Salvador Perez Breaks Johnny Bench’s Record for Home Runs by a Catcher in a Season

Salvador Perez is one hit ahead in the history books…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals hit his 46th home run on Monday, breaking Johnny Bench‘s record for home runs by a catcher in a season, as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2.

Salvador Perez Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I thank God for this. It’s amazing.”

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and leads the MLB with 115 RBIs, the first catcher with that many RBIs since Mike Piazza in 1999.

It has been a long road for Perez this season to put himself in contention for the home run title. He trailed Shohei Ohtani — the home run leader at the time — by 12 at the MLB All-Star break and made up the distance by hitting 25 homers since July 24.

Only Jimmie Foxx in 1935 has won the home run title after trailing the leader by at least 12 dingers at the All-Star break, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “The long history in this game and how many great players have come through. For him to do something that nobody’s done, it’s amazing.”

Starting again behind the plate — the durable All-Star has seen some time at designated hitter — Perez drove a 1-2 pitch from Triston McKenzie into the left-field bleachers, a drive that traveled 429 feet. Perez pointed to the sky after crossing home plate and was hugged by several teammates as he entered the dugout.

“For a guy who’s so respected in this clubhouse, it was different than your normal home run,” Matheny said. “You could see the look on Salvy’s face. He’ll never forget it.”

dating verification sites. He went 1-for-13 at the plate in the final three games of the series but didn’t feel any pressure to set the record and was more focused on winning games.

“Perez is one of those rare individuals to find energy and passion just to keep playing,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “And the offensive year he’s having it’s even more special. People don’t talk about him in the MVP race, but I’ll tell you what, he’s there in my book.”

Perez also singled in the first and made his presence known defensively when he threw out Myles Straw trying to steal second base in the bottom of the inning.

“He’s a great hitter, to start,” McKenzie said. “Second of all, he’s a great catcher. Threw out Straw early in the game, kind of shut down some of our momentum. He’s a guy that can always make you pay for mistakes. He did just that. He has definitely caught fire toward the end of the season.”

Albert Pujols Hits First-Inning Home Run in St. Louis Return

It’s a memorable homecoming for Albert Pujols.

The 41-year-old Dominican professional baseball player hit a home run in his return to Busch Stadium, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 7-2 win over his former St. Louis Cardinals team on Tuesday night.

Albert Pujols

The playoff-contending Dodgers won the sixth time in eight games. St. Louis has lost four in a row.

A star slugger who led the Cardinals to a pair of World Series championships, Pujols made his second appearance at Busch Stadium after playing for St. Louis from 2001 to 2011.

Pujols drew a 40-second standing ovation when his name was announced prior to a first-inning at-bat, with catcher and longtime teammate Yadier Molina stepping in front of the plate to prolong the cheer. They had a short embrace before Pujols stepped in. Pujols promptly drilled the fourth pitch from J.A. Happ on a line over the wall in left. It was his 679th career home run and 17th of the season.

“It’s one of those things that you hope could happen,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. “But the likelihood is very improbable. Getting a standing ovation and then homering in that first at-bat. Storybook. I’m a firm believer that the game honors you. The way Albert’s played the game for so long, the right way, that’s the way it was supposed to go.”

Pujols tried to downplay the moment.

“When it happens, you just let it happen,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Embrace the moment. But try not to get caught up too much.”

His teammates had no problem enjoying the special moment.

“It was pretty surreal,” Turner said. “Pretty cool for everyone in the stadium — not just Albert. Every time he hits a homer, you’re watching history.”

The 10-time MLB All-Star drew a similar fan reaction when he returned to St. Louis with the Los Angeles Angels for the first time in 2019. He was given a standing ovation in all 12 plate appearances that series, including a one-minute tribute in his first trip to the plate. He also homered in the first game of that series.

Pujols, who did not play in the series opener Monday night, went 1-for-4. The first baseman signed a 10-year deal with the Angels after the 2011 season, then joined the Dodgers last May.

Yadier Molina Agrees to One-Year Extension with St. Louis Cardinals

It’s the last hurrah for Yadier Molina

The 39-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher has agreed to a one-year extension with the St. Louis Cardinals, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicating it will be the MLB All-Star‘s final year with his longtime team.

Yadier Molina

Sources told ESPN the deal is worth $10 million, confirming a report by The Athletic.

“We are pleased to announce that Yadi has agreed to cement his career legacy with the Cardinals for a final season in 2022,” Mozeliak said in a statement. “His experience, leadership, work ethic and winning desire are all part of what we value as an organization.”

Molina has spent his entire career — 2,119 games over 18 seasons — with the Cardinals. The only two players to play more games in a Cardinals uniform are Hall of Famers Stan Musial (3,026) and Lou Brock (2,289).

“I’m so happy, so happy,” Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Molina, who is playing this season on a one-year, $9 million deal, said earlier this month that he did not want to enter free agency again this winter.

A 10-time All-Star, Molina broke into the majors with the Cardinals in 2004 and never left, helping lead the team to four National League pennants and two World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He was selected by St. Louis in the fourth round of the 2000 amateur draft. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico, native is a .280 career hitter with 168 homers and 983 RBIs heading into Tuesday’s game.

Molina’s 2,080 career games behind the plate are the most for any catcher with just one team, and he is a nine-time Gold Glove winner.

“On behalf of the Cardinals and our fans, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Yadier Molina will continue his franchise legacy for another season in 2022,” said Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. “Yadi has continued to play at an All-Star level this season, and has already established himself among the greatest players to have ever worn the birds on the bat.”

Carmelo Anthony Agrees to One-Year Deal with Los Angeles Lakers

Carmelo Anthony is ready to play ball in LA…

The 37-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player, a recent free-agent forward, has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony’s manager, Bay Frazier, tells ESPN.

Carmelo Anthony

The deal is for one season, according to Frazier. Anthony’s agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA Sports, completed the agreement with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday.

Anthony, who moved up to No. 10 on the NBA‘s career scoring list last season, rehabbed his career in two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers after being out of the league for a year following an ill-fated stint with the Houston Rockets.

The 18-year veteran flourished in a bench role with the Blazers last season, averaging 13.4 points in 24.5 minutes per game while shooting a career-best 40.9% from 3.

Anthony entered into the league with LeBron James in the famed 2003 draft class, and the two have maintained a close friendship.

Anthony has earned more than $260 million in salary in his career and is a 10-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Success has eluded him on the postseason stage, though. In 13 career playoff appearances, Anthony’s teams have made the conference finals just once, and he has yet to play in the NBA Finals.

After being traded by the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, Anthony had an up-and-down season with the Thunder as the team failed to meet expectations. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks the next offseason, then immediately waived.

He signed with the Rockets, agreeing to play a long-anticipated bench role for the contenders led by James Harden and Chris Paul, but was waived after just 10 games. Anthony wasn’t signed by another team that season, casting doubt on the future of his NBA career.

A surefire future Hall of Famer, Anthony currently sits at 27,370 points, just 39 points behind Moses Malone for ninth.

Tampa Bay Rays Acquire Nelson Cruz in Four-Player Trade with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is heading south for the winter… 

The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired the 41-year-old  Dominican professional baseball designated hitter and right fielder, one of baseball’s most proven sluggers, in a four-player trade with the Minnesota Twins.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz was well aware of the likelihood he’d be dealt this month, with the disappointing Twins well out of contention. Nonetheless he told reporters the news still felt “shocking” and “heartbreaking” to him after becoming fond of the organization over his 2 1/2 seasons in Minnesota.

“It’s a tough one,” Cruz said. “I guess it’s a new chapter, and I will embrace it the way I embrace everything in my life to go help the Tampa Bay Rays to win a championship.”

Moments before opening a four-game series at Cleveland, the Rays, who entered the night just one game behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East, announced they got Cruz and minor leaguer Calvin Faucher from Minnesota in exchange for minor league right-handers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.

Cruz is a seven-time MLB All-Star with 436 career homers and 1,202 RBIs. He’ll bring some needed pop to Tampa Bay’s lineup and should help the Rays against left-handers. They’re hitting .226 versus lefties.

Usually frugal Tampa Bay assumes $5.1 million remaining in Cruz’s $13 million salary. The Rays began the season with a $68.3 million payroll, 26th among the 30 teams.

Cruz also has plenty of playoff experience with 17 homers and 37 RBIs in 46 postseason games. He’s batting .294 with 19 homers and 50 RBIs this season, and over 258 games with the Twins he finished with 76 homers and a .984 OPS.

“People joke about how he’s ageless, and it really does feel that way,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.

With a week until the trade deadline and no shot at making the playoffs, the Twins figured they’d get something for Cruz to begin building toward the future. Minnesota entered Thursday at 41-55.

A 17-year veteran, Cruz signed a one-year, $13 million deal with Minnesota in February. He has also played with the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Ramgers. He hit at least 37 homers per season from 2014-19. He belted a career-high 44 homers for the Mariners in 2015.

“We thought we should be in the playoff race,” Cruz said. “Never thought we should be in this situation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. You never want to leave the places where you are, where you feel comfortable. It is what it is. That’s part of the business.”

Both Ryan and Strotman were in Triple-A Durham‘s rotation.

Ryan, a 25-year-old who will also pitch for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, had a 3.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 57 innings for the Bulls and was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 10 prospect in Tampa Bay’s system. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2018.

Strotman, 24, had a 3.39 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings with Durham. He was the 17th-ranked Rays prospect after being drafted in the fourth round in 2017.

Faucher, 25, had a 7.04 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings for Double-A Wichita. He was a 10th-round draft pick by the Twins in 2017.

Pau Gasol’s Bid to Make the Olympics Following a Lengthy Injury to be Focus of New Docuseries

Pau Gasol’s story is getting the Hollywood treatment…

The 40-year-old former NBA star’s bid to make the Olympics after a lengthy injury lay off will be the focus of an upcoming docuseries.

Pau Gasol

The untitled series chronicles Gasol, the two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and six-time NBA All-Star, as he winds down his professional career.

Gasol’s last NBA game was in March 2019. In May of that year, he underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot and has been working to get back on the court ever since.

In February, Gasol re-signed with FC Barcelona—where his professional career began more than 20 years ago—as he prepares to chase an elusive Olympic gold medal at the COVID-19 postponed 2020 Tokyo Games this summer.

The series will show how an elite athlete says goodbye to the game they know and love, battling through the physical scars, emotional challenges, personal legacy, as well as deal with new family commitments.

The four-episode documentary is directed by Oriol Bosch and produced by PG Productions, RTG Features and THINK450, the content and partnership engine of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). Talking heads include legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson.

The series, which has been in production since 2019, is slated to release in 2021.

Worldwide rights minus Spain (Amazon swooped on those earlier this year) are currently available with U.S.-based RTG Features handling sales.

 

Carmelo Anthony Moves Into Top 10 on NBA All-Time Scoring List

Carmelo Anthony is movin’ on up…

The 36-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, has moved into the top 10 all time in NBA scoring, passing Elvin Hayes.

Carmelo Anthony

With 11:09 left in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Anthony isolated on the right wing and pulled up from 3, plus the foul. After his trademark move of hitting the side of his head with three fingers, Anthony raised both arms in the air as a quick acknowledgement of the accomplishment.

It was his third 3 of the first half, giving him 12 points. Anthony entered Monday’s game against the Hawks nine points behind Hayes’ career total of 27,313.

He finished the night with 14 points overall — and 27,318 for his career — as Portland fell to Atlanta, 123-114.

“I think after it’s done, whenever it happens, I think I’ll be more in awe of it,” Anthony told ESPN by phone last week. “This is something I never, ever thought about. When you’re young you look up at that list and you’re like, ‘Damn, so-and-so has that many points? I’ll never be able to do that.’ I’m more just in awe of it.”

