Change of plans: Dirk Nowitzki to throw out Game 3 first pitch

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Marc Stein of ESPN Dallas reported yesterday that MLB rejected the Rangers’ request to have Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki throw out the ceremonial first pitch once the World Series moves to Texas.

That led to a lot of angry fans, particularly since MLB’s attempted explanation didn’t really make much sense, and now they’ve changed their mind. Stein reports that MLB has invited Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch before Game 3 on Saturday.

MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney told Stein that commissioner Bud Selig was not involved in the original denial of the Rangers’ request and “ordered the reversal” once he found out. Nowitzki had already taken to Twitter to comment on the rejection, writing that “MLB is too old school” and “I will still be there to support our boys.”

All of which makes MLB’s original decision and initial attempts to explain the rejection all the more confusing, but better late than never I suppose. Sources told Stein that MLB was hesitant to let an NBA player throw out the first pitch because they’re supporting the NBA in the ongoing lockout, but Courtney denied that. Of course, he also said that Nowitzki lacked the “good broad-base national appeal” to be a first-pitch candidate, so who knows.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.