Three Up, Three Down: A's rookies turn back the clock

Oakland A’s rookie Jaycob Brugman hit his first career home run in the same game fellow rookies Matt Olson and Franklin Barreto did the same. Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Welcome to this week’s edition of Three Up, Three Down — your weekly catch-up of the three best highlights (and lowlights) from around the league. We’re here for all of the cheers and the jeers, because it’s baseball. You can’t have a winner without someone losing along the way.

This week, we have a Rockies star continuing to shine bright, a player putting down his teammate and subsequently getting put down himself, along with some youthful exuberance in Oakland and utter dismay across the bay.

Up: Nolan Arenado is a wizard

The Rockies are suffering from a major slump right now, and they’ve fallen behind the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in the NL West. Still, that hasn’t stopped Nolan Arenado from being an amazing baseball player in general. The proof is in the pudding, and Arenado provided it on Wednesday afternoon when he made an optical illusion of a defensive stop against the Giants. 

If you watch the video, I really hope you appreciate the degree of difficulty of what Arenado pulled off on that play. With the way that grounder crossed Arenado up and forced him to spin on the ground and make a throw from the floor, the San Francisco runner should’ve easily made it to first base with no problem. Instead, Arenado proved that he is a wizard, and we should appreciate the fact that wizardry is apparently still legal in baseball.

Down: Miguel Montero gets shipped out of town

Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero was designated for assignment after criticizing teammate Jake Arrieta. Caylor Arnold/USA TODAY Sports

We’ve arrived to the point in the season where all of the teams are approaching the halfway point of their schedules, and unless major changes are made or a team goes on a hot streak, you are what you are. Right now, the Cubs have gone from being a juggernaut during last year’s regular season to a team that will probably have to fight tooth and nail to make the postseason. While they haven’t made major changes yet, they did make a recent decision after one of their players was critical of the other.

Miguel Montero isn’t afraid to air his grievances publicly, and he did so after pointing out that Jake Arrieta’s slow delivery helped contribute to the Nationals running roughshod on the base paths Tuesday night. Anthony Rizzo didn’t appreciate it, and apparently the Cubs didn’t appreciate it either because Montero was designated for assignment the very next day. You can easily argue that Montero had a solid point, but it’s clear that the Cubs didn’t appreciate having their business out on front street. That’s why Montero will probably be playing for a new team pretty soon. Meanwhile, the Cubs continue to have a bit of a hangover following their historic World Series victory.

Up: Oakland rookies do something that hasn’t been done in ages

Franklin Barreto embraces Matt Olson after Olson hit a two-run home run. Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

I have a good rule of thumb when it comes to baseball records: If you’ve accomplished something that hasn’t been done since the days of silent movies and three major leagues, then you’ve done something amazing. That was the case over this past weekend when a trio of Oakland A’s rookies @EliasSports re: Olson/Brugman/Barreto first major league HRs today. pic.twitter.com/lI9wX7IuQF

— Vote. Alonso. Now. (@Athletics) June 24, 2017 ‘ rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>pulled off a massive feat.

Franklin Barreto, Jaycob Brugman and Matt Olson are all rookies, and they all managed to hit their first career home runs in the same game. Olson hit two dingers in that game, but that’s inconsequential when it comes to the record. The fact that these three managed to do something that hasn’t been done since the Federal League was a thing is amazing.

There’s no guarantee that any of those three players will become stars in this game, but they’ll always have that astonishing moment as a memory to cherish.

Down: Nationals bullpen actually puts someone in the grave

Matt Grace is among the Washington relievers struggling this season for the first-place Nationals. Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Washington Nationals are a very good team, but we’ve pointed out in a previous edition of this column that they have a very glaring weakness in the form of their bullpen. It’s a big concern, but in the short term it probably won’t prevent Washington from winning the NL East and making the playoffs. However, it may have prevented one fan from seeing that happen this year — or ever again.

