Fun Fact of the Day: Yesterday, Los Angeles Sparks power forward Nneka Ogwumike was named WNBA MVP. This season, she set a league record for most consecutive field-goals made (23), including one perfect game in June where she made all 12 of her field-goal attempts, and all 7 of her free throws.
All banged up. While the Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East, their catcher Wilson Ramos will miss all the postseason fun with a torn ACL. It’s a real bummer because Ramos has been having the best season of his career, including his first All-Star appearance. Hopefully, the rest of the Nats roster can get healthy before the start of the playoffs. They are already missing stars P Stephen Strasburg (strained forearm), 2B Daniel Murphy (strained buttocks), and RF Bryce Harper (injured thumb).
Who can feel their pain? (Literally.) New York Mets LHP Steven Matz is getting season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. The Mets are still trying to seal the deal on a Wild Card spot, but all their pitchers are dropping like flies. At the beginning of the season, their starting rotation inspired fear in the hearts of batters, but now it is down 4 of its stars: Matz, Matt Harvey (rib surgery), Jacob deGrom (elbow nerve), and Zack Wheeler (Tommy John surgery).
Spotlight on Big Papi
ICYMI this is Boston Red Sox designated hitter David “Big Papi” Ortiz’s last season. With the regular season winding down and Big Papi playing his last series against the New York Yankees, we thought it was time to spotlight this incredible player:
What’s he known for? Big Papi is a member of the elite 500+ home run club. He has the 2nd most home runs of any Red Sox player, behind only Ted Williams. And many of those homers came at clutch times; Papi played a key role in each of the Red Sox’s 3 World Series victories since 2004.
What’s with the nickname? Ortiz was released by the Minnesota Twins in December 2002. He signed with the Red Sox just a few weeks later and showed up to spring training without knowing many people. He couldn’t remember his new teammates’ names, so he started calling everyone “Papi.” They started calling him Papi back and the nickname stuck.
Why’s he retiring? At age 40, Papi says he has aches and pains, but you would never know it from watching him play. He’s having the best farewell season in MLB history. So far, he’s already hit 37 home runs, the most of any player in his final year.
Farewell tour. All season long, Big Papi has been given gifts and honored at ballparks across the country. But he shouldn’t expect such a warm welcome from the N.Y. Yankees. Tomorrow will be his last game playing the Red Sox’s archrivals and one Yankees fan is trying to get the entire stadium to collectively moon him. But when they go low, Papi goes high. Yesterday, he penned a moving letter to Yankees fans saying he’ll miss the rivalry because it made him a better player.
A blemish on the legacy. Back in 2003, before there were penalties in MLB for doping, Big Papi tested positive for steroids. He said it was an accident and might have come from taking various vitamin supplements. It’s unclear whether the PED allegations will keep him out of the Hall of Fame. It may help that all 10 of Ortiz’s All-Star game selections happened after testing became more stringent in 2004.
Seen and Heard
Watt’s wrong? Rumor has it that 3x defensive player of the year, Houston Texans J.J. Watt may be out the rest of the season with a bad back. Up until now, he’s never missed a game in his 6-season NFL career. Last year, he played through injuries to his back, hand, torso, groin, legs… basically any body part you can think of. In the offseason he got surgery, but he hasn’t looked the same this season.
A common thread. This week both Serena Williams and LeBron James spoke out about the current state of race relations in America. Serena shared a personal story about driving with her black 18-year-old nephew, and LeBron talked about his fears as a father with two young black sons.
A little R&R. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is on the last week of his 4-week Deflategate suspension, and the time off looks good on him. He’s spent the past week sunbathing au naturel off the Italian coast.