We’ve reached the home stretch of the Major League Baseball season, and everything’s moving so fast. The wild AL wild-card race seems to reshuffle daily; Giancarlo Stanton’s home-run odometer keeps clicking; blockbuster deadline deals make us rethink what the playoffs might hold.
With all of that swirling around us, it’s nice to fall back on dependable old favorites. Like Adrian Beltre and Joey Votto being the most fun players of their generation. As you might expect, Beltre and Votto appear yet again in this column, because that’s where they were meant to be.
Here’s to reliability. It’s the August edition of The Fun Report!
Adrian Beltre has no time for your silly rules.
Got him in a rundown? He’ll make up his own baseline.
Want him to step into the on-deck circle? He’ll move the damn on-deck circle over to where he’s standing...
...thus delighting baseball fans so thoroughly, the Rangers decide to give away 15,000 on-deck circle mousepads as a promotion, and a troll job for the ages.
Noah Syndergaard has an unusual throwing program.
Like many of his Mets teammates, Syndergaard has spent a big chunk of this season on the disabled list. But despite being out for the past four-plus months with a lat injury, Syndergaard showed up somewhere unexpected to show off his impressive right arm: On the battlefield during an episode of Game of Thrones.
Pretty strong form there by Thor. He might’ve had a future in the Lannister army.
Mike Trout celebrated his 26th birthday in style on August 7. As you might expect, he raked, going 2-for-4, cranking a home run and recording his 1000th career hit.
But the best moment of the day came when Trout’s Angels teammates made him a birthday cake. Sure, mixing the ingredients on his head was an unorthodox way to do it. But you’ve got to crack a few eggs to properly pile on the best player on the planet.
Shower celebrations are all the rage.
First it was Trout getting birthday love. Then the Marlins doused Giancarlo Stanton after the star slugger broke the team’s single-season home-run record.
If he gets to 70, Stanton’s teammates should just toss all decorum aside, throw him in a giant witch’s cauldron and cook him for dinner.
A young Dodgers fan thought he had a bead on a foul popup during a game against the Padres. San Diego first baseman Wil Myers had other ideas.
If you’re ever going to be denied a chance to catch a ball at a game, this is how you’d want it to go down. Never lose your sense of wonder, kid.
It’s a toss-up for best fan reaction of the month. Dodgers kid makes a strong case. But check out this Yankee fan’s reaction to a ninth-inning showdown between New York reliever Aroldis Chapman and Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers. Heading into that matchup, Chapman hadn’t allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter in six years. So you can understand out Bleacher Creature pal’s confidence as Chapman delivered a 103-mph fastball, chest-high, to the untested rookie.
Baseball, man. You never know.
Joey Votto giveth, Joey Votto taketh away
Our resident Reds wiseacre is known to be extremely generous, whether it’s gifting his All-Star teammate with a donkey or crafting an unforgettable day for a young fan. But sometimes, Votto can’t help himself.
Sometimes, he has to play the heel.
Toronto’s most impressive bird…
...isn’t a Blue Jay, at least not this season, when the Jays look likely to finish last in the AL East. Rather, it’s Otis the African Grey Parrot, who shows his love for Justin Smoak in a delightful way.
Really cool, no doubt. But can he say Rzepczynski?!
Speaking of cool…
Great stuff by Cubs ushers during August’s series against the Blue Jays at Wrigley. On the field, we expect teams to compete with fervor. But off the field, it’s always nice to see the home team make visitors feel welcome. Hand out vintage Roy Lee Jackson cards to visiting fans, and you’re cool by me.
Rhys Hoskins gets the silent treatment.
Regular readers know we love the silent treatment rookies get when they hit their first major league home run. Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins was more than happy to play along.
On August 14, Hoskins blasted his first big league homer, then returned to the dugout to find a bench full of uninterested teammates. Rather than look confused, Hoskins leaned into the snub, handing out phantom high-fives with gusto.
Hoskins would blast his second major league homer that same game, and go on to become the fastest player ever to reach nine, 10, and 11 home runs.
Does this help reduce wind resistance somehow?
Because if stuffing batting gloves in your mouth while stealing a base somehow makes you faster, we’re all in.
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The Best of #PlayersWeekend
Kudos to Major League Baseball for introducing #PlayersWeekend, a fun event that allowed players to choose colorful uniforms, slap their nicknames on the back of their jerseys, and get creative in multiple ways.
Carlos Gonzalez stamping his own face on his bat was a highlight.
But Tampa Bay Rays PR man Dave Haller wins the battle for best juxtaposition of the weekend, hands down.