Players League opens to homers, tricks, meltdowns
When Joey Gallo was told that the first-ever MLB The Show Players League was going to be a big event with promotions across the internet and social media, he admitted to having some nerves, fearing he would disappoint Rangers fans watching the streams.
Gallo said the nerves stemmed from uncertainty about how good he actually was, considering he has only played about 15 online games. But after Friday night, those nerves can be put to rest as the Rangers slugger went 4-0 on Day 1, beating Blake Snell, Amir Garrett, Lance McCullers Jr. and Trevor May in dominating fashion.
“I guess I’m better than I thought I was,” Gallo said with a smile. “I didn’t think I was that good. I was a little nervous about it. I didn’t want to go 0-4 because the Rangers fans were killing me already.”
Anyone who has played the video game understands just how difficult it is to hit at a consistent level. It’s perhaps the most infuriating part of the game -- more on this later -- but Gallo made it look easy. So easy, in fact, that his competition started questioning whether Gallo has spent most of his free time on the sticks.
“Gallo, what are you doing in the offseason? Just playing The Show all day?” asked Snell. "He’s like, ‘I can’t hit with my guy,’ and then hits a ball 7,000 feet. I think he has a professional streamer at his house playing and he just sits in front of his camera. I’m just saying, it makes sense. He says he never plays the game.”
Snell has a point. Gallo hit towering home runs throughout the night, including four with his own avatar. Over the course of the night, Gallo outscored his four opponents, 30-6, including an 11-2 drubbing against Snell, a 6-0 win over Garrett, and an impressive seven-run third-inning comeback against McCullers.
“[Gallo] has a legit shot of winning this and going undefeated,” Snell said. “I’m happy he’s in it; it’s going to make for a fun playoffs.”
Home Run of the Day
It basically felt like Gallo hit every home run on the night, but his most important came in the third -- and final -- inning against McCullers. Down 4-2, Gallo hit a clutch three-run home run with Willie Calhoun, who Gallo refers to as “Big Willie,” to preserve his 4-0 night.
Play of the Day
The night got started with a game between Snell and Garrett, which represented a finals rematch of the four-player tournament held a few weeks ago. Snell and Garrett didn’t score a run in the first three innings, forcing the game into extra frames. And then “The Bunt” happened.
With a runner on third, Garrett put on a safety squeeze against Snell, giving him a 1-0 lead and ultimately the win. Garrett, who was wearing his full Reds uniform, jumped up from his chair, knowing exactly what he had just done.
“Small ball!” Garrett screamed. “We play small ball, baby. That’s what we do!”
The look of disgust on Snell’s face said it all.
“National League,” Snell said. “You should be embarrassed.”
Rage of the Day
If you have ever raged during a video game (let’s face it, you definitely have), then you will enjoy seeing May blow up in his game against Garrett. May had a rough night, going 1-3, but this moment basically summed up a night that was filled with errors and baserunning mistakes.
“I’m perfectly squaring it up. How is it right at your defender?” May said during his rant. “What a joke. I hit a perfect, perfect swing and it has a 91 mph exit velocity. OK. Perfect. I have to play someone that’s bad. This is a joke.”
We totally get it.
Saturday's Games to Watch
Saturday will be the first day of action for Ty Buttrey (Angels), Jon Duplantier (D-backs), Niko Goodrum (Tigers), Carl Edwards Jr. (Mariners), Jesus Luzardo (A’s) and Rhys Hoskins (Phillies). Each player will play four three-inning games. Gallo said he believes position players have an advantage over pitchers, so no pressure, Goodrum and Hoskins.
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 live stream in which it will select the best one-on-one matchups and look into other game results and friendly banter.