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Ren Kelly Jersey

The AFI Fest has been rolling out its 2019 slate for months — since announcing Melina Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim as its opening-night film in August — and now we have the full lineup. Check it out below.

The festival, which runs November 14-21 in Los Angeles, will close with with Apple’s The Banker, starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult and Nia Long, and will feature the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell.

Here is the full lineup for the 2019 AFI Fest:


Samia, heavily pregnant and alone, wanders through Casablanca, seeking shelter until Abla, a single mother, reluctantly takes her in. As the women discover each other’s inner struggles, their lives are transformed. A film festival darling, Maryam Touzani’s debut feature crafts a delicate tale of love through a confident female gaze. DIR Maryan Touzani. SCR Maryan Touzani. CAST Lubna Azabal, Nisrin Erradi, Douae Belkhaouda. Morocco, France

ANNE AT 13,000 FT
Anne works at a Toronto daycare with her best friend Sarah. Most of her interactions are awkward and erratic. When Anne goes skydiving for Sarah’s bachelorette party, it becomes a tipping point for her mental fragility in this intimate portrait of a volatile, young woman struggling to find her place in society. DIR Kazik Radwanski. SCR Kazik Radwanski. CAST Deragh Campbell, Matt Johnson, Dorothea Paas, Lawrene Denkers. Canada

In BABYTEETH Milla falls in love with Moses, a quirky, smalltime drug dealer. Their relationship blooms despite Milla’s rapid decline in health, igniting in her a new fervor for life. Director Shannon Murphy’s stunning debut feature is disarmingly honest and reveals the complexities of confronting mortality while celebrating life. DIR Shannon Murphy. SCR Rita Kalnejais. CAST Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Emily Barclay, Eugene Gilfedder, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn. Australia
Two tenacious women in the post-siege ruins of 1945 Leningrad fight to rebuild their lives, in Kantemir Balagov’s loose adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War.” Balagov won the Best Director Award in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section and the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film. DIR Kantemir Balagov. SCR Kantemir Balagov, Aleksandr Terekhov. CAST Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina. Russia

After the death of their mother, the Connelly sisters discover and navigate secrets of murder, sex and crime in their sleepy, New England fishing town. This clever debut features a dynamic female ensemble cast and beautifully blends the best of dark comedy and noir. DIR Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy. SCR Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole. CAST Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Margo Martindale, June Squibb, Will Brittain, Gayle Rankin, Annette O’Toole. USA

Young, pregnant and barefoot in the street, Rosie is being accosted by her boyfriend when Aila comes to her aid. The two women immediately bond and the resulting unique afternoon is a cinematic wonder echoing the classic works of feminist cinema. DIR Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn. SCR Kathleen Hepburn, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. CAST Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Violet Nelson, Barbara Eve Harris, Charlie Hannah, Jay Cardinal Villenueve. Canada, Norway

After the death of their mother, siblings Gilda and Lucas reluctantly return to their quiet coastal hometown to scatter her remains in the ocean but are unable to make the quick retreat they had hoped for. With this sudden and unexpected reunion, they find boredom is more readily surmountable than grief and difficult conversations remain just out of reach. DIR Mateo Bendesky. SCR Mateo Bendesky. CAST Tomas Wicz, Laila Maltz, Alejandro Russek. Argentina

Writer/director Minhal Baig breathes new life into the classic American high school coming of age story. In the masterfully crafted story of Hala, a first-generation Pakistani-American teenager, brilliantly played by Geraldine Viswanathan (BLOCKERS), Hala navigates the treacherous terrain between religiously conservative parents and her own burgeoning sexuality and independence. DIR Minhal Baig. SCR Minhal Baig. CAST Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan, Anna Chlumsky. USA
Ren Kelly Jersey

A fatal hit-and-run accident marks one family’s devastating loss and another’s downward moral spiral in Lee Su-Jin’s luridly satisfying revenge thriller set against the backdrop of a corrupt Korean political landscape. Ambition, lust, and greed know no bounds in this cat-and-mouse neo-noir puzzle that continually remains one step ahead of the audience. DIR Su-jin Lee. SCR Su-jin Lee. CAST Seok-kyu Han, Kyung-gu Sul, Woo-hee Chun. South Korea

Enlisting former lovers, family members and friends to portray semi-fictionalized versions of themselves, Ivana returns home to recover from a mysterious illness, but becomes the source of gossip when seen with a younger man. At once charming and combative, Ivana Mladenović is a pleasure to watch as she hurls insults at loved ones. DIR Ivana Mladenović. SCR Ivana Mladenović, Adrian Schiop. CAST Ivana Mladenović, Luka Gramić, Gordana Mladenović, Miodrag Mladenović, Kosta Mladenović, Zivka Sorejevic, Andrei Dinescu, Anca Pop. Romania, Serbia

