Tag Archives: Game

Take Paws: Black Cat Halts Cowboys-Giants Game After Rushing Field

Take Paws: Black Cat Halts Cowboys-Giants Game After Rushing Field


A black cat interrupted the Cowboys’ Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants with under six minutes to go in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Cameras first captured the cat when it paused inside the 5-yard line with 5:32 to go in the first half, forcing referee Clay Martin to halt the game.

The cat ultimately crossed the goal line for the score, after which its touchdown celebration was cut short by stadium staff and New Jersey State Troopers.

There were no flags on the play.

Following the Cowboys’ win, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence tweeted an edited image of the cat with “Hot Boyz” chain around its neck. Hot Boyz is the nickname Dallas’ defensive line goes by.

NBC 5’s Pat Doney reports the cat has been at MetLife Stadium for at least three weeks, adding he saw it on the field following the Cowboys’ game against the New York Jets on Oct. 13.

The Cowboys trailed the Giants 9-3 when the cat took the field. After the cat left, Dallas outscored New York 34-9 on the way to a 37-18 win.



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Take Paws: Black Cat Halts Cowboys-Giants Game After Rushing Field

Take Paws: Black Cat Halts Cowboys-Giants Game After Rushing Field

A black cat interrupted the Cowboys’ Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants with under six minutes to go in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Cameras first captured the cat when it paused inside the 5-yard line with 5:32 to go in the first half, forcing referee Clay Martin to halt the game.

The cat ultimately crossed the goal line for the score, after which its touchdown celebration was cut short by stadium staff and New Jersey State Troopers.

There were no flags on the play.

Following the Cowboys’ win, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence tweeted an edited image of the cat with “Hot Boyz” chain around its neck. Hot Boyz is the nickname Dallas’ defensive line goes by.

NBC 5’s Pat Doney reports the cat has been at MetLife Stadium for at least three weeks, adding he saw it on the field following the Cowboys’ game against the New York Jets on Oct. 13.

The Cowboys trailed the Giants 9-3 when the cat took the field. After the cat left, Dallas outscored New York 34-9 on the way to a 37-18 win.



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Ellen DeGeneres Defends Sitting Next to George W. Bush at NFL Game

Ellen DeGeneres Defends Sitting Next to George W. Bush at NFL Game

Ellen DeGeneres is speaking out after controversy erupted when she was spotted sitting next to former President George W. Bush at this past weekend’s Dallas Cowboys game against the Green Bay Packers.

Simultaneously keeping things light while also discussing the matter on Tuesday’s episode of her talk show, the comedian explained how she wound up in the suite next to Bush, noting she was invited to the game by Charlotte Jones, the daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

“We went because we wanted to keep up with the Joneses,” she said, drawing laughs.

DeGeneres, 61, then shared a video she took while at the game, scanning the crowd while capturing wife, Portia DeRossi, before settling on a smiling Bush and his wife, Laura.

“When we were invited, I was aware I was gonna be surrounded by people from very different views and beliefs and I’m not talking politics. I was rooting for the Packers and — get this — everyone in the Cowboys suite was rooting for the Cowboys,” DeGeneres said while mentioning that she’s friends with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

DeGeneres added,“Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re  all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that we’re all different. For instance, I wish people wouldn’t wear fur. I don’t like it, but I’m friends with people who wear fur and I’m friends with people who are furry, as a matter of fact,” she said, adding a touch of levity to the matter.

“But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be friends with them,” DeGeneres continued. “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter.”

Former President Bush’s spokesman released the following statement Wednesday:

President and Mrs. Bush really enjoyed being with Ellen and Portia, and they appreciated Ellen’s comments about respecting one another. They respect her.



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Dodgers Drop Game 4 of NLDS to Nationals, 6-1, to Force Decisive Do-Or-Die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium

Dodgers Drop Game 4 of NLDS to Nationals, 6-1, to Force Decisive Do-Or-Die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium

It started with a light drizzle on a mild 78-degree Monday night in the Nation’s Capital. As the fifth inning rolled around, a robust wind picked up and the rain roared down upon the 36,487 in attendance at Nationals Park.

The storm wasn’t supposed to arrive until after midnight, but it crashed down upon the Dodgers with one thunderous swing from the longest tenured National in team history.

On September 1, 2005, the Washington Nationals selected third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from nearby Virginia with the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft. He was the first player selected in the team’s history. 15 years later, he would help rewrite it.

The Dodgers usually win games like this. The Nationals do not, but as the rain poured down on the “W” logo in straightaway centerfield, Zimmerman would change that narrative with one swing.

