Ex-Mets Minor Leaguer Rips Team for Signing Tim Tebow ... 'A Mockery'

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Tim Tebow's ex-teammate just went scorched earth on the Mets over the former QB's 2016 signing ... calling the move a "mockery" and saying it only happened to help the team sell tickets.

Andrew Church -- a 2nd-round pick by the Mets in 2013 -- just exploded on his former squad after they officially released him this week ... taking aim at Tebow's signing in the rant.

“The Mets made a mockery of our team by putting a celebrity on it to sell more tickets,’’ Church wrote. "I saw players lose their jobs because of it."

He added, "We weren’t playing to win, we were playing to make everyone else money. Not the players. We never saw a cut. Well, allegedly one player did."

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25-year-old Church never directly named Tebow in the post ... but it's pretty clear he's talking about the former Heisman Trophy winner -- whom Church was minor league teammates with in 2017.

Of course, Tim officially signed a minor league deal with the Mets in '16 ... and at the time, NY general manager Sandy Alderson said the move was strictly made because of Tim's baseball potential.

But, Alderson reportedly later admitted he inked Tim to a deal "partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business."

32-year-old Tebow has shown some flashes of being a potential big leaguer in his minor-league career ... but it's largely been a disappointment for the ex-NFL player -- he's batted .231 or worse in all but one of his seasons.

Church, meanwhile, also ripped the Mets for an injury he suffered in his career ... claiming they forced him to pitch when his body wasn't ready.

Church says he decided to go forward with his rant Thursday because "now that it’s officially over with them I’d like to say some things."

The Mets have yet to publicly address Church's allegations.

MLB's Max Kepler Apologizes For Wearing Blue Lives Matter Mask ... After Floyd's Death

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Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler has apologized for wearing a Blue Lives Matter mask in the wake of George Floyd's tragic death ... saying he "had no idea that the mask had any underlying inferences."

The 27-year-old MLB player posted a picture of himself in a mask featuring a Blue Lives Matter flag ... just days after people accused a Minneapolis cop of killing Floyd by putting his knee to the man's neck.

The mask -- which had a black and grey American flag with a blue stripe in it -- caused tremendous online backlash for Kepler ... but the Berlin, Germany native brushed off the criticism.

"✌️wasn’t aware what the mask supported. still not into politics" Max wrote.

But, that only caused MORE criticism for the MLB player ... and he finally addressed the issue formally in a lengthy statement on his social media page Thursday.

"Earlier, I posted a photo of me in a mask that was sent to me by a company, to wear during the pandemic," Kepler said. "I had no idea that the mask had any underlying inferences -- I simply thought it looked good."

"After I was informed, I immediately took down the post. I take complete responsibility for not knowing what I was wearing. I am truly sorry for the hurt and pain my actions have caused, especially now."

Kepler continued, "Racism has no place in our world and I do not in any way support the actions that we all witnessed that led to George Floyd’s passing. My sympathies are with the Floyd family."

The Twins have not addressed Kepler's picture directly ... but did release a statement of their own Thursday, saying, "We are deeply saddened by the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd Monday night in Minneapolis."

"The Minnesota Twins send our deepest sympathies to the Floyd family, and join our Twin Cities community in mourning."

The team added, "We will continue to working with our community partners to move forward with courage, free of hate and thoughtful in our path, to create the change we want to see in our world – one, all-inclusive Twins Territory, where everyone is protected, safe and welcome."

MLB's Felipe Vazquez New Child Porn Charge Allegedly Sent Nudes To Minor

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Suspended MLB pitcher Felipe Vazquez -- who's already behind bars and facing more than 20 felonies in a child sex case -- has been hit with a new child porn charge in St. Louis, according to reports.

Remember, 28-year-old Vazquez was arrested back in September for allegedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2017 ... and was also charged with sending nude pictures and videos of himself to the victim.

In docs, obtained by the Trib, Vazquez was charged with a count of "furnishing pornographic materials to a juvenile" in February ... a Class A misdemeanor.

According to the docs, the act allegedly went down from Vazquez's hotel room on July 16 ... when he sent nudes and a video of himself masturbating to a 15-year-old girl.