A hit at the Berlinale and Tribeca Film Festivals, Jennifer Reeder’s electric feature debut KNIVES AND SKIN uses pop music and magical realism to tell the story of a missing high school girl and the quiet, suburban town thrown into disarray following her disappearance. DIR Jennifer Reeder. SCR Jennifer Reeder. CAST Marika Engelhardt, Audrey Francis, Tim Hopper, Kate Arrington, James Vincent Meredith, Ireon Roach, Ty Olwin, Grace Smith, Kayla Carter, Robert T. Cunningham, Emma Ladji, Jalen Gilbert, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Tony Fitzpatrick, Raven Whitley. USA

Dripping with menace and fraught with tension, this formalist film is a lovely and incredibly sad testimony to real people in the last moments of their lives. Being witness to the everyday and mundane, you get an honest sense of who they are, how they feel, just from sparse dialogue and simple unadorned actions. DIR Sara Summa. SCR Sara Summa. CAST Barbara Verrastro, Pasquale Lioi, Canio Lancellotti, Donatella Viola. Germany

Olivia is an undocumented Filipina trans woman and the home health aide for Olga. Alex, Olga’s grandson, is just back from rehab and trying to get his life together. The two have enough going on to need a budding relationship. But that’s not how fate works. DIR Isabel Sandoval. SCR Isabel Sandoval. CAST Isabel Sandoval, Eamon Farren, Ivory Aquino, Lev Gorn, Lynn Cohen. USA, Philippines

Agoraphobic Seconda (Barbara Giordano) is confined to her family apartment — until her home life is suddenly upended and she is forced to reckon with the outside world. This original and idiosyncratic film from Swiss filmmaker Klaudia Reynicke follows a non-conforming, eccentric young woman forced to fight for her independence. DIR Klaudia Reynicke. SCR Klaudia Reynicke. CAST Barbara Giordano, Antonio Bannò, Gilles Privat, Maurizio Tabani, Anna Galante, Federica Vermiglio. Switzerland

Teenage mothers, Lu and Fati, live in a Catholic-based shelter in Buenos Aires with their children. One day, novice Sister Paola, conflicted by her own unresolved desires, arrives before taking her final vows and soon the complexities and resilience of motherhood will be tested by each woman in this understated drama. DIR Maura Delpero. SCR Maura Delpero. CAST Lidiya Liberman, Denise Carrizo, Agustina Malale, Isabella Cilia, Alan Rivas, Livia Fernán, Marta Lubos, Renata Palminiello. Italy

Indiscriminately housed in the Harvard Houghton Library is a collection of letters between author Jozef Wittlin and poet Zofia Bohdanowiczowa, retrievable using call number MS Slavic 7. Bohdanowiczowa’s granddaughter – Deragh Campbell in one of two dynamic performances at AFI FEST 2019 – is determined to investigate but comes up against unanticipated obstacles. DIR Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell. SCR Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell. CAST Deragh Campbell, Elizabeth Rucker, Mariusz Sibiga, Aaron Danby. Canada

91-year-old Viennese Robert just wants to bury his dead dog. Young Adib is hired for the job but won’t be taken advantage of. Will these two men be able to connect, or will brotherly love be forever severed? DIR Karl Markovics. SCR Karl Markovics. CAST Heinz Trixner, Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh, Konstanze Dutzi. Austria

Patrick has lost his hammer (and also his father.) Now left at the helm of the family business, a naturalist camp, his stress is quickly multiplying. Obsessed, Patrick discovers that everyone is a suspect, while searching for his beloved tool. Below the absurd surface lies a humorous and touching story about loss and grief. DIR Tim Mielants. SCR Tim Mielants, Benjamin Sprengers. CAST Kevin Janssens, Pierre Bokma, Katelijne Damen, Hannah Hoekstra, Jemaine Clement. Germany

Written, directed, produced and starring Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder, THE PLANTERS is a dark comedy about a reclusive telemarketer who befriends a homeless woman with multiple personalities. DIR Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder. SCR Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder. CAST Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder, Phil Parolisi, Pepe Serna. USA

Rocks has big dreams and enjoys hanging out with her all-girl crew. One day, her troubled, single mother disappears, leaving Rocks responsible for younger brother Emmanuel and causing her to push away her community. Employing a collaborative process with female youth, director Sarah Gavron crafts an authentic and compassionate portrait of girlhood. DIR Sarah Gavron. SCR Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson. CAST Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Anastasia Dymitrow, Afi Okaidja, Sarah Niles. UK

