Bryce Harper, Jonny Gomes, Kevin Kiermaier and post-Awards silliness

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The aftermath of the MVP voting was really weird, you guys. Among the stuff that happened:

Bryce Harper, on Scott Van Pelt’s late night SportsCenter, was reluctant to answer a playful hypothetical question because he was worried that his answer would become a “may may.” By which he meant “meme.” I offer no criticism of him on this because it’s not like anyone but degenerate Internet addicts like me think all that much about memes let alone says the word out loud. Unfortunately and ironically, however, Harper’s pronunciation of the word will now likely turn him into the very thing he most feared: a may may.

Second, AL MVP Josh Donaldson credited Jonny Gomes for helping him change his approach at the plate when they both played in Oakland. This is not weird, actually, it’s quite understandable. I’ll just observe that this is just the latest example of creeping Jonny Gomesism in Major League Baseball. It used to just be that we’d get an unreasonable number of stories about how critically important he was to a team that (a) he was not really a key part of; and (b) wasn’t very good in the first place. Now he’s the MVP whisperer. And, in some places, a gosh darn prophet:

If we manage to defeat ISIS and usher in peace in the Middle East, I have no doubt that our top generals and diplomats will give Jonny Gomes a shoutout. HE’S THE GLUE, MAN.

Finally, on a personal note, I made some Twitter observations last night about how Rays Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier — who received a handful of MVP votes himself — was not particularly well known among casual baseball fans or sports fans in general. This was not a judgment of any kind. I’m a sucker for center field defense and I think he’s a slick player with a bright future. It was just a statement of fact with which I feel it is difficult to disagree. If I was poking fun at anyone with respect to Kiermaier’s relative obscurity it was talk radio hosts general sports media figures like Skip Bayless who don’t follow baseball all that closely, not Kiermaier himself.

Kiermaier, who must have found those tweets by searching for his own name, then decided to search MY Twitter feed, found a silly pic I posted of me with my cats and mocked me, saying that no one listens to a person who looks like me. While this may be undeniably true — I am quite a ridiculous and non-influential person — the funny aspect was that part of the mocking related to the number of Twitter followers I have. Which is weird because I have more followers than he does, I’m not even some allegedly super famous well-known baseball player, and do these facts not make my original point for me?

Anyway, when I and others told him that he misinterpreted me and that I meant him no ill-will, he blocked me. Note: I wasn’t following him anyway.

I have no idea what Major League Baseball teams look at when they determine a player’s “makeup,” but I have the sense that “vanity-searching one’s self on Twitter, getting hyper defensive about being mentioned, misinterpreting observation as offense and then cowering from some silly, old, harmless, bald and crazy cat lady on the Internet” is a bad marker for such things. Anyway: still love your game, Kiermaier. Sorry about your cat hangup. Cats are amazing.

And now, with Awards Season over, we head into the darkness of the offseason in earnest. If you do not expect or appreciate silliness in these lean times, I have no idea how you make it through the winter.

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK (AP) Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost four of five following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.