It may be hard to believe, but the Major League Baseball season is just about at the halfway point. The trade deadline is next week and the expanded playoff picture continues to see constant shifts and changes. Like Crash Davis said during a mound visit in the movie Bull Durham, “We’re dealing with a lot of [stuff].”

We are continuing our series of highlighting the best of the best moments from each week in baseball. This last week included an unwritten rule debates, Joe Kelly-inspired controversy, and continual disappointment in Anaheim. 

Here are the best moments from this past week.

Baseball gods appear to like 3-0 pitches

By now, most everyone knows the Fernando Tatis Jr. grand slam situation. If you don’t, allow me to paraphrase: Padres were winning by seven runs, Tatis Jr. worked his way into a 3-0 count, he missed a take sign from his manager, and he delivered a baseball deep into the right field seats for a grand slam. Oh, and the next Padres hitter, Manny Machado, had a fastball thrown behind him in what only can be viewed as a sign of displeasure from the Rangers dugout. Rangers manager Chris Woodward strongly disagreed with the decision to swing on 3-0 with such a large lead, which sent baseball nation into an unwritten rule debate frenzy.

How did the Padres players respond? Well, manager Jayce Tingler went back on his words the following day and acknowledged that he probably shouldn’t have given him the take sign. Tatis Jr. did not seem too bothered considering he swiped third base against the same pitcher who threw behind Machado the next day and then swung again on a 3-0 count later in the week with a 9-run lead.

Whatever side you take on the subject, the baseball gods do not seem to mind Tatis Jr.’s decision. If the baseball gods reside from the same place as the karma gods, the Padres have not lost a game (7-0) and the Rangers have not won a game (0-7) since the slam.

Eephus 2.0

There are eephus pitches and then there are EEPHUS pitches. On Sunday, Zack Greinke delivered the slowest pitch thrown for a strike by a non-position player since Henderson Alvarez in 2017.

Greinke’s slow-pitch softball filth registered at 53.5 MPH.

Welcome to Slam Diego

Frankly, the Padres put themselves on the map, if they weren’t already, for baseball fans across the country last week. Beginning with Tatis Jr.’s 3-0 pitch controversy, the team went on to set an MLB record by hitting grand slams in four straight games. 

Major League Baseball has been in business for over 117 years. Teams have played over 407,000 games. There have been more than 19,800 players. No team has hit a grand slam in four straight games. While they weren’t able to make it five straight, they did hit another one the day after — making it five grand slams in six days. The grand slams even forced some repercussions upon yours truly.

The Padres’ five grand slams this last week are more than 22 MLB teams have combined this season. Unbelievable.

California dominance (with one exception)

If the season ended today, every team in the state of California would make the MLB playoffs except for the Los Angeles Angels. Yes, the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, would yet again miss the playoffs for the ninth time in his 10 big-league seasons.

Trout is once again in the MVP conversation (.270 BA, 10 HR, 25 RBI) despite his team on track to finish deep in last place. 2020 has been a strange year, but maybe normalcy is on the horizon considering the Angels are once again expected to miss the playoffs despite the greatness of Trout.

Bauer’s controversial cleats

The always-polarizing Trevor Bauer rarely lets an opportunity to build his brand and send a message pass. 

The Reds righty was prepared to wear cleats with a “FREE JOE KELLY” inscription on the side last week. Joe Kelly was originally suspended eight games (later reduced to five) for his role in a benches-clearing incident between the Dodgers and Astros in July. Bauer was then apparently threatened by Major League Baseball that if he wore the cleats in the game, he would be subject to ejection, suspension and a fine. 

Bauer decided not to wear the cleats, saying, “I couldn’t put my teammates at risk like that.” 

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