Indonesia, 1960s. Siman unintentionally witnesses a foreign crew filming a fake moon landing. Discovered, he’s punished by having his tongue cut off, forcing him into silence. Siman moves through life in slow-motion, imitating astronauts. A daring, hypnotic drama, THE SCIENCE OF FICTIONS explores the mysterious political conflict of Indonesia’s history. DIR Yosep Anggi Noen. SCR Yosep Anggi Noen. CAST Gunawan Maryanto, Ecky Lamoh,Yudi Ahmad Tajudin, Tupon Rusini, Alex Suhendra, Gun Lukman Sardi, Marissa Anita, Asmara Abigail. Indonesia, Malaysia, France

At Haldwell, an elite boarding school, five factions run student life. Selah Summer leads the Spades, the most powerful faction, conducting all underground drugs and alcohol sales on campus. Having made her way to power, Selah won’t back down to rivals or threats. This sharp, fresh and unapologetic debut fiercely captures the pressures of modern youth. DIR Tayarisha Poe. SCR Tayarisha Poe. CAST Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, Jesse Williams. USA

Discouraged after attempting to engage the police, an indigenous woman whose newborn is kidnapped in a child-trafficking scheme persuades a journalist to investigate. An astoundingly assured debut, SONG WITHOUT A NAME’s meticulous black and white cinematography imparts a richness of texture and a luminescent glow, seeing an exquisite beauty in even the bleakest of realities. DIR Melina Léon. SCR Melina Léon, Michael J. White. CAST Pamela Mendoza Arpi, Tommy Páraga, Lucio Rojas, Maykol Hernández, Lidia Quispe. Peru, Spain, USA, Chile


After winning the US green card lottery, 36-year-old Aliya has to tell her family and friends. Director Assel Aushakimova’s WELCOME TO THE USA is a quiet, powerful film that shares a slice of Kazakhstani city life and the semi-hidden existence of the LGBTQ community in Almaty. DIR Assel Aushakimova. SCR Assel Aushakimova. CAST Saltanat Nauruz, Aida Zhetpissova, Dinara Aliyeva, Daniyar Beisov, Kul-Sara, Sultana Bektasova. Kazakhstan. World Premiere

Mike O’Berry Jersey

LAFAYETTE — The Ragin’ Cajuns have welcomed home Matt Deggs as head coach of Louisiana Baseball, as announced by Director of Athletics Bryan Maggard on Thursday. Maggard’s selection of Deggs not only brings a familiar face on the national scene of college baseball to Louisiana, but it also returns home an individual that resonates deeply with fans of Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball.

Formerly an assistant coach at Louisiana for the late Tony Robichaux from 2012-14, Deggs’ offensive coaching prowess and recruiting acumen resulted in the Ragin’ Cajuns earning the first-ever No. 1 national ranking in school history.

Following Louisiana’s NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2014, Deggs immediately turned to leading Sam Houston State to new heights. As head coach of the Bearkats from 2015-19, Sam Houston State posted an outstanding record of 187-118 (.613) with Southland Conference regular season championships in three of the last four seasons. Deggs guided the Bearkats to a Super Regional in 2017, becoming the first-ever Southland program to accomplish the feat.

“Matt Deggs will not only embrace the Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball culture, but he already understands it,” Maggard said. “That was critical for this hire. His coaching record speaks for itself. He is a proven winner with a relentless approach to recruiting. Matt’s ability and desire to reach the hearts of his student-athletes is what makes him a transformational coach.”

Competing for and winning championships has been routine for Deggs in his career as an assistant and head coach. As an assistant coach at Northwestern State (1996-97), Arkansas (2003-05), Texas A&M (2006-10) and Louisiana (2012-14), Deggs helped each program to at least one conference championship during his stay at each school. Deggs added three conference regular season and two tournament titles to the trophy case as Sam Houston State’s head coach.

Deggs led Sam Houston State to NCAA Tournament berths in two out of his five seasons (2016, 2017), and claimed at least one conference title over four-straight seasons to close out his time in Huntsville, Texas. Sam Houston State (42-22, 24-6) won both the regular season and tournament titles in 2016 en route to an NCAA Regional, coincidentally in Lafayette. Deggs’ 2017 squad broke the 40-win barrier again, posting a record of 44-23, 19-11. The 2017 group won 12-of-13 games to close the season to secure the school’s first-ever Super Regional berth in Tallahassee, Florida.