Zimmerman delivered the biggest hit of the Nationals’ season when he smashed a 97 MPH fastball from Pedro Baez off that logo in center to give Washington a decisive 6-1 win in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

As the ball flew over the fence, Baez’s head dropped into his hands like a wilted flower. The Dodgers postseason demons reappeared, as thoughts turned to a do-or-die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.

In the spring of 2015, Rich Hill and Max Scherzer were relaxing in West Palm Beach ready to begin another baseball season. Hill had just signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, and was competing for a spot in the rotation. Hill did not make the Opening Day roster, and was released by Washington two months later, vanquished to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball where he would resurrect his career with the Long Island Ducks.

As fate would have it, the two friends who met in Florida would inexplicably have their paths cross repeatedly over the next five years. First, against each other in a winner-take-all Game 5 in the 2016 NLDS. On Monday they met again on the same field with multiple ramifications on the line. A win for Hill and the Dodgers would advance to their fourth straight NLCS. A win for Scherzer, and the Nationals would force a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night.

“You want to play the best because at the end of the day, I feel like it’s much more gratifying to go against somebody at the top of their game,” said Hill who remembers Scherzer as intense and competitive from their time together. “Looking across the way, when you talk about guys that you really enjoy watching pitch, he’s definitely up there for me.”

Hill’s journey to this moment was more turbulent than Scherzer’s. Hill had to reinvent himself as a pitcher just to make an MLB roster, and injury-plagued season in 2019 put Hill on the outside looking in of a spot on the playoff roster in early September.

“Obviously, I put in time and the effort to get back. I worked really hard with our training staff,” said Hill of his rehabilitation regimen. “Those guys put in a lot of time and effort to make sure that the program that I was on was correct for getting back and being efficient on the hill and getting back to not where I was, but just getting back to where everything felt comfortable enough and strong enough to go out there and compete. It was just something I wanted. This is what I have a love for…I’m not going to say it was easy, but there was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t get back.”

With less than two weeks to go in the season, Rich Hill, finally proved he could pitch in the MLB Playoffs during the final game of the regular season.

“His last start against San Francisco,” said Dave Roberts of when he knew Hill had enough to make the NLDS roster. “It looked good, came out of it well, the side session after that, trainers, Rich, his own words, his confidence level, my eyes seeing how it looks, all that gave us the confidence that he deserves to make this start and we feel good about whatever length he can give us.”

So Hill was called upon in Game 4 to close out the series and christen the visiting clubhouse with a champagne celebration. Unfortunately for Hill, things didn’t go according to plan.

Maybe it was Hill’s lack of command, or Doug Eddings strike zone, but the soon-to-be 40-year-old left-hander struggled to find the plate, and after issuing three walks in the third inning, he was undone by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Anthony Rendon that leveled the score.

Meanwhile, the man they call “Mad Max,” lived up to the billing. Every bit as intense and competitive as advertised, the Nationals’ irrefutable ace dominated the Dodgers over seven spectacular innings.

Scherzer extinguished the Dodgers lineup that was saturated with lefties to weaken him. For over three hours, he flummoxed every hitter he faced with a devastating combination of fastball, slider, and change-up.

After a swing-and-miss slider in the first inning, Scherzer tried to surprise Turner with a 96 MPH fastball. He missed high, and Turner sent the pitch into the Dodgers’ bullpen—almost in the identical spot he did in Game 3—to give Los Angeles an early 1-0 lead.

But that would be the only run the Dodgers would get off Scherzer. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed just one run, on four scattered hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in the victory. If Scherzer is Washington’s Batman, then he will now pass the baton to his Robin, Stephen Strasburg, in the decisive Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

It took the Dodgers five games to dispatch of the Nationals in the NLDS in 2016. Kenley Jansen pitched three innings of relief, and Clayton Kershaw earned the first save of his career in the win.

Dave Roberts was in his inaugural year as manager of the Dodgers during that season, and Game 5 was his first taste of an all hands on deck, winner-take-all playoff game.

“That game was crazy,” Roberts said multiple times when reminiscing about the experience. “I don’t look forward to revisiting that one.”

On Wednesday, he’ll have to.



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Familiar Narrative For Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, as Nationals Defeat Dodgers, 4-2, to Even NLDS at 1-1

Familiar Narrative For Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, as Nationals Defeat Dodgers, 4-2, to Even NLDS at 1-1

The postseason has always been a seesaw sensation for Clayton Kershaw. Some games are great, and vintage Kershaw is unveiled. But when the Dodgers have fallen with him on the mound, the painful memories of playoff past get revived and the old rhetoric of his inability to pitch under pressure is reborn.

