Kanye West, Son Saint Throw out 1st Pitch Before Cubs vs. White Sox

Kanye West, Son Saint Throw out 1st Pitch Before Cubs vs. White Sox

Kanye West, left, throws out a ceremonial first pitch as his son Saint watches before a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Yandhi is home again.

Kanye West, who announced his move back to Chicago last week, and his son, Saint, fired off the first pitch for Sunday’s game between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

As far as rapper first pitches go, not bad! He didn’t quite have the flair of friend Chance the Rapper when he threw out his blooper in 2016, but it also was not a 50 Cent-level debacle.

It is, much like ye, a solid 6/10!

The Louis Vitton Don is in the midst of a promotional tour for a new project Yandhi, which is slated to be released next Saturday. Kanye is also performing on Saturday Night Live over the weekend.

To think, all of this while releasing new shoes, throwing shots at Drake on Instagram and becoming a pseudo self-help guru on Twitter.

Let’s all just hope the album gets all the way there in a way his first pitch did not. 

Gwinnett Stripers finish season above .500 for first time since 2015

Gwinnett Stripers finish season above .500 for first time since 2015

The Gwinnett Stripers ended the season Monday with a 6-1 loss to the Charlotte Knights at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, to finish above .500 for the first time since 2015.

Gwinnett left-hander Corbin Clouse got the start for Gwinnett, allowing three hits with a strikeout after three scoreless innings.

» More: Gwinnett baseball still a tough draw

Arodys Vizcaino and Jose Ramirez, both on rehab assignments from Atlanta, threw successive scoreless innings. Kelvin Vasquez made his Triple-A debut in the sixth, throwing eight of nine pitches for strikes with one punch-out in a scoreless inning.

Lefty Phil Pfeifer was tagged for four runs and three walks in 2/3 innings for the loss.

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Braves prospect Austin Riley finished his campaign with a 2-for-4 effort, bringing his season batting average to .282 with the Stripers and .294 overall between Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi. He ended with 19 total home runs, falling one short of making it three consecutive 20-homer seasons.

» Also: Gwinnett Stripers 2019 schedule

The Stripers, 70-69, finished second to the Durham Bulls in the International League South.

Rangers open to more moves before Friday

Rangers open to more moves before Friday

ARLINGTON — The Rangers made a flurry of trades leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Deadline and are still exploring the possibility of doing more before Friday.

Friday is the deadline for teams to acquire a player and have him still be eligible for the postseason roster. Players first must either clear waivers or be traded to the team that claimed him off waivers. Players can be pulled back from a waiver claim if a deal can’t be worked out.

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ARLINGTON — The Rangers made a flurry of trades leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Deadline and are still exploring the possibility of doing more before Friday.

Friday is the deadline for teams to acquire a player and have him still be eligible for the postseason roster. Players first must either clear waivers or be traded to the team that claimed him off waivers. Players can be pulled back from a waiver claim if a deal can’t be worked out.

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“Nothing has changed really,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “I’ve had a couple of conversations but don’t expect anything at this point.”

The Rangers made four trades in July that sent pitchers Cole Hamels and Jesse Chavez to the Cubs, Keone Kela to the Pirates and Jake Diekman to the D-backs, getting a total of eight players in return.

Clubs do not reveal which players have cleared waivers. But the Rangers have had enough players clear to give Daniels something to talk about with other clubs. Third baseman Adrian Beltre has dealt with trade speculation all summer, but he is dealing with a strained left hamstring that has all but totally eliminated the possibility.

“I know when we were on the other side, sometimes it’s better for contending clubs to add on Aug. 31,” Daniels said. “The guy doesn’t have to show up until the next day and you don’t have to make a roster move. You never know. Somebody might get an injury late and something might come up. We’ll see.”

Rangers consider Rays’ pitching ploy
As the Rangers mull their pitching options for September, manager Jeff Banister admitted he is intrigued with a pitching concept used by the Rays this season.

The Rays have occasionally been using their top relievers in the first one or two innings of a game to get through the top part of a lineup. Once that pitcher is done, the Rays bring in the traditional “starter” to pitch multiple innings behind him.