Sam Houston State’s 2017 group finished ranked in all six national polls, checking in at No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 18 (D1 Baseball), No. 19 (USA Today Coaches), No. 20 (Baseball America) and No. 22 (Perfect Game).

“The love of Cajun Nation pulled us back out of Texas to over here in Lafayette,” Deggs said. “Seven years ago, Coach (Robichaux) saved my life. And he saved my family. I’m here today to say ‘Thank you, Coach’. We’re here today to say ‘Thank you’.”

The final two squads to receive Deggs’ tutelage at Sam Houston State earned Southland regular season crowns. The Bearkats went 39-20, 24-6 in 2018, and followed with a 31-25, 20-10 record in 2019.

Development of student-athletes was a constant under Deggs’ watch of the Sam Houston State program. In his five seasons, a total of 16 Bearkats were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Deggs’ aggressive offensive approach, dubbed “Pack Mentality”, has produced impressive results throughout his coaching career. Between his eight seasons coaching at Louisiana and Sam Houston State, his squads collectively batted over .300 four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019), smacked more than 50 home runs four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019) and totaled more than 100 doubles five times (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019). Louisiana’s 2013 and 2014 teams were especially prolific on the offensive side, batting .317 from the plate in back-to-back seasons and launching 74 and 68 home runs over those campaigns, respectively.

Crediting Coach Robichaux for resurrecting his coaching career, Deggs was brought onto the Ragin’ Cajuns staff during the 2012 season as an assistant coach, specializing as hitting coach and third base coach, while also overseeing team personnel and recruiting.

Louisiana made significant waves during Deggs’ stint as an assistant coach, including student-athletes receiving 15 All-Sun Belt honors, three All-America accolades and two Freshman All-America nods. Former Louisiana standout Blake Trahan earned Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and became the program’s first-ever Team USA member.

The 2014 season was a special one at Louisiana for many reasons. Not only was Cajun nation ignited around its top-ranked baseball program, but it was the winningest season in school history, at 58-10. Louisiana won the conference regular season title with its 26-4 mark in league play, and began a run of three consecutive Sun Belt tournament titles (2014, 2015, 2016).

The No. 1 ranking that Louisiana earned in 2014 was the second time a program that Deggs was a member of ascended to the top spot in the national polls. During his time with Texas A&M (2006-10), the 2009 squad achieved the school’s first-ever preseason national No. 1 ranking.

The Aggies produced two Big 12 Players of the Year, nine All-Americans and 15 First-Team All-Big 12 performers during Deggs’ time with the program. Texas A&M won back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2007 and 2008. Deggs’ five-year stretch with Texas A&M saw the program go from posting a sub-.500 record in 2006 to reaching back-to-back NCAA Super Regionals in 2007 and 2008. Deggs assisted the Aggies to two Big 12 Tournament crowns (2007, 2010) and one regular season title (2008).

Prior to coaching the Aggies, Deggs served as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas for Dave Van Horn from 2003-05. Deggs provided instruction to three Razorbacks who earned all-conference recognition, as well as three Freshman All-Americans. The Razorbacks claimed both the SEC Championship and booked a trip to the College World Series in 2004.

Deggs first received experience as a head coach at Texarkana College for five seasons (1998-2002), compiling a sound record of 187-100. The squad claimed two Texas Eastern Athletic Conference runners-up finishes, a pair of TEAC titles (2001, 2002) and the school’s first-ever trip to Junior College World Series.

Developing and recruiting talented young men was a staple of Deggs’, even early on in his coaching career, as he brought future MLB All-Star Hunter Pence to Texarkana as a former high school standout from Arlington, Texas.

Deggs spent the 1996 and 1997 seasons as the hitting and infield coach at Northwestern State under Van Horn, assisting the Demons to the Southland Conference title in 1997. His infield units ranked among the top infield groups in the country for both seasons.

During his own playing career, Deggs was an infielder for Alvin Junior College from 1991-92 and at Northwood University from 1993-94. Deggs earned a Master’s degree from Northwestern State in 1996.

Deggs followed his college career with a turn in the professional ranks, playing three years for the Mobile (Ala.) Baysharks and the Tennessee Tomahawks, two of which were spent as a player/coach under former Boston Red Sox manager Butch Hobson and former Red Sox catcher Mike O’Berry.

Deggs is married to the former Kathy Saldua and the couple has a son, Kyler, and two daughters, Klaire and Khloe.

Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@RaginCajuns) to stay up-to-date on all within Louisiana Athletics.

