The Yankees go out to play

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Brian Hoch from MLB.com:

The Yankees believed chemistry was one of their strengths as they
pursued a 27th World Series championship last year, and along the way,
many pointed back to a March off-campus billiards tournament as one of
their building blocks.

What?! That’s like saying that the Mongols won the Battle of Liegnitz because Subotai the Valiant had everyone over for a nice dinner party beforehand.

Um, or something.  Look, the point is that pleasant little outings don’t win championships. Home runs and strikeouts and good defense and an embarrassment of roster riches that only the Steinbrenners are both able to and willing to pay for are what win championships! Am I right? I said AM I RIGHT?!

Given that success, manager Joe Girardi is hoping that the formula will
work one more time as the Yankees prepare to defend that title. They
left the bats and balls at the ballpark on Tuesday, heading off to a
Tampa area arcade for an afternoon of fun and video games.

[Facepalm] . . .[composing breath] . . . Fine. You got your 27 rings, I guess you can play some damn whack-a-mole if you want to.  Well? . . . . . . . don’t just sit there smiling like a boob, tell me how it went!

Indy car: A.J. Burnett wins; Dana Cavalea second place
Skeeball: Andrew Brackman wins; Eduardo Nunez second place
Pop-a-shot: Royce Ring wins; Mark Melancon second place

Here’s some of what Mark Teixeira had to say:

“The
highlights were A.J. Burnett just smoking the field in the video game
racing, and Royce Ring being probably the best pop-a-shot basketball
player I’ve ever seen. Those two were hands-down the best at those two
events. Whenever the basket is moving, Royce takes the cake.”

I guess that sounds like fun. But just wait until tomorrow when Ian O’Connor writes a scathing rebuke of Alex Rodriguez for showing his teammates how to get free games by painting the quarter red. Then we’ll see who’s having a good time.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.