Must-click link: the politics of the Japanese home run record

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We’ve talked a lot lately about Wladimir Balentien’s assault on the Japanese home run record. And in the course of that talk we’ve made passing mention of how previous challenges to the record — held by the great Sadaharu Oh — have been met with hostility and many, many intentional walks.

Today the Japan Times has an in-depth story about that. They talk to Randy Bass, who challenged the record in 1985. They talk about Tuffy Rhodes’ and Alex Cabrera’s run at 55 as well. The mark has been tied but not surpassed, and the story spends a lot of time talking about the hows and the whys of it all.  It’s a fascinating read about a fascinating, albeit at times frustrating, baseball culture.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.