Kershaw allowed three runs in the first two innings on Friday night, and the Washington Nationals defeated the three-time Cy Young Award winner, 4-2, to even their best-of-five National League Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1-1. 

The conversation of Kershaw’s playoff imperfections will likely be all that’s discussed among Dodgers’ fans on Saturday. Not the sensational start by Stephen Strasburg, or the dormant Dodgers’ offense. 

The Dodgers are not Moses, and the postseason is not the Red Sea. The other playoff teams will not part at their feet, providing a clear path to their first championship in 31 years.

After recording a franchise record 106 wins and securing a seventh consecutive NL West Division title in 2019, they are now just two losses away from perhaps the greatest disappoint in franchise history. 

NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 2NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 2

It all began innocently in Game 2. Justin Turner, plagued with back problems in recent weeks, couldn’t handle a first-pitch grounder down the third base line.

The leadoff double was cashed in four batters later, when former Dodger Howie Kendrick recorded a redemption RBI that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Kershaw limited the damage by striking out Kurt Suzuki to end the inning, but the lesson was learned: don’t give Washington extra outs, not with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. 

“I was able to get out of that first inning with limited damage,” said Kershaw. “That inning could have gotten bigger, so I was thankful to get out of that allowing just one, but that’s not what killed us.”

In the second inning, buried beneath an avalanche of hit-by-pitches, walks, and hard contact, Kershaw allowed two more runs, and the Dodgers found themselves down 3-0 before fans could find their rally towels.

“The second inning tonight was not good,” continued Kershaw. “That was the difference in the game. When you get two strikes on a hitter with two outs, they shouldn’t score any runs and they scored two more, and that was the difference in the game.”

As it turned out, three runs was all Strasburg needed. The San Diego native was perfect through four innings on Friday and retired the first 14 batters he faced before Will Smith lined a single to center field for the first hit of the game. 

“I had a feel for what he was trying to do to me,” said Smith of the at-bat against Strasburg. “He tossed me a change-up, which I think went against his plan, but I kept it in the back of my mind and got the base hit.”

They scored their first run an inning later, when pinch-hitter Matt Beaty roped a single to right field, advanced to third on a double by Joc Pederson, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Turner.

With the tying run at the plate in A.J. Pollock (whose had success against Strasburg), the 31-year-old right-hander rose to the occasion and snagged a comebacker to end the threat.

“You try and do your homework and look at their weaknesses a little bit,” said Strasburg. “But they’re a pretty deep lineup so sometimes there’s not many weaknesses there and you just got to go out there and pitch to your strengths.”

For six sensational innings, Strasburg pitched to his strengths and was virtually unhittable. Throwing a combination of change-up, fastball, and curveball, he struck out 10 batters in all manners and fashions: swinging, looking, check-swinging, it made no difference to Strasburg. 

“I just learned over the years that pressure’s a funny thing and I think it’s something that you have complete control over,” said Strasburg, who lowered his postseason ERA to 0.64. “There’s obviously a lot of expectations, there’s a lot of excitement in games, but I really tried over the years to train my mind into thinking that every single game is just as important and just sticking to my approach.”

An unexepected turn of events occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning when Game 3 starter Max Scherzer entered the game in relief and struck out the side. 

Friday would normally be a bullpen day for Scherzer, but the move to bring in the three-time Cy Young Award winner showed that Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez would rather put the ball in the hands of his capable starters, than his capricious relievers.

“I talked to Max before the game,” said Martinez of the risky maneuver to go to Scherzer. “Today was his bullpen day. We held him back. He said he was good to go. I specifically told him that I will not use him in the 9th, but I would have to probably use him in the bridge, the 6th, 7th inning. So and that worked out good.”

Scherzer has appeared In relief four times during his postseason career, and is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and eight strikeouts.

“This is the playoffs,” Scherzer said. “You lay it on the line every time you touch that field.”

Dodger Stadium Debuts New Food Specials For NLDSDodger Stadium Debuts New Food Specials For NLDS

Meanwhile, Kershaw was a shell of his former self in Game 2. Sure, a late-inning homer for Max Muncy off the Nationals bullpen made the final score look a lot closer, but that doesn’t take away from the sloppy start by Kershaw. 

His once elite fastball barely eclipsed 90 MPH. Nowadays, his best two pitches are his slider and curveball, when they’re on, he can still be lights out, but when it’s not, like you saw in Game 2, its pedestrian at best. 

