If there’s one thing minor league baseball has in spades, it’s bizarre team names.
There’s the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Hartford Yard Goats, the El Paso Chihuahuas and, of course, the Albuquerque Isopes of “Simpsons” fame.
Soon, the Milwaukee Brewers’ new Pioneer League affiliate in Colorado Springs — which replaces the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A Sky Sox next spring — will be added to the list.
Fans have been asked to select one from five, uh, unique team names proposed by the Sky Sox and Elmore Sports Group. All five are meant to honor the unique people, places and things that make up Colorado Springs.
The five, in alphabetical order, are:
Colorado Springs Happy Campers — A celebration of the city’s loving embrace of nature, camping and all things outdoors. Sounds frightening.
Colorado Springs Lamb Chops — The Food Network once labeled Colorado “the place for lamb.” Now that Atlanta’s “Tomahawk Chop” has been relegated to the scrap heap, perhaps the Lamb Chop’s time has come?
Colorado Springs Punchy Pikas — In honor of the hamster-like critters that call Pikes Peak home, this name definitely has one thing going for it: alliteration.
Colorado Springs Throttle Jockeys — With Air Force Academy just down the road, it only makes sense that the team pay tribute to the brave pilots who train and call the city home. If this gets Maverick and Goose, we’ll give it two thumbs up.
Rocky Mountain Oysters — Do we really want a team named after fried cow testicles? Yes. Yes we do.
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Here’s a unit-by-unit breakdown of the A’s first half, including the team’s three biggest hits and misses:
Lineup: One through nine, the A’s grind out at-bats, showing a real penchant for late-game dramatics. Jed Lowrie is the consummate Oakland batter, working counts, fouling off pitches and hitting homers on the road. Rookie leadoff man Dustin Fowler is a work in progress who shows great promise, and everyone else is contributing consistently well. It’s a competent, confident group that drives opposing starters nuts.
Rotation: Sean Manaea is the last man standing from the beginning of the season — who’d have thought the A’s would have Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson in the rotation? Frankie Montas finishes this group out, but Daniel Mengden, who had a terrific May before injuring his foot in June, is at the ready at Nashville. Oakland could look to add a starter this month.
Bullpen: The back end of Oakland’s bullpen, with Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen, is the envy of every major-league manager. Yusmeiro Petit is as flexible as promised, often working multiple innings and entering games in any spot. Since returning from a brief demotion, Emilio Pagan has been more effective, and getting lefty Ryan Buchter back off the DL is a huge help. Expect Oakland to keep tinkering here, given the extent to which the team relies on this unit.
Defense: With the exception of Matt Chapman — who leads the majors with 21 defensive runs saved, five more than runner-up Alex Gordon — this group is not flashy, but it’s steadier than the past several years. Much of that is due to the play of first baseman Matt Olson, who saves his teammates errors on a regular basis and, like Chapman, is Gold Glove-caliber. Stephen Piscotty is terrific in right field, and Mark Canha unexpectedly good in center.
1. The back end of the bullpen: It’s always a good sign when it’s much harder to narrow down the hits than it is the misses, but tops on this list is Trivino — the rookie 4-0 with four saves and an 0.35 ERA over his past 16 outings — and Blake Treinen, the All-Star closer who has the best ERA (0.94) among all big-league relievers.
2. Jed Lowrie: He easily could have gone in the No. 1 slot, too. The 34-year-old’s season has been magnificent, and his professionalism — grinding out at-bats, thorough preparation, calm demeanor — is rubbing off on the A’s young players.
3. Piscotty’s return: Outfielder Stephen Piscotty got off to a tough start after changing leagues, and he was going through an understandably difficult time as his mother, Gretchen, dealt with ALS, before dying May 6. The Pleasanton native homered in his first at-bat after Gretchen’s memorial service, a stirring moment, and Piscotty was on a tear going into the break, batting .348 with five homers in his past 11 games.
1. The rotation: Injuries and underperformance have left only Manaea remaining from the first week of the season. The A’s have used 12 starters in all. But this “miss” isn’t really a downer — despite a makeshift rotation and an overextended bullpen, Oakland has made the arrangement work somehow, especially in the past month.
2. Santiago Casilla: The reliever, who had come up with the A’s and gone on to pitch for three World Series championship teams with the Giants, was designated for assignment Saturday after falling into disuse in the bullpen.
3. Bruce Maxwell: The catcher was expected to be the starter, but he came into camp overweight and the A’s were lucky Jonathan Lucroy was still available in March. Maxwell dealt with death threats after becoming the only big-leaguer to kneel for the national anthem, then had legal issues after being arrested for a gun incident in Scottsdale during the offseason; he’s now at Triple-A Nashville.
