Happy Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura Day!

Associated Press
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There’s nothing going on today, so let’s celebrate one of baseball’s greatest anniversaries: Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura Beat Down Day!

It was on this day in 1993, in Arlington, Texas, that Nolan Ryan plunked Robin Ventura with a heater. Why? Hard to say. Ventura singled off of Ryan earlier in the game, but there wasn’t a ton of bad blood here or anything. And Ryan was not known as a headhunter. He only led the league in hit batsmen once in his 27-season career. Indeed, Ventura was the only batter he plunked that entire season. UPDATE: MLB.com’s Cut4 digs a bit into the “why” of it all today.

As for the plunking: Ventura collected himself for a moment. Thought about it and then made the worst mistake of his life: he charged the mound in an effort to mix things up with baseball’s most legendary fireballer. He, of course, got pummeled:

 

It was an instant sensation, going viral before anyone talked about video going viral. Every sportscast, local and national, and a bunch of other TV shows that otherwise wouldn’t feature baseball at all ran that clip. Today it’s the go-to reference for anyone talking about baseball and beatdowns.

Not that there isn’t some dispute as to how big a beatdown it was. A few years back a White Sox fan — obviously still salty over it all — put together a clip trying to rehabilitate Ventura’s fighting reputation, showing the moments AFTER Ryan’s haymakers to Ventura’s head in which Ventura gave back a little to the old Ryan Express:

 

I’ll give him this much: Ventura didn’t crumble and, yes, he gave back some to Ryan. Thing is, though, that Ryan was about 147 years old at the time and Ventura was a strapping young lad. And, as is the case in almost all walks of life, style counts. And there’s way more style involved in stopping a charging bull and putting it in a headlock than there is in wrestling an old man to the ground. Maybe it was more Leonard-Hagler in all of this than it was Hagler-Hearns, but the judges would’ve given this one to Ryan all the same.

Wanna know more? Last year Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com put together a great post setting forth 23 facts about the fight that you may or may not have known. For example: Ryan wasn’t even ejected. Ventura was, though, and then Ryan picked off the runner who took his place at first base.

Ryan would win that game. He’d only have six more starts after that, however, before retiring.

Bogaerts reportedly heading to the Padres for 11 years, $280 million

xander bogaerts
Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster 11-year, $280 million contract, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

San Diego also met with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before the big stars opted for different teams. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.

“From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. “We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts was one of the headliners in a stellar group of free-agent shortstops that also included Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.

Bogaerts, who’s from Aruba, terminated his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston after the season. The four-time All-Star forfeited salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 150 games.

Bogaerts is a .292 hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBIs in 10 big league seasons – all with Boston. He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and 2018.

Bogaerts becomes the latest veteran hitter to depart Boston after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020. Rafael Devers has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can hit the market.

Bogaerts had his best big league season in 2019, batting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBIs. He had 23 homers and 103 RBIs in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBIs.