Another day of baseball, another day filled with strange moments that you won’t find happening in any other season. Here are some of the most unique highlights from Friday.
Jacob deGrom’s Phantastic Phright
The Phillie Phanatic, half of the duality that, with Gritty, represents the ethos of all of Philadelphia, is a very busy mascot. His calendar has been stacked, from when the Phanatic big leagued his fellow “Green Man” to his attempt to become a fashion icon.
Yesterday, the Phanatic found some free time in his schedule so that he could channel his inner Freddy Kruger in an attempt to scare Jacob deGrom during his pregame interview with the media. It was a Hail Mary attempt to stop a pitcher that has demolished the Phillies to the tune of a career 2.23 ERA (which ranks 13 out of 25 for deGrom’s ERA against each team he’s faced, meaning that he’s performed even better against 12 other teams).
Though you cannot see it in deGrom’s frozen, ice-cold eyes, his suppressed gulp provides a window into the underlying terror that he is experiencing in that room at the hands of the Phanatic.
If you are being held hostage, Jacob, blink twice.
The Nationals Travel Through Time—Again
The Washington Nationals have uncovered the secret to time travel: rain.
They first displayed this technology two years ago when Juan Soto hit his first major-league home run one month before his debut. It happened again yesterday during the first match-up between the Nationals and Orioles.
This game was a make-up of their Aug. 9 contest that was suspended in the top of the sixth inning due to the Nationals’ grounds crew’s tarp fiasco. On that date, Dakota Bacus was a career minor leaguer and a member of the Nationals’ alternate training site.
Yesterday afternoon, Bacus was promoted to the active roster, taking the spot of reliever Ryne Harper. Bacus made his debut a couple hours later in the top of the eighth inning. He got the first batter he faced to ground out, and he followed it up with a strikeout of Orioles centerfielder Austin Hays.
Dakota Bacus had never pitched in @MLB before August 14, 2020.
Dakota Bacus just recorded his first career K on August 9, 2020.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 14, 2020
Bacus pitched two scoreless innings, giving up no hits and no walks with just one strikeout. No word if he was seen leaving the park in a deLorean with a wild-haired scientist.
A Wholesome Socially-Distanced Hug
We’ve already seen a lot of unique moments this year due to social distancing guidelines, from Stephen Strasburg being ejected to some benches-clearing incidents despite strict protocols against them.
In the second game yesterday between the Nationals and Orioles, Strasburg was not supposed to be heckling umpires from the empty stands, but rather he was slated to start the game. Unfortunately, he exited the game in the very first inning due to an injury.
This forced manager Dave Martinez to rely on Erick Fedde to essentially make a spot start at the very last minute. Fedde performed exceptionally well, holding the Orioles lineup (a team with a wRC+ of 119, second-best this year) to two hits and three walks with no strikeouts over 5.1 IP.
Martinez wanted to show his appreciation for Fedde saving the team with this huge performance.
Martinez, who had trouble keeping his distance in last year’s World Series, appears to have found a solution to his problem.
Will We See Christian Walker on the Cardinals… the Arizona Cardinals
With the NFL season being less than one month away, what do you expect out of it? If it’s anything like this MLB season, we will see lots of player substitutions due to coronavirus infections. That means we may see some second, third or even fourth string quarterbacks called upon in case of an emergency.
On one play during the Diamondbacks vs. Padres game, Christian Walker showed that he could step in for Kyler Murray if need be.
When you're running the triple option offense but you're a baseball team. 😅 pic.twitter.com/oWtXhwxeBM
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 15, 2020
Steven Souza Jr. Literally Throws a Baseball to a Fan
Many players (and mascots) have struggled to adapt to stadiums without fans, especially since fan-player interaction is a big part of what makes baseball so great. Last Tuesday, Andrew McCutchen tried to connect with a fan in the stands by tossing them a baseball for a souvenir.
Unfortunately, seeing as that someone was a cardboard cutout, the “fan” lacked both the physical ability to catch a baseball and mental capacity to even understand what a sport is.
Thankfully for Cubs outfielder Steven Souza Jr., Wrigley Field is one of the few stadiums where fans can actually watch the game via the rooftop seats. Souza Jr. rewarded these loyal fans by giving one lucky person a memory they would always cherish.
It’s not the only time where Souza Jr.’s unique understanding of things like “distance” and “depth perception” have been displayed on the baseball diamond.