RHP Paul Blackburn: Rushed back from a forearm strain June 5, Blackburn is back on the DL with elbow soreness and he won’t throw for several weeks.
RHP Jharel Cotton: Out for the season after Tommy John surgery.
RHP Daniel Gossett: Recently began a throwing program after hitting the DL on June 4 with an elbow strain.
OF Matt Joyce: An epidural has helped alleviate Joyce’s lumbar strain, but he’s unlikely to be back until August.
OF Boog Powell: A string of injuries — knee, thumb — has kept him on the DL since early April.
RHP Andrew Triggs: There is no structural damage causing the nerve irritation he has felt since mid-May, but there is no timetable for his return.
Recent Mets first-round pick Jarred Kelenic, who has had pitchers ducking for cover since making his professional debut, has cracked Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list — joining two other Mets.
The 18-year-old Kelenic (No. 81 on the list), debuted for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets last month before a quick promotion to Kingsport.
Kelenic joins High-A St. Lucie SS Andres Gimenez (No. 68), and Triple-A Las Vegas 1B Peter Alonso (No. 77).
The gist on all three…
Kelenic is hitting .352/.427/.592 with three homers, two doubles, three triples, and seven steals in 19 games since being drafted. The next step for Kelenic would be a promotion to the Brooklyn Cyclones — the Mets’ Short-Season A affiliate.
“He’s universally considered one of the best pure hitters in the (Draft) class, with good feel for the strike zone and a mechanically-sound swing that he repeats well,” John Sickels wrote recently for Minor League Ball about the lefty-swinging center fielder. “His hitting skills are quite polished, especially for a cold-weather bat.”
Video: WATCH: Mets’ first-round pick homers to right field
The 19-year-old Gimenez, who just played in the Futures Game, is hitting .278/.345/.428 with six homers, four triples, 19 doubles, and a league-leading 26 stolen bases for St. Lucie. He is more than three years younger than the average player in the league.
Viewed as an above average-fielding shortstop who should stay at the position, Gimenez “has a smooth swing and a quick bat,” wrote Greg Karam of Amazin’ Avenue. “Couple that with his ability to make contact and his up-the-middle defensive prowess and there’s a lot to be excited about.”
Video: Mets prospect Gimenez delivers, gets Mets on board
Alonso, 23, crushed Double-A pitching to the tune of a .314/.440/.573 line before being promoted to Triple-A, where he’s hitting .174/.306/.413 and starting to come around — homering twice in his last four games. He has 21 homers in 90 games this season.
He also hit this majestic bomb during the Futures Game this past Sunday:
Washington, DC, July 18, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Major League Baseball (MLB), the Washington Nationals, Budweiser and TEAM Coalition joined forces to encourage fans to be responsible and respect others while attending MLB All-Star activities July 13-17. Through the Budweiser Responsible Fan program and the TEAM Coalition Responsibility Has Its Rewards (RHIR) sweepstakes, more than 5,740 baseball fans of legal drinking age pledged to enjoy responsibly and have a safe ride plan.
Budweiser’s Responsible Fan program encourages fans 21 years and older to drink responsibly and always have a plan to get to and from the game safely – whether that’s using a ride share service, a designated driver, or public transportation. Anheuser-Busch founded the program in 1986, and there are now over 100 professional sports teams and venues participating each year.
Responsibility Has Its Rewards is an MLB league-wide sweepstakes which rewards one randomly–selected fan who pledged to be a responsible fan with a trip to the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. This year’s winner was Carol Virshbo, a responsible fan from Natick, Massachusetts who attended the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, featuring T-Mobile Home Run Derby, and the 89th Midsummer Classic with her guest. Carol was recognized on the Nationals Park video board at the All-Star Game, serving as a representative of the more than 560,000 MLB fans who pledged to be designated drivers last season.
“The safety of our fans is a serious focus all season long and the Budweiser Responsible Fan program helps us increase fans’ social responsibility at and around our ballparks,” said John Skinner, MLB Vice President, Security and Facility Management. “Along with Budweiser and TEAM Coalition, we are proud to reward fans who have vowed to make sure their family, friends and fellow fans arrive home safely. I am sure they will enjoy this special All-Star experience.”
1,408 fans visited a Budweiser Responsibility Has Its Rewards kiosk inside Nationals Park during this weekend’s festivities, where they took the pledge to enjoy responsibly and have a safe ride plan, and were rewarded with a commemorative Budweiser MLB All-Star Game rally towel. 4,332 adult fans who visited GEICO All-Star FanFest at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center pledged to be responsible, added their autographs to a wall of signatures of responsible fans and received a souvenir photo displaying the responsibility message along with All-Star images. And more than 1,000 kids made the responsibility pledge to buckle up, every trip, every time and not to drink alcohol until they are of legal drinking age.