Veteran Sergio Romo, who has 628 career relief appearances and leads the Rays with 18 saves, has started five games in that manner. They are the first starts of his career.

“There is the intriguing part of what some other teams have been doing that have shown some success and could possibly be part of, or some form of the future of how pitchers are deployed,” Banister said. “Tampa has shown a system that does allow — what are starters — multi-inning guys that have the ability to maneuver through a set of hitters that prolong their stay into the game deeper by using an opener, if you will, whether it’s a one-inning or two-inning set for the first guy.

“That’s intriguing. That doesn’t say that right now that the personnel is exactly the same [as Tampa Bay’s], but it’s the look of it, and how that works. Before we say it’s something that we wouldn’t do, it’s something that we’d like to be able to take a look at and see what the benefits are.”

Banister said Chris Martin would be a good candidate to fill that role while saving Jose Leclerc and Cory Gearrin for the back of the bullpen.

Rangers beat 
• The Rangers are still undecided on their rotation beyond Drew Hutchison pitching against the Twins on Friday. But there is a possibility Bartolo Colon could come off the disabled list on Saturday and start that game.

• Banister said the Rangers won’t be experimenting in September when they play the Athletics and the Mariners. Those are the two teams on their September schedule that still have a chance for postseason.

“You want to be able to competitively go out and be the best that you are,” Banister said. “You still want to make sure that those games are played in a way that [is competitive].”

• Class A Hickory left-handed reliever Demarcus Evans has been selected to the South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star team. He is 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA and nine saves over 34 relief appearances.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Phillies Bullpen Woes

Phillies Bullpen Woes

It is relatively quiet in relieverland. The biggest recent news came a full week ago when Aroldis Chapman was placed on the disabled list. The Brewers later optioned Corey Knebel, but he was already out as the closer. In Philadelphia, a series of late-inning loses could create a new opportunity for our old friend Hector Neris.

Over the last week, seven pitchers tied for the most saves with two apiece. The seasonal lead still belongs to Edwin Diaz. He is the first to reach 50 saves. He’s also the only reliever to cross the 40 save plateau. Craig Kimbrel (37) and Wade Davis (36) round out the top three.

Now, shall we go to the tiers?

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Tier 1: The Elite (3)

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

We temporarily lost Chapman from our elite tier. He’ll probably return by this time next week. In the meantime, let’s continue to enjoy Diaz’s ridiculous season. Treinen is also in the midst of a potent campaign.

Kimbrel needed some help last night. He blew a one-run save opportunity, but the offense bailed him out with a win. Kimbrel’s command has slipped after a strong start to the season. Since early-June, he’s allowed 6.58 BB/9. If you just presented the numbers to me and hid the name, he would not rank in this tier. However, we also shouldn’t discount Kimbrel just because he’s been ordinary for a couple months. The fantasy community made that mistake between the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Tier 2: Nearly Elite (5)

Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros

Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres

It was an ugly week for this tier. As I prophesied, the Brewers shoved Josh Hader back into a multi-inning role. Jansen, Iglesias, and Yates are hanging here by their fingernails. Even Osuna failed to protect a tied game on Tuesday night. Vazquez was the only pitcher of the quintet to not have a bad week – in part because the Pirates failed to supply a save opportunity.

Since returning from heart arrhythmia, Jansen has allowed seven runs on 10 hits, four home runs, and a walk in four innings. He claims that a medication had left him feeling too drowsy. He’s no longer taking it. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but he’s walked a tightrope all season. Notably, his velocity looks fine.

Prior to the season, Yates made an adjustment which helped him to escape his former status as a homer prone reliever. Since mid-August, he’s allowed three home runs in five appearances (4.1 innings). That’s some painful regression. The combination of strikeouts, low WHIP, and run prevention are sufficient to maintain his presence here. At some point, it would be nice to see a hot streak. He was fantastic early in the season, but Brad Hand got all the save opportunities.

