Bill Baer

In this April 2014 image released by HBO, host John Oliver speaks during "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," in New York. Oliver, who subbed for Jon Stewart as host of "The Daily Show" last summer and began his own HBO weekly show in April, often devotes about half of his 30 minutes to a single topic below the headlines. His subsequent report questioning the pageant's scholarship program was the latest example of how Oliver has quickly moved beyond his roots at "The Daily Show" to produce something distinctive, and usually hilarious. (AP Photo/HBO, Eric Liebowitz)
AP Photo/HBO, Eric Liebowitz

John Oliver’s latest Legends Suite guests at Yankee Stadium? Dragons.

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HBO’s John Oliver has been fighting back against Yankees COO Lonn Trost by inviting non-Legends Suite types to sit in the Legends Suite. Trost, in February, came off quite elitist when he said that those who can afford to sit in the Legends Suite don’t like to sit around those who typically can’t afford the luxury. In other words: the rich don’t want to sit near the poors.

Oliver’s first guests were dressed like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then he had four women dressed in unicorn and shark costumes sit in the Legends suite.

Today, as the Yankees finished off their three-game season opening set against the Astros? Dragons. The Yankees put them on the video board during the seventh inning, calling them the “fans of the game,” ESPN’s Danny Knobler reports. The Yankees later wrote on the video board, “Thanks, John Oliver. Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium.”

You can see the “dragons” in the second row behind home plate in this clip of a Brian McCann home run.

Rain ruins Saturday’s knuckleball duel

R.A. Dickey
AP Photo/LM Otero
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Thursday’s game between the Red Sox and Indians was postponed due to rain. That disrupted the Red Sox rotation schedule, which had knuckleballer Steven Wright squaring off against Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Saturday.

It would have been the first game featuring two knuckleballing starters in 16 years, Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun notes. On September 15, 2000, Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox faced Steve Sparks of the Tigers.

Joe Kelly, Thursday’s starter, will instead start on Friday, Rick Porcello will face Dickey on Saturday, and Wright will pitch on Sunday.

Oh, what could’ve been.

Dodger pitching finally allowed a run, falling just shy of a record

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood throws against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their baseball game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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Most of the focus, as the Dodgers jumped out to a hot 3-0 start to the 2016 season, was actually on the Padres who were so offensively inept that they scored exactly zero runs in their first three games facing the Dodgers. Starters Clayton Kershaw went seven scoreless innings, while Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda delivered six scoreless each.

Alex Wood took the bump for the Dodgers on Thursday against the Giants with the opportunity to pitch his team into the history books. If he made it through the fifth inning without allowing a run, he would help the Dodgers match a major league record with 32 consecutive scoreless innings to begin a season. The only other team to do so was the 1963 Cardinals, who relented a run with no outs in the sixth inning of their fourth game.

Wood got through the first four innings without relenting a run as the Dodgers went up 4-0, but he quickly found himself in trouble in the fifth inning. He issued a leadoff walk to Brandon Crawford, then was victimized by a perfectly placed bunt single by Kelby Tomlinson, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Angel Pagan moved both runners up a base with a soft grounder to third base. Denard Span brought home the first run with a ground ball to second base, with Chase Utley choosing to get the sure out at first base. That ended the Dodgers’ scoreless streak to begin the season at 31 1/3 innings. The offense continued as Joe Panik then drilled a Wood offering over a diving Joc Pederson in center field, bringing home Tomlinson. Buster Posey followed up with a double to score Panik. The trouble continued as Wood walked Hunter Pence, but he was able to get Brandon Belt to ground out to second base to end the inning.

Hard to think of a better way to start the season. The Dodgers’ pitching was a bit of a concern given all of the injuries they’ve endured, but things are looking pretty good for the moment.

Three minor leaguers suspended 80 games after testing positive for Nandrolone

say no to drugs
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
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Note: This post previously referenced Marlins pitcher Jose Urena. There are multiple Jose Urenas. The one who pitches in the Padres’ minor league system was suspended, not the Marlins’ pitcher. I apologize for any confusion.

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Padres minor league pitcher Jose Urena was one of three minor league players suspended on Thursday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Major League Baseball announced. Urena tested positive for a metabolite of Nandrolone and will serve an 80-game suspension without pay.

Free agent minor leaguers Henry Charles and Adam Reifer were also suspended. Charles, an outfielder, tested positive for a metabolite of Nandrolone as well, and will serve a 76-game suspension if and when he signs with another team. Reifer, a pitcher, tested positive for Ostarine and will serve an 80-game suspension if and when he signs with a new team.

Braves pitcher John Gant’s delivery is… unique

Atlanta Braves' John Gant pitches against the Miami Marlins in the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 18, 2016, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
AP Photo/John Raoux
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23-year-old John Gant made the Braves’ Opening Day roster after making five solid appearances for the club during spring training. He gave up four runs on 10 hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Coming through the Mets’ and Braves’ minor league systems, Gant showed some decent stuff, an ability to miss bats while not walking too many hitters. As the minor leagues aren’t nearly as well-covered as the major leagues, the most interesting facet about Gant flew under the radar: his delivery.

As you can see from his appearance on Wednesday against the Nationals, Gant moves his left foot on the mound a few times, picks up his leg, puts it down again, then picks it up again and throws normally. As Braves broadcaster Joe Simpson explains, “it’s not a balk because he does it the same way every time.” Simpson also explains Gant’s “Vulcan” change-up, in which he holds the baseball between his middle and ring fingers. Pretty cool.