For the 15th consecutive season, MLB, Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition and Budweiser have joined together to make fans aware of the responsibility programs offered at MLB ballparks. These programs and the “Responsibility Has Its Rewards” sweepstakes promote positive fan behavior by encouraging responsible drinking and safe ride plans.
“All of our colleagues take great pride in promoting responsible drinking, as we have done for more than 35 years and the Budweiser Responsible Fan program is a great way to remind fans to both enjoy responsibly and have a safe ride plan,” said Adam Warrington, vice president of CSR-Better World at Anheuser-Busch. “Our partnership with Major League Baseball, TEAM and the great fans at Nationals Park displays our collective responsibility to help keep our roads safe.”
Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers promote responsible drinking among baseball fans by implementing Budweiser Responsible Fan programs with 20 MLB ballparks throughout the season. Anheuser-Busch is an official sponsor of Major League Baseball.
“The success of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign with Major League Baseball and Budweiser is a direct result of the commitment from the League, the MLB Clubs and all the campaign partners,” said Jill Pepper, Executive Director of TEAM Coalition. “Teamwork is what this campaign is all about. It is proof that when everyone – including the fans – takes responsibility, everyone wins.”
About Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most historic professional sports league in the United States and consists of 30 member clubs in the U.S. and Canada, representing the highest level of professional baseball. Major League Baseball is the best-attended sport in North America, and since 2004, MLB has enjoyed its best-attended seasons in the history of the game, with each regular season eclipsing the 73 million mark. Led by Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., MLB currently features record levels of labor peace, competitive balance and industry revenues, as well as the most comprehensive drug-testing program in American professional sports. MLB remains committed to making an impact in the communities of the U.S., Canada and throughout the world, perpetuating the sport’s larger role in society and permeating every facet of baseball’s business, marketing and community relations endeavors. With the continued success of MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network, MLB continues to find innovative ways for its fans to enjoy America’s National Pastime and a truly global game. For more information on Major League Baseball, visit www.MLB.com.
Anheuser-Busch and its employees build on a legacy of corporate social responsibility by focusing on three key areas: promoting alcohol responsibility, preserving and protecting the environment and supporting local communities. In the past three decades, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers have invested more than $1 billion in preventing drunk driving and underage drinking and promoting responsible retailing and advertising. Anheuser-Busch reduced total water use at its breweries by nearly 50 percent over the last 10 years. The company has been a leading aluminum recycler for more than 30 years. Each year Anheuser-Busch and its Foundation invest approximately $20 million in donations to charitable organizations that help in local communities. The company also has provided over 76 million cans of emergency drinking water to people impacted by natural and other disasters since 1988. Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch, the leading American brewer, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.
About TEAM Coalition
TEAM Coalition is an alliance of professional and collegiate sports, entertainment facilities, concessionaires, stadium service providers, the beer industry, distillers, broadcasters, traffic safety experts and others working together to promote responsible drinking and positive fan behavior at sports and entertainment facilities. TEAM Coalition members and supporters include Major League Baseball, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Major League Soccer, NASCAR, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Americrown, Aramark, Delaware North Sportservice, Legends, Spectra, Beer Institute, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Constellation Brands, HEINEKEN USA, MillerCoors, Brown-Forman, Live Nation, National Association of Broadcasters, International Association of Venue Managers, Stadium Managers Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For more information, visit TEAMCoalition.org.
Jill Pepper, TEAM Coalition, 703-647-7430, [email protected]
Bailey Rinella, Budweiser, [email protected]
David Hochman, Major League Baseball, 212-931-7652, [email protected]
The Brewers’ best pitcher is in some serious hot water before the second half of the MLB season gets underway.
As he was serving up a 3-run homer in the All-Star Game Tuesday night, Josh Hader‘s Tweets from 2011 were aired publicly and the result was…not good.
Hader’s Tweets as a 17-year-old reflected racist and homophobic remarks, among other issues. (A summary of his Tweets can be found at Deadspin.)
After the All-Star Game, Hader was immediately put in front of reporters to respond to the Tweets and admitted he will accept any punishment that comes his way – including any possible suspension:
Regardless of whether or not he misses any game action for this (a suspension here would be rather unprecedented for MLB, but the world is certainly changing), this absolutely could affect Hader mentally moving forward.
Case in point:
He can ask teammate Ryan Braun how to deal when fans turn on you, but it’s going to be a lot more difficult for a 24-year-old in his first full big-league season to deal with any hate that comes down.
Hader has been the Brewers’ most valuable pitcher all season, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and a ridiculous 16.7 K/9.
But over the last month-plus, he’s been…human.
Ever since Jason Heyward turned on a 98 mph Hader fastball to tie the game in Milwaukee on June 11, the Brewers’ relief ace has a 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 13.5 K/9.