Mike Butcher Jersey

PHOENIX — Matt Herges had no way of knowing it, but the more he talked in his interview with D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, the better his chances of being hired as the team’s pitching coach got.

Though the decision was made a couple of days ago, it was formally announced on Thursday that Herges is replacing Mike Butcher as Arizona’s pitching coach.

“As he was answering questions, he was piece by piece checking every box of what was going to be very important to me and this organization,” Lovullo said.

Herges — who appeared in 567 big league games during his 11-year career, including seven for the D-backs in 2005 — pitched for Lovullo when he was coming up through the Indians’ farm system.

“I thought he communicated very well about a lot of the things that we feel are important,” general manager Mike Hazen said. “We felt like he was going to be a good relationship developer, we felt like he had success in San Francisco [as bullpen coach in 2017 and ’18], we heard unbelievable things about him from a wide variety of places. We’re really excited to get somebody like that in the fold. We think he has tremendous experiences as a player and a coach, done a number of things as a coach. We think all those experiences are going to help.”

Data is king in Major League Baseball these days, and Herges has worked hard over the years to get himself up to speed on how to best use it.

One of the things that impressed Arizona the most about Herges was the fact that he was able to help translate new data to veteran pitcher and Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

“He gave me a couple of really outstanding examples of dealing with the leader of that pitching staff [Bumgarner] in San Francisco about getting the information and how they work together to get through that process and learn about it,” Lovullo said. “It is very new over the past couple years at the big league level. I thought he was really eager to take what he didn’t know and learn about it.”

Herges credits Bumgarner’s desire to get better and said that the key was not just telling him that he would get more movement if he spun the ball a little differently coming out of his hand.

Instead it was about taking the technology and putting together a visual that would actually show Bumgarner the difference. It was that kind of creative teaching ability that excites the D-backs about their new coach.

When it comes to learning his new pitchers, Herges has an advantage in that with so many of them living in the Phoenix area, where the Spring Training facility is located, there is usually a large crowd working out there during the offseason.

“I’ll have time to start those relationships when they get here, see guys throw their bullpens and start digging in,” Herges said. “I can’t wait. We’re still dealing with humans, we’re still dealing with relationships, and ultimately, that’s the most important thing. Analytics and data and technology [are] extremely important, but I will always believe that the relationship is paramount to that.”

In other coaching news, Lovullo said that Jerry Narron, who had been the bench coach the previous two seasons plus part of 2017, will not return in ’20.

The team already promoted Luis Ureta from extra coach to bench coach, but it had offered Narron the opportunity to return if he wanted to in Ureta’s role.

“I think [Narron is] going to try to pursue some other opportunities with other organizations,” Lovullo said. “He had a very, very successful run as our bench coach. Any organization that does get him and the organization that pulls him in, they’re going to get a great asset.”

Barry Evans Jersey

While it isn’t the first time in the recent past that Cody Bellinger is drawing comparisons to Barry Bonds, it was still impressive.

Nonetheless, Dave Roberts appeared on The Jim Rome Show; and he was there to discuss Bellinger’s impressive 2019 season, among other Dodgers’ topics. You can check out the entire segment in the video below.
Furthermore, Roberts believes that there is just one player that Bellinger could be compared to this season. That player is none other than the sport’s all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds.

Courtesy of The Jim Rome Show

“The only person I can relate it to is Barry Bonds. I played against him when he was so special. But even at that point in time he wasn’t doing what Cody is doing on a daily basis. Defensively, and an MVP (candidate) running out an infield single when we are up 14 runs. That’s what we are getting from him, backing up bases, and being a great teammate.”

While you consume that quote – and the fact that Bellinger brings different ways to win to the table than that of Bonds – there is more to behold.

When looking at the regard and class that Roberts holds Bonds’ within, you realize what the Dodgers have in Bellinger right now. Without question, Roberts has seen a ton of baseball in his life. And he says Bonds was the best he ever laid eyes on.

“There was no one better. I remember being in many scouting meetings with the Dodgers where they didn’t want to let Bonds beat us. I have tried to retrieved many balls that ended up in the bleachers off his bat. I’m not sure we will ever see something like him again.”

However – just earlier in the interview – Roberts admitted that Bellinger takes him back to a time in his baseball life that brings Bonds to mind. In that sense, we are all witnessing something very special take place with Bellinger in 2019.
Now, he just needs to finish this off and bring home the MVP hardware.

