The crowd takes photos as New York Yankees' Rodriguez warms up to bat for first time this season as he faces Detroit Tigers in MLB American League game in New York

New York needs A-Rod this summer

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I’m not sure why they let Andy Martino write for the Daily News. He seems to actually enjoy baseball and is able to take a step back and realize that, for whatever else it means, baseball is entertainment. His colleagues are all comparing Alex Rodriguez to mass murders and are blaming him for ruining absolutely everything and here he is, actually putting things in something close to a reasonable perspective.

Today’s perspective: New York baseball has totally sucked this year outside of watching Matt Harvey pitch, so thanks, A-Rod, for at least giving Gothamites something to do:

That’s why we need A-Rod, his crossover fame, his ability to compel sports talk radio and TMZ, columnists and casual debaters.  New York baseball has taken on an elevated feel for only two people this year, Harvey for his sneering dominance, and Rodriguez for the deep reserve of feelings that he arouses in the public, press, commissioners’ office, Yankees’ executive suites, and in clubhouses around major league baseball.

It’s baseball. Baseball is a game. He’s some celebrity. Just watch it. No one will get hurt. Honest.

All of that said: Andy, dude: make your next piece about how A-Rod threatens democracy. I know you don’t believe it, but you gotta get in line or else your editors are gonna fire you.

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.