Tier 3: Core Performers (7)

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers

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Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Zach Britton, New York Yankees

Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals

Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies

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Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee Brewers

Will Smith, San Francisco Giants

A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves

The Yankees appear to be using a true committee in Chapman’s absence. Betances, Robertson, and Britton all recorded a save in the last week. Britton’s was the most unusual – he locked down the 10th inning. During that game, Robertson pitched the seventh, Betances the eighth, and Chad Green the ninth. If I had to bet on one guy to receive the bulk of the opportunities, it would be Betances. He earned the win yesterday after pitching the ninth inning of a tied game.

Jeffress appears to have absconded with the closer role in Milwaukee. Hader is working the middle innings with Joakim Soria handling the eighth frame. And in case you missed it (and skipped the intro), Corey Knebel was optioned. Ouch. Jeffress is a solid reliever who occasionally runs into bouts of poor command. Speaking of which, he’s allowed 4.80 BB/9 over the last month. He should be fine. Just fine.

Smith missed a couple games after working three days in a row. I noticed some panic on twitter about his job security, especially since he allowed a couple unearned runs on Friday and had to be relieved on Saturday. He rebounded by picking up a win on Tuesday. If he had better job security, he would be a second tier reliever. Melancon did record a couple saves over the last week which is a tad worrisome for Smith owners given Melancon’s long history as an able closer.

I remember thinking Norris would make a good reliever nearly a decade ago. That it took until 2017 – with a couple false starts in 2015 and 2016 – is incredible. He’s having a superb season. Owners should keep a handle on his handcuff – Jordan Hicks. Norris has recurring knee issues which could cascade into other physical problems.

Tier 4: Red Flag Club (6)

Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays

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Brad Hand, Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs

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Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies

Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

So here’s the problem with Hand. He would rank higher except that it still appears he’ll be used for matchups. On Tuesday, Hand recorded the final out of the eighth inning only to be relieved by Dan Otero. Cody Allen remains in the picture even though he’s temporarily out of a job. Terry Francona has stated that a successful Indians postseason run will depend in large part upon Allen. They want to show they’re still confident in him. Since they’ve all but won the AL Central already, there’s no pressure on them to remove him from high leverage work. His fantasy owners should remain patient.

The Phillies bullpen is showing signs of distress. Dominguez may be fatigued. After all, this is his first season working as a reliever. He was saddled with two losses in the last week. Neshek was hit with the loss on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Hector Neris – who I hyped a couple weeks ago as a player to stash – has allowed three hits and one walk in 7.1 innings since returning from a stint in the minors. He’s struck out 16 (19.64 K/9) over the span.

The others in this tier are solid, established relievers. They all have obvious flaws. Giles has struggled for nearly an entire calendar year, although he’s in the midst of a six save streak (one solo home run). Strop may lose his job if/when Brandon Morrow returns. Greene and Boxberger are workaday relievers.

Tier 5: Infrequent Saves (5)

Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels

Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles

Sergio Romo, Tampa Bay Rays

Drew Steckenrider, Miami Marlins

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Ryan Madson, Justin Miller, Greg Holland, Washington Nationals

The first four pitchers in this tier are reasonably decent relievers. They also tend to receive very few save opportunities. The Angels, Orioles, and Marlins are particularly bad in this regard. Just to frustrate everybody, Mike Scioscia called upon Noe Ramirez for the lone save the week. Parker had worked the previous two days. Steckenrider hasn’t pitched especially well. Kyle Barraclough is back from the disabled list and could sneak back into the ninth inning picture.

In Washington D.C., Kelvin Herrera’s latest injury has opened the door for another closer scramble. Justin Miller got the first crack. He closed the door on Monday then nearly fumbled the lead on Tuesday. Holland was able to “induce” a weird double play with the tying run on second base. Madson might have been unavailable after pitching the previous day. Koda Glover is in the mix too. I expect Madson to emerge with the job after the dust settles.

Tier 6: Mess Hall (4)

Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins

Robert Gsellman, New York Mets

Wily Peralta, Kansas City Royals

Committee, Chicago White Sox

Perhaps I’m being too harsh with Gsellman. Since the start of August, he has three saves, three holds, and zero runs allowed in 11.2 innings. I’m unimpressed by 6.94 K/9, and he’s needed an unusually low walk rate and BABIP in order to succeed. I foresee more base runners and a 4.00 ERA. He’s basically Shane Greene with fewer strikeouts.