Worth noting ... the Pirates beat the Cardinals 3-1 that same day, and Vazquez recorded the save for Pittsburgh.

The Westmoreland County, PA Assistant DA told the Trib he believes the minor is the same girl at the center of Vazquez's other charges.

Vazquez has been behind bars since September without bond ... and his next hearing is slated for June 23.

Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron Signed Contracts Hit Auction Could Fetch Thousands!!!

A collection of super-rare signed contracts for some of baseball's biggest names -- including Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron -- is up for sale ... and they're all expected to go for insane prices!!

RR Auction tells TMZ Sports ... Mantle's 1953 deal with the New York Yankees (with a $17,500 salary) headlines the lot ... and the historic pieces of paper are estimated to land a $50k price tag.

Mantle's contract is signed "Mickey C. Mantle" ... in which the legend agrees to provide "skilled services as a baseball player during the year 1953," according to the paperwork.

"As one of Mantle's early Yankees contracts from a World Series season, this is an absolutely spectacular, museum-quality piece," Bobby Livingston of RR Auction says.

On top of Mantle's piece of history, Aaron's Atlanta Braves contract for the 1974 season -- when he became the all-time home runs leader over Babe Ruth -- is also available ... and could fetch more than $10k!!

Worth noting ... Aaron's contract was worth $220k for the '74 season. He later became the highest-paid player in the MLB in 1975, when his salary jumped to $240k.

There are a bunch of other signed contracts in the lot from legends like Rod Carew, Whitey Ford, Bob Feller and more ... and they're all available until June 10 on the RR Auction site.

Jung Ho Kang KBO Suspends Ex-MLB Player 1 Year ... Over DUI Arrests

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The Korean Baseball Organization just laid the hammer down on ex-MLB player Jung Ho Kang for his multiple DUI arrests ... suspending the infielder Monday for 1 YEAR.

The former Pittsburgh Pirates stud -- who nearly won the NL's Rookie of the Year award in 2015 -- was also ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.

Kang, who's reportedly been arrested for drunk driving three times since 2009, accepted the punishment ... saying in a statement, "I took putting on a uniform and getting on the field for granted."

"And I was a fool not to see how precious that was. I know I don't deserve to be saying this, but I would love one final opportunity to play baseball."

Kang's been busted for drunk driving in August 2009 and May 2011, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, and he was also arrested for DUI in 2016.

In that case, South Korea officials accused the baseball player of crashing his car into a guardrail and then fleeing the scene. Kang later received a suspended jail sentence in 2017.

Kang was unable to obtain a work permit to return to the U.S. to play baseball after the incident -- missing the entire 2017 season -- and even after he finally made his way back to the States in 2018, he only went on to play in 68 total games.

33-year-old Kang is looking to revive his career in the KBO ... which reportedly will begin his 1-year ban as soon as he signs with a team.

In his four seasons in the MLB ... Kang hit .254 with 46 home runs. He reportedly earned $11 MILLION in his career.

Washington Nationals 2019 World Series Rings Revealed ... 'Baby Shark' Tribute

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It's got diamonds and rubies and sapphires and more ... but who cares about that, the Nats World Series rings have BABY SHARK!

The team revealed their 2019 World Series championship rings over the weekend -- which are dripping in jewels ... 170 total stones and weighs 23.2 carats.

But everyone is talking about the Baby Shark design on the inside of the ring -- a tribute to the song that became the rallying cry for the team.

Remember, outfielder Gerardo Parra used the song as his walk-up music ... but it was later adopted by the fans as the unofficial song of the squad. Hence the tribute.

Here's the explanation of the rest of the design ...

108 Diamonds ... representing the team's 105 total regular-season and postseason wins PLUS one diamond for the World Series championship and 2 more diamonds to honor the cities where the team has been based (Montreal and Washington).

32 Sapphires ... the total of the team's 7 walk-off wins, 13 shutout wins, 8-game winning streak (their longest of the season) and 4 playoff rounds won.

(Yeah, that one is weird).

30 Rubies ... total number of runs the team scored during the World Series.

The Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in a 7-game series -- it's their first World Series title in franchise history.

Aaron Judge's GF DUI Arrest Video ... 'Do You Know Who My Boyfriend Is?!?'

