Dexter Fowler gets Cubs World Series ring, promptly homers off John Lackey

Dexter Fowler hit .250 with three home runs, six RBIs and 11 runs for the Cubs in the postseason last year. He helped them win their first World Series title in 108 years. Then the Cubs let him walk, opting to give Albert Almora Jr. a chance in center field.

But the Cubs and their fans embraced the 31-year old outfielder and showed him a lot of respect as he got his World Series ring Friday before the match-up with his new team, the archrival Cardinals.

Fowler was so honored that he decided to give the fans a little taste of how much they pumped him up. On the first pitch of the game Friday he did this:

Dex turns from celebrated hero to villain in just one swing! Flip over to CSN for more of this rivalry.

Why that’s surprising: Look, Santana has been a pretty reliable starting pitcher in the majors for a long time, but what he’s done so far this season is kind of crazy. You see the numbers above, his MLB-leading totals.

RP Chris Young
Age: 38. Status: $8 million mutual option for 2018 ($1.5 million buyout)
Need to know: Young actually turned 38 today, which makes me feel a bit guilty for pointing out what he’s done so far this season. The veteran right-hander was vital to the 2015 World Series title, posting a 2.87 ERA in 15 2/3 postseason innings, but he’s struggled massively this year. In 22 1/3 innings, Young has allowed 46 base runners (34 hits, 11 walks, 1 hit-by-pitch) and has a 6.85 ERA. This, on the heels of a 6.19 ERA in 34 games (13 starts) in 2016. If he doesn’t turn it around, quickly, the only decision looming about Young will be when the club releases him.

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MLB’s $700K helps fund Marlins’ trust for Jose Fernandez’s daughter, report says

Marlins president David Samson wouldn’t comment on the insurance settlement but confirmed that the Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria made a significant contribution last weekend to Fernandez’s family.

The focus for us and Jeffrey is making sure Maritza and Penelope were taken care of in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy,’ Samson said.

Although Fernandez, 24 at the time of his death, had $6.5 million in career earnings, his estate is facing negligence and wrongful-death lawsuits from relatives of the two passengers on Fernandez’s boat who also were killed in the accident.

It’s unclear whether the money earmarked by the Marlins for the trust would be protected from those lawsuits.

Earlier this year, Jose Fernandez’s attorney told The Herald that the pitcher’s estate does not exceed $2 million.’

The next stop on MLB’s hat-sales cash grab: Father’s Day (only 19 days away!), then the Fourth of July.

You know the drill: pink for Mother’s Day ’ camouflage for Memorial Day ’ hold that thought.

It’s that last, most recent (and solemn) holiday that finally appeared to move a few players to push back (via UniWatch.com), led by Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy’s sarcastic tweet to start Memorial Day, connecting soldiers [who] died protecting our country and buying MLB-licensed hats to say thank you.

When followers noted that proceeds from the sale of the camouflage-themed gear go to veterans charities, McCarthy questioned: Seems like the sort of thing you’d mention on the product page?

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Top Cuban prospect Luis Robert signs with White Sox, reports say

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in MLB no player under the age of 25 will be allowed to be signed to a deal of more than $5.75 million effective after this season. And with Robert being the consensus top prospect out of Cuba this year, no other player is expected to get more than he does.

Gone are the days of the Rusney Castillo’s and even the Jorge Soler’s contract. Now teams will have a level playing field rather than the richest teams going after those big name Cuban players.

Fighting attendance issues, the Diamondbacks are offering a ticket package that will get a fan into every home game in June and July for a total of $50. The team has 25 games scheduled at Chase Field for those two months, meaning each ticket costs $2 under the plan, dubbed Ballpark Summer Pass.

This is a chance to attract new fans, younger fans who are home from college, and fans who aren’t of the traditional mindset of attending 81 home games as a season-ticket holder, Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall told the Arizona Republic. We’re going to give it a shot and see what happens.

One person can purchase up to four of the $50 packages. Tickets cannot be shared or resold, and fans will find out the location of their seats two hours before each game via MLB’s Ballpark app, which they must download if they buy the package.

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Mariners’ Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura exit with injuries in consecutive innings

This is the Curse of the Bambino, Lelands’ Josh Evans said, via ESPN.com. It transcends everything. It changed America.

Boston ended the Curse of Bambino in 2004 with a sweep of the Cardinals. The Red Sox had previously won a World Series in 1918.