According to a recent obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a dedicated Washington Nationals fan “passed away peacefully” after the Washington bullpen blew another lead. While the Nats didn’t blow it on the 20th, they did indeed lose in walk-off fashion on the night of June 19 against the Marlins, so the poor Washington fan’s last memory of his team was seeing the bullpen lose it again. This is hilarious in a very morbid way, and it’s clear that the family was trying to have fun with this. It’s a bummer that he died, but I’d imagine that there are worse ways to go out than “death by bullpen implosion.”

Up: Giancarlo Stanton’s Home Run Derby title defense should be glorious

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton will attempt to defend his Home Run Derby title in his home ballpark. Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star break is rapidly approaching, which means one of the coolest events on the schedule is also coming up as well: the Home Run Derby. This year’s All-Star festivities will be held in Miami, and the defending champion Giancarlo Stanton will return to defend his crown in front of his adoring home fans. 

Although you have to figure that the defending champion would definitely return to try to make it two times in a row, it’s always nice to get confirmation on this thing. While Aaron Judge has been garnering headlines for his beautiful moonshots, I’d like to remind everybody that Giancarlo Stanton has hit some extremelypicturesquehome runs in the recent past. Needless to say, you should be very excited that Stanton will be participating in this year’s Home Run Derby. 

Down: The Giants are absolutely woeful

Hunter Pence has just five home runs for the struggling Giants. Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports

We’re going to start this off with good news for the San Francisco Giants: They recently swept the Colorado Rockies! That’s great! This was also the first time the Giants have been on the good end of a sweep all season, and we’re almost at the All-Star break. That is bad, bad news for the Giants, who are currently deep in the NL West cellar and trailing a Padres team that’s actually tanking. Yikes.

We all like to joke about “Even Year Magic” when it comes to the Giants since they had a very weird pattern of being great in even years and mediocre in odd years, but this year they aren’t even approaching mediocrity. In fact, there’s a decent chance that they could potentially lose 100 games. It’s a startling turn of events for a team that doesn’t normally lose like this, and the Giants are already out of things. This is a very strange year, but Giants fans can take solace in the fact that they’ll inexplicably be good again next year.

30 SLIDES
Every MLB Home Run Derby winner

QUIZ: Name the yearly leaders in caught stealing % from 2000 to 2016

How many of the catchers who lead both leagues in throwing the most runners out can you name in six minutes?

Good luck!

CLUE: YEAR / LEAGUE / TEAM

Score:
0/34

Time:
6:00

2016 / AL / KC

Salvador Perez

2016 / NL / 2TM

Carlos Ruiz

2015 / AL / TOR

Russell Martin

2015 / NL / LAD

A.J. Ellis

2014 / AL / BAL

Caleb Joseph

2014 / NL / STL

Yadier Molina

2013 / AL / MIN

2013 / NL / CIN

Ryan Hanigan

2012 / AL / KC

Salvador Perez

2012 / NL / CIN

Ryan Hanigan

2011 / AL / TB

Kelly Shoppach

2011 / NL / ARZ

Miguel Montero

2010 / AL / TOR

Jose Molina

2010 / NL / STL

Yadier Molina

2009 / AL / SEA

Kenji Johjima

2009 / NL / ATL

David Ross

2008 / AL / NYY

Jose Molina

2008 / NL / MIL

Jason Kendall

2007 / AL / MIN

2007 / NL / STL

Yadier Molina

2006 / AL / DET

Ivan Rodriguez

2006 / NL / FLA

Matt Treanor

2005 / AL / DET

Ivan Rodriguez

2005 / NL / STL

Yadier Molina

2004 / AL / MIN

Henry Blanco

2004 / NL / MON

Brian Schneider

2003 / AL / ANA

Bengie Molina

2003 / NL / MON

Brian Schneider

2002 / AL / ANA

Bengie Molina

2002 / NL / NYM

Vance Wilson

2001 / AL / TEX

Ivan Rodriguez

2001 / NL / CIN

Jason LaRue

2000 / AL / TEX

Ivan Rodriguez

2000 / NL / MIL

Henry Blanco

Yardbarker: MLB

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