Artist creates dream bedroom for young Cubs fan with cancer

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 6:48 PM

The History of the Chicago Cubs

An Illinois boy returning home after receiving treatment for a rare cancer was greeted by a bedroom renovation designed just for the young Cubs fan.

When Ken Markiewicz heard a WGN report about Joey Ventimiglia, 7, a young Cubs fan battling cancer, he felt compelled to use his artistic skills to show his support.

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Ventimiglia was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, which is a rare type of brain tumor. Because of the tumor’s position, surgery is not an option, WGN reported. Ventimiglia has been receiving experimental treatment in Mexico to battle the aggressive cancer. 

Markiewicz, who owns Crayons Gone Wild, offered to paint a Cubs-themed mural for Ventimiglia, free of charge.

Markiewicz reached out to the Ventimiglia family with his idea and while Ventimiglia was at his latest treatment, Markiewicz transformed the boy's bedroom into a dream for a Cubs fan. Markiewicz painted a baseball on the boy's closet and got the entire Cubs team to sign the artwork. He also recreated the famous ivy-covered wall at Wrigley Field.

Ventimiglia was in awe when he was wheeled into his bedroom and saw the Cubs-inspired artwork. To Markiewicz, he simply said, "Thank you."

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Bullpen blows lead, Braves drop series to Reds

Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2018 @ 3:13 PM

With 6-5 win, Reds took two of three games from the Braves

The Braves are a two-Freeman team and right now both of them are slumping, with one in particular having a big part in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to the Reds.

No one doubts that MVP candidate Freddie Freeman will soon snap out of his funk, but reliever Sam Freeman’s slide has been long enough to raise eyebrows and concerns.

Sam Freeman came in with a 5-3 lead to start the seventh inning Wednesday and gave up a leadoff walk and a pair of two-out singles, all those runners eventually scoring and sending the Reds to a series-clinching win at SunTrust Park.

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“It happens to every ball club out there,” manager Brian Snitker said after the National League East-leading Braves’ 2-4 homestand with series losses against two last-place teams, the Orioles and Reds, albeit a much-improved Cincinnati club since Jim Riggleman took over as interim manager.

“Even the good ones, the ones that win a whole lot of games, go through stretches like that,” Snitker continued. “We won a whole lot of games and we’ve been very fortunate since the season started; this is really our first time to experience this. And the guys will just keep playing. They did today, as you saw. They came back and got right back into this ballgame against a guy that was strapping us. With two out and nobody on, next thing you know we’re winning the game. They’re not going to quit, they’re not going to stop fighting, and it’ll be OK.” 

Scooter Gennett’s two-out single drove in the first run of the Reds’ seventh inning and chased Sam Freeman from the game, and reliever Dan Winkler was greeted by a two-run single from Adam Duvall that gave the Reds their first lead since the Braves’ four-run fourth inning.

The Reds improved to 9-1 in their past 10 games and the Braves were dealt their first consecutive home-series losses of the season. They’re off Thursday before starting a three-city, nine-game trip Friday at St. Louis.

“(The Reds were) another one of those teams that we caught while they were hot,” said Braves starter Sean Newcomb, who allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings and was in position for his ninth win in 11 decisions before the bullpen blew it.

“We didn’t play up to our capabilities 100 percent; you’re not going to every day,” Newcomb said. “I know we’re going to come back out at St. Louis and be pretty strong, pitching and offensively.”

Sam Freeman had a 2.94 ERA and .164 opponents’ average in his first 24 appearances through May 22 and the Braves were 16-8 in those games. In 15 appearances since then he has an 8.16 ERA with 15 hits, 13 earned runs and six walks allowed in 14-1/3 innings. The Braves are 4-11 in those games and he got three of the losses including Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman went 15-for-34 (.441) with six homers, four walks, seven strikeouts and a 1.588 OPS in a nine-game span from June 5 to June 15. In 10 games since then he’s 7-for-40 (.174) with no home runs, one walk and 17 strikeouts, including 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk Wednesday.

When the Braves had a chance for another big inning in the fifth, Freddie Freeman struck out with runners at second and third base for the first out of what ended up a one-run inning.

Reds starter Luis Castillo retired the first 11 Braves and had a perfect game going until two out in the fifth, when it suddenly went from perfect to mayhem.

He walked Freddie Freeman before giving up five consecutive singles, the last four of which drove in a run to give the Braves a 4-2 lead after they trailed 2-0 entering the inning.

The Braves went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position Wednesday after going just 2-for-20 in those situations over the first two games.

“We’re getting guys on and we’re having a hard time getting guys in right now, and that happens,” Snitker said.

For one inning Wednesday, it didn’t.

Freeman’s walk was followed by singles from Nick Markakis, Kurt Suzuki (RBI), Charlie Culberson (RBI), Johan Camargo (RBI) and Dansby Swanson (RBI), with the Camargo hit of particular note because of an alert, creative slide Suzuki used to score when he appeared dead to rights after rounding third and being waved home by third-base coach Ron Washington on a ground-ball single to left field.

“Right when Wash sent me I said, oh (expletive), I’m out,” Suzuki said, smiling. “But we found a way.”

Adam Duvall fielded the ball and came up firing, but his throw pulled catcher Curt Casali about 10 feet toward first base. Still, the throw was so far ahead of the runner that Casali had time to catch it and dive to the plate for the would-be tag. But Suzuki thwarted him by sliding to the right of the plate, just out of reach of the tag, and reaching over Casali’s arm to touch the plate with his hand.