Nevertheless, Kershaw should not be left alone in isolation to shoulder the blame for this game. The Dodgers offense averaged an NL-best 5.47 runs per game during the regular season. They scored only two in Game 2 and struck out 17 times.

“Strasburg was very good tonight,” said Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts. “He was getting ahead all night and putting us away with that…we just really couldn’t put anything together against him.”

As I wrote on Thursday after their 6-0 victory in Game 1, it’s only one game. But beneath the backdrop of bad Octobers for the Dodgers and their ace, the blaring message that comes from this loss means so much more. 

These current Dodgers will always be haunted by the ghosts of October past until they rewrite the script and change the narrative. As they head into hostile territory in the Nation’s Capital this weekend, these next two road games will offer them the opportunity to begin to do just that. 

The reality for the Dodgers was always going to come. The regular season—albeit historic—was never going to be the narrative of this team. It was always going to be about the postseason and hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Stephen Strasburg deserved to win this game. The Dodgers did not. They let an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this short series slip away and the heartbreak of previous playoff disappointments crawl back into their psyche. They’ve gone all year without a setback, without a reminder of how the final game of the past two seasons ended. Now, they will be tested, and how they respond is how they’ll be remembered.



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Dodgers Do All The Damage in Game 1 of NLDS, Defeat the Nationals, 6-0

Dodgers Do All The Damage in Game 1 of NLDS, Defeat the Nationals, 6-0

The tension was palpable at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night. Teetering between excited and terrified, the sold out crowd of 53,095 was ready to embark upon another postseason journey. Hoping against hope that this one wouldn’t end like the last six consecutive have…in heartbreak.

So needless to say, when the Dodgers went the first three innings without a hit, the widespread panic reached a fever pitch. That’s when a former Dodger came to the rescue.

Howie Kendrick made two small mistakes. One of them costly, and it helped the Los Angeles Dodgers take Game 1 of the National League Division Series, 6-0. 

Los Angeles put together a small, two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Cody Bellinger walked. Chris Taylor singled, and Max Muncy hit a groundball to first base that went through Kendrick’s five-hole for an error, and the second run of the game.

“You see some weird things in the playoffs,” Kendrick said of the mistake. “But sometimes things just happen.”

It was the second error of the game for Kendrick, and as it often is in baseball, it was damming. Not only because it gave the Dodgers an insurance run, but because Washington never seemed to be able to overcome it. 

“You try to make every play, and tonight it didn’t work out,” Kendrick said following the loss.”Unfortunately it’s in the postseason, but I wouldn’t change anything about the way I tried to make that play. Just one of those times you miss it. You try to suck it up and hope you make it up on the other end. We weren’t able to do that.”

Suddenly, the team that was celebrating their first ever playoff victory in a winner-take-all game just two nights ago, was silent as the sheeted dead, staring at a series deficit straight in the face.

Sure, it was just one game, but in the postseason when everything is magnified, mistakes, be them large or small, will impact the outcome, especially in a short series.

NBC4 Dodgers Postgame Playoff Wrap Up – NLDS Game 1NBC4 Dodgers Postgame Playoff Wrap Up - NLDS Game 1

Fresh off vanquishing their October ghosts, and removing the proverbial monkey off their back, the Nationals looked like the doe in the headlights on Thursday night. 

In his first taste of postseason action, Washington starter, Patrick Corbin, walked four of the first seven batters he faced to hand the Dodgers the extraordinary rare gift of an early run without allowing a single hit. 

“In the first inning I think he got a little amped up,” said Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez of Corbin. “His front side was opening up a little bit and he couldn’t get the ball. He was spiking a lot — when he starts spiking his sliders like that, I mean really bad, and his fastball’s just running all over, it’s usually because he’s opening up. He did the first inning and then he settled down.”

Corbin became just the second pitcher in MLB history to issue four walks in the very first inning of his first career postseason game since St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Art Reinhart did in the 5th inning of the 1926 World Series.

Photos: Memorable Dodger Moments From the 2019 SeasonPhotos: Memorable Dodger Moments From the 2019 Season

Dodgers’ starter Walker Buehler danced around some damage in the fourth inning when he walked the bases loaded before inducing a weak ground ball back to the pitcher to escape the jam.

In all the years Buehler has been pitching, he’s often encountered moments where he momentarily lapses and the next thing you know the bases are loaded. In those moments, the 25-year-old would say he just needed a second to compose himself and he would regain his confidence.