Moses Malone is next up on the all-time list at 27,409, a reachable number this season if Anthony maintains his current scoring pace.

Anthony’s journey to the top 10 comes with context, with him away from the NBA for a season after being cut by the Houston Rockets after just 10 games early in the 2018-19 season. Anthony continued working out and signed with the Trail Blazers in November 2019, starting all 58 games last season. He agreed to a bench role this season with Portland and entered Monday averaging 13.6 points as a sixth man.

A 10-time NBA All-Star, Anthony is in his 18th NBA season. He won the scoring title with the New York Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points. Anthony spent 10 consecutive seasons in the top 10 in scoring and finished as a runner-up for the scoring title twice in that stretch.

Anthony’s point distribution is 13,970 in eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets, 10,186 in seven seasons with the Knicks, 1,261 in one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 134 with the Rockets and now 1,754 in two seasons with the Blazers.

This season, Anthony has moved past Tim DuncanDominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson and Hakeem Olajuwon in scoring.

Carmelo Anthony Launches Content Company ‘Creative7’

Carmelo Anthony is getting creative

The 36-year-old half-Puerto Rican professional baseball player, a 10-time NBA All-Star, and his longtime business partner Asani Swann have launched Creative7, a multi-platform content company that will develop and produce original, premium content spanning documentaries, scripted television, feature film, animation, podcasts, and more.Carmelo AnthonyAnthony and Swann’s goal? To champion the narratives and voices of the underserved and they are partnering with Will Packer, Plan B Entertainment on a limited narrative series, Hock Films, Shaun Redick and Yvette Yates on Jersey 4, based on a racial profiling case, and more.

The company has quietly produced and is currently producing a number of previously-announced projects as well, including Blood Brothers, a limited series in partnership with A+E Studios, Executive Producer Charles Murray, and Narrative Film Group that examines the friendship between two of the most dynamic and iconic figures in history: Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X; “Un Sueño Real”, a recently launched docuseries with HBO España, Exile Content Studio, and Newtral that gives an inside look at the women’s Real Madrid soccer team; and Universe, an IDA Award-winning documentary about Miles Davis’ protégé, Wallace Roney, who recently passed but lives on through his inspiring journey to uphold his mentor’s legacy and record The Universe Compositions.

“In addition to collaborating with legendary filmmakers and paramount creative minds in the industry, we are excited to also be working with and championing emerging talent who are positioned to be the next great generation of filmmakers,” said Swann. “At the core, our goal is to amplify unheard voices and groundbreaking stories that push the envelope and will leave a profound impact. As a Black woman, I am proud to co-found a company like Creative 7 that celebrates diversity and inclusion and will strive to push representation in this industry forward.”

Carlos Correa Planning for Free Agency, Looking a “Big, Long Contract”

Carlos Correa is looking to go big

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the Houston Astros says he hasn’t seriously discussed a long-term deal with Houston and plans to seek a big payday in free agency next offseason.

Carlos Correa

“We were not close at all. There were not really any negotiations,” Correa said Thursday before the Astros opened their season against the Oakland Athletics. “It’s another year with the Houston Astros. I’m going to go out there, give it my best and try to bring another championship to this city.”

Correa said last week he turned down a $120 million, six-year offer and said Thursday he also declined a $125 million, five-year bid — paltry compared to the $341 million, 10-year deal shortstop Francisco Lindor agreed to with the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Lindor and Correa were both eligible for free agency after this season.

“I love it, it’s a great contract,” Correa said of Lindor’s deal. “He deserves every penny of it. … He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him.”

Correa set a deadline of Opening Day to reach an agreement. He’ll earn $11.3 million this season.

“The relationship is great. There are no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me, they said: ‘We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ So once I hit free agency I’m going to look out for a big, long contract. They made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”

Correa was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a year the Astros experienced their second of three straight seasons with more than 100 losses.

He debuted in 2015 and was voted AL Rookie of the Year. Correa was an MLB All-Star in 2017, when he helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he batted .264 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.