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With another memorable trip around the bases, Gunnar Henderson leads Orioles to 6-2 win over Nationals

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With Another Memorable Trip Around The Bases, Gunnar Henderson Leads Orioles To 6-2 Win Over Nationals
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More so than the speed Gunnar Henderson showed as he rounded the bases, and more so than the ball slipping out of left fielder César Hernández’s grasp on his throw, perhaps the most surprising thing about the play that broke Wednesday night’s game open was that Henderson never lost his helmet.

In the Orioles rookie’s first marquee moment in the major leagues, that helmet gave way to his blonde locks, either by the sheer force of his swing or the speed of his legs. But in the seventh inning at Nationals Park on Wednesday, Henderson chugged and the helmet remained — all the way from the batter’s box, around first, second and third, and into home plate about 15 seconds later.

Baltimore needed a spark against Washington, having staggered through six innings against left-hander Patrick Corbin. Against the Nationals’ bullpen, however, the Orioles immediately broke through, with Henderson’s hard-hit triple down the third base line propelling Baltimore to a 6-2 win to keep pace in the race toward the final American League wild-card spot. With the victory, the Orioles are four games back of the Tampa Bay Rays heading into a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, although the Rays own the tiebreaker over Baltimore.

As the Orioles struggle to produce with runners in scoring position, Henderson has a been a bright spot. The 21-year-old is 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position this month; the rest of his teammates are 15-for-84.

It was Henderson’s groundout in the second inning that got Baltimore on the board early after it loaded the bases. The Orioles only managed one run after producing three straight singles against Corbin, who settled in and didn’t allow another hit until Austin Hays’ double to begin the sixth.

But in the seventh, with right-hander Mason Thompson on the mound, manager Brandon Hyde inserted outfielder Cedric Mullins as a pinch hitter. He promptly singled, moving Jesús Aguilar to second. That brought Henderson up, and his liner down the line off Thompson sent Henderson off to the races.

Henderson ran from home plate to third base in 11.12 seconds, according to MLB.com, the third fastest home-to-third time this season. When the ball squirted out of Hernández’s hand as he attempted to throw it in, Henderson could jaunt home to complete his Little League homer.

The sudden burst of energy ignited the Orioles-heavy crowd at Nationals Park, who chanted “Let’s go O’s” after shortstop Jorge Mateo sent Thompson’s next pitch over the left field fence. And in the eighth, Henderson’s blast off the right-field fence plated Mullins for his career-high fourth RBI.

The offensive output cleared the line for right-hander Tyler Wells, who allowed two solo homers and nothing else, and it positioned right-hander Austin Voth for the win against his former club.

The boost Henderson has given Baltimore has been apparent on an everyday basis and through memorable moments. In his second major league at-bat, he clobbered a homer for his first hit — and lost his helmet. That helmet also left his head during his ninth-inning single in that game. Henderson has provided a game-winning hit against the Red Sox and now a double and triple Wednesday against Washington.

As the youngest position player in baseball, Henderson owns a .328 batting average with an .890 OPS. Even as Mullins found himself out of the starting lineup against a left-handed starter for the fifth straight time, Henderson batted eighth despite the left-on-left matchup.

Mullins later entered against the right-handed Nationals relievers, singling twice to provide a runner on base for Henderson. But Henderson’s presence throughout the evening shows Hyde’s willingness to give the burgeoning star those opportunities, even through both at-bats against Corbin ended in groundouts.

Henderson needed to be there once a right-hander stood on the mound. And once a right-hander was there, Henderson delivered another emphatic moment — the kind he’s had a penchant for less than a month into his big league career.

This story will be updated.

[email protected] JAYS

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Other voices: Liberating Iran: Biden learned from failures of Obama-era approach

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Other Voices: Liberating Iran: Biden Learned From Failures Of Obama-Era Approach
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With dozens of protesters now killed in Iran as unrest sparked by the killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police engulfs the country, U.S. leadership finds itself in the familiar yet uncomfortable conundrum of how to respond. So far, the Biden administration is threading the needle ably.

Over a decade ago, when President Barack Obama found himself watching mass protests from afar, his tendency toward dispassionate calculation left him taking a tepid stance, likely out of fear that a stronger stance would open the door for the Iranian leadership to paint the homegrown protests as something driven by external U.S. meddling.

That was a mistake; the Iranian leadership needs no additional encouragement to lay its problems at the feet of the perennial bogeymen in Washington, and instead it could only have demoralized everyday Iranians hoping for broad international backing.

Obama’s then-second-in-command, now President Joe Biden, seems to have learned this lesson well and has thankfully been much more direct in both calling out the heavy-handed Iranian response and taking concrete action, including by imposing sanctions on the morality police specifically and moving to give tech companies more latitude to help circumvent the mullahs’ attempted internet blackout.

That’s not to say Biden should heed the hawks who’ve spent decades clamoring for the U.S. to attempt direct regime change, a terrible idea that the results of other recent military misadventures should take off the table. He should also remember that, while Donald Trump’s more forceful sanctions against Iran arguably feed the current domestic discontent, unfocused economic punishment can end up harming the very populations we intend to help. Biden is understandably still pursuing a nuclear deal — though he must tread especially carefully now.

