College World Series 2017: Florida and LSU are perfect dance partners for final series

How appropriate that the SEC’s two best baseball teams should meet in the College World Series finals? Florida has thrived on shutdown pitching and defense, LSU on shutdown pitching and power hitting. The former wins with arms, the latter with bats.

And now we get them again for the whole CWS shebang. This is how it should be.

Tebow was 5 of 26 last week, dropping his average from .221 to .216. He had two RBIs and seven strikeouts four in one contest at Hagerstown in seven games.
That also sounds consistent! So I guess the exact wording of the AP’s tweet Tebow showing some consistency at the plate isn’t wrong. I am showing remarkable consistency with my morning workout routine, too. Going on 800 straight days of not having a morning workout routine, with about 1,800 days before that.

However, upon closer inspection, it appears this Tebow Watch is kind of a ruse. The AP story didn’t have a byline, and there’s someone out there who’s very happy about that. The headline was meant to provide hope, but the copy was a bait-and-switch.

If you’re wondering what the point of this series is, why, I’m glad you asked. It allows us to gather up the Tim Tebow clicks while simultaneously sneering at the story. This snark helps me paper over the hole in my soul, which exists because I’m not young, attractive, and rich, with a butt made out of gold bullion and optimism. So everyone wins!

I didn’t want to balk, (Mayne) said. I was thinking what is the balk (rule)? Can I go into the glove and take the ball out of my glove? That was probably the most nerve-wracking thing.

This one makes it because I was there. Sure, I was 9 years old and watched the whole thing with a finger up my nose, but that’s not much different from my current routine.

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College World Series sees ball hit to exact same spot in 2 straight games. One fair, one foul

In the early session of Friday’s College World Series action, Oregon State was thoroughly robbed in the bottom of the third, after scoring a run to bring the score to 2-1, advantage LSU. Beavers center fielder Steven Kwan then raked a looper to deep left, and it struck the yellow foul line, which technically makes that a fair ball.

In the evening session between Florida and TCU, then, the Gators trailed, 2-1, in the bottom of the third, but came back to tie the game thanks to a strong Dalton Guthrie offering into extreme left. Like, EXTREME left. So extreme left that this ball strikes the left field fence directly on the yellow exactly one foot above where Kwan had hit his ball earlier in the afternoon.

That ended Roberts’ outing, and hurler Colin Peluse was called in to mop up what was left. Peluse walked the first batter he faced, then Ryan Larson stepped to the plate in his first game back after taking a pitch to the head in the SEC tournament.

That’s Florida’s FIRST WALKOFF WIN OF THE SEASON. The Gators are more known for their pitching staff than their hitting prowess, scoring just enough runs with the help of their arms to be one of the best teams in the SEC. What do you do when the hero of the night tears ass off into center field? You chase him down, dammit.

Most college baseball mobs an internet sensation unto themselves take place somewhere in the infield. Not so for Ryan Larson and Florida, who range about before eventually petering out in dead center. Great job, guys.

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Mr. Met should embrace his new heel turn

Mr. Met gave a fan, or fans, the finger. The human being inside the costume lost his job. The Mets organization scrambled to issue an apology. Like most Mets stories, it is powered by the twin engines of scandal and tragedy.

It doesn’t have to be this way. This is the perfect opportunity to rebrand Mr. Met as a heel the first true heel in sports mascot history. There are mascot antagonistes, of course: The Philly Phanatic is notably puckish; Miami’s Sebastian the Ibis was once arrested. Plenty of mascots have creepy, dead-eyed stares. But no team’s official mascot has ever truly worn a black hat.

New York City, and Mets fans in particular, would love to hate a Mr. Met who hated them back. This is a city where even acts of kindness are wielded with an edge, and millions of people carry the subdued anger of humans deprived of personal space. All day long, New Yorkers battle the subways, and tourists, and rats, and dripping wall-unit air conditioners to earn enough money to pay the exorbitant rent for their insultingly small apartments. Why do I do this to myself? New Yorkers say, not always about supporting the Mets. These are people who long to voice their anger and who need an outlet for their rage.

The answer is simple: Syndergaard just really loves Cholula. He’s from Texas, where he says it’s in every restaurant and always in his family’s kitchen cabinet. He grew up eating it. He still eats it. He eats it on everything.

Strasburg’s only win came in 2014 across from Dan Haren, and Kershaw is barely his better in WAR, ERA, and WHIP in 2017. It would never be fair to paint Strasburg as an underdog, but this could be a chance to prove a point. Hold onto your butts.

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Trading draft picks should be allowed in MLB

MLB’s draft doesn’t get the attention of its NFL or NBA counterparts, and there are a few reasons for that that the league can do nothing about. Drafted players, with rare exceptions, aren’t helping out in a few months or a year or usually even two years like they for the world’s top basketball and football leagues. The fact that the best available talent is taken instead of immediate needs being picked takes something from it, too, as it’s occasionally harder to debate just who a team should zero in on in anyway other than who the outright best talent is.

