Fun Fact of the Day: Last night was the 3rd time that a Buck Showalter managed team has been eliminated from the postseason on a walk-off. (Psst—a walk-off is when the home team scores a run that gives them the lead in the bottom of the final inning of the game. The home team can immediately "walk off" the field because they’ve already won, instead of finishing the inning.)
Flipping the bird. The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 thanks to DH Edwin Encarnacion’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning. It was an exciting game that got one Blue Jays fan so fired up he threw a beer at an Orioles player. After the loss, everyone was wondering why Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter didn’t put in closer Zach Britton!? It seemed strange for the Orioles to trot out 6 different relief pitchers, but not Britton, who finished the season with a 0.53 ERA, the lowest in MLB history for the number of innings he’s pitched. Next up? The Blue Jays will face off against the Texas Rangers in an ALDS rematch. When these two met in the ALDS last year, Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista disrespected the Rangers with an epic bat flip after a 3-run homer. The teams have been feuding ever since, including a fistfight this past May.
Mercy me! Earlier this year, tennis star Maria Sharapova was suspended for 2 years for taking the banned substance, melodonium. Yesterday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced her suspension to 15 months. Why the change of heart? They decided that Sharapova didn’t intentionally cheat, but she really should have double checked tennis’s updated banned substance list. Meldonium was banned this year because a lot of Eastern European athletes were using it to increase their endurance. Sharapova said that took it for 10+ years to combat a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.
Seen and Heard
Why is everybody always picking on me? Last year N.Y. Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. became an instant superstar for his insane one-handed catches. This season, he’s been getting lots of negative attention for his bad attitude, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting and a hissy fit / meltdown on the sidelines. Now, his coach Ben McAdoo is calling him out for being a “distraction” to the team and QB Eli Manning is saying he needs to chill out and “play smart.” For his part, Beckham is doubling down on the 'woe is me' approach by saying that he’s not having fun playing any more and he’s sick of it always being his fault: “if I sneeze the wrong way it’ll be a flag.” Boohoo.
He’s a big boy now. Former NFL QB turned baseball prospect Tim Tebow did so well in the instructional league that he’s been invited to participate in the Arizona Fall League (AFL)! What’s that mean? The instructional league is just a 3-week long camp to learn baseball basics with coaches. It is usually a bunch of teenagers or players that are trying to come back from injury. The AFL will be a much bigger challenge. Top minor league prospects from the Double-A and Triple-A level participate, so this will be a big test and a step in the right direction for Tebow’s blossoming baseball career.
Farewell to an old friend. Yesterday, thousands of fans and golf greats showed up to a public service to say goodbye to legendary Hall of Famer Arnold Palmer. Palmer passed away last week at the age of 87 from heart complications. His charisma helped popularize the sport of golf and made him a sports marketing pioneer. Rickie Fowler and several other members of Team USA honored Palmer by bringing him the Ryder Cup, after their big win this past weekend.
NL Wild Card Game. The postseason continues tonight with the San Francisco Giants @ New York Mets! The winner of tonight’s game will advance to the NL Division Series against the NL’s top team, the Chicago Cubs. Here’s a quick reminder of what the playoff bracket looks like:
Breaking out the big guns. Get ready for a serious pitching showdown! The Giants will start Madison Bumgarner and the Mets are turning to their only remaining ace, Noah Syndergaard. Despite losing 4 members of their starting rotation to injury, the Mets have been playing better than the Giants since the All-Star break. That said, you should never count out the Giants in an even year! The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014 and they’re anxious to add 2016 to their collection. Bumgarner is known for being a fantastic pitcher in big moments, so this will be his prime time to shine. 8pm ET on ESPN