Wanna buy some All-Star Game-themed wine?

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — I was walking through the hotel where the player interviews and media availabilities and all of that noise and decided to give it all a miss. News flash: the players are all happy and honored to be here. They’re soaking it all in, etc.

But over at the hotel bar was something interesting:

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Yup, the Midsummer Classic now has a wine. I inquired about it from Shawna Keen, here, and got the info:

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This is new for Major League Baseball, as it’s the first time they’ve actually licensed a wine. You may recall that there were some baseball player-themed wines a few years ago like “Manny Being Manny Merlot” and things like that, but that was not officially licensed. And, if you were one of the people who tasted some of that stuff, you will be happy to know that it’s completely different wine. The old stuff was well-intentioned, but it tasted pretty vile.

Shawna told me that the All-Star Game wine (and some other, team-themed wines coming soon) is sourced from a grape grower in California that also sources many of California’s top wineries including BV, Duckhorn, Cakebread, and Merryvale. They’re obviously selling this to people interested in the logos and the novelty of it all, but they want the wine to be something you’d actually drink.

And of course, I’m not the sort who is content to take people’s word for this sort of thing, so I put it to the test. First, the sniff test:

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Then the taste:

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The verdict: pretty darn good. I don’t think you’d want to give it to that smug cousin of yours who took three trips to Napa Valley and now acts like drinking anything under $50 a bottle is beneath him, but for the non-unctuous among us, it’s pretty darn good.’

If you’re interested in it, go check out MLB’s wine page. Which, yes, is a thing.

So, beer down and now wine down. Anyone got any whiskey around this place?

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

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The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”

Nationals activate Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list

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The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.

Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.

Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.