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Tim Tebow homers in minor-league debut

Tim Tebow made a big splash in his minor-league baseball debut Thursday night.

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Tebow, who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy as quarterback for the University of Florida, homered in his first at-bat for the Class A Columbia Fireflies, ESPN reported.

Batting seventh in the lineup, Tebow smacked a 2-1 pitch off Augusta left-hander Domenic Mazza off the railing just above the fence in left-center field at Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, South Carolina. Tebow originally stopped at second base, thinking he had only hit a double, but an umpire signaled home run and the former NFL quarterback pumped his fist as he completed his circuit around the bases.

Tebow grounded out in his second at-bat, then struck out his next three times up, twice looking, ESPN reported. Columbia defeated Augusta 14-7.

Tebow decided to pursue a baseball career in August after his NFL career was unsuccessful. He was assigned to the New York Mets’ Class A squad in Columbia at the end of spring training. Tebow batted .148 during spring training with eight strikeouts in 27 at-bats.

Wacky ballpark food for 2017 season

Each season, Major League Baseball stadiums across the country unveil the latest and greatest gut-busters.

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The 2017 season is no exception. From wacky hot dogs and  spicy burgers to a cookie cart, there’s something on the menu to satisfy every baseball fan’s appetite.

Bees send baseball players to their knees

When bees swarm, it’s best to hit the deck.

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During a bizarre scene in Peoria, Ariz., members of the Rockies and Padres took cover during the ninth inning of Colorado’s 10-5 victory against San Diego.

Padres pitcher Trey Wingenter stepped off the mound when the horde hit, and then the 6-foot-7 right-hander dropped to a knee. Rockies batter Daniel Castro quickly followed suit, along with plate umpire Alex Tosi. The broadcast picked up someone yelling, "Bees! Bees!" 

The players stayed down for about 10 seconds, and fans gave them a cheer when they finally stood up.

"I saw something happen over here as all the players got on the ground," Padres manager Bud Black told The Associated Press. "It was reminiscent of Petco Park a few years ago when a beekeeper had to come down from the left-field corner. That was about a 20-30 minute delay."

President Trump declines opportunity to throw out first pitch

Apparently President Donald Trump won’t be singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Nationals Park on opening day. 

Trump has declined to perform the tradition when the Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins Monday, ESPN reported.

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It is due to a scheduling conflict, The Washington Post reported.

The tradition of the president throwing out the first pitch at Washington’s opening-day game started more than 100 years ago , when President William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch for the then-Washington Senators in 1910, ESPN reported

In recent history, George W. Bush and Barack Obama threw out ceremonial first pitches on opening day.

Overall, 13 presidents been part of the ceremony either for the Senators or the Nationals.

There is no word on who will have the honor of throwing out the first pitch.

Nats all-star pitcher Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to start for Washington. Edinson Volquez is the starter listed for the Marlins.

The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday.

Angels’ defense sparkles to preserve combined no-hitter

Eight members of the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching staff combined for a no-hitter Friday night — thanks to three diving stops in the ninth inning — in a 4-0 victory against the Seattle Mariners.

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Angels defenders made three great defensive plays as 24-year-old Abel De Los Santos closed out the game, The Associated Press reported. First baseman C.J. Cron dived to his right for a grounder for the first out, right fielder Shane Robinson left his feet for a fly ball for the second out and then third baseman Sherman Johnson ended the game by sprawling to his left for a grounder and throwing to first.

"That defense was unbelievable," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "C.J. and Robbie in right field and Sherm at third base, that's a good way to cap off a good night, with some plays like that."

Starter Bud Norris struck out two in two perfect innings, and Jose Alvarez followed with a perfect inning. Jean Segura reached on catcher interference against Cam Bedrosian in the fourth, and then Andrew Bailey threw a perfect fifth. Austin Adams walked Zach Shank during the sixth inning, and then Drew Gagnon, Justin Anderson and De Los Santos ended the game with a perfect inning each.

"It's fun for the kids," Scioscia said. "De Los Santos, all those kids. They've all been in camp for a long time now. I think the way it happened. You see C.J. making a great pay and Robbie and then Sherm at third, that'll be a fun night for those guys."

Girlfriend of late Marlins ace Jose Fernandez gives birth to girl

The late Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernandez would be a father of a baby girl today if he had survived a September boat crash off Miami Beach.

Fernandez’s girlfriend, Maria Arias, gave birth Friday night to Penelope, with whom she was pregnant when Fernandez died Sept. 25, The Miami Herald reported.

>>Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez has died

Fernandez, who was 24 when he died, chose his daughter’s name last summer when he and Arias learned they were expecting, the Miami Herald said.

