Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves

Chris Johnson sets Braves record with eighth consecutive multi-hit game

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Braves third baseman Chris Johnson went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run in the Braves’ 6-4 victory over the Phillies tonight, marking the eighth consecutive game in which he has had two or more hits. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman confirms that it is a team record since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. Johnson entered the night leading the National League in batting average at .346. Tonight’s performance bumped it up to .347.

An obscenely high batting average on balls in play has been the backbone of his offensive success this season. It stands at .430, 38 points above the next-highest BABIP (Joe Mauer, .392) and 65 points above his career average. Per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, if the .430 BABIP holds, it would be the highest mark since Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911. According to Baseball Reference, there have been 27 instances of a .400+ BABIP among hitters that had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The most recent was accomplished by Jose Hernandez in 2002, but he struck out so often (a league-leading 188 times) he didn’t put the ball in play all that often — his overall batting average was .288.

The full list (bolded averages indicate a league-leader):

Player Year BAbip Age Tm BA
Chris Johnson 2013 .430 28 ATL .346
Jose Hernandez 2002 .404 32 MIL .288
Manny Ramirez 2000 .403 28 CLE .351
Rod Carew 1977 .408 31 MIN .388
Roberto Clemente 1967 .403 32 PIT .357
Luke Appling 1936 .400 29 CHW .388
Bill Terry 1930 .400 31 NYG .401
Rogers Hornsby 1924 .422 28 STL .424
Babe Ruth 1923 .423 28 NYY .393
Harry Heilmann 1923 .414 28 DET .403
George Sisler 1922 .422 29 SLB .420
Ty Cobb 1922 .416 35 DET .401
Rogers Hornsby 1921 .409 25 STL .397
George Sisler 1920 .401 27 SLB .407
Ty Cobb 1919 .401 32 DET .384
Ty Cobb 1917 .400 30 DET .383
Benny Kauff 1914 .400 24 IND .370
Ty Cobb 1913 .415 26 DET .390
Ty Cobb 1912 .424 25 DET .409
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1912 .405 24 CLE .395
Heinie Zimmerman 1912 .400 25 CHC .372
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1911 .434 23 CLE .408
Ty Cobb 1911 .444 24 DET .420
Ty Cobb 1910 .412 23 DET .383
George Stone 1906 .416 29 SLB .358
Nap Lajoie 1901 .418 26 PHA .426
Jesse Burkett 1901 .415 32 STL .376
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/2/2013.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
Getty Images
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.04.09 AM
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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: