The guy who chases down Alex Rodriguez’s home run balls

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Neat story from the New York Times about a guy named Eddie Fastook, a somewhat imposing former New York cop who goes into the stands at Yankees games to attempt to retrieve milestone home runs from fans.

But it’s not a muscle job. Not really. Sure, he “sizes up” fans who have balls he seeks in order to guess what it might take to get the ball back. Usually signed merchandise and possibly tickets to a future game. Maybe a meet-and-greet with the player who hit it. But he usually gets people to agree to give up the balls. Only three times has he failed to get them back, all explained in the article.

This season he has a challenge: ALL of Alex Rodriguez’s homers, which A-Rod himself asked Fastook to retrieve. Seems he wants to give them to his daughters. He’s gotten most of them. One guy didn’t want to give it up.

Anyway, interesting part of the game we don’t think about too terribly often.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.