Jose Canseco wants us all to know how robots will take over the world

Athletes seem to be taking up some odd stances lately.

If you thought Kyrie Irving's comments about the Earth being flat were out there, wait until you see what Jose Canseco has been tweeting today.

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Canseco, a 52-year-old former Major League Baseball player who has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs while hitting 462 big-league home runs, apparently is a believer in the idea robots are going to take over the world.

He began sharing this belief around midday with the statement, "The robot threat is being taken to (sic) lightly."

The robot threat is being taken to lightly— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

Robots will not attack and kill us physically like in the movies— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

For 60 years Robots have been systematically destroying us in clandestine economy based war started when eniac was turned on— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

Already today a fully robotized factory reduces human jobs 90% and increases production 250% and reduces defects 80% while doubling profit— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

Robots control every industry our food supply our transportation systems our health care and education systems EVERYTHING— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

robots are stealing our jobs bringing economic ruin to us human by human starving us to death one by one— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

All that will be left is uber technical humans trained to service robots.— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

He continued with a warning that our machines will not conduct a violent overthrow but come to dominate us by taking over all aspects of our lives – something he points out has already begun happening.

This all seems a bit far-fetched but, hey, he was right about that whole steroids in MLB thing, so you never know.

We had a good run.

MVP Kris Bryant pranked by Hall of Famer Greg Maddux

Kris Bryant got pranked by a Hall of Famer during a recent commercial. And that’s no bull.

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Greg Maddux disguised himself as a bearded, scraggly TV sound man for a Red Bull commercial and bent a few curves past the National League’s reigning Most Valuable Player, the Chicago Tribune reported.

 "This sound guy has got a good curveball. What is this?" Bryant said after taking one of Maddux's pitches. "He's pretty good."

The prank was set up by Red Bull, one of Bryant's sponsors. The company revealed on its website that Bryant "was under the impression he was going through a basic workout routine at the College of Southern Nevada before leaving for spring training.

"Little did he know that the sound guy with the boom stick, long hair, mustache and goatee was none other than Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner and fellow Las Vegas comrade," Red Bull posted on its website.

Maddux, known as “Mad Dog” and “The Professor” during his 23-year major-league career, won 355 games and struck out 3,371 batters. But on this day, he was just the “Sound Guy.” And his pitches made a humming sound as he zipped them past Bryant, who was becoming more impressed with every pitch.

Maddux had taken over for the batting practice pitcher, who suddenly got a call to "run study hall" on campus. When Bryant objected to a “novice” pitching (“I don’t want any of you guys throwing”), Maddux assured him that “I throw to kids all the time” and “I throw to my Little League team.”

Maddux finally revealed his true identity when he asked the Cubs’ third baseman to autograph his bat for “Greg Maddux.”  He then took off the beard as Bryant laughed out loud.

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Stars come out to honor Hank Aaron

It was an extraordinary kickoff to one of the biggest sports weekends Atlanta has ever seen.

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Stars from all walks of life came together on Friday night to honor Braves baseball legend Hank Aaron.

"That's what this evening means to me, to see the outpour of love from all these people," Aaron said.

The event raised money for Aaron's Chasing the Dream Foundation, just two days before his 83rd birthday -- the same day the Falcons will chase their own dream i Super Bowl LI.

"I'm pulling for them 100 percent. And I think they have an excellent chance of winning. I'd be disappointed if they didn't win," Aaron said.

With some talk from New England this week charging that Atlanta is not a good sports town, attendees at Friday's claimed otherwise.

"I would tell the Patriots to worry about their own business and let the Falcons take care of themselves," said Bug Selig, the former commissioner of baseball. "Atlanta's a great sports town."

"Very, very rich history in Atlanta from the Braves to the Falcons, and the Hawks," pop star Usher said. "It's a sports town, man."

A sports town that's about to look a little different when the Braves make their much-debated move to Cobb County in April.

"I think they're going to do well," Aaron said. "So everybody's going to be happy with everybody."

At SunTrust Park, the Braves will unveil a new statue of Aaron, with his old statue staying downtown.

"How about that, two statues," Aaron said, laughing.

Iconic sports card dealer Alan ‘Mr. Mint’ Rosen dies

He was brash, not afraid to flash stacks of cash, and was a wizard at finding a valuable sports card stash.

Alan "Mr. Mint" Rosen, a self-promoting dealer who in turn gave massive publicity to the sports card and memorabilia hobbies, died early Thursday, Sports Collectors Digest and Beckett Media reported. He was 70 and had been battling leukemia for several years.

