The Major League Baseball season is half-over. More than half over. Independence Day has come and gone, the All-Star game happens in a few days and the non-waiver trading deadline is just a few weeks. Before you know it, it'll be fantasy football season. Before that happens, please check in with a red, white and blue edition of MLB's Unscientific Power Rankings.
1. The Dodgers unpatriotic bald eagle (Last Week: Not Ranked)
The Dodgers love America, and usually so do bald eagles, but this one bird who was trained to fly to its master instead refused to stay during pregame festivities at Dodger Stadium on the Fourth of July. Listen as Ray Charles sings "America the Beautiful," and watch as the eagle escapes out of the park through the open center-field fence:
A bald eagle loose above the streets of L.A. is a worrisome thought, but the avian never made it past the dreaded Dodger Stadium parking lots. In a good way:
This is some of the best news the Dodgers have gotten in 2016.
2. Zack Hample vs Marlins Man (LW: NR)
So there are these guys, two self-styled baseball superfans named Zack Hample and Laurence Leavy, AKA "Marlins Man." Hample made his name catching, oh, billions of home runs and foul balls at "52 MLB parks." Marlins Man can be seen wearing orange at just about any sporting event, seemingly, though not very often at actual Marlins games.
Both men wanted to attend MLB's recent game at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but only Hample got in. A 12,500-seat ballpark was constructed just for the event. Tickets were, for the most part, intended for military service members and Dept. of Defense personnel and their families. Marlins Man said he had ticket offers, but decided that it wouldn't be ethically right — if not impossible from a security standpoint — to go.
After trying some ingenious if creepy stunts to get tickets, Hample got one and attended the game, live-blogging his experience on Twitter. Marlins man interjected at one point, telling Hample to give away any balls he might collect, and to exit the ballpark ASAP. Quite a pissing contest developed. But this was the best reply Hample got:
That might be the best reply to anybody in Twitter history. Hample later apologized, saying he regretted going to the game, though it's not certain if any actual lessons were learned on his part. For a more complete rundown of Hample vs. Marlins Man, check out this painstaking account from this very website.
3. Mike Trout (LW: 3-t)
The big Trout news this week was that he proposed marriage to his girlfriend Jessica Cox via a skywriter. She had to hurry and answer because, as you can see in the photo below, the chemtrails or whatever don't last forever:
A photo posted by Mike Trout (@miketrout) on "Lall you mrrry we Jess"? Who could say no to that?! The only detail to be decided: How many plane emojis will Trout use in announcing the honeymoon on Twitter? Answer: All of them.
4. Fernando Rodney dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe (LW: NR)
The Marlins are functioning pretty well these days, and they recently added Fernando Rodney in order to their bolster their bullpen. He was pitching lights-out for the Padres, but the real reason the Fish traded for Rodney might have been his dance moves:
Usually, major leaguers are applauded for tuning out the environment — crowd noise, etc — but here's a pitcher embracing the silly stuff going on around him and responding with a fancy jig. Watch out for Rodney at the All-Star game; he was picked after posting a 1.10 ERA for the Padres and Fish.
5. Bryan Peña joins the army (LW: NR)
Major leaguers have a fascinating history with the military, from Ted Williams single-handedly beating the Germans in World War II (and tying the Koreans a few years later), to Carlos May getting a thumb blown off as a Marine reservist during the Vietnam War. Hopefully, Cardinals catcher Bryan Peña never has to actually fight. But it's nice to know he's willing to do so for his adopted country:
Peña is 34 years old, just making the age cutoff, and was born in Cuba.
"It's something that I think is the right thing to do, because it's time to give something back to this great country. It's not something I just woke up and I did it. I've been giving it some thought and some research. I'm very excited, man. It's a honor for me."
It's quite unselfish of him. Peña won't be able to officially enlist and get deployed because he's employed by the Cardinals, with his contract extending into 2017, but there are other ways for him to help after going through basic training.
6. John Goodman Bobblehead Doll (LW: NR)
The Cardinals season might be falling apart. They're nine games back of the Cubs, and while they're still in the thick for an NL wild card spot, how well are they going to maintain if slugger Matt Carpenter is injured for an extended period, as manager Mike Matheny fears? Well, when in doubt, have an awesome souvenir giveaway to get fans minds off the sinking season:
It's Walter Sobchak from "The Big Lebowski" and he's calmer than you are. And so are the fans who dressed the part at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night:
Is this enough to distract Cards fans from the season unraveling? Not entirely. Just because they're bereaved, it doesn't make them saps!
7. Hector Santiago's monkeyshoes (LW: NR)
The Cardinals might be in trouble, but the Angels really are going nowhere. They had a 35-50 record even after beating the Rays on Wednesday night, and will struggle to keep up with the Athletics in the AL West. The thing is, the A's are supposed to finish last. Other than the continuing exploits of Mike Trout, the best the Angels can hope for is to get attention for stunts like this:
Beating the Red Sox 21-2 behind Santiago — wearer of these Rally Monkey shoes — probably is going to have to do for a collective season highlight. Especially if the Angels don't make the monkey shoes standard issue.
8. Derek Jeter, captain of the boat (LW: NR)
He's no longer playing for the Yankees, but Jeter remains a captain because he owns a boat, as rich guys are wont to do. As VICE Sports' own Sean Newell reported, Jeter got into hot water (figuratively) by boating too close to MacDill Air Force Base near his hometown of Tampa. He was fined $250 plus a $30 processing fee. Here's where it gets weird(er): An active Air Force member posted the ticket on Facebook with the note: "On behalf of the Boston Red Sox, here is your ticket Derek Jeter."
A million yuks! However, the Air Force didn't agree and apologized to Jeter for the behavior of the social media poster, adding that (s)he will be disciplined accordingly. Even when he breaks the law, Jeter wins. He always wins.
9. Freudis Nova arrives (LW: NR)
No, it's not a psychological diagnosis. Freudis Nova is a person, one of 12 international signings by the Houston Astros announced this past Saturday. A right-handed hitting shortstop, Nova is rated the fifth-best prospect league wide. And he was born Jan. 12, 2000. Two-thousand! A genuine millennial. This journalist spoke for many when she said:
Seems like a promising youngster, though he has a long way to go before achieving the heights of his predecessors, Villa Nova, Aldo Nova and Diana Canova.
10. Clayton Kershaw's K/BB ratio (LW: NC)
Kershaw hasn't walked anybody in a week, of course, because he was shelved with a back injury and won't pitch again until after the All-Star game. The good news: He's responding well to treatment, manager Dave Roberts says, and already is ahead of schedule in terms of returning.
Superhuman pitcher responds superhumanly to treatment. Makes sense here.
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