Julian Tavarez Jersey

Albert Belle was issued a five-game suspension in 1996 for smashing into Fernando Vina during a game in Milwaukee. The play sparked a benches-clearing brawl when Julian Tavarez threw behind Brewers catcher Mike Matheny.

By Joe Noga, and Paul Hoynes,

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Myles Garrett’s shocking fight with Mason Rudolph at the end of last week’s Browns-Steelers game has dominated sports headlines, and the incident got us thinking about the biggest brawls and most costly suspensions in baseball history.’s Paul Hoynes joined Joe Noga on the Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast to chat about Garrett’s indefinite penalty and some of the worst on-field incidents he’s seen in more than 36 years covering the big leagues.

We also delve into the Indians’ 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft and talk about MLB’s move that could require pitchers to face a minimum of three batters next season.

Other topics discussed in this week’s podcast include:
•How far down the rabbit hole will the Astros’ sign stealing investigation go?
•Who has the strongest chance of being elected to the Hall of Fame after the ballot was released this week?
•How does the steroid era still impact voters’ decisions on the HOF ballot?

Got a question you want answered on the podcast? Submit it to Paul or Joe on Twitter or via email

Al Porto Jersey

Ace Report: Al Porto, 92, of Easthampton makes first hole-in-one
Updated Oct 09, 2019;Posted Oct 09, 2019

By Russ Held, Special to The Republican
The 92-year-old Easthampton resident made the first hole-in-one of his career on Friday, Sept. 20. He used a 7-wood at the eighth hole at Westover Golf Course.

“Al is a terrific guy and an amazing member of our senior group at Westover,’’ fellow Westover Senior League member Rich Fleming said. “We play each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Westover and remarkably Al is not the only 90 something golfer in the group. Chet Grondalski, another member, is 91 and an equally interesting fellow.’’

Porto was not the only lucky Western Massachusetts golfer who recently made an ace:

Al Porto,

Easthampton, 120-yard eighth hole, 7-wood, Westover GC, Sept. 20. Witnesses: Harry Mills, Ray Cloutier, Fred Thomas

Jan Wegrzynek,

Chicopee, 168-yard third hole, 6-iron, Chicopee CC, Oct. 4. Witnesses: Dave Labrie, Mike Beaudry.

Tommy Medica Jersey

SAN DIEGO — Along a hallway just outside the home clubhouse, framed graphics display every Opening Day lineup the Padres have trotted out in their 50-year history.

Since Petco Park opened in 2004, 78 different players have appeared in a season opener, serving as a reminder of the organization’s turmoil in recent years. Some were supposed to be the next big thing but never fully panned out — think Andrew Cashner, Yonder Alonso or Kyle Blanks. Others, like Tim Stauffer, Jody Gerut or Tommy Medica, were never really expected to be top-flight producers. All were part of a franchise with two postseason appearances in the past 15 years.

On Thursday, 20-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. brought a new dimension to the wall, becoming San Diego’s youngest-ever Opening Day starter. He rewarded his front office’s widely discussed decision to put him on the roster by registering two hits in a 2-0 win over the Giants.

His next mission is to form a long-term partnership with third baseman Manny Machado on the left side of the Padres’ infield and make the soon-to-be installed 2019 hallway placard a symbol of a turnaround rather than another false start.

“We’d been trying to manufacture the (belief) that exists in this team naturally now,” manager Andy Green said, “and (exists) because of the talent they bring to the table, and the front office’s willingness to pull some triggers early for us to give us our best team from the get-go.”

MORE: Watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whiparound show on DAZN

San Diego garnered attention by giving Tatis an Opening Day roster spot when it could have maintained an extra year of control over its touted prospect by holding him in the minor leagues for a few more weeks. General manager A.J. Preller bucked the leaguewide trend of organizations keeping their prized young assets away from MLB in order to maximize future savings.

Preller thinks Tatis is already one of the most talented players in the organization, even if he had never appeared above Double-A entering Thursday. The Dominican Republic native hit 16 home runs and stole 16 bases in 88 minor league games in 2018 before impressing in spring training this month, so Preller said the call-up was simply the logical next step.

“We talked about from Day 1, it was going to be an open competition,” Preller said. “The way he handled himself in bringing energy, fielding the position well. He worked well with our coaching staff and asked a lot of questions. … We feel like he makes our team better.”

Added Green: “He’s wired in a way to handle the struggles that will inevitably come in the big leagues, and he’s going to do some electric things in the meantime.”

