Must-click link: the politics of the Japanese home run record

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We’ve talked a lot lately about Wladimir Balentien’s assault on the Japanese home run record. And in the course of that talk we’ve made passing mention of how previous challenges to the record — held by the great Sadaharu Oh — have been met with hostility and many, many intentional walks.

Today the Japan Times has an in-depth story about that. They talk to Randy Bass, who challenged the record in 1985. They talk about Tuffy Rhodes’ and Alex Cabrera’s run at 55 as well. The mark has been tied but not surpassed, and the story spends a lot of time talking about the hows and the whys of it all.  It’s a fascinating read about a fascinating, albeit at times frustrating, baseball culture.

Brandon Crawford homers off brother-in-law Gerrit Cole

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You can’t pick your family and no one knows that better than Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. His sister Amy married Astros starter Gerrit Cole in November 2016, so the two players are brothers-in-law.

The two players have matched up against each other 18 times in the past, as Cole spent his first five seasons in the National League with the Pirates. Cole often won that battle, holding Crawford to four hits — all singles — in 18 plate appearances.

Crawford finally got the better of Cole on Tuesday night, hitting a line drive into the appropriately-named Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park for a two-run home run, cutting the Astros’ lead to 5-2.