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Who is Yermin Mercedes? What to know about hot-hitting White Sox rookie

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Who is Yermin Mercedes? What to know about hot-hitting White Sox rookie

It took him awhile, but Yermin Mercedes has finally made an out this season. 

Mercedes was 8 for 8 before flying out to Angels center fielder Mike Trout in the eighth inning Saturday night. At that point, the White Sox’s rookie catcher had already become a baseball sensation. He had followed up a 5-for-5 performance Friday with hits in his next three at-bats and was a triple shy of the cycle.

His perfect start is historic, too: Mercedes is the first player in the modern era (1900 to present) to begin a season with eight consecutive hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (via the White Sox). 

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So who is Yermin Mercedes, and why is he doing this for one of the top teams in the American League?

Mercedes took a long road to the Show

Mercedes is 28 and has been in professional baseball for a decade. He signed with the Nationals as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in March 2011. But he hasn’t been in organized ball all 10 of those years. He spent the 2014 season in independent ball after being released by the Nats in August 2013.

And he didn’t even get to play in the high-profile indy leagues. He had to try clawing his way back in the United and Pecos leagues in the American Southwest. He hit 17 home runs and compiled a 1.124 OPS in 61 combined games at that level. Those numbers got the attention of the Orioles, who signed him as a minor league free agent in September 2014.

Three years after that, the White Sox took him in the 2017 minor league Rule 5 Draft. Regardless of organization, he remained a hitting machine in the high minors while he kept working on his defense. He tore up Triple-A in 2019 (17 homers, 1.033 OPS at Charlotte).

Mercedes earned an invite to the White Sox’s alternate site last season and then made his MLB debut with an at-bat Aug. 2, 2020.

Mercedes made the Sox as their No. 3 catcher

Mercedes was a late addition to Chicago’s 26-man Opening Day roster. The Sox went with him over nonroster catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Manager Tony La Russa viewed Mercedes as a useful bench bat from the right side, especially after left fielder Eloy Jimenez suffered a long-term injury.

Mercedes is backing up Yasmani Grandal and Zack Collins behind the plate. Grandal hurt his knee in spring training and Collins is now expected to be a semiregular at DH with rookie Andrew Vaughn moving to the outfield to replace Jimenez. All of that leaves an opening for Mercedes to get at-bats. After an 8-for-9 start, he figures to be in the lineup more than expected in the season’s early days.

“You have to be ready, catching or DH, whenever Tony wants to put me there,” Mercedes told reporters, per MLB.com. “Do the best I can do. DH, catching, if I’m in the lineup that’s what I think about.”

Mercedes hasn’t caught yet for the Sox — he was their DH on Friday and Saturday.

Mercedes tuned up for camp in the Dominican

Mercedes is a regular in the Dominican winter ball. This past season was his seventh in the league, all with Licey. He slugged two homers and slashed .276/.326/.368 in 95 plate appearances against higher-level pitching.

Mercedes’ family back home was following his every move during that magical first night.

“When the first hit came (Friday), the joy, I thought the building was going down,” Mercedes’ father, Yermin Mercedes Sr., told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday. “We were jumping and happy and screaming. And then the second and third and fourth and fifth. It was just joy and happiness.”

The elder Mercedes told the Sun-Times that he convinced his son to keep playing a few years ago when he wasn’t making progress through the minors.

“As a father, you don’t let your son quit,” Mercedes’ dad told the Sun-Times on Saturday. “You don’t let them give up on their dreams.”

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Is Julian Edelman a Hall of Famer? Twitter debates retired receiver’s credentials

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Is Julian Edelman a Hall of Famer? Twitter debates retired receiver's credentials

Julian Edelman called it quits Monday, announcing his retirement after an 11-year NFL career, all of it spent with the Patriots.

Edelman’s final stat line: 620 receptions for 6,866 receiving yards (11 yards per reception) and 36 receiving touchdowns; 58 rushes for 413 yards (7.1 yards per carry); 177 punt returns for 1,986 yards and four touchdowns. His yardage ranks 156h in NFL history, and his receiving touchdowns are tied for 261st.

Zero Pro Bowl selections. Three Super Bowl rings. One Super Bowl MVP. And a member of the Patriots’ 2010 All-Decade team.

Now, the ensuing debate: Are those numbers good enough to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (which Edelman won’t be eligible for until 2026)? The pure numbers say no, but that didn’t stop Twitter users from making “HOFer” and “Edelman” trend Monday evening as they discussed Edelman’s Hall of Fame credentials.