Suzuki smiled on his way to the Braves dugout after the play, the veteran fully aware of how easily he might’ve been thrown out on the play. Instead, his nifty slide gave the Braves a 3-2 lead, the Swanson followed with the fifth straight two-out hit to push the lead to 4-2.

The Reds got a run in the fifth after a Jose Peraza triple, but the Braves answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth before Camargo struck out with bases loaded to end the inning. Two innings later, a two-run lead wasn’t enough for a weary Braves bullpen that might need reinforcements before the trade deadline at the end of July.

On a day when Newcomb didn’t have his best stuff, he still limited the Reds to three runs in six innings for his 11th quality start in 16. He threw a career-high 111 pitches and snapped a string of four consecutive starts of five innings or fewer by Braves pitchers – all four pitchers since Newcomb worked seven innings of one-run ball in his previous start Friday against the Orioles.

He’s the only Braves pitcher to work more than five innings in the past eight games.

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Reds, Mets swap veterans before second game of series

Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2018 @ 6:45 PM

Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who played in just 39 games combined in 2015-'16, is on the disabled list again.
David Jablonski/Staff
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who played in just 39 games combined in 2015-'16, is on the disabled list again.(David Jablonski/Staff)

The Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets swapped veteran players Devin Mesoraco and Matt Harvey, both 29 and former all-stars, before the second game of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park. The Reds also acquired an undisclosed amount of cash.

Mesoraco has played his entire eight-year career with the Reds but has battled injuries in recent years and was backing up Tucker Barnhart this season. After making the all-star team in 2014, he was limited to 23 games in 2015, 16 in 2016 and 56 in 2017.

» EARLIER COVERAGE: Four reasons the Reds should acquire Harvey

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This season, Mesoraco was hitting .220 in 18 games. He joins former Reds teammates Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier with the Mets.

The Reds also announced they have called up catcher Tony Cruz from Triple-A Louisville.

Harvey, who will join the Reds later this week in Los Angeles, was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in eight appearances this season. In his last appearance May 3, he allowed five earned runs in two innings of relief. Last season, he was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA.

Harvey was an all-star in 2013 but missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His last great season came in 2015 when he 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA. In his career, he’s 34-37 with a 3.66 ERA.

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Baseball bans former Braves GM Coppolella for life 

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

Baseball barred former Braves GM John Coppolella from baseball for life for circumventing international player signing rules. He joins a list of sports figures banished by their sport. Donald Sterling The former L.A. Clippers owner was banned from the NBA after he was captured in an audio recording making racist remarks in 2014. Pete Rose While manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Pete Rose was accused of betting against his team. Baseball banished him amd the sport's Hall of Fame in 1991 made him ineligi

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella has been banned for life by Major League Baseball as part of discipline handed down by the league Tuesday for major infractions committed in the international free-agent market.

In addition, special assistant Gordon Blakeley has been suspended for one year. In handing down the punishment, the league announced that Braves will forfeit rights to 13 international prospects, will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and are restricted from signing players in the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

MLB drops hammer on Braves following lengthy investigation

The highest-profile signee that the Braves will lose is infielder Kevin Maitan.

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Here is the complete statement from MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred: 

“My office has completed a thorough investigation into violations of Major League Rules by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations. The senior Baseball Operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves. I am confident that Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Alex Anthopoulos and their staffs have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the Club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been. 

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules. Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000. 

Kevin Maitan, infielder Abrahan Gutierrez, catcher Yunior Severino, infielder Juan Contreras, pitcher Juan Carlos Negret, outfielder Yefri del Rosario, pitcher RHP Guillermo Zuniga: 19-year-old right-handed pitcher from Columbia was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in 31.2 innings in the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League INF Livan Soto: 17-year-old shortstop from Venezuela hit .225 with 14 RBIs in 47 games in the Gulf Coast League 3B Yenci Pena: 17-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic hit .230 wi

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period. These players were Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Peña, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga. In addition, the Braves entered into additional ‘package’ agreements in 2016 and 2017 in which they signed Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre for reduced amounts, and provided additional money to those players’ agents by signing other players affiliated with their agents to contracts with inflated bonuses. In order to remedy these violations, I am releasing these players from their contracts with the Braves and declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club. The procedures governing the players’ release and the signing process will be communicated to MLB Clubs under separate cover. 

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.

Schultz: Coppolella submarined the Braves

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent. 

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

“With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley will be suspended for a period of one year, effective immediately, and may not perform services for any MLB Club during his suspension. I intend to discipline other Braves’ International Baseball Operations employees who participated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures. My staff will speak to the Players Association and officials in the Dominican Republic regarding appropriate consequences for the representatives of the players who intentionally participated in schemes to circumvent our rules, none of whom are certified by the Players Association.”

Check myAJC.com for a full report on the Braves and the punishment.

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All rise: Sonia Sotomayor watches Yankee's game from 'The Judge's Chambers'

Published: Friday, September 01, 2017 @ 11:35 AM

Fast Facts Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited New York’s Yankee Stadium to watch her beloved team take on the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, and it only made sense that she found herself right at-home in “The Judge’s Chambers.”

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Sotomayor, a Bronx-native, took a seat in the rooting section named for rookie Aaron Judge as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2, The Washington Post reported.

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With a foam gavel stamped with “All Rise” in hand and wearing a black robe – both courtesy of the stadium, according to The Associated Press – Sotomayor could be seen smiling broadly as she cheered for the Yankees.

Sotomayor has rooted for the Yankees since she was a child. She threw out the first pitch to kick off the 2009 season at Yankee Stadium.

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