Tatis flashed that promise on a day many pegged another newcomer, free-agent signing Machado, to be the main story. Tatis has a locker right next to Machado, whom he says he has long admired, and the duo spoke often before and during the game, with Machado providing veteran insight into what to expect from the MLB stage. Tatis also leaned on the counseling of a father who played 11 MLB seasons and attended Thursday’s game.

But as the rookie welcomed the feedback, he didn’t feel nervous.

“Just excitement,” Tatis said. “I’m ready to show the fans what I’m capable of.”

BENDER: Reds bring new energy that can liven up NL Central

People within the Padres organization rave about the natural talent Tatis possesses, believing him predisposed to a successful career given his advanced plate approach. They don’t think he needs radical advice or reformation to become a fan favorite in San Diego.

Outfielder Wil Myers, now a de facto experienced voice in the clubhouse, efficiently described what makes Tatis unique for his age at the plate.

“He’s a young guy with not a lot of movement in his swing and a setup that leads to a lot of success,” Myers said.

Tatis’ simplistic bat-through-zone game plan worked well against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who struck out nine and lasted seven innings. He recorded his first career hit with one out in the second inning, drilling a single past Evan Longoria at third after he’d taken a couple of cutters inside. He also reached on a bunt in the fourth, though he was picked off to end the inning.

While Machado didn’t reach base in his own debut, he was happy to see his understudy start with a flourish.

“He’s going to do a lot of special things,” Machado said.

An organization constantly in flux over the past decade certainly hopes so. Unlike 2015, when a flurry of short-term moves failed to generate an uptick in wins, this group was formed with the intention to last.

It starts not just with Machado, signed for $300 million this offseason, but also with Tatis and a hopeful group of young players trying to make their mark for an organization with few recent positive memories.

“Padres fans have been patient with us, understanding we’re trying to build something,” Preller said. “It takes some time to lay the foundation.”

Jake Rogers Jersey

Mitch Walding is a 26-year-old third baseman with 43 days of major-league experience and a member of the Phillies’ 40-man roster.

The California native is a stellar defensive player who has a history at the upper levels of the minor leagues of being a streaky hitter.

This season has been no exception at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. No matter how things are going at the plate, Walding is working in the cage before games and remains focused in the field.

Here’s a Q&A with the Phils’ 2011 fifth-round pick:

Mitch Walding’s most stressful time on a baseball field lasted a week earlier this season.
Mitch Walding’s most stressful time on a baseball field lasted a week earlier this season. (APRIL GAMIZ/APRIL GAMIZ)
First car: “Chevy Tahoe, all black, got it in high school. It was used. Probably my favorite car I ever had.”

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First job: “I refereed little kids’ basketball games. I was probably a sophomore, junior in high school.”

First tattoo: “No tattoos ever.”

First baseball memory: “Playing in the back yard with my dad, him tossing me balls when I was really young. From actually watching an MLB game, I remember going to a San Francisco Giants game when [Barry] Bonds was on a tear. I was there and saw his 71st home run in person. That was pretty cool.”

Worst weather you’ve played in: “There have been so many games. I don’t know where to begin. There was one I played in low-A against the Marlins organization. I don’t even remember where the stadium was. It was lightning. It was pouring the entire game. I don’t even know why we were playing. It was ridiculous that we were out there actually playing.”

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Most treasured memorabilia growing up: “Michael Jordan signed jersey. My dad has a huge collection of baseball memorabilia. He has signed balls. He’s got Mantle, Gehrig. He’s a big Packers fan so he’s got Brett Favre everything. He’s got Griffey’s bat. … The Jordan jersey is actually in a box in a closet somewhere. It was my grandfather’s. I found it and left it in there so nobody would be able to find it and I could keep it.”

What did you do with your first baseball check: “I got a good look at it and saw the taxes. It was pretty depressing. I just put it in my fund and invested it. It was great to see, then realize where it was all going.”

Golf, video games or ping-pong: “I’m going to have to go with golf because I know I’m going to play it a lot more when I’m older. Not a huge video games guy. Ping-pong is cool for the clubhouse, but I think golf in the long haul will be the one.”

Most stressed you’ve ever been on a baseball field: “Probably this year when I was going through my strikeout streak. It was definitely a rough moment in my career where I kind of felt helpless. I knew there was something going on outside of what I was trying to do. I thought I was putting in the work to get better. It wasn’t really turning out for about a week, but it’s worked its way out. That’s probably the low point in my career.”

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When baseball is done, what will you do: “I think I’d want to coach. I don’t think I’d want to coach in professional baseball. We’ll see where it goes. I think I’d like to go back and get my degree and maybe try to do the college baseball route, or maybe high school. I don’t know if I see myself on a bus anymore, dealing with that whole thing. But that’s down the road.”

