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Tatis Jr. gets WILD during Players League

Padres star lets his emotions roar in MLB The Show action
@dohyoungpark
April 13, 2020

Let the kids play, indeed. The young pups of Major League Baseball took the MLB The Show Players League by storm on Sunday night, when the six competitors in action were headlined by 22-year-old Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette, 21-year-old Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and 25-year-old White Sox ace

Let the kids play, indeed.

The young pups of Major League Baseball took the MLB The Show Players League by storm on Sunday night, when the six competitors in action were headlined by 22-year-old Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette, 21-year-old Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and 25-year-old White Sox ace Lucas Giolito.

But first, before we recap the night's results, there was a different young pup in action that also deserves some attention.

Player League schedule and standings

As Marlins reliever Ryne Stanek waited for his third game of the evening, his new dog, Goose, evidently had an accident inside the house as his owner answered questions live on the stream. Goose got the chance to appear on camera while Stanek's girlfriend went to clean up the mess.

"Can't pee in the house, buddy," Stanek whispered to his four-legged friend, who licked him in response. "That's bad. No peeing in the house."

Perhaps Stanek was a little distracted by his canine companion throughout the night, because the right-hander fell to the bottom of the pack with an 0-4 night against his competition. Braves reliever Luke Jackson also had a tough 1-3 night and Giolito broke even at 2-2, while Bichette, Tatis and the Mets' Jeff McNeil all went 3-1 to top the night's standings.

The marquee matchup was the clash between Bichette's Blue Jays and Tatis' Padres, but while Bichette won the battle with a 6-3 victory, Tatís won the night, because it quickly became evident that the San Diego shortstop's electric personality made for a must-watch experience -- much the same in virtual baseball as in real baseball.

Here's a countdown of the top five moments from Tatis' winning night:

5) The temporary loss of all bodily function

Tatis' first matchup, against McNeil, really shouldn't have been in extra innings. McNeil probably should have won the game, but a line drive by Tatis inexplicably eluded a Mets outfielder who was in position to make the play (if you play the game, you'll sympathize here), which led to a big homer.

We are better off as a society because of that Mets outfielder's misplay.

That's because Tatis punctuated an extra-innings rally with a grand slam, and on camera as the ball clears the wall, you can see a legendary reaction in which he raises his arms, falls back onto his couch with his legs outstretched and uncontrollably flails all of his limbs for a solid five seconds before he tries to sit up and falls back down.

4) "This would probably get both dugouts warned in real life"

Are there ejections in virtual baseball? Perhaps Tatis is on a mission to find out.

In the second inning of that game against the Mets, McNeil's avatar came to the plate with two outs, and Tatís took the opportunity to plunk the virtual version of his counterpart with a -- wait-for-it -- 102 mph fastball aimed up and in. Tatis giggled on camera as digital McNeil rolled on the ground in pain. Ouch.

3) The "Manny gets paid" dance

By Tatís' final game of the night, his cacophony of yells had become a regular occurrence, making his primal scream after Manny Machado's go-ahead, three-run homer almost seem like a normal occurrence when watching a professional baseball superstar play a video game.

Not a normal occurrence? The giddy dance that followed this blast.

"That's why they pay him! That's why they pay him!" Tatis sang. "That's why! They pay! Manny Machado!"

2) The havoc on the basepaths

Unsurprisingly, Tatis is even more aggressive in the video game than he is in real life, to the point where he even had Eric Hosmer try to steal second base on a play. (Hosmer's last stolen base was on Sept. 21, 2018.) (Virtual Hosmer was thrown out.)

But that aggression did pay off against Stanek, when Tatis used his own avatar to steal third and roared as the throw went into left field, allowing him to scamper home. Virtual Tatis had a huge day with three homers in addition to the chaos on the basepaths.

"Just like in real life, man!" he yelled. "Controlling chaos! Let's do it, baby! I own this place! I'm fast! I'm lightning!"

1) The walk-off to the beach

Tatis got so hyped up after hitting a walk-off homer with Machado in his final game of the night that he might have actually levitated for a second as he likely woke up everybody in a 10-mile radius with his guttural roars.

Catch him celebrating on the waterfront -- exercising proper social distancing protocol, of course.

"Mr. 305!" he screamed. "That's right! Manny Machado, ladies and gentlemen. That's why! That's why! We're going home happy! Let's go celebrate to the beach now."

Monday's games to watch

Think that was as good as it gets for the fun, young talent in the sport? Think again. Nationals superstar Juan Soto is set to make his Players League debut on Monday night as part of a jam-packed slate of 14 players in action at 9 p.m. ET.

Every contestant who has not yet played will be active on Monday, including Gavin Lux (Dodgers), Josh Hader (Brewers), Carlos Santana (Indians), David Dahl (Rockies), Ian Happ (Cubs), Tommy Kahnle (Yankees), Cole Tucker (Pirates), Dwight Smith Jr. (Orioles), Matt Carpenter (Cardinals), Brett Phillips (Royals) and Hunter Pence (Giants).

Where to watch

Over the next few weeks, the league will be livestreamed on MLB social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch), MLB Network's Twitch site, "MLB The Show" social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch), the clubs’ social media accounts and MLB.com. Each player will also stream it from their individual Twitch or YouTube accounts.

Aside from those streams, in order to provide a full gameday experience, MLB Network will provide a livestream in which it will select the best one-on-one matchups and look into other game results and friendly banter.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.