Zac Efron
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Video: Zac Efron’s heartwarming story about Dusty Baker

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In 2015, First We Feast and Complex Media transcended the interview format with the creation of the YouTube series Hot Ones. On each episode, released once per week, host Sean Evans interviews celebrities as they eat increasingly hotter chicken wings. Actor Zac Efron was today’s guest and he happened to offer up a rather heartwarming story about manager Dusty Baker, the current manager of the Astros.

Evans set up his question, saying, “So I’m fascinated by your signed baseball collection which isn’t just something that you spent millions of dollars on. It’s something that dates back to you being a little kid chasing down home run balls at Giants games.” He asked Efron, “Do you have a favorite story or a baseball that, to you, is like a crown jewel in the collection?”

Efron promptly responded, “Dusty Baker, the coach of the Giants at the time. He drove by and he was on a motorcycle so he didn’t have a window he could roll up. He saw there was a couple people waiting for him. I ran up with a baseball. I had a blue pen and the sweet spot of a brand new ball and I showed it to him. And Dusty was like, ‘Aw, I can’t right now, I got to go to church.’ And that just means, usually, like, ‘I don’t have time,’ right? He’s like, “I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ He left and I thought I was never going to see him again. 45 minutes later, the motorcycle came roaring in and I was like, ‘No way!’ He literally pointed right at me and was like, ‘Come over here.’ I walked over. He’s like, ‘You still got that ball?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, thank you sir.’ I handed it to him and he signed it. That one meant a lot to me just because Dusty Baker doubled back from church.”

Evans followed up with another baseball-related question pertaining to Efron’s role in the movie Charlie St. Cloud. In preparation for the role, which involves throwing some baseballs, Efron worked with former pitcher and pitching coach Roger McDowell. Evans asked Efron if he picked up anything interesting working along side McDowell. Efron mentioned that he grew up playing baseball, so he was ahead of where some other actors might have been in a baseball role. Efron deflected the rest of the question, but it was interesting that two of the 10 questions on the show happened to be baseball-related. The entire interview is fun and interesting. Give it a watch:

The Baker anecdote starts around the 6:20 mark.

No one should be surprised to hear a heartwarming story involving Baker. He has been one of baseball’s good guys for decades. Even the beleaguered Astros saw this after A.J. Hinch was suspended for his role in the club’s cheating scandal. Baker was seen as someone who could help the organization weather the storm and put the team back in the public’s good graces.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.