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Kyle Schwarber narrowly escapes Alex Bregman to advance in Home Run Derby

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Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber thought his 16 home runs would be enough to take down Astros third baseman Alex Bregman in the first round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. He was right, but Schwarber just barely escaped Bregman.

Because Schwarber hit two home runs that went 440 feet or longer, he unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time, which proved quite necessary. Schwarber added a couple of home runs to his total before giving way to Bregman.

Bregman, who had 20 home runs in the first half, hit a lot of line drives, peppering the stands in left field with home runs. He seemed to have enough time to at least tie Schwarber as the clock ran out. With his final swing, Bregman hit a fly ball to left-center that fell about three feet shy of tying Schwarber at 16. Bregman did not hit any home runs 440 feet or longer. Alas, Bregman was eliminated.

The Schwarber-Bregman round was thrilling and tense. While the four-minute clock isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, it is undeniably what made this round so fun. If you’re not watching the Home Run Derby, you’re really missing out on some enjoyable baseball-adjacent stuff.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?