MORE: Why did Patriots cut Julian Edelman? Failed physical only part of New England roster move

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer in May 2019 made a compelling argument that Edelman’s Hall of Fame case isn’t so cut and dry. Working in Edelman’s favor is the fact that only Jerry Rice ranks ahead of Edelman in postseason receptions (151 to Edelman’s 118) and receiving yards (2,245 to Edelman’s 1,442). He was also one of the favorite targets of Tom Brady — himself a first-ballot Hall of Famer — as the two won three Super Bowls together.

But Edelman only led the Patriots three times in receiving yards, and never put together more than 1,117 yards in a season (in 2019, his last fully healthy season). He had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons and never scored more than seven receiving touchdowns a year. People were also quick to point out his stats pale in comparison to other non-Hall of Famers with considerably better stats, including Hines Ward, who in 2021 failed to make it into Canton for the fifth consecutive year.

Regardless of whether Edelman makes it into the Hall of Fame, the fact that his candidacy is so hotly debated — not even 24 hours removed from announcing his retirement — is a testament to his impact on the game.

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Why did Patriots cut Julian Edelman? Failed physical only part of New England roster move

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Why did Patriots cut Julian Edelman? Failed physical only part of New England roster move

The Patriots sent shockwaves throughout the NFL on Monday — tremors, at least — with the announcement that they would cut veteran receiver Julian Edelman.

Multiple reports suggest that New England cut Edelman, 34, because he failed his physical; he would have played his 12th season in the league in 2021 after missing the final 10 games of the 2020 season while recovering from knee surgery.

That said, New England’s decision to cut Edelman was more than just a simple failed physical. Either way, Monday’s decision could put the cap on an 11-year career that saw Edelman catch 620 passes for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns and win three Super Bowls.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the decision, and Edelman’s future in the NFL.

Why did the Patriots cut Julian Edelman?

The initial reason for Edelman’s tenure ending in New England was a failed physical. That makes sense on the surface, considering that the 34-year-old receiver played in the fewest games in a given season since he entered the NFL in 2009. Considering how busy New England coach/GM Bill Belichick was in free agency, it also stands to reason that Edelman would have seen fewer targets in 2021 after the Patriots added receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

However, that was only part of the Patriots’ decision. Per Mike Weiss of ESPN, the decision could simply be a formality and precursor to Edelman retiring from football.

Edelman later confirmed rumors that he was, indeed, retiring. Edelman, in a pre-recorded video, announced his decision.

Why is Edelman retiring from the NFL?

In the video, Edelman credited an undisclosed knee injury from the 2020 season as the reason for his retirement. He underwent surgery on Oct. 29 and did not return for the remainder of New England’s 7-9 season.

“Nothing in my career has ever come easy. And, no surprise, this isn’t going to be easy, either,” Edelman said in his announcement. “I always said, ‘I’m gonna go until the wheels come off.’ And they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of retirement from football. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I’m honored, and so proud, to be retiring a Patriot.

That last line also puts an end to any rumors that Edelman will attempt a comeback somewhere else in the NFL — notably, in Tampa Bay with former teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

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Dustin Poirier says Conor McGregor never donated promised $500K to former’s charity

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Dustin Poirier says Conor McGregor never donated promised $500K to former's charity

Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor are confirmed to be fighting again … on Twitter.

The latest clash between the two UFC fighters stems from a Poirier claim Sunday night that McGregor and his team failed to deliver on a promised $500,000 donation. It would have gone to Poirier’s charity, “The Good Fight,” after their UFC 257 bout in January, which Poirier won via second-round TKO.

McGregor responded in kind, saying that Poirier never said exactly where the money was going and how it would be used.

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All this stemmed from a 2020 exchange between the two fighters where McGregor teased a comeback outside of UFC. He proposed a PPV with Poirier, saying all the money would go to charity. He eventually settled on the $500,000 amount, which would be donated after their January bout. Poirier confirmed in December 2020 that McGregor’s team had begun the process of donating to his foundation.

Poirier and McGregor’s online squabble further devolved from there, with Poirier claiming that McGregor’s team quit responding to emails and McGregor calling Poirier a “brain dead hillbilly” — before canceling their trilogy fight.

Both fighters have reportedly signed contracts to a trilogy fight on July 10 at UFC 264, though that promotion hasn’t been made official. What’s also uncertain is whether McGregor’s claim that the fight is off is him simply letting off steam or retaliation against Poirier.

Just another day in the UFC.

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