After the 1919 season, Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000. Frazee also received a $300,000 loan from the Yankees to seal the deal. The loan was secured using a mortgage on Fenway Park, meaning if Frazee defaulted, the Yankees would have owned the Red Sox’s ballpark as well.

With the Ruth contract back on the market, it will be interesting to see if it’s a Yankees supporter or a Red Sox supporter who buys it.

It could be a big blow for the slumping Mariners, who traded for Segura this past offseason. The 27-year old entered Thursday’s game batting a league-leading .344 with an .858 OPS but was placed on the DL in April with a hamstring injury.

Cruz, 36, was slashing was slashing .279/.362/.519 with 12 home runs and an AL-leading 42 RBIs. The Rockies went on for a 6-3 victory.

Both Judge and Conforto have climbed the ladder and rank among the top outfielders in their respective leagues. Both will garner All-Star consideration and are capable of sustaining their high level of success throughout the year. But who has more value?

While their bats are about equal, Judge has emerged as the more complete player. He has the lead in overall WAR (2.89 to 1.99), dWAR (0.42 to -0.32) oWAR (2.3 to 2.18) and has a slightly better batting line.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of their seasons ’ and careers ’ shape up. Both players will be successful, but Judge has the slight edge right now.

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Adrian Beltre injury update: Rangers 3B only weeks away from return

It was good news for the Rangers on Tuesday ’ even better than their seventh consecutive victory, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ’ that third baseman Adrian Beltre took a significant step by jogging on the field as he continues his recovery from a strained right calf.

It marked the first time he had run on solid ground, albeit at 50 percent effort, since he injured the calf April 8.

He was also with girlfriend Jennifer Lopez in Manhattan later that night, the Daily News reported, maybe around the time Jeter was being feted by the Yankees.

I watched the whole (ceremony). I put out a (social media) post, Rodriguez said, per the Daily News.

Rodriguez is in Kansas City this week for the Yankees-Royals series (he’ll be the color analyst for Fox Sports 1 telecast of Thursday’s game), so of course the small army of media covering the Bombers wanted the inside scoop. His choices, if he wanted to answer directly: Say he was a no-show, or say Jeter/the Yankees didn’t want him around. That’s tabloid gold either way.

He chose diplomacy instead. Smart move by him, but it doesn’t answer the eternal question: Do A-Rod and Jeter still dislike each other? Jeter reportedly was angry about having to do a joint interview with Rodriguez on CNBC recently, but of course Jeter isn’t going to volunteer that information. A-Rod, it appears, won’t go there either.

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Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson won’t return this weekend after all

One regional began Thursday. BYU is the No. 3 seed in the Stanford regional and, because the Cougars athletic teams do not play on Sundays, that regional started a day early. Should BYU (37-19) reach the championship game of the regional, it would be played Monday, June 5.

The SEC, led by No. 3-overall seed Florida (42-16) and No. 4 LSU (43-17), has a tournament-high eight teams in the bracket. The ACC, led by No. 2-overall seed North Carolina (47-12), and Big 12, with No. 5 Texas Tech (43-15) and No. 6 TCU (42-16), have seven teams apiece.

When John Gibbons predicted that Troy Tulowitzki (Wednesday) and Josh Donaldson (this weekend) were returning from the disabled list, Blue Jays fans got excited.

Unfortunately for them, Gibbons was a little off in his predictions.

As it turns out, Tulowitzki (hamstring) will not be activated ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Braves.

MLB.com reported that Tulowitzki may need a couple more days to recover.

Gibbons was also hopeful that Donaldson, who has been out since April 13 with a calf injury, would return to the lineup this weekend. But he said Wednesday that he jumped the gun on Donaldson, and that he will not be back this weekend.

On a positive note, Gibbons said Donaldson did not receive a setback in his recovery. He just won’t be ready by the weekend.

Tulowitzki should still return before Donaldson, but both players’ statuses remain up in the air at this point.

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John Elway is not losing his job

There may be consequences and repercussions from the public. But it’s been a day since Elway’s letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of his friend and big Denver Broncos fan Neil Gorsuch went public. The strongest reaction to it from anybody in any position of power has been to carefully point out that it’s really, honestly, seriously, not official team stationary on which he wrote.

Split that hair all you want, but that’s all the splitting there is on this.

