Planes, trains, and automobiles … and Chone Figgins

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T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tells the amusing story of Chone Figgins being a last-minute addition to the All-Star game when Evan Longoria was scratched with an infected finger literally hours before the first pitch:

Chone Figgins was asleep at his Southern California home in Newport
Beach. He was peacefully oblivious to the fact that the American League
was frantically trying to reach him on Tuesday morning and get him to
Busch Stadium as soon as possible. … His plane was scheduled to land
at 5:20 CT, but it arrived about the same time as Air Force One.
President Obama was flying in for the game, and Figgins’ plane had to
wait.

Figgins joked that he thought about asking the president for a ride
to the game. “That would have been nice, but I don’t think that would
have worked,” said Figgins, who received a police escort instead. “We
still had to take an alternate route because of the president. But
having a police escort was cool. That was my All-Star parade.” He
walked into the clubhouse at 6:30 p.m., about 10 minutes before it was
time to go out for the player introductions and opening ceremonies.

Wake-up calls, cross-country flights, police escorts, arriving minutes before going on the field. And of course Figgins didn’t actually play in the game.
“It’s never disappointing,” Figgins said. “Obviously somebody thought I
was deserving of being an All-Star and worked hard to get me here.
That’s all that matters. I would have loved to have gotten in the game,
but for one night I was able to stand on that line and say I was an
All-Star.”

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.

Cardinals and Pirates prepare to play unusual finale in first-ever MLB Little League Classic

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The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.

The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.

The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”

Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.