If you insist on trying a White Sox reliever, make it Jace Fry. He actually supplies a strong strikeout rate and tolerable ratios. He also has two saves in his last five appearances. Fry is used situationally – he won’t take a regular hold of the job.

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Injured

Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (elbow – out for season)

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals (toe)

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves (shoulder)

Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs (bicep)

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (knee)

Kelvin Herrera, Washington Nationals (Lisfranc tear – out for season)

Chapman received a second platelet rich plasma injection on Tuesday. They usually let that marinate for a few days before resuming activity. He’s first eligible to return to action on Saturday, but I anticipate a slightly lengthier stay on the shelf. He probably won’t need a rehab stint.

Doolittle is aiming to return sometime this week. He’s been sidelined for a while and has yet to pitch in a rehab game. Although he claims his foot feels better, part of me wonders if the Nationals might not opt to shut him down for the season. My guess is if he admits to feeling any discomfort, he’s done. Otherwise, we might see him again by this time next week.

Morrow has yet to throw off a mound. Vizcaino may be nearing a rehab stint.

The Deposed

Dominic Leone, St. Louis Cardinals (injured)

Greg Holland, Washington Nationals (signed)

Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels

Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox (injured)

Alex Colome, Seattle Mariners (traded)

Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks (traded)

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies

Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants

Jeurys Familia, Oakland Athletics (traded)

Zach Britton, New York Yankees (traded)

Tyler Clippard, Toronto Blue Jays

Joakim Soria, Milwaukee Brewers (traded, injured)

Brad Brach, Atlanta Braves (traded)

Keone Kela, Pittsburgh Pirates (traded)

Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins (injured)

Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays

Fernando Rodney, Oakland Athletics (traded)

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Hector Rondon, Houston Astros

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

If the Indians have their way, Allen will return atop the closer depth chart.

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The Steals Department

NeverEnding Trevor Story nabbed four bases in five attempts to top the weekly leaderboard. The shortstop is among the most productive players in the league – at least for fantasy owners. He’s the 16th best player according to ESPN’s Player Rater. He’s produced positive value in all five main categories, and stolen bases are his best category. Jonathan Villar and Alex Gordon were the only other runners to reach three steals. Trea Turner (33) still leads the league with Starling Marte (29), Billy Hamilton (29), and Dee Gordon (29) tied for second.

Tier 1: The World Beaters (4)

Trea Turner

Billy Hamilton

Dee Gordon

Starling Marte

Anyone wondering why the top runners have so few stolen bases needs only examine on base percentages. These four burners range from a .296 OBP (Gordon) to a .334 OBP (Turner). Unsurprisingly, Turner leads because he’s had more opportunities.

Tier 2: Consistent Thieves (6)

Jose Ramirez

Whit Merrifield

Mallex Smith

Lorenzo Cain

Mookie Betts

Mike Trout

Smith is currently sidelined with an infection. He isn’t expected to miss more than the minimum. That’ll put him back in the lineup on Monday, September 3. Since it’s a short break, I’m going to leave him here.

Tier 3: Still Speedy (5)

Tim Anderson

Javier Baez

Andrew Benintendi

Jose Peraza

Ender Inciarte

Once again, OBP is the reason why many of the players in this tier aren’t more highly rated. The exception is Benintendi who needs all those extra opportunities to keep up with faster players.

Tier 4: Some Flaws (5)

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Jose Altuve

Jean Segura

Francisco Lindor

Adalberto Mondesi

Jonathan Villar

Again, it’s a tale of OBP. Someday, fantasy owners will be gifted with a player who combines Turner’s speed with Cain’s ability to reach base. Jose Ramirez is kind of that player except he has too many extra base hits to reach big stolen base totals. In any case, Mondesi is another player in the Hamilton mold except with more power. Perhaps it’s better to compare him to a faster Tim Anderson. He should be an interesting bench asset for the stretch run.

