Play ball!
June 6, 2018

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) made his baseball comeback on Wednesday, warming up for the big Congressional Baseball Game next week.

Scalise, the House majority whip, was shot last year after a gunman targeted the Republican team as they practiced for the annual charity game. The lawmaker suffered severe injuries, and four others were wounded. Local authorities at the time reported that the gunman attacked the field out of anger toward the GOP and the state of politics.

Scalise said his survival was a "miracle", and after several surgeries he returned to the House floor. He's still working toward a full recovery, but he told CBS News that he "felt great" after practicing with his GOP teammates. The Republican team will face the Democrats next week, raising money for several different organizations. Summer Meza

May 23, 2016

The New York Mets, aka Los Mets, are among the six Major League Baseball teams to offer their young Latino prospects — primarily ones from the Dominican Republic — high school degree programs. Two or three more teams plan to join in, USA Today reports.

"I gotta tell you, we're working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy," said Juan Henderson, who runs the Mets' Dominican academy. "Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop."

Having a degree is a clear benefit to the teenage athletes, who may not ever see a major league at-bat, and Mets officials said they consider the extra training off the field to be a competitive advantage that makes players more coachable. Hansel Robles, a 25-year-old Mets relief pitcher who graduated from the franchise's academy in 2010, said he'd like to see every team take up the practice.

"You can't stress ... enough how if the baseball thing doesn't work out then you have nothing left to fall back on," the Dominican-born Robles said. "If you do this, you can go to college and you can have a future." Julie Kliegman

September 11, 2015

George W. Bush was never more afraid than when he stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium on October 30, 2001. It had been 48 days since 9/11, and he had not been more nervous then. Nor would he be more nervous during Hurricane Katrina, or the 2007 financial collapse. It was there, on the mound, that he was his most afraid.

"Your adrenaline isn't surging during decisions," Bush told Grantland. "Decisions were very deliberate. I listened to a lot of good people, and when I made up my mind, I made up my mind. And I feel good about making those decisions based upon what I thought was in the best interest of the country."

But then there was that first pitch — and he didn't want to bounce it.

[...] He thought about the pitch itself. He thought about the other time he'd thrown a first pitch as president, at a Brewers game. He'd put it in the dirt. His dad had bounced it when he was president too. Both he and his dad had played baseball at Yale — the senior Bush was team captain, the younger never made varsity. And bouncing it had been mortifying. "We're pretty competitive people," he said.

He hadn't had much time to prepare, squeezing in a game of catch with his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, in the South Lawn to loosen up. So he knew he faced the prospect of embarrassment in front of a stadium of people who hadn't voted for him, and more.

As he walked out to the mound, wearing an FDNY pullover over a flak jacket, as the voice of Bob Sheppard — "Ladies and gentlemen" faded into the great sound of the crowd, he had a sense that something more was at stake than pride.

Read the entire piece over at Grantland, and check out the ESPN documentary on Bush's first pitch, below. Jeva Lange

March 12, 2015

Will Ferrell will do his best impression of a super-utility player on Thursday when he takes the field for 10 teams in five spring training games.

The actor will travel by helicopter to play every position for a Funny or Die special, in partnership with HBO, to benefit cancer research. Proceeds from auctioning Ferrell's equipment will go to Cancer for College and Stand Up to Cancer.

Ferrell should do fine in the field so long as the players don't take the exhibitions too seriously — but where's the fun in that? The stunt will be way more entertaining if someone drops a bunt to him at third, if he's forced to catch some knuckleballs. Ferrell can do a pretty good Harry Caray. Let's see how well he can channel Bert Campaneris. Jon Terbush

February 18, 2015

Alex Rodriguez returns to the Yankees this season after a year-long suspension, and the biggest question facing the aging slugger is how sharply his skills eroded during the involuntary vacation. But the second-biggest question facing A-Rod is, of course, whether his loopy handwriting reveals an inner monster waiting to burst forth and destroy the Yankees from the inside.

To probe the latter question, The Wall Street Journal consulted Paula Sassi, a "certified master graphologist," who offered this illuminating analysis of A-Rod's handwritten apology to Yankees fans:

"He writes like a girl," Sassi said. "Feminine writing is more rounded, with a lot of connections, which he has throughout this. And a right slant. Masculine writing tends to be more angled, straight up and down, maybe printed." [Wall Street Journal]

Sassi added that Rodriguez's signature indicates secrecy, as if he is "covering his tush." Jon Terbush

December 11, 2014

Yoenis Cespedes is gone to the Tigers as the Boston Red Sox dealt the surplus slugger for pitcher Rick Porcello. Detroit will also receive pitcher Alex Wilson and a yet-to-be-named minor league player.

Boston was long expected to deal Cespedes — a 2014 All-Star and the reigning Home Run Derby champ — to clear room in a crowded outfield that became even more crowded with the signing of Hanley Ramirez earlier this offseason. Though Ramirez is a bat-first shortstop by trade, his infield defense stinks, and Boston is expected to stick him in left field to start the year. Jon Terbush

October 4, 2014

The Kansas City Royals are now 2-0 over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League's division series, and the team is drawing support from all areas of the community. SBNation.com noticed that the Kansas City Police department's Twitter account had called on local residents to keep a cap on the crime earlier this week — on-duty officers wanted a chance to listen in as the Royals took on the Oakland Athletics:

Proving that sometimes social media (or a city-wide focus on a team that made it into the playoffs via a wild-card spot) actually works, the department later noted that their plea seemed to have been heard:

The lesson here: Sports (may) decrease crime. Except in the case of this Angels fan, who was not pleased with Friday night's outcome — or his Royals-cheering friend. --Sarah Eberspacher

July 23, 2014

Tony Cruz, backup catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, made his mark on the team when he chose Matthew McConaughey's chest-bump song from The Wolf of Wall Street as his walkup song.

Cruz is playing for the team while Yadier Molina recovers from a recent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Cruz is certainly doing his best to win over the fans while Molina is out of play.

Here's Cruz walking up to the plate against on Tuesday night to the epic Wolf of Wall Street tune. --Meghan DeMaria

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