Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez Add Sports Star Power in Bid to Purchase the New York Mets

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez aren’t giving up their Mets quest…

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar and the 44-year-old Dominican American former-baseball-player-turned-sports-commentator aren’t giving up on their bid to purchase the New York Mets from the Wilpon family. 

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez

After the pair reportedly teamed up with billionaire Mike Repole in an ownership group, they’ve now added a group of investors that includes some other big names. 

Per ESPN, Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, 2020 Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce, ex-NFL star DeMarco Murray, former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas,Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee are all joining the celebrity couple’s bid.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have such high-quality individuals as part of our group,” Lopez and Rodriguez told ESPN on Monday.

The Wilpons have been looking to sell the Mets for months now, but a deal hasn’t been reached despite some interest. 

The Wilpons originally had an agreement in place to sell the team to hedge fund investor and billionaire Steve Cohenwhile remaining in control of the club for another five years, but that deal fell apart.

Recently, it was reported that Cohen delivered the family an offer for $2 billion, and was willing to offer an additional $2 billion to also acquire SportsNet New York (SNY). The Wilpons have reportedly been reluctant to give up SNY. However, it now appears the television network would now be included in a potential sale, indicating the Wilpons are more serious about a deal.

The group headed by Lopez and Rodriguez reportedly submitted an initial bid of $1.7 billion. The former New York Yankees slugger and Bronx-born pop star have reportedly put $300 million of their own money toward the bid. 

The Wilpons will review all of the bids, and work with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to determine the next steps in the process. Whoever does end up taking home the Queens-based franchise will need to their purchase to be approved by 75 percent of MLB owners.

The Wilpons reportedly hope to close a deal by the fall and gain Major League Baseball approval for the new owners before the end of the year.

“Long Gone Summer” Documentary, Highlighting Sammy Sosa’s 1998 Home Run Chase, Headed to ESPN

Sammy Sosa’s summeris heating up…

The 51-year-old Dominican former professional baseball right fielder will be the focus of a special documentary to air on ESPN.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa, who played in the Major League Baseballfor 19 seasons, primarily with the Chicago Cubs, is part of the focus of AJ Schnack’s, Long Gone Summer, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.

It chronicles Mark McGwire and Sosa’s storied 1998 home run chase. For the first time, both men discuss that summer at length, including its undeniable complications.

The 1998MLB home run chase was between McGwire, a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr., and Sosa, a right fielder for the Cubs. It resulted in McGwire and Sosa breaking Roger Maris‘ long-standing and highly coveted record of 61 home runs. 

McGwire broke Maris’s record on September 8 against the Cubs and finished with 70 home runs. Sosa finished with 66.

The documentary will air on Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 pm ET.

The film will be made available on ESPN+immediately after its premiere, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library.

Samy Camacho Rides King Guillermo to Victory at the Tampa Bay Derby

Samy Camacho has a royal weekend…

The Venezuelan jockey raced King Guillermo to victory at the Tampa Bay Derby by 4 3/4 lengths on Saturday for owner Victor Martinez, a five-time All-Star in Major League Baseball. The prize: $351,000.

Samy Camacho

Camacho’s 3-year-old colt earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. However, King Guillermo isn’t nominated to the Triple Crownseries, so Martinez would need to pay $6,000 by March 30 to get him in the Derby.

Martinez races as Victoria’s Ranch, a 2,400-acre cattle operation he founded in Florida after retiring from a 16-year baseball career in 2018. He paid $150,000 for King Guillermo, who won his first stakes race on Saturday.

Sent off at 49-1 odds, King Guillermo paid $100.40, $38.20 and $17.80. He has two wins in four career starts and earnings of $240,350.

Ridden by Camacho, King Guillermo ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.63.

Sole Volantewas second, and Texas Swingtook third.

Wander Franco to Play for Dominican Republic Team for Olympic Qualifing Tournament

Wander Franco is hoping to hit the field at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The 19-year-old Dominican professional baseball shortstop in the Tampa Bay Raysorganization, the top prospect in Major League Baseball, and longtime star Jose Bautista plan to play for the Dominican Republic as the country tries to qualify for the Olympics later this month, according to ESPN.

