San Francisco Giants v New York Yankees

Bill Madden is still talking about Alex Rodriguez for some reason

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It’s almost admirable to see a guy who has been as wrong on an issue as Bill Madden of the Daily News has been on A-Rod keep plugging away at it anyway.

Over the summer Madden reported that A-Rod was looking for a way to retire. He did not retire. He reported that A-Rod was physically disabled and would likely take a disablement retirement. He came back anyway. Madden said he was done as a baseball player and would be a distraction. A-Rod played pretty well there for a while and basically disappeared from the headlines as the Yankees played their best baseball of the season. I mean, he’s the equivalent of, like, 0-for-130 when it comes to handicapping Alex Rodriguez’s situation.

Yet he carries on nonetheless! Yesterday he wrote that A-Rod is freaked out about his upcoming hearing, that the hearing is the reason he’s finishing poorly and, well, just look:

…According to one source in the know, despite his blowhard lawyer Joe Tacopina’s bravado that Rodriguez doesn’t deserve even one day of suspension, A-Rod “is terrified” about the hearing on his 211-game drug suspension that begins Monday in New York. According to the source, that might partly explain the recent 3-for-17 (.081) slump in which he’s looked so helpless … He needs to get a grip on reality — which is that he’s finished as a player and guilty as charged as a serial steroids cheat. His best option now is to try and make a deal with MLB, so at least all the lurid details of just how guilty he is and how much he betrayed Don Hooton’s kids may never come out.

That comes after paragraphs in which Madden gives uncritical and unchallenged voice to “baseball people” hating on A-Rod for being unselfish and not just taking his ridiculous 211-game suspension without question. I mean he could have, I dunno, speculated what might have happened if A-Rod was given a more proportional suspension rather than been forced into an appeal by MLB, but that would totally kill his A-Rod is the Antichrist schtick.

Oh, and as for that “A-Rod should make a deal” stuff? That kinda flies in the face of Madden’s “MLB will not make a deal with A-Rod” stuff from a month or two ago.

But keep on fighting the good fight, Bill. As anyone in a serious slump will tell you, you just gotta play through it.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.