God told Josh Hamilton he was going to hit a home run

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Josh Hamilton hit a huge homer to put the Rangers up by two in the 10th inning of last night’s thriller.  After the game, he said this:

“I would tell y’all something, but y’all wouldn’t believe me … The Lord told me it was going to happen before it happened. You hadn’t hit a home run in a while. You’re about to right now.’”

Before we go any further, can I tell you how much I wish that David Freese, when asked about his walkoff homer in the 11th, said that Satan had told him he’d do it, and then he held up the devil horns, Dio-style?  That would have been epic.

Anyway:  I realize that I’m a big damned-to-Hell agnostic type and everything, so I’m not an authority here. I’m not going to push my non-belief on others. Even if I don’t subscribe to it, I’m not one of those militant atheist types who turn going after religion into a crusade (those people have their own, almost religious zealotry that is more than a little ironic). I think religion can be an important part of a person’s life. I’ve seen it work wonders in people. So if Josh Hamilton believes that God told him he was going to hit a home run and that fills him with wonder and purpose, I feel great for Josh Hamilton.

But can I ask the believers out there: If there is a God, do you really think He rolls like this? That He takes interest in the events of Man on such a granular level that He’s not only telling a guy like Hamilton that he’s going to hit a homer, but He’s also going to note beforehand that Hamilton hadn’t hit a homer in a while?  God cares about baseball stats?  Is God … a sabermetrician?!

No, of course he isn’t. If He was, He would have said “Josh, you are going to get on base.” Or else He wouldn’t have cared about baseball at all, because I’m told statheads hate baseball and only love numbers, so never mind.

Anyway, theology is not my bag. Maybe God does tell people when they’re about to do their job well.  When you’re omnipotent you can multitask. Attend to the suffering here, orchestrate the wonder and miracle of creation there, smite the wicked in another place and still have all of the time in the world to tell rich athletes that they’re about to do something special.  Really, it’s not a problem.

Is it?

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.