- The lighter side of baseball during the seasn's second month also includes a pair of Superman catches, a squirrel invasion and the best ballpark deal of the summer.
Boss yelling in your ear? Dog ate your favorite slippers? Toddler ran away to start his own Fyre Festival (only with more cookies)?
Don’t fret, we’ve got just the thing to cheer you up. It’s The Fun Report, May edition!
Don’t mess with Joey Votto
Certainly not when he’s in the batter’s box. Already one of the best hitters of his generation, Votto has adopted a new approach, choking up significantly on the bat. That changed has worked beautifully: His 12.4% strikeout rate is by far the lowest of his career, and he’s still hitting the ball a long way, his .276 Isolated Power equals the career high he set during his 37-homer MVP season in 2010.
Honestly, though? You might get hurt even more badly if you try to engage Votto in a war of words. The Mountie doesn’t mess around.
Zack Greinke has no time for your nonsense
FOX Sports Arizona recently mic’d up Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta, hoping he could engage his teammates in some fun conversation to be aired later. Peralta homed in on Greinke, one of the smartest players in the game and also one of the funniest, especially if you’re into desert-dry, exceedingly blunt, deadpan humor.
Greinke was . . . not having it. At all.
If he can’t hack it in baseball, he could always become a magician
On May 6, the Orioles and the Angels connected on a seemingly minor trade. Baltimore picked up righty Jordan Kipper, a 24-year-old, soft-tossing sinkerballer who’s posted a 2.45 ERA since getting assigned to Triple A Norfolk but with just seven strikeouts in four starts. Meanwhile the Angels acquired a 27-year-old righthander who is going to his third organization in less than a month after a previous Brewers-O’s deal. He’s struggled mightily at Triple A Salt Lake City, flashing an 8.00 ERA over eight relief appearances.
But it’s the name of the Angels’ new minor league pitcher that makes this deal truly memorable. How could you not root for . . . Damien Magnifico!
The Blue Jays are finally playing good baseball and are starting to climb back into the outskirts of the playoff race. But even when they’re playing poorly, one constant remains: Jays fans’ affection for manager John Gibbons. Like every other manager, Gibbons’ in-game decisions don’t always work out. But there’s something about his upbeat demeanor and no-BS way of talking that endears him to fans (and media), so much so that he’s earned his own hashtag.
Gibby might’ve topped himself on May 1. After a win over the Yankees, Gibson called into the postgame show Blue Jays Talk on FAN 590 radio in Toronto to razz the show’s equally good-natured host, Mike Wilner. After praising Marco Estrada, “John In The Bronx” took Wilner to task for pre-game comments the host had made about backup catcher Luke Maile. It was glorious.
Never change, Gibby.
Troll Job of the Year
We’re skipping right past “of the month” honors in this case to honor one intrepid Giants fan who came to Dodger Stadium armed with premium trolling artillery. Granted, Los Angeles looks good again this year and has a good shot at its fifth straight NL West title, while San Francisco has frequently looked old and terrible this season and remains near the bottom of the league.
Still, take a good look at this guy sitting in the front row at a Giants-Dodgers game . . . while reading the newspaper from the day in 2014 after San Francisco won its third World Series in five years. I am in awe.
I for one welcome our new squirrel overlords
On May 13, a fearless squirrel decided to go explore Progressive Field in the middle of that day’s Indians-Twins game. The squirrel hopped over the rightfield line, traversed the infield, the broke for home. Cleveland’s grounds crew, able as it is, couldn’t match the critter’s blazing speed, as it jumped onto the stands and immediately disappeared.
Less than two weeks later it happened again, this time interrupting an Indians-Royals game.
The Tribe has been struggling just to stay above .500, a disappointment so far following its 2016 joyride to Game 7 of the World Series. Cleveland also ranks just 23rd in the majors in stolen bases. Maybe ink the squirrels to a deal and see if they can juice up the team’s baserunning efforts?
Teams have tried all kinds of creative deals to lure fans to the ballpark. One of the most intriguing has been the advent of monthly passes, where fans can buy one at a set price, then go to as many games as they want in a given month. The Astros, Brewers, Tigers and Twins have all tried this promotion.
The A’s have topped ‘em all. Starting June 1, Oakland will offer monthly ballpark passes for an incomprehensibly low price of $19.99. The Fun Report is a decidedly non-partisan endeavor, and we try not to do teams’ marketing for them. But a month of ball, hot dogs and California sunshine for one Andrew Jackson is ludicrously affordable, and a great idea for a team that’s second-to-last in the majors in attendance. Add in how the A’s have been more competitive and more entertaining than they were last year (Yonder Alonso actually having a plausible shot at 35 to 40 homers alone should be incentive enough) and you have a rare case in baseball of capitalism and fan outreach actually working hand in hand.
Superman Impression of the Month
We have a tie!
First, Cubs centerfielder Albert Almora:
Second, Blue Jays centerfielder Kevin Pillar:
Filth Flarn Filth
That’s how I’d describe this 94 mph piece of hell that new Nationals closer Koda Glover used to eradicate Mariners catcher Mike Zunino last week.
Glover has not allowed a run in nine appearances this month and has five saves in his past six outings. If he keeps torturing hitters with evil offerings like these, Washington's closer problem will no longer be a problem.
Bat Flip (Account) of the Month
Few players have been more disappointing this year than Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera. The multi-tool talent emerged as one of the best young players in the league in 2015 and '16, only to crash to a .218/.262/.326 line this year. That’s made celebrating his accomplishments a tough task in 2017.
Not so, however, for one of our favorite Twitter accounts, @OdubelsBatFlips. While Herrera digs himself into a progressively deeper slump, OBF keeps dutifully counting the number of times Herrera has flipped his bat this season, even while a bunch of them have come on harmless flyouts. We salute this level of loyalty and diligence here at The Fun Report. Here’s hoping Herrera starts hitting a bunch of long balls, to offer more joyous cause for flippy celebration.