Wander Franco

Franco, who turned 19 on Sunday, would strengthen a Dominican team jockeying for one of the remaining two qualifying spots in baseball’s return to the Olympics after a 12-year hiatus. He and Bautista, 39, would round out a roster that faces strong competition at the Americas Qualifying Eventon March 22-26 in Tempe and Surprise, Arizona.

Among the teams vying to win the tournament and its single qualifying spot: The Dominican Republic, the United States, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. 

The winner will join host nation Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea, who already have qualified, while the second- and third-place teams at the event will have an opportunity to lock up the sixth spot at the final qualifying tournament. 

Originally scheduled to be held in Taiwan from April 1-5, the tournament was postponed Sunday because of coronavirus fears until June 17-21 — barely a month before the Tokyo Games’ opening ceremony.

The additions of Franco and Arizona Diamondbacksinfielder Geraldo Perdomo, 20, to the Dominican roster will give the team perhaps the most dynamic middle infield in the tournament. Franco is a transcendent talent who evaluators believe could play in the major leagues today — a powerful, speedy, contact-oriented switch hitter whose slick glove and strong arm allow him to patrol shortstop with aplomb.

While not as highly touted, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Perdomo is an elite athlete whose eye and bat-to-ball talents were rare for someone who played all of last season at 19. A natural shortstop, he played about half his games during the Arizona Fall League at second base and will return there for the Dominican team.

Bautista is expected to play first base, a position he manned 30 times in more than 1,650 major league games during which he hit 344 home runs and drove in nearly 1,000 runs. He last played in the major leagues in 2018, though he spent this winter working out as a pitcher in hopes of returning as a two-way player, sources said. Bautista, who represented the D.R. in the 2009 and 2017 World Baseball Classic, may not pitch in the qualifier but is expected to play a significant role as the D.R. faces Puerto Rico, the United States and Nicaragua during the tournament’s round-robin first round. The two best teams from each four-team pool will face off in a final round that awards the winner and keeps the second- and third-place teams alive.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed last week to allow players who are on teams’ 40-man rosters but not active in the major leagues to join their countries’ qualifying-event teams. The potential infusion of talent could theoretically help a team like the United States, which suffered an embarrassing loss to Mexico at the Premier12tournament in November that prevented Team USAfrom qualifying.

Alfonso Marquez Makes MLB History with Crew Chief Promotion

Alfonso Marquez is making Major League Baseballhistory…

The 47-year-old Mexican MLB umpire has been elevated to the first Hispanic crew chief born outside the United States, and second overall in MLB history, when the league announced a series of promotions, additions and retirements on Thursday.

Alfonso Marquez

Marquez joins former ump Richie Garcia, who was born in Florida, as Hispanic crew chiefs. Marquez was the first Mexican-born umpire to work in the majors, starting in 1999. He has worked throughout both major leagues since 2000.

He has officiated three World Series, four League Championship Series and nine Division Series, as well as the 2006 All-Star Game and 2018 All-Star Game.

Ramon De Jesus, who worked his first big league game in 2016 as a minor league fill-in, moved up and became the first Dominican-born umpire on the MLB staff.

The 36-year-old ump has been a Minor Leagueumpire since 2009, but started working Major League Spring Trainingsince 2016, according to the MLB.

A chief oversees each four-man crew. Among other things, they often have the last word on disputes with players, make the call for an umpire replay review and decide when to bring out the tarp for a rain delay.

David Ortiz Selling Baseball Mementos & More

David Ortizis cleaning house…

The 44-year-old Dominican former Boston Red Sox slugger, whose nickname is “Big Papi,” is have an estate sale, and he’s selling memorabilia from his illustrious Major League Baseball career. 

David Ortiz

But Ortiz, a 10-time MLB All-Star, is also selling other sundry goods, including a neon Rolls Royce sign, a backyard composter and a stone owl sculpture, at an estate sale scheduled for Saturday at his home in the affluent Boston suburb of Weston.

“In addition to some exceptional sports memorabilia, you’ll find beautiful furniture and decor, women’s designer clothing and accessories, gym equipment, game room tables and more,” the company running the sale said on its website.

The baseball-related items for sale include framed jerseys, Ortiz bobbleheads, Big Papi commemorative Coca-Colabottles, signed Red Sox photographs and a Boston Bruinsjersey with the name Ortiz and his No. 34 on the back.

