You should be keeping an eye on the Diamondbacks this year

Earlier this week, we implored you to start paying attention to the Colorado Rockies. All the reasons you need to do so are in that article. But there’s another team in the NL West that you need to start paying attention to. In fact, the entire National League only has five teams with a winning record right now – three of them are in the NL West, and one of those teams just happens to be the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If this feels a little like shuffling deck chairs, that’s because it is. Changes to the coaching staff is the last thing a team can try before just firing its manager. And Mozeliak essentially said that the future is in manager Mike Matheny’s hands. He gave a four-to-six-week timeline for improvement and didn’t give any assurances to Matheny that his job was safe in the future. The only vote of confidence? Mozeliak said I want him to feel confident we trust him to do his job, but we need to do better. Yikes.

It’s not like there’s no hope for the Cardinals. They may be fourth in the division, but they’re just 4 1/2 games out of first place. They’re behind the Reds, who are supposed to be deep into their rebuild. And the Brewers are at the top of the NL Central, somehow. There are still a lot of games left to play, and that division is going to change a lot over the next three-plus months. This team may not be the best one the Cardinals have fielded in the past decade, but there’s still time for them to figure it out. And time for Matheny to save his job.

Charlotte Wilder found out that Noah Syndergaard loves hot sauce a lot. Like, a whole lot. Really, really, really a lot. And also: A hot dog is not a sandwich. Noah says so.

The super regionals for the 2017 NCAA baseball tournament started yesterday, and that means we’re even closer to the exciting College World Series.

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Darren Baker, the child batboy who nearly got crushed in the World Series, was drafted by the Nationals

The Washington Nationals used their 27th round pick in the MLB draft to pick Darren Baker, son of Nationals manager Dusty Baker and one-time very small, very cute batboy.

Darren became famous after he was saved by Giants first baseman J.T. Snow during the 2002 World Series. Darren, who was tasked with picking up bats larger than himself at the age of 3, almost got hit by a baserunner at home plate. Everyone was safe but the situation was a scary one:

And that was almost 15 years ago! Wanna feel even older? Darren just finished high school and had committed to play college baseball at the University of California before the draft.

This isn’t the first time a team has sold organic material to fans at a premium price. In 2014 Notre Dame decided to move from grass to turf and sold 2-foot-by-5-foot chunks of the field for $150 each. That grass didn’t commemorate a championship, but it’s still a big hunk of grass vs. a leaf like the Cubs are selling.

Fans are being allowed to purchase a maximum of 10 leaves from the Wrigley Field ivy, and have to pay a $15 shipping fee. If you’re the kind of person who would ever contemplate buying leaves of ivy for $200 here’s a few suggestions on better memorabilia you could get for the money.

Addison Russell came closest for the Cubs, with a defense-heavy 4.3 WAR last year, but the rest of the list is more amusing than amazing. Starlin Castro gave them four solid years, but before that was Ryan Theriot for two, a fluky .274 season from Neifi Perez, two from the OK-est shortstop from the last two decades, Ricky Gutierrez, and one from Jose Hernandez, a dinger-and-whiff oddball who was just a little ahead of his time.

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The Astros have won 10 in a row

The Astros just completed their third consecutive sweep, and have won 10 games in a row. They’re 15-4 over their last five series, and they only dropped one during the entire month of May: a three-game sweep at the hands of the Indians that somehow accounted for three of the four losses in the stretch mentioned above. They’ve basically been unstoppable outside of that Cleveland set.

Houston is 13.5 games up on the second-place Angels, who are only two games under .500 and just 2.5 out of a wild card spot. There’s only one other team outside the AL West this season that’s at least 13.5 games out from the division leader, and that’s the NL East’s last-place Phillies, who sit 15.5 back of the Nationals. And as good as the Nats have been, they’ve notched six fewer victories than the ‘Stros, and lost four more games.

Rosario now has eight home runs on the season, only five off his previous high of 13 from his rookie season in 2015. He has only had three hits, let alone bombs, in a game twice this season. However, in his short career, Rosario’s BABIP usually hangs around the .330 mark. Currently, it’s at .295. Never mind that the Twins’ offensive output was deviant, Rosario’s output could be a sign, especially if his BABIP resets to his average, that his numbers will only go up from here.

Never mind that Rosario’s third home run was knock off of position-player-pitcher Carlos Ruiz. Across the diamond, the Mariners ERA per game is 4.55, 21st in MLB. The Twins cared not that Mariners starting pitcher Christian Bergman had previously held them to one earned run on four hits June 9, just a week earlier. Thursday’s game was a stark contrast to Tuesday’s 11-run 2.2 innings pitched. The Mariners have three injured starters, but will send Sam Gaviglio to the mound Wednesday as the Twins look to sustain the unsustainable.

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Florida vs. LSU 2017, College World Series score: Gators topple Tigers, 6-1

Florida and LSU met yet again for Game 2 of the College World Series final Tuesday, and Florida beat LSU, 6-1, to win their first NCAA baseball championship in program history.

LSU started flamethrower lefty Jared Poch on the hill, opposite the Gators’ Tyler Dyson. On the first batter he faced, Poch surrendered a hit on a quirky fielding error by first baseman Nick Coomes, then another to Dalton Guthrie, who looped a fine ball into right center. That then was followed by a JJ Schwarz drive into left, which plated Deacon Liput down from third.

So, with runners at first and second, big bat Nelson Maldonado bashed a fly ball into deep right, which Greg Deichmann fielded on a spectacular leaping catch, and that moved everyone forward one base. That was merely the first out of the inning, and Poch had already received a mound visit from his pitching coach. He managed to get himself out of the jam on a pop fly to shallow left, and to the second they went with Florida holding a 1-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the second, Coomes again experienced some throwing and catching ailments as he fumbled a toss from Poch, which advanced Ryan Larson over to second. He then reached home on a single by Nick Horvath, and suddenly the Gators were working their way back through the top of the order. It was by then 2-0 Florida’s advantage, but Poch forced a grounder to the shortstop with men on first and second to get himself out of the jam.

He was the kind of talent who could miss a season, come back unexpectedly for the postseason, and help his team win a World Series, after all.

So the fall is dramatic and terrifying. But I’m going to guess that the slump is extending this far because he’s not really sure how to reverse it mentally, more than the rest of the league discovering what his kryptonite is.

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There is so much facial hair in Long Beach State-Cal State Fullerton Super Regional game

College baseball facial hair is an important, if rather niche, internet genre. Bethune-Cookman’s Austin Garcia knows well the importance of keeping a sanitary beardscape, and Texas A&M’s pitching staff is famous for sporting playoff mustaches during tournament time.

So, Long Beach State is hosting Cal State Fullerton in a west coast super regional this weekend, and both teams’ facial hair is here to see and be seen. Long Beach right fielder Brock Lundquist’s robber baron mustache is straight out of the Gilded Age, for instance.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time phantoms and specters from beyond the grave have interfered with the living human sport called baseball:

So I can’t think of any reason for this unexplained phenomenon other than supernatural involvement. Not a single one.

When there’s something strange … in the stadium… who you gonna call? The grounds crew!

The Braves would go on to win the game, 3-1, giving knuckleballer R.A. Dickey his first victory in over a month so maybe there was something otherworldly about this game after all.

In many respects, college baseball media coverage has yet to provide consistent, adroit analysis over the span of an entire season, but D1Baseball has made great strides in treating the sport in a systematic, general way. All eight of this year’s CWS teams, in fact, ranked in D1B’s preseason top 25, the lowest being Cal State Fullerton at No. 20. Kendall Rogers and Aaron Fitt are must-follows on Twitter, especially come tournament time.

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