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Before there were auction houses, Rosen would travel the country during the 1980s and ’90s with an attaché case stuffed with $100 bills, ready to make a deal for high-end vintage cards or entire collections. He took out full-page advertising in collectibles trade magazines and billed himself as "The world’s largest buyer of baseball cards and sports cards." At card shows, he demanded — and was granted — a booth near the front door.

In a July 4, 1988, feature, Sports Illustrated writer Dan Geringer called Rosen "the King of Cards, the Duke of Dough" in the high-stakes baseball card game.

 "Deals are Mr. Mint’s lifeblood," Geringer wrote. "Sentiment is Mr. Mint’s blood poisoning."

In a 1990 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rosen was asked what he personally collected.

"I collect money," he said. "Hundred-dollar bills. I’m loud, I’m a braggart and I’m brash. But I’m the best.”

Rosen was not afraid to tout his discoveries. His website was full of them, but all were impressive. In 1986, he uncovered the "1952 Topps Find" in the Boston area, which included more than 6,000 gem mint high numbers — including 65 Mickey Mantle cards. He also uncovered a stash of 500 unopened 1954 and 1955 Topps and Bowman baseball cards in Paris, Tennessee.

Rosen also bought nine of the iconic Honus Wagner T-206 tobacco, known to collectors as the Holy Grail of baseball cards.

In an interview with Beckett Media, Steve Grad, of the Dallas-based collectibles company’s Authentication Services division, called Rosen "a pretty interesting guy."

"He’d seen just about everything in our business. He’d been all over buying stuff and he had a pretty cool perspective," Grad said. "Did he know everything? No way. He wasn’t really good with autographs and authenticity, or if a card had been altered, but he knew how to buy collections."{

Rosen authored several books. In 1991, he and Doug Carr co-wrote Mr. Mint’s Insider’s Guide to Investing in Baseball Cards and Collectibles. Three years later, he teamed with T.S. O’Connell to write True Mint: Mr. Mint’s Price & Investment Guide to True Mint Baseball Cards.

Before finding his niche as a collectibles dealer, Rosen sold insurance, jewelry and clothes. The idea of selling cards came to him in 1978 as he wandered through a card show in his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey. In 1982, he gave up a copy machine and antique business in New Jersey and began buying and selling sports cards on a full-time basis.

Stories about Rosen are plentiful. Love him or hate him, collectors had stories to tell about Mr. Mint.

Tom McDonough, who runs the annual Cranston Sports Collectors Show in Rhode Island, said Rosen was “a show within a show” when he appeared at sports memorabilia shows.

McDonough told Sports Collectors Daily in 2016 that Rosen would fly into the area the night before the show and they would have dinner together. One year, McDonough said, Rosen entered the restaurant “wearing a long trench coat and carrying an attaché case."

"I’m prepared to spend $100,000 tomorrow," Rosen said. "Have you ever seen $100,000?"

Rosen snapped open his attaché case to reveal $100,000 in hundred-dollar bills. McDonough gasped, and then wondered why Rosen would walk around with so much cash.

"I told him that people get jumped for 10 bucks," McDonough said. "Then he pulled back his coat, and he had a gun."

The 2008 movie “Diminished Capacity” spoofed Rosen with a character called “The Mint-Mint Man,” played by Bobby Cannavale. In the film, “The Mint-Man” fleeces Uncle Rollie Zerbs (Alan Alda), buying an extremely valuable baseball card for just $500. Predictably, Rosen was not amused, according to a story that ran in Sports Collectors Digest.

Despite his reputation for abrasiveness, Rosen would help fledgling collectors. Vintage card collector T.J. Valacak recalled an assist from Mr. Mint during a 1999 collectibles show in Chicago.

“Bobby Thomson was signing autographs. As a diehard Red Sox fan, I wanted to get an autograph of Thomson on a Red Sox card,” Valacak said. “I went to a few tables. As you can imagine, for someone getting back into the hobby, there were thousands of cards at each table and I was overwhelmed.

“I was familiar with who Mr. Mint was, and I had recognized him when I walked in the show.  So, I ventured to his table and asked him if Bobby Thomson had ever appeared on a baseball card as a Red Sox player.  Immediately, he told me 1960 and told me a range of numbers.”

Impressed, Valacak was able to find the Thomson card he wanted and got the hero of “The Shot Heard ’Round the World” to sign it. Rosen’s assistance also rekindled Valacak’s love for vintage cards. After getting Thomson’s autograph, Valacak bought “about 300” commons from the 1972 Topps set.

“I was back in,” he said. “So, when I think about my vintage collection and when I got back in the hobby, my brief conversation with Mr. Mint always flashes in my mind.  I was so impressed with his knowledge that day.

"The next few times I would go to the semiannual Chicago show, I would stop by his table and talk about one of his auctions.  He was always pleasant with me."

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