The three-time World Serieschampion and his wife put their six-bedroom, 8,100-square-foot home on the market last year for $6.3 million, but it’s not currently listed.

Ortiz retired in 1997, after 20 seasons with the MLB. Among designated hitters, he’s the all-time leader in MLB history for home runs (485), RBIs (1,569), and hits (2,192). Regarded as one of the best clutch hitters of all time, Ortiz had 11 career walk-off home runs during the regular season and two during the postseason.

Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Deal with the Atlanta Braves

Felix Hernandezis getting a second chance…

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “King Félix“, has reached a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves on Monday that includes an invite to big league spring training.

Felix Hernandez

The longtime Seattle Marinersright-hander would get a $1 million, one-year contract if added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster.

Hernandez is coming off his worst season in the majors. King Felix went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts for the Mariners and lost his place in the rotation.

Hernandez was among the best and more durable pitchers in Major League Baseball for more than a decade, a stretch that included six All-Star selections and the 2010 American League Cy Young Award. He was a huge crowd favorite at Safeco Field, with fans holding up K cards in The King’s Courtto mark his many strikeouts.

The two-time NL East champion Braves hold their first workout for pitchers and catchers on February 13.

Rafael Furcal Earns First-Ever Spot on the MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s a special first for Rafael Furcal

The 42-year-old Dominican former professional baseball shortstop is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot.

Rafael Furcal

Furcal, who retired from Major League Baseball in 2014, for the Atlanta BravesLos Angeles DodgersSt. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. With St. Louis, he won the 2011 World Series over the Texas Rangers. He was the National League Rookie of the Yearin 2000 and a three-time MLB All-Star.

Other newcomers announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America include Derek Jeter, Cliff LeeJosh BeckettJason Giambi, Paul KonerkoBobby Abreuand Alfonso Soriano.

Holdovers include Curt Schilling, who received 60.9% last year, Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%) and Larry Walker(54.6%). Schilling rose from 51.2% in 2018. Walker, on the ballot for the 10th and final time this year, increased from 34.1% in 2018.

Bonds and Clemens, whose candidacies have been tainted by allegations of steroid use, are both on for the eighth time. Clemens rose from 57.3% in 2018 and Bonds from 56.4%.

In all, 10 Latino former ‘ballers made the list… In addition to Furcal, Abreu, and Soriano, former players on the list include Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Sammy SosaJose Valverdeand Omar Vizquel.

Ballots are sent to more than 400 BBWAAmembers with at least 10 consecutive years in the organization, and a player must appear on at least 75% to gain election. Ballots must be mailed by December 31, and results will be announced January 21.

Anyone elected will be inducted July 26 along with any selections by the Hall’s modern era committee, which meets and votes in San Diego on December 8.

Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5% of the vote annually.

Roy HalladayEdgar Martinez and Mike Mussina were elected along with Mariano Rivera in the 2019 BBWAA vote.

The ballot: Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chavez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramirez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso SorianoSammy SosaJose Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.

Yuli Gurriel Agrees to One-Year, $8.3 Million Contract with Houston Astros

Yuli Gurriel has agreed to an Astros-nomicaldeal…

The 35-year-old Cuban Major League Baseball first baseman has agreed to an $8.3 million, one-year contract with the Houston Astros, giving him a $300,000 raise from his scheduled salary for next season.

Yuli Gurriel

Gurriel hit .298 and set career bests with 31 homers and 104 RBIs in 2019 as the Astros won the American League pennant for the second time in three seasons. He hit .310 with one homer and five RBIs in the team’s seven-game World Series loss to the Washington Nationals.

Gurriel, who defected from Cuba, agreed in July 2016 to a $47.5 million, five-year contract with the Astros that included an $8 million salary for 2020. That deal allowed Gurriel to void the remainder of his contract when he became eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, and he reached that eligibility this offseason with 3 years, 43 days of MLB service.

His new contract allows him to become a free agent after the 2020 season, preserving a right contained in his original major league contract. It also includes the same award bonus provisions: $100,000 for MVP, $50,000 for second and $25,000 for third; $50,000 for World Series MVP, and $25,000 each for League Championship Series MVP, Silver SluggerGold Gloveand being selected an All-Star.