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"DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE DOING?"
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Aaron Judge's GF brought up her relationship with the Yankees star during a DUI arrest in February ... straight-up asking officers during the stop, "Do you know who my boyfriend is?!"

It's all in new police video obtained by TMZ Sports ... which shows Judge's longtime GF, Samantha Bracksieck, name-dropping the NYY outfielder several times to arresting officers.

And, spoiler alert ... it didn't go so well for her.

Here's the deal ... the 26-year-old was pulled over at around midnight on Feb. 25 in Scottsdale, AZ after cops say they spotted her driving without her headlights on.

During questioning ... video shows she admitted to an officer she drank two glasses of wine at Mastro's Steakhouse before getting behind the wheel.

When cops suspected her of being too drunk to drive ... they put her through field sobriety tests and administered a breathalyzer. And, after they say she bombed the tests and blew a .12 ... they put the cuffs on her.

That's when Samantha became standoffish toward officers ... telling them, "Do you understand what you're doing right now?"

"I just need to get home," she added. "Do you know who my boyfriend is?!"

The officers responded, "We don't."

"This is going to be bad for me," Sam continued. "I'm just saying that right now."

Officers didn't even ask a follow-up and put her in the back of a squad car ... but that's when she pulled the Judge card a few more times to another cop.

"My boyfriend is not in a spot where I should be, like, having this happen," Bracksieck said. "He's like a public figure. So, like, me being arrested for, like, having two glasses of wine is not okay."

Bracksieck continued, "My boyfriend is in the spotlight of New York media in general. And, now here I am handcuffed here in Arizona ... like, that is not good."

The cop clearly didn't care all that much ... and eventually took Bracksieck to the station, where officers say in the police report they tested her breath two more times -- claiming she blew a .169 and .181.

Prosecutors ultimately hit Samantha with five charges over the incident, including extreme DUI -- which is classified as a BAC of .15-.19.

Samantha -- who's due in court for a hearing on the case in June -- is facing jail time and fines if she's convicted.

We've reached out to Bracksieck and the Yankees for comment ... but so far, no word back yet.

MLB's Starling Marte Wife Dies From Heart Attack ... 'Indescribable Pain'

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Tragic news ... MLB superstar Starling Marte says his wife died from a heart attack Monday.

"Today I go through the great pain of making public the unfortunate death of my wife Noelia," Marte wrote on social media. "It is a moment of indescribable pain."

Noelia was at a hospital awaiting surgery for a broken ankle when she suffered the heart attack, this according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Other details surrounding the death were not released.

31-year-old Starling and Noelia had been married for several years ... and the couple had three children together, including two sons and a daughter.

"On behalf of my family," the Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder wrote, "I am grateful for the expressions of esteem and solidarity in this difficult time."

Marte's former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, shared their condolences on Twitter ... writing, "The entire Pirates family extend our deepest condolences to Starling Marte and family during this terrible time. Our hearts are truly saddened by this news."

The D-Backs added, "We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Noelia Marte. Starling and his family are part of the D-backs’ family and we will do all we can to support him and their children during this incredibly difficult time."

Marte was traded from Pittsburgh to Arizona this offseason ... and was expected to compete for MVP votes in his first year with the Diamondbacks before the coronavirus pandemic suspended play.

#RIP

MLB's Hunter Green Hits Insane Trick Shot ... Through Autopilot Tesla's Windows!!!

CLEAN THROW

Wanna see a dude who throws 100 MPH toss a ball through the windows of a moving, autopiloted Tesla???

Good ... 'cause here's MLB super prospect Hunter Greene hitting the insane trick pitch -- and the video is wild!!!

Greene -- a Cincinnati Reds pitcher who's famous for hitting 103 MPH on an MLB radar gun -- hit up an L.A. parking lot Sunday for the trick, getting his fancy ride and his buddy to help with the shot.

It's unclear how exactly the dudes got the car to drive by itself without a passenger in it ... but if you know anything about Teslas, there's a "Summon" mode that can get the whip to drive by itself for short distances.

So, 20-year-old Greene let the car drive by ... and then fired a heater that passed straight through the windows and into the catcher's mitt!!

INSANE, RIGHT?!?!

Of course, Greene's hit similar shots recently ... famously throwing a football to his friend on the Tesla back in November.

