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It was a big night for old dudes and important dingers, as both Albert Pujols and David Ortiz went deep in meaningful ways. Pujols, with career homer No. 584, passed Mark McGwire and took over sole possession of 10th place all time. Ortiz, with home run No. 30 on the season, became the oldest player in baseball history — which there is a whole lot of — to hit 30 homers in a season.
It has taken Pujols some time to get to this point in 2016, thanks to a slow start to his age-36 campaign. As late as May 18, Pujols saw his OPS under 700 — in the 83 games since, at least, he’s hit a far more respectable .274/.331/.464 with 16 homers, a line that’s actually better than it looks given the cavernous dimensions and pitcher-friendly environment he plays his home games in. He no longer looks like he’s in danger of being done, which seems to be a yearly concern with him, and will be until the time at which it turns out that he is done. Pujols is now three homers away from moving into ninth place all time and passing Frank Robinson, and if his 2017 is like his 2016, he should hit number 600 next summer, and maybe even pass Sammy Sosa (609) for eighth all time before the year ends.
Big Papi is 40 years, nine months and six days old, and is only the second 40-year-old to even reach 30 homers in a season. He’s also just five homers shy of owning the record for most homers in an age-40 season as well, as that currently belongs to the previous only 40-year-old with 30, Darrell Evans. Ortiz is not quite as high on the all-time list as Pujols, as he currently ranks 19th with 533. He doesn’t have much further to go up that particular ladder, since we know he’s retiring at year’s end. He can still pass former Red Sox and Athletics great Jimmie Foxx and move into 18th all time, though, and Ortiz is also just three homers shy of that passing Mickey Mantle for 17th — it would take a hell of a September for Ortiz to pass Mike Schmidt at 548, so Foxx and Mantle are probably the end of the line. That's a fine place to stop, at least.
- There was one other major home run of note on Wednesday: Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish went deep for the first time in his MLB career.
- Katie Ledecky won a whole lot of gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and Bryce Harper held it all for her while she threw out the first pitch for the Nationals.
- Panama and New York both remain undefeated in the Little League World Series, and they’ll play for the International and U.S. titles, respectively, on Saturday. Their opponents are not yet known, though, so you’ve got more tiny baseball to watch.
- Rich Hill finally debuted for the Dodgers, and he was worth the wait. Well, unless you’re rooting for the Giants.
- The Reds have some roster decisions to make as they enter the final month of their rebuilding year.
- They aren’t alone in that, either: the Braves have plenty of potential September call-ups to consider as they also reshuffle their team near the end of a rebuilding season.
- Daniel Norris has struggled to pitch deep into games for the Tigers.
- Poor Joey Votto is a star stuck on a team going nowhere with a contract that makes him difficult to move. Maybe he’ll get lucky, though: maybe the Reds will see their successful second half continue into 2017, or maybe Votto will be dealt to a team who realizes he’s a better bet than what free agency offers this winter.
- Ryan Howard has had his ups and downs — lots of downs, of late — in his Phillies career, but he seems to be looking like his old self as his time in Philly winds down.
- Apparently Billy Butler wasn’t the greatest teammate in the world while with the Royals, either.