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A Pirates fan hurled Jedd Gyorko’s home run ball into the river

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Long before Josh Bell blasted the Pirates to victory with his first career walk-off home run on Friday night, Jedd Gyorko struck a two-run homer to put the Cardinals on the board in the first inning. Andrew McCutchen scaled the wall and came up short by several feet, watching it sail right over the top of the fence and into the outstretched glove of a Pirates fan in the right field bleachers.

The ball was officially clocked at 405 feet off of Gyorko’s bat, but its final resting place was much further from home plate. The fan who caught the home run, later identified as Jeff, promptly turned toward the crowd and chucked the ball, which cleared the bleachers and riverside concourse to find a new home in the depths of the nearby Allegheny River.

“I put all my weight into it, about 285 pounds,” Jeff told ROOT Sports’ Robby Incmikoski. While throwing toward the crowd isn’t an advisable course of action for every bleacher fan, Jeff was quick to encourage other “true fans” to toss the tradition of returning home balls to the field: “If you’re a Pirates fan — a true Pirates fan and a true Pittsburgher — you will throw away home run balls into the river.”

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.