The current approach, of forcefully backing the protesters in the public sphere while continuing to negotiate for a tough deal that will prevent Iran from continuing on a path toward the ill-conceived goal of nuclear weapons, is sound. It’s likeliest to result in a liberalized Iran without an immense body count.

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Mike Preston: Ravens offensive line needs stability, and Ronnie Stanley could provide it | COMMENTARY

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Mike Preston: Ravens Offensive Line Needs Stability, And Ronnie Stanley Could Provide It | Commentary
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As the Ravens continue to tinker and revamp their team, the offensive line remains perhaps the biggest question mark.

Right now, the unit is a revolving door, even though it seemed to find some rhythm in Sunday’s 37-26 win over the New England Patriots. The Buffalo Bills will be a much bigger challenge because they have the No. 2 ranked run defense in the NFL led by Von Miller, Gregory Rousseau, Boogie Basham and Jordan Phillips.

The Ravens will counter with guards Ben Powers and Kevin Zeitler, rookie center Tyler Linderbaum and right tackle Morgan Moses, but left tackle remains a mystery. It could be Patrick Mekari, rookie Daniel Faalele or possibly the All Pro himself, Ronnie Stanley, who has played only one game in the last two seasons because of an ankle injury. Stanley dressed in shorts and shoulder pads Wednesday, but Faalele took the repetitions with the first team.

The constant shuffling is one of the major reasons the Ravens are ranked No. 15 in rushing offense, way below their top-five standard of previous seasons. Offensive line play is about chemistry and being in sync, and the Ravens haven’t had any consistency at left tackle, the most important position on the line.

“We’re striving for it,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s a position we want to be in, for sure. There is value in having backup guys, a backup plan, with guys who can play different positions because things happen. Ideally, you want to have one group out there just like on defense, just like in the secondary, where you have a group out there as much as you can.”

Starting left tackle Ja’Wuan James ruptured his Achilles tendon in Week 1 and is out for the season. Mekari sprained his ankle against New England and didn’t not practice Wednesday. Faalele replaced Mekari against the Patriots and played reasonably well after a slow start, but he’ll struggle against the Bills’ defensive line.

This situation was somewhat predictable. James was struggling to make it through training camp after missing the entire 2020 and 2021 seasons and Mekari has been bothered by a bad back for years. It was only a matter of time before they missed extensive playing time due to injuries.

The Ravens need Stanley to play. He has had nearly two years to heal, and Harbaugh basically said a week ago that Stanley had to decide on his own when he could return.

The time is now.

“It’s what he sees, it’s what he feels, those two things have to be taken into account,” Harbaugh said. “Ronnie doesn’t want to go out there and we don’t him to go out there if he doesn’t feel he is ready to go. It’s a priority for him to be at his best when he comes back. At some point, he is going to have to jump in there. It could be this week.”

In his first five seasons in Baltimore after being selected No. 6 overall in the 2016 draft, Stanley became one of the top left tackles in the NFL. When coming out of Notre Dame, though, he was criticized for his work ethic and there were times earlier in his pro career when Stanley decided not to practice when he should have been on the field.

There are whispers of the same criticism again from the Ravens’ fan base and from some within the organization, but patience is needed. When a player that large (6 feet 6, 315 pounds) has an ankle injury and multiple surgeries, it’s going to take time to heal.

But let’s be honest. Stanley will never be mentioned in the same breath as tough guys like Orlando Brown Sr. (nicknamed Zeus), guard Jeff Blackshear or nose tackle Tony Siragusa.

His return, though, could mark a turning point. In the past, the Ravens prided themselves on winning time of possession, but this year opponents have held the ball nearly five minutes more per game.

The Ravens have allowed the most passing and total yards in the league this season, which doesn’t bode well against Buffalo. If you want keep players like Bills quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs off the field, the best way to do it is to control the tempo.

There is nothing more demoralizing in a football game than an offense with a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter running the ball effectively. That’s almost as good as any defense.

This Ravens offense still has that potential, especially with J.K Dobbins returning as the starting running back and Justice Hill emerging as his primary backup. But the key is having all five starters on the offensive line playing consistently.

Against the Patriots, quarterback Lamar Jackson powered the running game with 107 yards on 11 carries. It worked Sunday, but a quarterback shouldn’t be that exposed to punishment, especially against Buffalo.

The idea is to be balanced enough to run or pass depending on the opponent’s weaknesses and the down and distance. Buffalo could be without top safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer and cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Christian Benford on Sunday, so that gives the Ravens some leeway.

Faalele isn’t the best answer at left tackle, but at least he will get more playing time to develop. Another option the team might consider is moving Moses to the left side because of his athleticism. If Mekari returns, the Ravens should insert him as left guard because he is more technically sound than Powers, but Harbaugh prefers having bigger bodies on the line. Mekari weighs 305 pounds compared to 338 for Powers.

The Ravens have plenty of options, including David Sharpe, who could be elevated from the practice squad in an emergency. The versatility is a good thing to have, but the best offensive lines are cohesive because they have played together consistently.