Dodgers’ pitching coach Rick Honeycutt sensed the magnitude of the moment as well, and came out of the dugout for a mound visit. Exactly what Buehler needed to get out of the inning unscathed. Buehler would exit the game after six innings, allowing no runs, one hit, with three walks and eight strikeouts.

“Obviously I have a lot of trust in Honey and Will,” said Buehler of the meeting on the mound. “There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that we do that kind of leads to decisions we make and I’m not going to go into the details of it, but we felt good about it, so I made a pitch and got out of it.”

For the first six and a half innings, the opening game of the NLDS resembled exactly what Buehler predicted it would be before the series began: old school baseball. 

No openers started the game, and there was no talk of “juiced” baseballs. Just a good ol’ fashioned pitcher’s duel between two of the game’s best. Corbin and Buehler combined for 17 strikeouts and just four hits allowed.

“There’s guys that want those opportunities and like those big moments and want to be the guy,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts about Buehler. “That’s a really good lineup over there and for him to go six it was really — we needed that one.”

Despite being handed two runs, the Dodgers had a quiet confidence that at some point they would find the big hit and break the game open. They knew the Nationals’ bullpen was nowhere near bulletproof, and once Corbin was chased from the game, the floodgates opened.

“We did a good job of making him work and getting guys on base,” said Taylor of the game plan against Corbin. “We grinded him out, and got his pitch count up. We got him out of the game and got into their pen, and that’s what we wanted to do. It took us a little bit to get that big hit, but we finally got it when Muncy stepped up.”

Muncy finally provided the first big hit in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run single off Fernando Rodney to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

“The biggest changes I made was mental attitude towards the game,” said Muncy. “To me it’s kind of been one of the biggest things is these are big games, they’re big moments and you got to try to go out there and enjoy them as much as possible because you don’t know how many there are going to be, and when you do that you tend to relax and just play the game.”

Muncy finished with three RBI, and became just the second player in baseball history to start the playoffs with three or more RBI in back-to-back years.

One inning later, in his first career postseason at-bat, 21-year-old rookie Gavin Lux hit a pinch-hit, home run to right-center to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.

“I didn’t even have enough time to think about anything,” admitted Lux who ran from the dugout straight to the batter’s box when he was called to pinch-hit. “It was a surreal moment. This is what every kid dreams about. It was a special moment.”

At 21 years old, Lux became the youngest player in Dodgers history to hit a pinch-hit home run in the playoffs, and the second youngest player to homer in his first plate appearance of the postseason.

“If you had told me four months ago that I would be playing in the postseason I probably wouldn’t believe you,” said Lux who found out he made the NLDS roster just 24 hours earlier.

Two batters later, Joc Pederson crushed a pitch off the right field foul pole and the Dodgers comfortably had a 6-0 lead, and a 1-0 lead in the NLDS overall.

If Washington was the upset special that experts were predicting, then the Dodgers certainly did not get the memo. They are on a mission 31 years in the making, and they will take down anyone standing in their way.

“We’re built for this moment,” said Muncy to ESPN following the victory. “We’re built for October. We went out and showed it tonight.”



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112-Year-Old Fan Attends First Ever White Sox Game

112-Year-Old Fan Attends First Ever White Sox Game


The Chicago White Sox may not have been triumphant on the field Thursday, but it surely didn’t matter to one diehard fan, as he attended a game for the first time in his remarkable life.

112-year-old CP Crawford told community activist Andrew Holmes earlier this year that he had never attended a White Sox game, and on Thursday Holmes made sure that changed, bringing Crawford to the Sox game against the Kansas City Royals.

“You see all this? They’re waiting for you!” he said.

Crawford was greeted by White Sox Hall of Famer Harold Baines before the game. Baines presented Crawford with a special White Sox jersey, complete with the number “112,” and marveled at the incredible journey he had taken to Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was an honor for me to meet him,” he said. “It’s incredible to first even be 112 then to be a White Sox fan on top of that (was amazing).”

After Crawford got to experience what it was like to be on the field at Guaranteed Rate Field, he watched the game from one of the stadium’s club level areas. He was also honored on the video board during the game.

“I’m so happy to be here,” he said.

Holmes surprised Crawford with the tickets, and of all the 41,000-plus days the long-time fan has lived, this one appeared to turn out to be one of the most special.

“He just started smiling when he saw the stadium,” Holmes said. “I saw those little eyes. There was some water there.”



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‘Juiced’ Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

'Juiced' Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

The Los Angeles Dodgers have stepped into the batter’s box over 5,500 times this season. On 253 occasions they have belted the baseball over the fence for a home run. Believe it or not, that’s a National League record.

