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Willians Astudillo admires the heck out of a winter league home run

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The hot stove season is colder than Nidavellir before Thor jump-started it, and I don’t see any Gods of Thunder walking through that door (oh please, you saw the movie). So let’s warm ourselves up a bit with some epic home run-admiring.

The home run hitter was Twins catcher Willians Astudillo, who is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League for Caribes de Anzoategui. No word if he’s running like the wind, but he’s raking down there, and has led his team into the postseason.

Last night he hit a big eighth inning homer and, oh my God, just watch his reaction:

If he took that knee and watched that ball fly out like that in a major league game every white dude over the age of 50 who had ever played high school baseball would be stricken with a case of the vapors and every bearded pitcher from the U.S. south or western exurbia would give taciturn quotes about how “that’s just not right.” Madison Bumgarner would likely stroke out. Frankly, I’d be worried about him.

The rest of us, however, thank you, Mr. Astudillo. We thank you for bringing us a bit of baseball joy in what has become a slog of an offseason.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. Jos√© √Ālvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.