However, MLB could take a cue from other leagues and allow draft picks to be traded, which would add layers to how a team is able to rebuild, reload, or better contend in the moment in time they’re in. Look at how gripped NBA fans were this past weekend, when the Celtics, who not only appeared in the Eastern Conference finals but also had the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, decided to trade down to acquire an additional pick for the future and they did it for a number of reasons.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of exceptions.

The goal is to look for which teams found the best second basemen over the last two decades, from 1997 through 2016. The system is simple, and it uses the Baseball-Reference quick-‘n’-dirty guide to what WAR totals mean:

I can’t stop laughing at the marketing video, because a) it features some guy who got a tattoo of a goddamn Cholula bottle, and b) the background music is manly man tunes from a truck commercial. No one else in the crowd which is made up of mostly food bloggers and a few other sportswriters seems to find any of this funny.

The movie ends, Syndergaard says a few words about how great Cholula is, gets up, and walks by me. He is a million feet tall. He leaves the intimate space and heads out to the balcony, where he sits down on a rough-hewn wooden bench.

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Tim Tebow Watch Watch: A promotion and ‘some positives’

Welcome back to the Tim Tebow Watch Watch, in which we look for breathless hyperbole and/or questionable baseball analysis when it comes to the minor-league career of Tim Tebow. It’s supposed to be fun and snarky, and it’s supposed to bring clicks to SB Nation.

And while this didn’t start out as a scheduled goof on the Associated Press, they are certainly the most willing subjects of the Tim Tebow Watch Watch. Their weekly check-ins with Tebow’s progress have been framed in bizarre ways.

Tim Tebow: Outfielder isn’t working out for him or the Mets. Maybe there’s a second-life to his second-life, though, and he can make the switch to the mound and the knuckleball.

The Brewers had a chance to gain ground in the NL Central while playing the reeling Cardinals, and they took advantage. Here’s Eric Thames hitting a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning, securing the series sweep for Milwaukee.

The Braves got an MVP-caliber season from Marcus Giles, who finished with 7.8 WAR in 2003, when he was 25 … and then finished with 7.8 WAR over the final four years of his strange career. Other than three seasons from Giles, though, the Braves have had seven kinda-sorta-OK seasons from Dan Uggla, Kelly Johnson, and Quilvio Veras, but nothing more.

The Dodgers, Pirates, and Brewers all had a decent-to-good second baseman every other year, roughly, but none of them has had a breakout season in the last 20 years, with no All-Star seasons to be found. You might expect that from the small-market teams, but the Dodgers are something of a surprise. Logan Forsythe might help them get over the hump soon, but if that doesn’t happen, expect them to pay cash for Jose Altuve or D.J. LeMahieu soon.

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Happy 2017 MLB draft day!

The MLB draft is a three-day event, and day one is Monday. MLB Network and MLB.com will be providing the coverage, with the first 75 picks out of far, far more than that made on the first day. While the actual draft will begin at 7 p.m. ET, there is a pre-show at 6 p.m. on MLB Network if you feel the need to be caught up before things begin.

Here’s the selection order for those 75 picks, which will be drafted over two rounds. Well, sort of: There is a mini-round after the first for compensation picks, and another mini-round following round two, so while yes, we’re getting through just the first two rounds on Monday, the reason we’re looking at 75 picks instead of 60 (two for each team) is because of the compensation rounds and how draft-pick compensation works.

Tebow said in his exit presser from the Fireflies that although he was in Columbia, and hopes the city is in a better place with him being there, the former Florida Gator quarterback is still not a South Carolina Gamecock fan.

Three other players are heading to Port Saint Lucie with him. Two are pitchers while a third, named Michael Paez, is a position player with better numbers and more promise as a prospect by comparison.

Paez was a critical part of the squad’s offense. The infielder led the Fireflies with a .290 batting average and recorded a league-leading 21 doubles. He also smashed eight home runs – two coming in one game on June 15. The 22-year-old was selected in the fourth round by the Mets in 2016 out of Coastal Carolina.

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The only correct 2017 MLB All-Star ballot for the American League

On Monday, I shared the only possible ballot for the National League All-Star starters. I might accept a substitution at third base, but I’ll need you to put your request in writing and provide three references. As it turns out, the NL was pretty easy.

The American League is a mess. It’s going to get me yelled at.

Alex Avila is a great story. His career was once threatened by concussions, and he was an unwanted free agent who signed a modest one-year deal with the White Sox, even though his dad was the GM of his old team.

No, teams can’t guess at how the immensely talented young players in the 2017 Draft might respond to a decade of disappointment or a sea change in how the sport is played. They can only evaluate what’s in front of them. Bat speed. Velocity. Projectability. Durability.

These teams are so much better at evaluating amateur players than you are, and they’re still wrong all the time. If Donovan Tate wasn’t drafted third overall, there wasn’t a team that was going to let him slip by. The Angels would have dropped everything and drafted Tate if he fell that far, possibly pairing him with their other first-round outfielder, Randal Grichuk.

