On this date 20 years ago: Michael Jordan quit baseball

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Baseball historian Chris Jaffe points out that today is the 20th anniversary of Michael Jordan quitting baseball, noting that “he went back to his previous line of work.”

People always mock Jordan’s one-year baseball career and I suppose that’s to be expected when the best basketball player of all time leaves the sport he’s dominating to spend a year struggling at Double-A, but it always seemed to me that Jordan’s baseball performance was actually kind of impressive.

He played 127 games as a Double-A outfielder in the White Sox’s farm system–with Terry Francona as his manager–hitting .202 with three homers, 51 walks, 30 steals, and a .556 OPS. Make no mistake, that’s awful. FOR A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER. Jordan was a 31-year-old non-baseball player who hadn’t played the sport regularly in more than a decade and had never played the sport regularly above the high school level.

So yes, you could say “he quit basketball to hit .202 at Double-A?” or you could say “he took up professional baseball at age 31 without any experience above high school and somehow managed to hit above .200 with multiple home runs, an above-average walk rate, and lots of stolen bases!” Or you could just say “Jordan has a higher career on-base percentage at Double-A than Drew Butera!”

Baseball is super hard and what Michael Jordan did during his one year playing the sport professionally is more impressive than he gets credit for.

Video: Cubs score run on Pirates’ appeal throw

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2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.

One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.

The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.