On Wednesday night, it was Joc Pederson who homered in his first two plate appearances to tie the record and then ultimately break the record of 249 homers set by the Houston Astros in 2000, a mark set during the peak of the steroid era in baseball.

Jeff Bagwell, a Hall-of-Famer hitter and admitted steroid user, hit 47 home runs that year.

Richard Hidalgo, a likely PED user (although he never tested positive), hit 44 home runs—he had only 24 combined in his three previous seasons and never surpassed 28 in a single season after that.

Moises Alou, a player whose name was on a list of reported PED users in 2003, had 30 home runs that year, and Ken Caminiti, another admitted steroid user, had 15 for Houston.

That same year, all 30 MLB teams combined to hit a record 5,693 home runs. That record stood for nearly 17 years, as the league cracked down on PED use, extended their testing, and fortified their policy.

Only once in the 10 years that followed did the teams combine to hit more than 5,000 in a single season (5,042 in 2009). Then, in the 2016 season, the ball began to fly out of the ballpark like it never had before.

In 2016, the 30 MLB teams combined to hit 5,610 home runs. Just 83 shy of the all-time record, and the most since the steroid era ended. 

A year later, with players savvy to the influx in home runs and beginning to adjust their swings to account for launch angle and exit velocity, the record was shattered. The 30 MLB teams combined to hit 6,105 home runs in 2017, nearly 500 more than the previous mark.

During that season, the New York Yankees broke the all-time MLB record for home runs by a team with 267. The Dodgers will likely surpass that mark this year. The Yankees will too, and the Twins have already shattered it with a record 272 homers and counting.

More than likely, all 30 MLB teams will easily eclipse the record 6,105 home runs hit in 2017. As of the publication of this story, they have combined for over 5,900 homers, and are projected to hit at least another 600 before the season ends on September 29. 

There’s no doubt that home runs are being hit by teams, and the league overall, at a historic pace, begging the obvious question: WHY?

If you ask the players, we have now entered into the “juiced ball era” in baseball.

Research suggests that the official Rawlings baseballs were altered in the middle of the 2015 season. After the All-Star Game that year, more home runs occurred in the second half by a vast quantity. By 2016, the new, more aerodynamic ball, had been fully implemented and the home run numbers began to surge.

USC’s Keck School of Medicine performed research on the new Rawlings baseballs compared to older authenticated balls purchased on E-Bay. Researchers x-rayed both balls, and then the balls were sent to Kent State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry where they were dissected and studied.

The findings from both universities reveal the same conclusion: the new balls changed in density and chemical composition found within the baseballs core.

Baseballs used after the 2015 All-Star Game had a core (pink outer core) that was 40 percent less dense than it was before, and weighed 0.5 grams less on average. The research proves that the new balls are both bouncier—due to 7 percent more polymer in the core—and less air resistant than before.

The players have noticed as well. During his rookie campaign in 2017, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger broke the National League rookie record with 39 home runs. That record was originally set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956. Bellinger broke it in just 132 games.

Last week, New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso, surpassed that mark just two years after it was set. A record that stood for 67 years, was broken in less than two. Alonso is also close to eclipsing the all-time home run record by a rookie, set by known steriod user Mark McGwire in 1987 with 49. 

Bellinger, who started the 2017 campaign in Triple-A Oklahoma City, said that it seemed like the ball traveled further at the Big League level than it did in the minors. He also pointed out the advent of smaller stadiums in the Major Leagues as a potential reason why there was an uptick in home runs.

After the Dodgers broke the all-time NL record on Wednesday night, opposing manager Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies had this to say about the increase in home runs. 

“It’s been going on all year,” said Black. “I’m not going to comment on all the theories, but this is a different year, there’s no doubt about it. It’s evident what’s happening in Triple-A, it’s evident what’s happening in the Big Leagues. There’s been studies…but this is a different one for sure. I think that’s something to address when the season is over and the people who are part of this great game talk about what happened this year with the amount of home runs.”

To be fair, the escalating amount of home runs in Major League Baseball has been occuring since the 2016 season, but to Black’s point, this year it will reach it’s apex and everyone in and around the game has started to notice. 

Perhaps, the Dodgers front office noticed a lot sooner and have used the altered baseballs to their advantage. 

It’s no secret that the Dodgers have one of the most advanced analytic and research departments in all of baseball. It’s also no coincidence that since the implementation of the new “juiced” baseballs that the Dodgers have advanced to three consecutive National League Championship Games and two World Series since 2016.