John Elway is not losing his job. The NFL is not turning its back on him. It is not feeding the notion that today, despite everything Elway has ever done as team president (never mind as a player), he actually stinks at what he does ’ always has, always will, and he might as well get used to it, because he’s finished in this game. That will teach him to keep his political opinions to himself.

Stick to sports. Keep politics and sports separate. Period. End of story. And if you have a problem with that, end of career.

But there’s a caveat.

I surely did not deserve to be just wiped off the map after the first-year ballot,’ Stieb said. It’s like, please, amuse me and string me out for two, three years.

Hall of Fame voting can be brutal in this regard, with numerous fine one-and-done candidates from Stieb to Bobby Grich to Ted Simmons and many others.

It’s like an insult,’ Stieb said. What it told me was in (the writers’) minds, I didn’t even do anything worth recognizing.’

There’s good news for Stieb, though. This fall, he’ll be eligible for the first time as a veterans candidate on the Modern Baseball Committee ballot. Is Stieb about to be wiped off the map once more, or could delayed recognition come?

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Derek Jeter celebration is certainly deserved, but plenty premature

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball crew must have been overjoyed that the Astros took an 8-0 lead on the Yankees after two innings Sunday night, because then it had even more reason to empty the Derek Jeter vault.

Ah, who are we kidding? Even if the game were 1-1 after seven, we still would have been clubbed over the head with all things No. 2 on the night the Yankees retired his number. We still would have gotten an in-the-booth interview with the Captain. We still would have gotten a collection of greatest hits/plays/vanilla quotes. We still would have gotten the climax to the breathless dawn-to-dark coverage.

We still would have gotten the hagiography that was put together about three years too early.

Gwynn led the league in at-bats per strikeout 10 times, including 1995, when he struck out once every 35.7 at-bats.

He would’ve had a string of 16 consecutive All-Star seasons, if not for the 1988 campaign when he was limited to 133 games. But he still won the batting title that year, hitting .313.

Perhaps the most impressive of Gwynn’s statistics were his numbers against one of the all-time greats. He faced Hall of Famer Greg Maddux arguably the greatest pitcher of the era 107 times. Maddux made even the best hitters look foolish. Gwynn hit .415 against him and never struck out.

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Braves’ Sean Rodriguez, family involved in Miami car wreck

Braves infielder Sean Rodriguez and his family were in an SUV that was struck by a stolen police cruiser Saturday afternoon in Miami, police said.

The Braves confirmed Sunday that Rodriguez, his wife Giselle and their two young children were inside a Chevrolet Suburban that was T-boned by the cruiser in West Miami around 1:45 p.m. Saturday. Miami-Dade police said the man who stole the vehicle died in the crash.

The cruiser was engulfed in flames during the wreck, police said.

Rodriguez, a Miami native, signed with the Braves this offseason.

The 31-year-old has played for three teams over nine MLB seasons.

Instead of staying at a hotel in Center City as it would normally do, the team has taken up residence across the border in Wilmington, Del., because the NFL has booked all the fanciest rooms in Philadelphia proper, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The Marlins, who were in Seattle and San Diego before here, have to stay in Wilmington, Del., because the NFL booked all rooms in Philly.

There is a precedent for the unusual move. When rain interrupted Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays were forced to vacate their hotel in Philadelphia and ended up at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington.

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Raiders’ Amari Cooper thanks mom with new car, house

Amari Cooper is putting his comfortable NFL salary to good use.

The Raiders’ third-year wide receiver thanked his mother, Michelle Greene, for her years of sacrifice and dedication throughout his playing years by gifting her with a new car and house.

I grew up in the projects, we didn’t even own a car, the photo caption reads. The whole story is way too long and melancholic, but just know a dream can go a long way if it’s followed by faith and hard work. It took us 20+ years but now my mother has the house and car of her dreams. You deserve it mama, I love you.

Cooper was selected by Oakland with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and went on to earn consecutive Pro Bowl selections in his first two seasons.

Kaepernick’s wait for employment has been well-chronicled and Griffin’s less so, but either would provide a veteran hand behind the durable Wilson, who has never missed a game in his five-year NFL career.

Rookie Trevone Boykin was Wilson’s backup last year after signing as an undrafted free agent and ended up seeing action in five games. He was arrested twice in the span of just over a week earlier this spring, first on March 27 for public intoxication and marijuana possession and later because that arrest was a violation of his probation from a December 2015 incident while he was at TCU.

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