Two weeks. That’s it. That’s all that is left of the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season. The bad news: Baseball in 2020 is already nearing its conclusion despite it seemingly just getting started. The good news: We could be in for some of the most exciting two weeks of baseball we have ever witnessed.

Thanks to the abbreviated schedule and expanded postseason, all but six teams (Rangers, Red Sox, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Angels) still have semi-realistic shots at cracking the postseason — although the odds for those teams vary. Cinderella stories could very well play out, as documented by our own Matt Snyder. That could mean for a jam-packed next 14 days for baseball fans.

As for this last week of games (you know, before the NFL came and took everything over), we witnessed the season’s second no-hitter from a former college walk-on, the Mariners all of a sudden having a chance to make the postseason, and, my goodness, did you see the final score to the Braves-Marlins game on Wednesday? 

The week had plenty to takeaway from and even more to unpack. Here is what we learned in baseball this week.

Always go before the game

Making sure to use the restroom before the game starts is a given for most players — and most fans for that matter. But perhaps that concept slipped past Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.

Manager Aaron Boone along with the Yankees trainer went out to the mound to check on his closer in the middle of the 9th inning during Saturday’s game against Baltimore. After the contest, Boone was asked what the mound visit was all about and if Chapman may have been injured. 

Trying his best to hold back laughter, the Yankee skipper said, “He’s fine … Mother Nature calls sometimes.” Yes, you read that correctly. We’ll leave the details up to your own imagination.

King of Los Angeles

There’s a certain athlete in Los Angeles who many refer to as “king.” No, his name is not LeBron James. Rather, it’s Joe Kelly.

The Houston Astros returned to Chavez Ravine for the first time since their infamous sign-stealing scandal was revealed. As expected, anti-Astro fans came out in full force: signs, trash cans, bull horns, and even an airplane banner that flew across the sky during the game. Making an appearance to the street show was none other than Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly. He was seen driving up to Dodger Stadium where he was noticed by the crowd. He then immediately responded to the cheers with emphatic honks and a thumbs up.

Kelly also had a mural made up of him on a wall in Los Angeles this past week, illustrating the lip-down face he made toward the Astros in a game earlier this season.

Age is only a number

Not many had the youthful Chicago White Sox posting the best record in the American League this year, but that is exactly where they find themselves. Their biggest contributors this season: Luis Robert (23), Lucas Giolito (26), Yoan Moncada (25), Tim Anderson (27), Eloy Jimenez (23), and Jose Abreu  (33). Other than Abreu, the Sox have been led by a bunch of young stars.

Similarly, the Padres have hit their stride, winning 20 of their last 25 games, in large part due to the production from Fernando Tatis Jr. (21), Dinelson Lamet (28), Manny Machado (28), Zach Davies (27), and Trent Grisham (23).

On the flip side, the man who leads the AL in HR, OPS, and SLG is in his age-40 season, Nelson Cruz. So, maybe age really is just a number — at least in regards to having success on the baseball diamond.

End of drought season?

What if we told you the five longest active MLB playoff droughts all had legitimate shots at ending this year?

Longest MLB Playoff Droughts

  • Seattle Mariners (last playoff appearance: 2001): 1 1/2 GB of Astros for 2nd AL West spot
  • Miami Marlins (last playoff appearance: 2003): 2nd in NL East, currently hold No. 5 seed
  • San Diego Padres (last playoff appearance: 2006): 2nd in NL West, 2nd-best record in MLB
  • Chicago White Sox (last playoff appearance: 2008): 1st in AL Central, best record in AL
  • Philadelphia Phillies (last playoff appearance: 2011): 3rd in NL East, currently hold No. 7 seed

The expanded playoff system certainly has a lot to do with it, but let’s not take anything away from these fan bases because they all obviously have been through a lot in recent years.

Scholarships aren’t everything

Chicago Cubs right-hander Alec Mills made history on Sunday afternoon by throwing the 16th no-hitter in franchise history. The craziest thing about it all might be the fact that Mills is pitching in the big leagues at all.

Mills was not recruited coming out of Montgomery Central High School in Cunningham, Tennessee. He saw some guys playing catch during his first day on campus at University of Tennessee at Martin and decided he would try to walk on. He went and talked with the coach, made the squad, and earned a bullpen spot. By his junior season, he became the staff’s ace and turned himself into a MLB prospect. “I drove by the field one day when I had just arrived on campus and some guys were throwing,” said Mills in an interview with UTM’s Alumni Magazine. “I just had that desire to compete at this level.”

MLB should consider a Mercy Rule

On Wednesday, the Braves put the beatdown on the Marlins with a final score of 29-9. That’s right, the Marlins scored nine runs and still lost by 20. That same day, the Brewers shutout the Tigers for a lopsided 19-0 victory. 

The question of whether or not the baseballs are juiced is neither here nor there. The matter at hand here is simply whether games should continue on past a certain point of defeat. 

It should be noted, the Blue Jays put a 10-spot in the sixth inning just a week ago on the Yankees. And we all know no lead is safe in Colorado. So, maybe a 10-run mercy rule is too amateur, but what about, say, a 15-run mercy rule? No team in Major League Baseball history has ever comeback from a deficit of 13 runs or more in a game and walked away victorious. Only three teams have come back from 12-run deficits and won — the most recent being the Indians in 2001. Position players pitching is fun until somebody gets injured in the midst of a game that is basically already over.

Harvard grad comes up with new pitching motion

Numerous honorable characteristics and labels are attached to the prestigious Harvard University: distinguished, intelligent, esteemed, success. But, the one trait that may not be as commonly linked to Harvard students is athleticism (my apologies to the very athletic Jeremy Lin, Ryan Fitzpatrick and others). Just take Brent Suter’s word for it, a guy who graduated with a degree in environmental science and public policy from the very university.

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