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Hey, we know it's not quite as exciting as real MLB action ... but we'll take it for now!

Michael Jordan Game-Worn, Signed Cleats ... Sell For $93,000!!!

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Greatness comes at a price, but Michael Jordan greatness? That's more like the cost of a house down payment -- just ask the person who now owns MJ's cleats.

The folks over at Heritage Auctions sold a pair of size 13.5 baseball cleats worn and signed by His Airness when he played for the Chicago White Sox's minor-league affiliate, the Birmingham Barons. The total cost ... a whopping $93,000!!!

MJ signed the cleats in bold silver ink. Legend has it ... the shoes were a gift from Michael to a White Sox announcer. The shoes were then obtained at MLB pitcher Jeff Reardon's Leukemia Charity Golf Tournament in 1995. The shoes come with a handwritten note from Reardon acknowledging the cleats are authentic.

As for the shoes, MJ -- whose first love was actually baseball and not basketball -- wore them during his short-lived campaign to reach the Major Leagues in 1994. You can clearly see the Air Jordan Nike cleats have incredible wear, with dirt and scuffs throughout. The Nike logo inside the heel is nearly worn off.

As we've reported ... tons of MJ memorabilia has hit the auction block, from a game-worn Bulls jersey to a $15k check Jordan signed over to Donald Trump's Indiana casino.

And, to whoever obtained the cleats, we say ... it's definitely the shoes, Money!!!

Rob Manfred MLB Owners Could Lose $4 BILLION ... If 2020 Season Canceled

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Rob Manfred says owners could lose $4 BILLION if the MLB is forced to cancel its 2020 season due to coronavirus ... claiming the economic fallout would be "devastating."

"We’re a big business, but we’re a seasonal business and, unfortunately, this crisis began at the low point for us in terms of revenue," the league commish told CNN on Thursday.

"We hadn’t quite started our season yet and if we don’t play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion."

Manfred says he and his staff are working tirelessly to figure out a way to avoid that possibility ... revealing to Anderson Cooper that they've come up with an 80-page protocol to keep players safe in a return scenario.

Manfred says the league is eyeing "frequent testing," quarantine plans for those who contract the virus and safety measurements like fan-less games to ensure players' health is the top priority if a comeback happens.

The problem? There's a disagreement right now between MLB owners and players over whether or not players should take a pay cut in a return to the diamond.

IT'S MY MONEY

Rays ace Blake Snell blasted the notion this week ("For me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof") and several MLB stars have since backed the 27-year-old.

Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper said on his Twitch stream Thursday, "He's speaking the truth, bro. I ain't mad at him."

Rockies megastar Nolan Arenado added, per The Athletic, "He made a lot of good points. There are some points he made that were true, that are facts."

Still, Manfred says he's optimistic they can all come to an agreement ... still eyeing "the first half of July" as a possible starting date for the '20 season.

Pete Alonso Retrograde Mercury Helped Me Break HR Record ... I'm Serious!!!

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Did Mercury coming out of retrograde cost Aaron Judge the rookie home run record?!?!

That's what Pete Alonso's saying ... admitting once the smallest planet in our solar system got back in line last summer -- his bat suddenly woke up from a weeks-long slump!!!

And, yeah ... the Mets superstar is DEAD serious about it!!!

"I saw something on Twitter," Pete said on "The Cookie Club" show this week, "I was in a rabbit hole one night after the game and it's like, 'Mercury is out of retrograde, and if you're born in a certain month, then it really affects you in a negative way and your performance at your job.'"

"And I'm like, 'Oh, Mercury's in retrograde!'" Pete added. "'It comes out of retrograde on this day, and I can't wait for that!' And, that day was probably like five days away."

Sure enough, Pete says as soon as that day hit on the calendar -- he went BERSERK at the plate ... and his teammates laughed their faces off over it all!!

"He came in the locker room screaming it," Mets stud Dominic Smith said. "'Mercury's out of retrograde!' And we're looking around like, 'What does that even mean?!'"

Smith added, "And, I was just like, 'Whatever, Pete's back!' And, I'm telling you, he went off! Like I couldn't believe it!"