It’s not like the Dodgers have a roster full of bash brothers or larger than average human beings. What they do have however is an understanding that the ball is indeed different, and the information that shows how players can incorporate launch angle and exit velocity in order to capitalize on the direction the game is headed.

This season, the Dodgers front office took it a step further, when they hired launch angle hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc and Brant Brown as their new hitting coaches before the 2019 season.

In an interview with the L.A. Times before the season began, Van Scoyoc discussed his philosophy and emphasis on launch angle as more of a common sense measure: that the chances of reaching base or recording an extra-base hit increase significantly when the ball is hit in the air, rather than on the ground.

In order to accomplish this, Van Scoyoc, Brown, and his hitting team, scour through hours of videos of each hitter’s swing. They then develop an individualized plan specified to each player. Everything about the player is taken into account and the swing is repeated over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Despite the differences in each player’s swing, the philosophy is mostly the same: that in order to maximize launch angle and exit velocity, the bat needs to get onto a plane with the ball as soon as possible. The sooner that happens, the more time the player has to adjust to the movement and velocity of the pitch.

The results speak for themselves. In the five years before the introduction of the new “juiced” baseballs, the Dodgers never hit more than 138 home runs in a single season. Between 2010 and 2014, they combined to hit just 625 homers.

Since the introduction of the new baseballs in 2015, the Dodgers have increased their team home run total each and every year. Breaking the franchise record with 235 last year, before breaking the all-time National League record this year. In the five years since the ball was introduced (2015-2019), the Dodgers have combined to hit 1,085 home runs and still have 19 games left in the 2019 season to add to that total.

There’s no doubt that baseball wants more offense. With attendance and ratings down, the increase in home runs creates more of an exciting game for the casual fan.

The 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros saw a record 25 home runs hit in the series, and its no coincidence that the 2017 Fall Classic has been called the most exciting and historic World Series in recent memory.

Pitchers will certainly have a gripe with MLB and a valid reason to be upset about this new chapter in baseball history, but the new balls appear to be here to stay. That means fans should sit back and enjoy the ride, leaving the debate on where this puts the current players home run records in the overall context of history for future generations to argue over time.



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‘Juiced’ Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

'Juiced' Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

The Los Angeles Dodgers have stepped into the batter’s box over 5,500 times this season. On 253 occasions they have belted the baseball over the fence for a home run. Believe it or not, that’s a National League record.

On Wednesday night, it was Joc Pederson who homered in his first two plate appearances to tie the record and then ultimately break the record of 249 homers set by the Houston Astros in 2000, a mark set during the peak of the steroid era in baseball.

Jeff Bagwell, a Hall-of-Famer hitter and admitted steroid user, hit 47 home runs that year.

Richard Hidalgo, a likely PED user (although he never tested positive), hit 44 home runs—he had only 24 combined in his three previous seasons and never surpassed 28 in a single season after that.

Moises Alou, a player whose name was on a list of reported PED users in 2003, had 30 home runs that year, and Ken Caminiti, another admitted steroid user, had 15 for Houston.

That same year, all 30 MLB teams combined to hit a record 5,693 home runs. That record stood for nearly 17 years, as the league cracked down on PED use, extended their testing, and fortified their policy.

Only once in the 10 years that followed did the teams combine to hit more than 5,000 in a single season (5,042 in 2009). Then, in the 2016 season, the ball began to fly out of the ballpark like it never had before.

In 2016, the 30 MLB teams combined to hit 5,610 home runs. Just 83 shy of the all-time record, and the most since the steroid era ended. 

A year later, with players savvy to the influx in home runs and beginning to adjust their swings to account for launch angle and exit velocity, the record was shattered. The 30 MLB teams combined to hit 6,105 home runs in 2017, nearly 500 more than the previous mark.

During that season, the New York Yankees broke the all-time MLB record for home runs by a team with 267. The Dodgers will likely surpass that mark this year. The Yankees will too, and the Twins have already shattered it with a record 272 homers and counting.

More than likely, all 30 MLB teams will easily eclipse the record 6,105 home runs hit in 2017. As of the publication of this story, they have combined for over 5,900 homers, and are projected to hit at least another 600 before the season ends on September 29. 

There’s no doubt that home runs are being hit by teams, and the league overall, at a historic pace, begging the obvious question: WHY?

If you ask the players, we have now entered into the “juiced ball era” in baseball.

