As the final days of the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season conclude, there is a synonymous feeling of both appreciation and exasperation among baseball fans. Appreciation for the work and execution in having a baseball season amid a global pandemic. Exasperation that the state of the world forced the league to condense that season to 60 games.
While our baseball days may be numbered, there is certainly a case to be made that the shortened season has been a blessing in disguise. Numerous questions remain in regards to the playoff picture, making for an enthralling final week. And the races for the end of season awards are coming down to the wire with few clear frontrunners. Not to mention, many of the new rules implemented this season (e.g. extra-inning rule, universal DH) have been well-received by many players and fans.
This last week was filled with both content and emotion across the league. In this week's "What we learned" we welcome "Big Sexy" back into the mix, Tim Anderson hosts a roast session mid-game, and we have yet another debate regarding the tired topic of baseball's unwritten rulebook.
This is what we learned this week in baseball.
Tim Anderson roasts Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer is normally the one at the forefront in the trash-talking department. This time, however, it was Bauer who was on the receiving end of a roast session.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson took Bauer yard to straight away center, 421 feet to be exact, in Saturday's game in Cincinnati. Acclaimed by many for his bat flip history, Anderson instead humbly held the bat up and watched it fly as opposed to tossing his bat in celebration. After the game, Bauer told the media, "Tell TA he's soft for not bat flipping it." Don't worry, though, Anderson got the last laugh both on the field and with the microphone when he was mic'd up in the sixth inning: "Make sure you tell him to put that on his YouTube channel too."
Bartolo Colon returns
It just wouldn't be right to have a baseball season without having at least one Bartolo Colon appearance. And we refuse to start that trend now.
Big Sexy had planned on playing for the Monclova Acereros of the Mexican Baseball League this year, but responses to COVID-19 put a halt to those plans. Instead, Colon found another way to stay in shape -- this alternative even allowed him improve his skills at the dish. Bartolo Colon: slow pitch softball MVP.
Low-payroll teams grabbing playoff spots
By now, it should come as no surprise the Rays and A's are finding success despite their financial burdens and limitations. Nonetheless, some other teams low on the 2020 payroll spectrum have now followed in their footsteps.
Of the 10 teams who have the lowest 2020 payrolls, three have already punched their tickets to the postseason (A's, Rays, Twins), two currently hold playoff spots (Marlins, Indians), and one is just a 1/2 game behind for the final Wild Card spot (Brewers).
Josh Donaldson makes ejection history
We've done our research and unfortunately there is no database for calculating how many players have been ejected from a game while rounding the bases after hitting a home run. So, for that reason, we will just have to assume Josh Donaldson is one of the very few.
After he took exception to a previous pitch called for a strike, Donaldson hit a bullet of a home run for Minnesota. As he concluded his circling of the bags, he covered up home plate with dirt out of spite for home plate umpire Dan Bellino. Donaldson got rung and he gave Bellino a thumbs up as he exited the game.
Red Bull and baseball
The absence of spectators this year has forced some pitchers to make adjustments in their pregame rituals. The adrenaline has, understandably, been more difficult to spike without 40,000-plus cheering from their seats.
Phillies reliever JoJo Romero has found a resolution to this problem: Red Bull. But, not just a simple sip from any energy drink. Rather, we see your energy drink and raise you a Red Bull can crush while entering the game from the bullpen. Pretty legendary, if you ask me.
More unwritten rules
Another week of baseball brings us yet another discussion about unwritten rules. What can we possibly say that hasn't already been said regarding the subject? For that reason, let us present the facts and get on with it because, frankly, I don't believe it deserves too much attention.
Padres outfielder Trent Grisham hit a game-tying home run against Los Angeles on Monday against Clayton Kershaw. Grisham admired his ball at the plate while staring and celebrating with his teammates in his own dugout. Some words were exchanged between both clubs, but the game proceeded without any further issues. After the game, however, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he "took exception" to Grisham's celebration.
"I don't mind guys admiring a homer; certainly it's a big game, big hit," Roberts said. "Really like the player. But I just felt to overstay at home plate, against a guy like Clayton, who's got the respect of everyone in the big leagues for what he's done in this game, I just took exception to that. There's a certain respect that you give a guy if you homer against him."
Birthday suits in Oakland
As many already know, athletes are suckers for superstition, particularly baseball players. From dirty socks to touching the same pole every time one takes to field, we have pretty much heard and seen it all. Or have we?
The Oakland A's pitching staff has looked quite comfortable in the stands in recent days -- even too comfortable, one might say. In a mid-game interview, pitcher Chris Bassitt tells us why the A's pitching staff now "wears the absolute bear minimum" on days they aren't pitching.