Still great numbers, to be sure, but not the Superman-esque line baseball fans came to expect from Hader after the first couple months of 2018. (Plus, the All-Star Game homer he served up to Jean Segura, but that obviously doesn’t count for anything.)
With the Brewers already chasing the Cubs by 2.5 games in the division in the second half, they can’t afford Hader’s slump to worsen.
Though Cubs fans may be rooting for that…
Racist, homophobic and misogynistic tweets that Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader sent in 2011 and 2012 surfaced as he pitched in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park, turning his appearance into an embarrassing stain for Hader and a public-relations nightmare for Major League Baseball.
After Hader surrendered a three-run homer in the eighth inning, several Twitter users — starting, it seems, with an account named MLB Insider Dinger — found and retweeted messages Hader sent as a 17-year-old. The tweets included numerous uses of the n-word and an allusion to “white power” next to an emoji of a closed fist. One tweet read only, “I hate gay people.” Another referenced wanting women only for sex, cooking and cleaning.
“It’s just something that happened,” Hader, a former All-Met from Old Mill who grew up in Anne Arundel County, said after the game. “I was 17 years old. As a child, I was immature. I obviously said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today. That’s just what it is.”
[‘D.C. did it right’: AL wins in 10 innings in All-Star Game slugfest]
Hader discovered that the tweets had surfaced after he exited the game. When he arrived in the locker room, “my phone was blowing up,” he said. As the game came to a close, several of Hader’s family members and friends milled outside the clubhouse, all of them wearing all-star jerseys with “Hader” across the back.
Hader, still in full uniform, motioned his wife inside to a lobby outside the locker room. As they talked, the rest of Hader’s party removed the jerseys and either changed out or reversed clothing with the player’s name on it.
MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem declined to comment and said the league was considering releasing a statement Wednesday.
When the National League clubhouse opened to media, Hader was standing alone at his locker, his blond hair pulled into a bun. Reporters surrounded him. A public-relations official asked reporters to wait. Another PR man said to the other: “Give it a second. We got a couple more [reporters] coming. We got a bunch more.”
Hader blamed the tweets on youth and immaturity and insisted they did not reflect his current beliefs.
“There’s no excuse for what was said,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on. That doesn’t reflect any of my beliefs now.”
How could the tweets have lived online for so long without Hader deleting them?
“No deletes,” he said. “Obviously, when you’re a kid, you just tweet what’s on your mind.”
[‘A monumental moment’ as All-Star Game finally returns to Washington]
Before the game ended, Hader had deleted his old tweets and locked his account. He said he would accept any suspension or punishment, with the caveat of his age at the time he sent the tweets.
“I’m ready for any consequences for what happened seven years ago,” he said.
“Like I said before, I was young, immature and stupid. There’s no excuses for what was said or what happened.”
Hader said he did not “vividly” recall sending any of the offensive messages. “That was seven years ago,” he said. “I don’t remember too far back then.”
Hader repeated his age and the time passed since the tweets. While he was nearly an adult when he sent them and not, as he called himself once, a “child” at the time, Hader insisted the tweets would not reflect on him.
“Not at all,” he said. “I was in high school. We’re still learning who we are in high school. You live and you learn. This mistake won’t happen again.”
After he spoke with reporters, Hader huddled over his phone with a PR representative as Brewers teammate Jesus Aguilar packed up at the locker next to him. Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain sat a few stalls down.
Hader walked over to Cain, slung his arm around him and whispered into Cain’s ear. Cain’s son chattered nearby. They talked for a bit, and then Hader walked away.
“I was just trying to understand the situation,” said Cain, who is black. “He’s young. We all say some crazy stuff when we’re young. That’s one reason why I don’t have social media, because things like this. You always get in trouble for things you said when you’re younger. We’ll move on it. The situation is what it is. I know Hader. He’s a great guy. I know he’s a great teammate. I’m fine. Everybody will be okay. We’ll move on from it.
“Yeah, I was surprised. When anybody does something like that, you’re always surprised. At the end of the day, you got to give people a second chance. And I understand you got to forgive people and move on from it. For me, it’s over and done with. He said it. It got out there. I’m moving on from it. Me, individually, anyway.”
When Hader finished speaking with Cain, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich walked over to Hader and hugged him.
“I don’t know what he did or what happened,” Yelich said. “But the guy I know is a really great guy with a kind heart.”
Hader, a 24-year-old left-hander, has pitched to a 1.50 ERA in 48 innings this season, striking out 89 of the 177 batters he has faced.
Jorge Castillo and Chelsea Janes contributed.
More from the All-Star Game: Boswell: If MLB’s problems are embodied by Max Scherzer, things will be just fine The masterful marketing campaign that made Jean Segura an all-star Martinez says Strasburg, Zimmerman are set to return to Nationals on Friday