ESPN Films Orders Documentary Series on Keith Hernandez & His 1986 World Series-Winning New York Mets

Keith Hernandez is getting documented…

The 1986 World Series-winning run by the 66-year-old half-Spanish American former professional baseball player’s New York Mets will get the multi-part documentary treatment by ESPN in a project under the 30 for 30 banner, whose executive producers include Jimmy Kimmel.

Keith Hernandez

ESPN Films said the series will chronicle the team’s exploits on and off the field. 

In the World Series, the Boston Red Sox were one strike away from victory before a two-out rally and a ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson slipped through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner

The comeback, ESPN said in a press release, “was merely the climax of an epic tale of ambition and swagger set in a city that was synonymous with excess.”

ESPN promises “hours of never-before-seen footage” of the team, a group of disparate, larger-than-life characters who made a big impression on and off the field. 

Keith Hernandez

Many members of the team went on to generate headlines long after 1986, among them Darryl StrawberryDwight Gooden, Hernandez, a five-time MLB All-Star, and Lenny Dykstra

The team already has been the subject of a dishy non-fiction book,The Bad Guys Won, written by Jeff Pearlman, whose L.A. Lakers book, Showtime, has been turned into a scripted drama on HBO.

Hernandez played the majority of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Mets. He shared the 1979 National League MVP awardand won two World Seriestitles, one each with the Cardinals and Mets.

Hernandez retired as an active player after spending one year with the Cleveland Indians in 1990. Since 2006, he has served as a television broadcaster for Mets games on SportsNet New York and WPIX, as well as a studio analyst for MLB on Fox since 2017.

“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.

Marcell Ozuna Agrees to One-Year, $18 Million Deal with the Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna has 18-million reasons to smile…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and free agent outfielder, nicknamed “The Big Bear,”and the Atlanta Braves have reached an $18 million, one-year deal that puts him on the team he helped beat in the playoffs last year.

Marcell Ozuna

Ozuna hit .429 with two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in their five-game win over the Braves in the National League Division Series.

Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI last season. His low batting average was something of an oddity because he ranked among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast.

Ozuna is a two-time MLB All-Star who spent his first five seasons with the Miami Marlins, then was traded and played two years in St. Louis.

Ozuna’s signing leaves infielder-outfielder Nicholas Castellanos as the last remaining major free agent with spring training set to start in about three weeks.

The two-time NL East champion Braves have been busy this offseason. On Monday, they signed former AL Cy Young Award winner and longtime Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez to a minor league with an invite to big league spring training.

Jose Martinez Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays

Jose Martinez is headed to the Sunshine State…

The St. Louis Cardinals have traded the 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Randy Arozarena to the Tampa Bay Rays for touted left-handed pitching prospect Matt Liberatore and low-level catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez, the teams announced Thursday night.

Jose Martinez,

St. Louis also sent a competitive balance Round A pick (38th overall) to Tampa Bay, which sent its Round B pick (66th overall) to the Cardinals.

The Cardinals and Rays had been in active conversations with multiple teams as Tampa Bay tried to add outfield help and St. Louis sought to divest itself of its surplus, according to sources with knowledge of the teams’ intentions.

Liberatore, 20, is a consensus top-100 prospect and is regarded by some as the second-best left-handed prospect in the minor leagues behind San Diego’s MacKenzie Gore.

Chosen with the 16th pick of the 2018 draft, Liberatore spent 2019 in the Rays’ low-A affiliate with Bowling Green of the Midwest League and posted a 3.10 ERA over 78⅓ innings. He struck out 76, walked 31 and allowed only two home runs.

With a farm system regarded as the best in baseball, Tampa Bay reached into its cache of prospects to supplement its major league team, which won the American Leaguewild-card game and took the Houston Astrosto a deciding fifth game in the division series.

The Rays had been targeting outfield help to complement left fielder Hunter Renfroe, center fielder Kevin Kiermaierand right fielder Austin Meadows. They should get it with Martinez, a right-handed batter who hit .305 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs in 2018. His numbers dipped some this past season, as Martinez posted a .269-10-42 line and missed time in August with a shoulder injury.

Martinez has a .296 batting average since his first full season in the majors in 2017, which is the eighth-best mark in the National Leagueamong the 83 players with at least 1,000 at bats, per ESPN Stats & Informationresearch.

The speedy Arozarena, meanwhile, was called up by St. Louis in August when Martinez went on the injured list. The Cuba-born 24-year-old was hitting .344 in the minors before his call-up, and then went 6-for-20 for the Cards during the regular season before making five postseason appearances (0-for-4). 

Rodriguez, 19, was in the Gulf Coast League this past season, hitting .400 in limited action (25 at-bats).

Julio Teheran Agrees to One-Year Contract with the Los Angeles Angels

Julio Teheranhas landed a heavenly deal…

The 28-year-old Colombian professional baseball player and free-agent has agreed to a one-year, $9 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, according to ESPN.