Research suggests that the official Rawlings baseballs were altered in the middle of the 2015 season. After the All-Star Game that year, more home runs occurred in the second half by a vast quantity. By 2016, the new, more aerodynamic ball, had been fully implemented and the home run numbers began to surge.

USC’s Keck School of Medicine performed research on the new Rawlings baseballs compared to older authenticated balls purchased on E-Bay. Researchers x-rayed both balls, and then the balls were sent to Kent State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry where they were dissected and studied.

The findings from both universities reveal the same conclusion: the new balls changed in density and chemical composition found within the baseballs core.

Balls used after the 2015 All-Star Game were 40 percent less dense than they were before and weighed 0.5 grams less. The research proves that the new balls are both bouncier—due to 7 percent more polymer in the core—and less air resistant than before.

The players have noticed as well. During his rookie campaign in 2017, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger broke the National League rookie record with 39 home runs. That record was originally set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956. Bellinger broke it in just 132 games.

Last week, New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso, surpassed that mark just two years after it was set. A record that stood for 67 years, was broken in less than two. Alonso is also close to eclipsing the all-time home run record by a rookie, set by known steriod user Mark McGwire in 1987 with 49. 

Bellinger, who started the 2017 campaign in Triple-A Oklahoma City, said that it seemed like the ball traveled further at the Big League level than it did in the minors. He also pointed out the advent of smaller stadiums in the Major Leagues as a potential reason why there was an uptick in home runs.

After the Dodgers broke the all-time NL record on Wednesday night, opposing manager Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies had this to say about the increase in home runs. 

“It’s been going on all year,” said Black. “I’m not going to comment on all the theories, but this is a different year, there’s no doubt about it. It’s evident what’s happening in Triple-A, it’s evident what’s happening in the Big Leagues. There’s been studies…but this is a different one for sure. I think that’s something to address when the season is over and the people who are part of this great game talk about what happened this year with the amount of home runs.”

To be fair, the escalating amount of home runs in Major League Baseball has been occuring since the 2016 season, but to Black’s point, this year it will reach it’s apex and everyone in and around the game has started to notice. 

Perhaps, the Dodgers front office noticed a lot sooner and have used the altered baseballs to their advantage. 

It’s no secret that the Dodgers have one of the most advanced analytic and research departments in all of baseball. It’s also no coincidence that since the implementation of the new “juiced” baseballs that the Dodgers have advanced to three consecutive National League Championship Games and two World Series since 2016.

It’s not like the Dodgers have a roster full of bash brothers or larger than average human beings. What they do have however is an understanding that the ball is indeed different, and the information that shows how players can incorporate launch angle and exit velocity in order to capitalize on the direction the game is headed.

This season, the Dodgers front office took it a step further, when they hired launch angle hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc and Brant Brown as their new hitting coaches before the 2019 season.

In an interview with the L.A. Times before the season began, Van Scoyoc discussed his philosophy and emphasis on launch angle as more of a common sense measure: that the chances of reaching base or recording an extra-base hit increase significantly when the ball is hit in the air, rather than on the ground.

In order to accomplish this, Van Scoyoc, Brown, and his hitting team, scour through hours of videos of each hitter’s swing. They then develop an individualized plan specified to each player. Everything about the player is taken into account and the swing is repeated over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Despite the differences in each player’s swing, the philosophy is mostly the same: that in order to maximize launch angle and exit velocity, the bat needs to get onto a plane with the ball as soon as possible. The sooner that happens, the more time the player has to adjust to the movement and velocity of the pitch.

The results speak for themselves. In the five years before the introduction of the new “juiced” baseballs, the Dodgers never hit more than 138 home runs in a single season. Between 2010 and 2014, they combined to hit just 625 homers.

Since the introduction of the new baseballs in 2015, the Dodgers have increased their team home run total each and every year. Breaking the franchise record with 235 last year, before breaking the all-time National League record this year. In the five years since the ball was introduced (2015-2019), the Dodgers have combined to hit 1,085 home runs and still have 19 games left in the 2019 season to add to that total.

There’s no doubt that baseball wants more offense. With attendance and ratings down, the increase in home runs creates more of an exciting game for the casual fan.

The 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros saw a record 25 home runs hit in the series, and its no coincidence that the 2017 Fall Classic has been called the most exciting and historic World Series in recent memory.

Pitchers will certainly have a gripe with MLB and a valid reason to be upset about this new chapter in baseball history, but the new balls appear to be here to stay. That means fans should sit back and enjoy the ride, leaving the debate on where this puts the current players home run records in the overall context of history for future generations to argue over time.



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