Worst minor-league living arrangement: “I’ve had quite a few. I had one where Jake Thompson, Andrew Knapp and Tyler Goeddel had an apartment in Clearwater, Florida. They were in big-league camp. I was going to play for the Threshers that year. They’re like, ‘Hey, why don’t you take over the lease? You could just move right in.’ I thought it was great, an easy transition.

“It was not an easy transition. There was all kinds of paperwork. It was a big ordeal. Jake Thompson also had this ginormous beanbag that he left behind. His dog ripped it apart. He left it there. His dog also left about four pounds of dog poop on the balcony and just mounds of dog poop all over the place and did not pick it up and just left it there for me to pick it up. I just about lost it. I tell him to this day, ‘Thanks, man. Appreciate it. What were you thinking?’”

Funniest on-field conversation you had: “I hit a ball in spring training. It was the last game of spring training before we head on the flight to come up here. It was probably two, three years ago. It was a 10 o’clock [intrasquad] game on a back field in Clearwater. I hit a ball in the gap. I absolutely crushed this ball. The sun is coming up over the field. I know I crushed this ball, but you can’t really see it. I get to second base. I’m thinking for sure it’s a double. They’re throwing the ball in. I couldn’t see them catch it. I’m at second base, and they’re like, ‘We caught the ball.’

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“I start taking a few steps off to go back to the dugout. The second baseman goes to tag me and I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ I jumped on second base and am like, ‘Am I safe or out?’ The second baseman is like, ‘No, I’m just messing with you. You’re out.’

So I took a few more steps off, and he goes to tag me. I get back on second base and am wondering what’s going on. The umpire is laughing, thinking this is hilarious. The game doesn’t mean anything. This precedes to go on for 3, 4 minutes. [Derek Campbell] is messing with me. I don’t know whether I’m safe or out. So, finally, after 3, 4 minutes of everyone dying laughing, I’m just like, ‘Forget it,’ and go back to the dugout. I was out on the original play.”

Mitch Walding Jersey

The Phillies announced Tuesday that they’ve designated infielder Mitch Walding for assignment. His spot on the roster will go to right-hander Blake Parker, whose previously reported signing has now been made official.
Mitch Walding Jersey

Walding, 26, was hitless in two plate appearances with the Phils and has struggled considerably with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2019. Through 346 plate appearances there, he’s batted .204/.350/.366 with a sky-high 38 percent strikeout rate. Strikeouts were an issue for Walding last season as well, but not to this extent. The first baseman/third baseman hit .265/.390/.474 with the IronPigs a year ago and collected his first MLB hit when he reached the Majors (though he received just 19 plate appearances). Walding has a minor league option remaining beyond the current season.

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The Seattle Mariners have agreed to a long-term deal with first baseman prospect Evan White, according to multiple reports. White, 23, spent last season with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. No player at the Double-A level has ever signed a long-term extension, ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes.

Jeff Passan

The Mariners and first-base prospect Evan White are in agreement on a six-year, $24 million contract with three club options, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.

White, 23, spent last season at Double-A. No player at that level ever has received a long-term extension.

11:32 PM – Nov 22, 2019
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The contract is reportedly a six-year deal worth $24 million and contains three club options. The contract, can max out at $55.5 million if the options are exercised, according to The Athletic’s Robert Murray. The rebuilding Mariners, who finished the 2019 at 68-94, are able to solidify White as a key part of their path to contention. White is expected to become the Mariners primary first baseman, Passan reports.

In Double A, White hit .293/.350/.488 with 55 RBI, 18 home runs, 13 doubles and two triples in 92 games. The Mariners selected White with the No. 17 pick of the 2017 MLB draft out of the University of Kentucky.

CBS Sports’ RJ Anderson ranked White as the fourth-best prospect in Seattle’s farm system. “White is widely held as the best defensive first baseman in the minors, and one of the best cold-corner gloves in the game,” Anderson wrote.

The White contract follows a trend in Major League Baseball where clubs are signing their younger players to long-term deals. The Phillies made a similar move in signing a player without any MLB experience to a long-term deal when they agreed to a six-year contract last March with top prospect Scott Kingery.
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Before the start of the 2019 season, the White Sox signed outfielder Eloy Jimenez to a six-year deal worth $43 million guaranteed. Jimenez, like White and Kingery, had never appeared in a MLB game. Jimenez got called up the the big leagues at the end of March, and spent the rest of the season with the club where he hit .267/.315/.513 with 31 home runs and 79 RBI.