Altuve has attempted two steals since returning from the disabled list a little over a week ago. He was caught once. I’m pleased to see him attempt any swipes at all – it’s a sign his knee injury is fully behind him.

Tier 5: Not Slow (7)

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Trevor Story

Cesar Hernandez

Ozzie Albies

Ronald Acuna

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Amed Rosario

Elvis Andrus

Story perhaps deserves to be ranked higher simply based on his willingness to run. However, a 21-for-27 success rate isn’t especially good. He’s benefited from circumstance this season. As the regular fifth hitter ahead of some really bad bats, he has every reason to make things happen on the base paths. We can’t count on these same opportunities in the future.

Honorable Mentions

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Harrison Bader

Tony Kemp

Michael Taylor

Travis Jankowski

Greg Allen

Rajai Davis

Unlike the other players in this category, Bader actually plays every day and thus could provide a healthy stolen base total. He hits like a fourth outfielder. Lucky for him, defensive metrics think he’s a Gold Glove candidate. For fantasy purposes, Bader could be like a better Kevin Pillar.

Short bb schedule…Beckham gets paid…Peppers practices

Short bb schedule…Beckham gets paid…Peppers practices

UNDATED (AP) – In a light baseball schedule, the Houston Astros won their sixth straight, 11-4 over the Oakland Athletics. Houston leads Oakland by 2 ? games in the AL West. The Yankees fell to 6 ? games behind the Boston Red Sox after the Chicago White Sox beat New York 6-2. The NL Central leading Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 7-4. The Philadelphia Phillies were beaten 5-3 by the Washington Nationals, pushing them 3 ? games back of NL East leading Atlanta. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ NL West lead is down to a half game over the Los Angeles Dodgeers after the D-backs lost to San Francisco 2-0. The Los Angeles Angels beat Colorado 10-7. The Rockies are a game back of Arizona.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Odell Beckham Jr. is now the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver. A person familiar with the negotiations has told The Associated Press the New York Giants have agreed to a five-year contract extension with the three-time Pro Bowler. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Giants have not announced the deal, which comes less than two weeks before the season opener against Jacksonville.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers practiced on a limited basis for the first time since re-signing with the team earlier this offseason. The 38-year-old Peppers underwent surgery on his right shoulder in February and has been rehabbing ever since. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said there’s no point in playing the 16-year NFL veteran in the preseason, but expects him to be ready for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against Dallas.

NEW YORK (AP) – Top-ranked Rafael Nadal advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open when David Ferrer retired in the second set of their all-Spanish matchup. Simona Halep has become the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose in first round of the U.S. Open in the professional era. Halep was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Venus and Serena Williams advanced as did defending women’s champ Sloane Stephens. Kevin Anderson, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka advanced in the men’s draw.

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) – The Florida Panthers have agreed to terms with veteran right winger Troy Brouwer to a one-year contract. General manager Dale Tallon announced the move Monday, saying Brouwer adds depth and should provide leadership for Florida’s young core. Brouwer became a free agent when the Calgary Flames bought out the final two years of his contract.

Ernie Johnson, known for NBA work, has baseball in his blood

Ernie Johnson, known for NBA work, has baseball in his blood

It’s fair to say Ernie Johnson is best-known for his role as the exasperated-but-actually-in-on-the-joke host of TNT’s celebrated studio program, “Inside the NBA.’’

The host since 1990, he has been the perfect ringmaster for Kenny Smith (joined the show in 1998), Charles Barkley (2001), and Shaquille O’Neal (2011) as “Inside The NBA’’ turned into the quintessential sports studio program. It has won nine Sports Emmy awards, while Johnson has collected three as Best Studio Host.

While his studio work in basketball will be his broadcasting legacy, baseball is in his blood. Johnson, who will call Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays game in St. Petersburg, Fla., along with analyst Ron Darling on TBS, is the son of former Boston and Milwaukee Braves pitcher Ernie Johnson Sr.