FYI, Alonso used that game and about three dozen more following it to ultimately break Judge's rookie home run record ... finishing with 53 jacks in one season.

As for Alonso repeating that feat in 2020 ... he seems confident he's got the skills to do it -- although Mercury is set to go in retrograde from June 18 to July 12.

BEWARE!!!

MLB's Blake Snell Refuses To Play For Reduced Salary ... 'Bro, I'm Risking My Life'

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IT'S MY MONEY

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell says there's no way in hell he's stepping on the mound for a penny less than his guaranteed salary ...  slamming the MLB's recent proposal in an emotional Twitch stream.

Of course, the league came up with a plan for a shortened season and a 50-50 revenue split between the owners and players earlier this week ... in hopes of salvaging the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Y'all gotta understand, man ... for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof," The Cy Young winner said Wednesday.

"It's a shorter season, less pay."

FYI -- 27-year-old Snell is in the middle of a 5-year, $50 million deal and was set to make $7 million in 2020.

He continued ... "I gotta get my money. I'm not playing unless I get mine, okay? And, that's just the way it is for me. Like, I'm sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I'm making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?"

When fans criticized Snell's stance in the Twitch comments ... he doubled down.

"Bro, I'm risking my life. What do you mean it should not be a thing? It should 100% be a thing. If I'm gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid."

The revenue split is likely to get rejected when it's officially presented to the MLB Players Association ... considering the league already agreed to $170 million in up-front money to keep players paid during the pandemic back in March.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer also weighed in on the proposal ... and he's siding with Snell.

"It doesn't sit well with me. Slightly lighthearted, but if I'm gonna have to trust my salary to Rob Manfred marketing the game to make more money for the game, I am out on that.”

MLB's Barry Zito Makes Nicole Scherzinger Cry ... Before 'Masked Singer' Elimination

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Did you know Barry Zito had a hell of a curveball AND an amazing voice?!?!

It's true ... the former World Series champ sang his face off all season on "The Masked Singer" -- with his voice even making Nicole Sherzinger cry before he was eliminated from the show Wednesday!!

The 42-year-old sang a rendition of Tim McGraw's "Humble And Kind" under the guise of The Rhino ... and it was so good, the Pussycat Dolls star was moved to tears.

Check out the footage ... Zito's twangy sound really had Nicole wiping away the waterworks!!

But, as it turns out, even that wasn't enough to save the former Cy Young winner from elimination ... he was booted from the show just short of making next week's finale.

Of course, it was a valiant effort from the ex-San Francisco Giant ... he finished in fourth place, and the judges praised him for being super authentic throughout the competition!!

BTW, Zito's been doing the music thing for a while -- and told us back in 2017 why he hopes to add a Grammy to his trophy case one day.

IT'S MY SECOND CALLING
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Also, don't feel too bad for Barry about the exit -- it's pretty much the only L Zito is taking in 2020 ... he just had a new baby, and his family is cute as hell!!

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What a #quaranteam!

Donald Trump Signed Baseballs Explode In Value ... Haters Buying Too!!!

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Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is killing it when it comes to the autograph market -- with the value of DT signed baseballs more than doubling in price since he took office.

Authentic Trump signed baseballs are selling in the $2,000 to $3,000 price range ... a huge jump from the $1,000 price point most memorabilia shops were getting for DT balls when he moved into the White House in 2017.

In fact, Steiner Sports -- one of the biggest sports autograph dealers in the country -- is asking $2,663.99 for an authentic Trump signature on an MLB baseball.

TMZ Sports spoke with Ken Goldin, who runs Goldin Auctions -- another major player in the sports collectibles market -- who says Trump memorabilia is still in super-high demand, despite the criticism he's received in office.

"The more he's in the news, the more demand there is," Goldin tells us.

STILL BALLIN'
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Goldin recently sold a copy of the Trump impeachment documents with Donald's signature for a cool $81,000 ... and says the buyer was NOT a Trump fan.

Goldin says some of the biggest Trump collectors are actually Trump haters!

"People who even are not fans of his probably would say, 'Hey, I'd like to have a signature baseball, this is kind of unique."

For comparison ... wondering what an Obama baseball would go for? Goldin tells us a BO ball would sell for around $1,200.

Old news is old news!
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