The All-Star Game caps are pretty different. And pretty cool.

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I realize most new uniform tweaks on special occasions are met with derision, but I really do think that the caps the All-Stars will be wearing this year are kind of fun:

 

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The press release says the caps were “[i]nspired by the 1970s era batting helmet of this year’s host club, the Minnesota Twins.” Which, yes. I wish, however, that they didn’t have the patch on the side too, as it makes a too busy mess out of the thing. The design itself is enough of a change from the norm, right? Still: pretty sweet caps for a one-off, even if I wouldn’t want to see most teams in them every day.

Just eyeballing it, though, I think the following teams would be better off with the All-Star Game designed version than with their every day caps: Nationals, Blue Jays, Rays, Diamondbacks and Rockies. A few others — Braves, Reds, Cubs, Astros and Pirates — would look good in these as occasional alternates, even if I wouldn’t want their normal caps replaced. The white panel designs are worse than the color designs, I think.

Anyway: fun.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.