New York Mets’ Slugger Pete Alonso Named National League Rookie of the Year

Pete Alonso is living proof that persistence pays off…

The 24-year-old part-Spanish American Major League Baseball player began the 2019 season fighting just to make the New York Mets‘ Opening Day roster. But he ends it as the National League Rookie of the Year after slugging a rookie record 53 home runs, driving in 120 runs and becoming a cult hero for Mets fans for his energy and enthusiasm and one memorable bare-chested postgame interview.

Pete Alonso

Alonso was a near unanimous selection of the award’s 30 voters, getting 29 first-place votes. Atlanta Braves starter Mike Soroka received the other first-place vote and finished second, with San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jrfinishing third.

Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA and won 13 games as the ace of the division-winning Braves. Tatis slashed .317/.379/.590 and dazzled fans with his defensive plays in the infield, but an injury ended his season at 84 games.

“To just win the award, doesn’t matter if it’s unanimous or not,” Alonso said on Monday night. “It’s still such a blessing.”

Alonso’s 53 home runs broke Aaron Judge‘s rookie record of 52 set in 2017, as Alonso became the sixth Rookie of the Year in Mets history, the first since Jacob deGrom in 2014. 

He joins Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Davis as the only active players with 50 home runs in a season and he’s just the 30th player in MLB history to reach that mark. 

His 120 RBIs are the seventh most for a rookie in major league history and the most since Albert Pujols had 130 in 2001.

Alonso’s storybook season was no sure thing back in spring training, however. Although he led the minors with 39 home runs in 2018, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson CanoJed LowrieTodd Frazier and Dominic Smith all in the mix at first, second and third base along with Alonso. There were also concerns about Alonso’s defense, and many teams start their top prospects in Triple-A for a couple of weeks to manipulate the player’s service time.

Alonso, however, earned a roster spot after hitting .352 with four home runs in spring training. It also helped that Lowrie and Frazier began the season on the injured list.

Alonso, a second-round pick in 2016 out of the University of Florida, ran with the opportunity, hitting .378 with six home runs in his first 12 games. He said he was challenged by first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenento “show up in shape and earn your spot.”

“I felt like I answered the bell,” Alonso said.

He finished April with nine home runs, bashed 10 more in May and entered the All-Starbreak with 30 home runs. In Cleveland, he took home the $1 million prize for winning the Home Run Derby, upstaging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.in the final round with a 23-22 victory after Guerrero had bashed 40 home runs in the semifinals.

“It’s survive and advance,” Alonso said after his win. “You’ve got to go in with kind of a killer instinct. It doesn’t matter how many you hit; you just need to have one more than the guy you’re facing.”

Alonso also won over fans when he pledged 5% of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Projectand another 5% to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Along the way, Alonso became a fan favorite, not just for his prodigious home runs — he hit 15 of at least 430 feet — but also for his infectious joy and his ability to win over New Yorkers. When the Mets began surging back into the playoff race in early August, he issued a not-safe-for-work rallying cry playing off the “Let’s go Mets!” chant. After a walk-off bases-loaded walk beat the Philadephia Phillies on September 6, Mets teammates ripped off Alonso’s jersey and he conducted interviews on SNY and MLB Network bare-chested.

“I’m not taking my shirt off for this one,” Alonso joked on MLB Network’s broadcast while accepting the award.

He wore custom-made cleats on September 11 to honor the victims of 9/11, even ordering a pair for each of his teammates. “For me, I just come from a place where I want to show support, not just for the victims but their families as well, because no one really knows how deep those emotional scars can be,” Alonso said at the time.

He smashed his 42nd home run on August 27, breaking the Mets’ team record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. With three games remaining in the regular season, Alonso was one homer away from tying Judge. He matched him with a home run at home against the Braves in Game 160 and then surpassed Judge in Game 161 with a third-inning home run off Mike Foltynewicz, a towering shot to right-center. Alonso raised both arms over his head in triumph, received hugs from teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd, and then he wiped tears from his eyes while playing first base the following inning.

“To me, it just means so much,” Alonso said after the game. “I didn’t know I was going to be overcome with all that emotion. At that point, I might as well just let it out.”