New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics

Major League Baseball is very optimistic about Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit

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As we witnessed home run records being demolished starting in the late 90s, we also witnessed ugly scrums in the outfield seats as fans fought — literally fought — one another to snag a baseball that could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at an auction. Realizing the lengths to which people would go to grab a pricey bit of history, baseball began putting special marks on would-be historic baseballs in an effort to head off potential fraud.

Baseball is breaking out the hologram/watermark/secret cipher machine again, this time for the balls that could be Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. And, today only, if you’re in New York City, you can see Derek Jeter’s special balls:

With Derek Jeter returning to the Yankee lineup and resuming his quest for 3,000 career hits, the MLB Fan Cave on Tuesday will be host to a dozen unique pieces of living history, one of which could wind up being the actual ball Jeter hits for number 3,000. Twelve of the baseballs among those to be put into play once Jeter is at 2,999 career hits will be on display at the MLB Fan Cave on Tuesday afternoon for fans and members of the media.

That’s nice and all, but it’s late-model Derek Jeter we’re talking about here. What are the odds that his 3000th hit is going to go over the fence?  Unless Major League Baseball anticipates that the opposing catcher and pitcher are gonna fight over the little dribbler into no-man’s land that is likely to become Jeter’s 3000th, this seems rather unnecessary to me.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.