afterward, he spoke to some reporters, at least one of whom had the bright idea to ask Johnson for his reaction to the Donald Sterling trial, in which a judge ruled that the Clippers could be sold to Steve Ballmer.

Johnson told the reporters, “What’s my reaction to the Sterling ruling? What would you think my reaction is? You see this? I’m gonna let you see.”

And with that, the Lakers great leaned back and offered a big, magical smile. Then he said with a chuckle, “That’s my reaction, right there.”

Johnson, you may recall, was one of the central figures in the early days of the Sterling scandal. Among the controversial remarks recorded by Sterling’s girlfriend assistant, V. Stiviano, were some in which Sterling criticized Stiviano for posting a photo of herself with Johnson on Instagram, while telling her that it bothered him that she was “associating with black people.”

Sterling then doubled down a couple of weeks later in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, bringing up the fact that Johnson had contracted HIV and saying that the former Laker should be “ashamed of himself.” That caused NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to apologize to Johnson on behalf of the rest of the league.

So, while almost everyone in America is glad to see Sterling lose the Clippers (assuming that all proceeds as planned), Johnson could not be blamed for taking particular satisfaction.

However, after making sure everyone saw him smile, Johnson wanted to make sure reporters knew that he didn’t “have anything bad to say about [Sterling]. Like I’ve said already, been praying for the man.”

Johnson went on to praise the man bidding $2 billion to buy the Clippers, saying, “Ballmer’s going to be an exciting owner, and a good owner for the Clippers. You’re talking about a guy who wants to win, and who loves basketball, and he’s going to do everything he can to put them in a championship situation.”

Then he addressed Sterling’s wife, telling reporters, “You have to give Shelly a lot of credit. This was tough for her, but I respect what she did, and I have no ill feelings toward Donald. It’s too bad what happened, but when you’ve been discriminating against people for this long, this is what happens.”

Here’s video of Magic’s remarks:

By Des Bieler  |  07:59 PM ET, 07/30/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Donald Sterling, Magic Johnson

Posted at 03:44 PM ET, 07/30/2014

Miami Hurricanes give closer look at colorful ‘Juice’ and ‘Surge’ helmets

(Courtesy Nike)

The Miami Hurricanes shared a closer look at the fantastic new helmets that will go with uniforms that have undergone their first big redesign since 2006.

It’s part of a four-color scheme and nothing says Miami like two of these helmets, called “Juice” and “Surge.” They’re very green. They’re very orange.

There’s also a white “Stormtrooper” helmet and a gray “Smoke” version to go with the Nike uniforms that were unveiled last April.

By  |  03:44 PM ET, 07/30/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)


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