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He followed in his father’s footsteps not as a big-league pitcher, but as a big-league baseball broadcaster. Ernie Sr., who died in 2011, was a beloved Braves broadcaster for years on “superstation’’ TBS, and Ernie Jr. has a long history with the Braves himself, including calling their games with his father from 1993-96.

Johnson’s camaraderie and chemistry with his “Inside The NBA’’ cohorts is legendary, to the point that I couldn’t resist asking him what sort of antics would happen if they somehow ended up alongside him in the baseball broadcast booth.

“For shame. Shame on you for even considering that,’’ he deadpanned. “We did Minnesota and the Lakers on Christmas night in LA this past year [as the broadcast team] and this was living proof that four guys at an announce table was too many.

“Everybody is trying to be heard, and I’m trying to do some semblance of play-by-play that sounds like an NBA game. Meanwhile, Shaq’s insulting Chuck about something, then Kenny chimes in, and I’m saying, ‘The last eight trips down the floor, here’s what’s happened.’

“So I don’t know what would happen in the course of a baseball game. Although, if the game lasted long enough, one of those 3½-hour jobs, Shaq would probably go find something else to do, Kenny might leave also.

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“Those guys are so much fun, and they’re perfect for a studio setting, where we’re allowed to let it rip and have conversations. And besides, there’s no way they’d fit all four of us in a broadcast booth at Fenway. I’m not sure we could get Shaq in one of those tiny things by himself.’’

Fortunately for Johnson, he’ll be working Sunday on a conventional baseball broadcast with a conventionally sized baseball broadcaster. Darling, the acclaimed Mets analyst and former pitcher, will serve as the color man.

“I love working with Ron,’’ said Johnson. “No. 1, he’s a gentleman. No. 2, he’s a great analyst with wonderful use of the language. And No. 3, he respects the game of baseball as much as you can respect something. He’s a delight to work with. He takes this very serious.

“Look,’’ he jokes, “he’s a Yale guy, he could be condescending, but he doesn’t have that in him. He’s a fun guy to play off of.”

The NBA consumes Johnson’s time during the season, and he’s also prominent in Turner’s March Madness coverage. But it’s not as if he dives headlong into baseball the instant TBS’s coverage begins after the All-Star break.

It’s a year-long process. He’ll have a few nights in the middle of basketball season, in December or perhaps January, when he catches up with baseball’s hot stove and updates his files, which he keeps for each team, player by player. That ramps up as the season grows closer.

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“There’s a lot of cutting and pasting on my laptop as I update all of those things during the offseason,’’ he said. “But it’s never a situation where I’d go, ‘Hey, it’s August, who’s playing baseball?’ ’’

Johnson, presumably like anyone else who has followed the 2018 Red Sox from near or far, has been impressed by their season-long excellence.

“It doesn’t happen that often that you have so many guys having special years at the same time,’’ he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to sit back and enjoy what you’re doing while it’s happening.

“The postseason is so unpredictable. I can’t just draw the line and say, unless you make it to the ALCS it’s a failure, or unless you make it to the World Series. This is a remarkable season right now.’’

Sunday’s game is at Tropicana Field. But whenever he’s involved in a Red Sox broadcast, no matter the venue, Johnson inevitably thinks back to a cherished story his dad once told him about his pitching days at Fenway.

“We were calling the Sox-Rays ALCS [in 2008], and I called my dad one of those days and said, ‘Dad, I’m at Fenway.’ He said, ‘Do me a favor. Look over the bullpen out into the seats.’ I said, ‘OK, yeah, I see it.’

“He said, ‘One day in the City Series [charity exhibitions the Red Sox and Braves played in the ’50s], I gave up a home run to Ted Williams that landed in those seats.’

“I said, ‘Wow, that was a poke.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, my manager Billy Southwick, he came to the mound and said, ‘Don’t worry about it kid. He’s hit ’em off better pitchers than you.’

“My dad, he didn’t quite know how to take that. I think it was supposed to be encouraging, but it came out a little funny.

“But it was always so cool to be in that ballpark and think about my dad walking out there and pitching and giving up a jack to Ted Williams. Not many people have a story like that.’’