Julio Teheran

Teheran, the first pitcher to make six consecutive Opening Daystarts for the Atlanta Braves, became a free agent after the Braves declined a $12 million club option for 2020.

Teheran joins Dylan Bundy as right-handers who have joined the Angels’ staff this winter. Teheran, Bundy, Andrew HeaneyShohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning are the likeliest five to be in an Opening Day rotation at present, though the Angels could still add pitchers.

The Angels had the second-highest ERA in the major leagues last season at 5.64 ERA and have made pitching a major priority during the offseason. They tried to sign Gerrit Cole, who joined the New York Yankees, and have turned their attention toward Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Atlanta’s move to decline Teheran’s option was not unexpected on the heels of him being left off the postseason roster after going 10-11 with a 3.81 ERA, though he was added back to the squad as an injury replacement when Chris Martin went down in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Teheran wound up taking the loss coming out of the bullpen in Game 4. That forced a deciding game, in which the Braves gave up a record 10 runs in the first inning and ended the season with a 13-1 loss.

The right-hander has had higher walk rates and no longer has the huge velocity that led to him getting a six-year, $32.4 million deal in 2013. Teheran is one of the only true sinkerballers among MLB starters, which has improved his ground-ball rate after hitters have caught up with his four-seamer.

Teheran had an eight-start stretch in May and June, covering 44 innings, when he didn’t allow a home run and posted a 0.81 ERA.

He had been a member of the Braves rotation since 2013, twice winning 14 games and making a pair of All-Star teams. He has a 77-73 career record, with five complete games, three shutouts, 1,184 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA in 229 major league games, including 226 starts.

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.

Efren Navarro Helps Send Mexico to the Olympic Baseball Tournament for First Time at the 2020 Tokyo Games

Efren Navarro has helped his country make Olympichistory…

The 33-year-oldMexican-American professional baseball first baseman and left fielder hit a broken-bat single against Caleb Thielbar on Sunday to drive in the winning run in the 10thinning and give Mexico a 3-2 win over the United States at the Tokyo Dome, allowing Mexico to qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time.

Efren Navarro

Prior to Navarro’s single,,Matt Clark hit a tying home run off former St. Louis Cardinals pitcherBrandon Dicksonleading off the bottom of the ninth inning.

Mexico joined host Japan, South Korea and Israel in the six-nation field for next summer’s 2020 Tokyo Games and earned the bronze medal in the Premier12 tournament, which served as qualifying. 

The United States will play next spring in the Americas tournament, which determines one of the two remaining Olympic berths.

Jo Adell, the 10th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2017 amateur draft, homered in the first against Tampa‘s Arturo ReyesMilwaukee‘s Cody Ponce, the U.S. starter, allowed three hits in five scoreless innings with six strikeouts and a walk.

Clark, who played 16 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014, tied it in the sixth with a bases-loaded, two-out single off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Tillo. Clark had missed part of the tournament with an Achilles tendon injury and limped at times. The Boston Red Sox‘s Bobby Dalbec ended a 0-for-10 slide with an RBI single in the seventh off Jesus Riosfor a 2-1 lead.

Under tournament rules, extra innings start with runners on first and second.

Dalbec sacrificed leading off the 10th and the Atlanta BravesDrew Walters was intentionally walked. Winner Carlos Bustamante struck out Philadelphia‘s Alec Bohm, then retired Tampa Bay’s Jake Cronenworthon a flyout.

Jon Jonessacrificed on a 1-2 pitch leading off the bottom half against Dickson, who pitched for the Cardinals in 2011 and ’12. Esteban Quiroz was intentionally walked and U.S. manager Scott Brosiusbrought in Thielbar, a left-hander who finished the season in Atlanta’s minor league system and became a free agent, to face the left-handed-hitting Navarro, whose last major league experience was four games for the Chicago Cubs in 2018. Navarro singled to center.

The Mexicans are managed by Juan Castro. He’ll be an infield coach next season for Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi, who was to manage the U.S. team but quit to take the Phillies job.

Mexico had beaten the U.S. 8-2 in the group stage on November 3 at Guadalajara, Mexico. The U.S. got in position to play for a berth only because South Korea defeated Mexico 7-3 and Taiwan defeated Australia 5-1 in the super round.

Japan beat South Korea 5-3 later Sunday for the Premier12 gold medal.

Anthony Rendon Among This Year’s MLB National League MVP Finalists

Anthony Rendonhas made the final cut…

The 29-year-old Mexican American Major League Baseball star has been named a finalist for the National League MVP award.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon, who hit key home runs in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series to help lead his Washington Nationals team to their first championship, will face off against Los Angeles Dodgersoutfielder Cody Bellingerand Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelichfor the MLB honor. Yelich won last year’s NL MVPaward with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike TroutHouston Astros third baseman Alex Bregmanand Oakland Athleticsshortstop Marcus Semienare finalists for the American League MVPaward. Trout is seeking his third MVP award after winning in 2014 and ’16. He finished second in 2012, ’13, ’15 and ’18.

Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award along with Tampa Bay Rays’ Charlie Morton, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America said. Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young with the Detroit Tigers, when he also was voted MVP.

New York Metsace Jacob deGromis a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award after getting 29 of 30 first-place votes last year. He is competing with Washington’s Max Scherzerand the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner.

New York Mets first baseman Pete AlonsoAtlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.are finalists for the NL Rookie of the Year. Houston designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe and Baltimore Orioles‘ left-hander John Means are the top candidates in the AL.

The New York Yankees‘ Aaron BooneMinnesota Twins‘ Rocco Baldelliand Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash are finalists for AL Manager of the Year. Atlanta’s Brian Snitker is a finalist to win the NL award for the second straight season, joined by the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Craig Counsell and St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt.

Rookies of the Year will be announced on November 11, followed by Managers of the Year on November 12. Cy Young winners will be announced on November 13, and MVPs on November 14.

Victor Robles Homers in Return to Washington Nationals’ Lineup

Victor Robles has smashed his way back into the game…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder made an immediate impact in his return to the Washington Nationals‘ lineup.

Victor Robles

After missing five games with a hamstring injury, Robles homered, singled and scored twice on Monday night as his team took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“A lot of times when you have an injury like I have, it’s usually a couple of months to come back from, and I was able to turn around and come back in a little over a week and a half, so I thank [God] for the opportunity and enjoy this moment with the crowd,” Robles said after the game.

Robles made manager Dave Martinez look like a genius for plugging him right back into center field despite Michael A. Taylor‘s homer in Game 2.

It wasn’t a debate for Martinez, who said Sunday that Robles would “get a chance to play” over Taylor when 100% healthy. Robles took swings in the batting cage and made it an easy decision.

His swings against Cardinals pitching looked even better. Robles, batting eighth, lined a base hit up the middle off starter Jack Flahertyin the third inning and crushed reliever John Brebbia‘s 2-1 fastball over the fence in right-center in the sixth. When crossing home plate, Robles tipped his helmet to his mother, who had never seen him play in the states before Monday.

“You know I felt excited, I felt my mom’s strength there, you know I was fortunate enough to hit a home run in her presence, so I wanted to make sure I recognized that and show her some love,” Robles said of the gesture.

Robles finished the game 2-for-4. He hit .255 with 17 home runs, 65 RBIs and 28 stolen bases during his first full season in the majors. He had last played in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Minnesota Twins’ Slugger Nelson Cruz Hits Three Homers Against Chicago White Sox

Nelson Cruz is three times the star…

The 39-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a slugger for the Minnesota Twins, homered three times in the first five innings against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night, leading the Twins to a 10-3 victory.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz hit a solo drive in the first, a two-run shot in the third and another two-run homer in the fifth. It’s the first career three-homer game for the six-time All-Star, who has 385 home runs in his career.

Cruz batted again with a runner on first in the sixth and struck out swinging against Jimmy Cordero, ending the inning. He flied out to right leading off the ninth, ending the day 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

“It’s not easy,” Cruz said. “To be able to hit three is a blessing.

“The most important thing is we won and the way [Jose] Berrios pitched. At the end of the day, it’s pitching.”

Cruz went deep against All-Star Lucas Giolito on different pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup.

“He’s a good hitter,” Giolito said. “He was seeing me well.”

Cruz’s outburst followed three-homer games by New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano on Tuesday night and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Wednesday. 

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, it’s the first time in major league history there’s been a three-homer game on three consecutive days.

Cruz, who signed a $14.3 million, one-year contract with Minnesota in January, has six homers in his past four games and 25 overall this season. According to Stats LLC, he is the oldest player in major league history to hit six-plus homers in a four-game span, surpassing Barry Bonds, who hit seven in four games at age 36 in 2001.

Cruz also became the 10th player in big league history with a three-homer game after turning 39, according to Baseball Prospectus data, joining a list that includes Babe RuthStan MusialReggie Jackson, Dave WinfieldFrank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.

“You just assume he’s done things like that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Those kind of nights are pretty unique and special, and when you get a chance to see them live, we all kind of enjoy them and appreciate them.”

Cruz is the only player with multiple four-game homer streaks this season. He also hit a homer in four consecutive games June 5-9, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He is the oldest player with a three-homer game since Rodriguez did it four years ago against the Twins.

At 39 years and 24 days old, Cruz is the second-oldest player in the modern era (since 1900) with seven homers in a six-game span. Graig Nettleswas 40 years and 4 days old for the sixth game of his streak in August 1984.