So if the best people in the world at evaluating baseball players can’t figure this stuff out, I can’t understand why you would punch 2017 MLB Draft Grades into Google and expect something that would be worth your time.

On the other hand, I understand how it’s seductive to see a shiny A+ next to your team’s name after the draft. You don’t know what’s going on, so you want an expert opinion. If that expert’s opinion is that your team had a stellar draft, you will feel eminently better about the selection.

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The Blue Jays again tried and failed to reach .500

It’s been a rough season for the Blue Jays, and much of that is due to their horrific start. They’ve mostly recovered, but that mostly bit is key: On Thursday, for the ninth time this season, the Blue Jays attempted to reach the .500 mark. For the ninth time, they failed miserably trying to get their head above water.

Florida had a hell of a go at it in the Gators’ Gainesville super regional against Wake Forest, who hung around to force a rubber match Game 3 this past Monday. Rain fouled up the entire weekend in Gainesville, with the result that all three of that site’s games experienced weather delays. Even so, both games on Monday combined to provide some impressive offense from both clubs, including a dramatic two-run walkoff homer that won Wake Forest its first ever super regional game in program history.

The format of the first round in Omaha reverts back to that of the round of 64, with the eight remaining teams separated into two groups of four for a double elimination mini-bracket. Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton, LSU and Florida State make up one half of the bracket, while Florida, Louisville, Texas A&M and TCU are in the other. On paper, the Beavers have the easiest path to the final weekend, though LSU presents a formidable challenge.

The two teams left standing after the double elimination round will then face off in the CWS finals in a best of three series beginning on June 26. Game 3 of that tilt will be at 8 p.m. ET on June 28.

Strasburg is pitching solely from the stretch this season, in hopes that simplified mechanics will result in fewer DL stints and fewer missed starts in potentially iconic matchups. Wednesday’s matinee will likely go off without a hitch. Kershaw doesn’t have much to prove to anyone ever, but especially not in regards to the Nationals. The Nats, though, have won just once with Stras on the mound, one of two decisions for the second ace.

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MLB draft 2017 live stream: How to follow Tuesday’s selections online

The 2017 MLB Draft resumes on Tuesday afternoon, with baseball teams continuing their annual replenishing of domestic amateur talent. After 75 picks in the first two rounds on Monday, we will see 240 picks on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10.

During the 2017 season, McKay batted .343 with 17 home runs, 56 RBI, and a .464 on-base percentage. The junior had more walks (45) than strikeouts (36). He was nearly as impressive on the mound with a 10-3 record, 2.34 ERA, 140 strikeouts, and just 33 walks in 104 innings.

It’s unclear which way McKay will go in the pros long-term they officially drafted him as a position player but it’s possible the Rays give him the chance to play first base and pitch initially.

McKay was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick, but high school shortstop Royce Lewis, as well as high school pitchers Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore, were taken with the first three picks.

The Brewers turned what was a miserable system around with high picks and crafty trades, and they’re contending much sooner than expected this season. This pick will help them replenish some of the organizational depth that’s been diminished because of promotions always the best reason and they’ll bank on the high ceiling.

I was going to write something about a high floor, but every player has a low floor. Every single one. They don’t have to make the majors at all, so maybe the idea of a high floor is a myth. Either way, it’s indisputable that the Brewers got a talented player here.

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Tebow’s current numbers at Class-A aren’t heart-stopping.

Tebow moving up with these type of numbers may sound surprising, but a promotion for him has been in the works for a while. A report from May 12 had him skipping St. Lucie entirely and going right to AA.

A report states that the Mets are preparing to promote Tebow to Double A. The change wouldn’t be immediate, according to the New York Post, which reports that a team source says the promotion won’t likely occur until after the All-Star break.

On first glance, Tebow’s current numbers at Class-A aren’t heart-stopping. He’s hitting a middling .250/.330/.370, and that’s over 28 games. He hit a home run in his first game and one in his third game, but none since. But when you look a little closer, you start to actually see the whisper of… something. Over the last 16 games, Tebow has brought his overall average up from a low of .156 to a high of .250. Over that time, he’s hit .327/.413/.436 with four doubles and a triple. That’s not nothing.
Tebow isn’t bad strictly speaking, but he definitely isn’t good.

Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton kicked things off in the early session, and the Beavers’ Jake Thompson got banged up in a hurry. His command was all out of whack as pitch after pitch floated up on him, and Fullerton’s Timmy Richards blasted a three-run shot straight into the teeth of the wind at TD Ameritrade Park to open the day’s scoring.

Both pitchers in fact struggled early, combining for 55 total pitches in the first frame. The Titans’ Connor Seabold loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, but managed an inning-ended strikeout to strand the Beavs’ runners. Seabold then put runners on the corners in the bottom of the second and Oregon State scored a run on a sac grounder to first.

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