We’re barely two weeks past the 2016 MLB All Star Game and it is already appropriate to say that this has been a truly strange baseball season. Every year there are stories that unfold that cause outsiders to do a double take to make sure they understood correctly but this year seems to have had a disproportionate amount with more than two months of the season left to go.
Here are some of the most unforgettable:
-Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale is usually striking fear in the hearts of opposing batters. Recently, his reign of terror extended to the clubhouse manager, as he received a five day suspension for cutting up the team’s commemorative throwback jerseys they were set to wear because he thought they were too uncomfortable and his objections had been overruled.
With a 14-4 record and 3.17 ERA, the southpaw is a leading contender for the Cy Young Award but his actions may have earned him a quick ticket out of town in a story that is sure to continue playing out in the coming weeks.
-Chris Correa, the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $250,000 in restitution for masterminding the hacking of the Houston Astros’ player database and email system.
-Right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech, a 2014 first-round draft choice of the Boston Red Sox, had a dubious start to his season by breaking his pitching hand in an altercation with one of his teammates. This came on the heels of having his 2015 season cut short with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a PED.
Although the 20-year-old missed significant time with his broken hand, he has rebounded surprisingly well, posting a 1.61 ERA in 22.1 innings with 32 strikeouts and making headlines by having one fastball in a recent start register at a jaw dropping 105 MPH. He has also made impressive gains in his personal life, as reports have him dating Brielle Biermann, the daughter of reality TV star Kim Kolciak (The Real Housewives of Atlanta).
-Speaking of minor leaguers who in incidents gone awry with teammates, there is also first baseman Josh Naylor from the Miami Marlins organization. One of the team’s top prospects, he injured the hand of teammate Stone Garrett with a knife while attempting to pull a prank. Fortunately, it looks like it will all turn out alright, as Garrett, a good prospect in his own right, was eventually able to return to the field after missing some time, and Naylor at the age of 19 has looked very impressive, hitting .265 with 9 home runs and 54 RBIs in 90 games for Single-A games. Unfortunately, it does not look like he will reach the majors as a Marlin, as he was recently included as the headliner prospect in the Andrew Cashner trade with the San Diego Padres.
-Basebrawls are typically wild disjointed displays of testosterone-fueled preening. This was the case during a recent kerfuffle between the independent league New Jersey Jackals and Rockland Boulders, but what set this dustup apart was that it was started by relief pitcher Fernando Cruz in the middle of a live play when he sprinted from his dugout to that of the Boulders in an attempt to rearrange someone’s face. He was pile-drived into the ground by a timely Boulder before he was able to make contact with anyone. It took the better part of the next five minutes to corral and escort the enraged right-hander, who has spent the past decade pitching in various minor and other professional leagues, from the stadium.
-There has been a goodly amount of odd injuries to strike baseball players this year. New York Mets ace Matt Harvey (who is out for the remainder of the season with an unrelated issue) nearly missed his first start of the year with a bladder infection that was caused by him “holding it” too long between bathroom breaks.
Milwaukee Brewers reliever Will Smith missed the first two months of the season after tearing a knee ligament while removing his cleats after a spring training game.
Apparently mistaken for a large flowering plant, Chicago Cubs outfielder Jayson Heyward was swarmed and stung over 10 times by bees during a spring training game. It was an inglorious start for the player who joined the team this offseason on a $184 million contract and thus far has hit just .230 with 5 home runs.
If those injuries are hard to swallow, they have nothing on Atlanta Braves infielder Erick Aybar, who had to have a chicken bone removed from his throat while under sedation, after swallowing it during a lunch back in May.
Only time will tell if more weirdness ensues in the concluding months of the baseball season.
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