The Ravens need to find that kind of rhythm.

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9 St. Paul hot spots to eat at right now

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Banh Xeo Savory Crepe , With A Salad.
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It might seem like restaurant openings have slowed down a bit since the pandemic, but I’m here to tell you that there are so many new and exciting restaurants in St. Paul that I’m having a hard time keeping up.

A west metro, food-loving friend of mine told me recently that St. Paul is where it’s at, and after compiling this list, it’s hard to argue with him.

Here, in alphabetical order, are eight relatively recently opened places (and one with a notable new chef) in St. Paul that are absolutely worth your time and money. It’s a good time to live in the Capital City!

EM QUE VIET

Banh Xeo savory crepe at Em Que Viet on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

One of the newest on this list, Em Que Viet is the younger, hipper “little sister” of Minneapolis’ Que Viet. If you recognize the name, it might be because these are also the folks responsible for the delicious giant eggroll on a stick a the Minnesota State Fair.

The exterior of the Grand Avenue restaurant is hard to miss — a canopy of pretty pink flowers marks the spot — and the interior is bright and modern. There’s an adorable little patio in the back, too, to savor the last drops of fall sunshine.

There’s plenty of traditional Vietnamese food — including those ridiculously delicious giant egg rolls — on the menu here, but also some harder-to-find items like a silky beef carpaccio and Banh Xeo, or a crispy, bean-sprout-filled Vietnamese crepe. There are tons of vegan and vegetarian options here, and they have a full liquor license. The cocktail list includes craft drinks using Asian ingredients and flavors (like an espresso martini with Vietnamese drip espresso or a whiskey sour with Japenese whiskey).

Great for a date night or a business lunch, Em Que Viet is a welcome addition to St. Paul’s dining scene.

1332 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-4363; emqueviet.com

EMERALD LOUNGE

  • Mussels On A Plate

    Mussels at Emerald Lounge in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Chips And Dip

    Chips and dip at Emerald Lounge in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Shrimp And Grits

    Shrimp and grits at Emerald Lounge in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Four Cocktails -- Three In Martini Glasses And The Fourth In A Short Glass.

    Cocktails, including The Huntress, foreground, at Emerald Lounge in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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This pretty little cocktail lounge has been an instant hit in the Capital City. But if it’s full when you arrive, don’t worry — tables generally turn quickly, and a friendly staff never makes you feel out of place while you wait.

The snack-heavy food menu here is short but tasty — try some tender mussels in a Thai-inspired coconut broth or chips and two kinds of housemade dip (French onion or harissa aioli). The menu changes frequently, but most everything we have tried has been tasty.

Cocktails here are thoughtfully crafted and well-balanced. The martini of the moment is always a great selection — it’s usually a variation on the classic gin drink. The Huntress, an aquavit version of the martini that includes white balsamic vinegar and an anchovy and a pickled onion as garnish, is a savory revelation. It wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I love aquavit and a salty drink, so I really, really loved it. The wine list focuses on some underrepresented varietals. If you haven’t heard of it, order it anyway.

Overall, it’s an awesome spot to meet up with friends and have a nosh and a drink — whatever your preference.

455 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-410-1650; emeraldstpaul.com

GABE’S NEIGHBORHOOD BAR & KITCHEN

  • Birria Quesadilla On A Plate, With A Bowl Of Sauce.

    Birria quesadilla at Gabe’s Neighborhood Bar & Kitchen on Lexington Parkway and Energy Park Drive in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Loaded Brussels Sprouts On A Plate.

    Loaded Brussels sprouts at Gabe’s Neighborhood Bar & Kitchen in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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This Como Park neighborhood staple underwent a branding change and brought on chef Scott Brink, who was the chef at The Happy Gnome for many years, and his wife, Emily Brink, who is running the front of the house.

The changes haven’t been huge — a few new menu items, fun daily specials, a bathroom remodel, a new logo and sign — but the food, especially the new items, are great for bar food.

My dining partners and I especially liked the birria quesadillas, which include tender beef, lots of cheese and a rich, spice-infused consomme, and the loaded Brussels sprouts, which include bacon, queso fresco and sriracha aioli. Bang bang shrimp tacos, with crispy shrimp, crunchy cabbage and a mildly spicy bang bang sauce, are also worth an order.

991 N. Lexington Parkway, St. Paul; 651-646-3066; gabesmn.com

GUS GUS

  • Sea Bass

    Sea bass at Gus Gus in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Chips With Speck And Creme Fraiche

    Chips with speck and creme fraiche at Gus Gus in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Red Jell-O Shots On A White Plate.

    Jell-o shots at Gus Gus in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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This beloved Mac-Groveland neighborhood restaurant space (it was 128 Cafe for many years, and after that, Stewart’s) is happily still one of my favorite eateries in town.

Hospitality vets Anna Morgan (front of house) and Kevin Manley (chef) opened Gus Gus this spring, and it’s as comfortable, and approachable, as ever. The killer Stewart’s burger is still there, but also fun bar snacks like house-made potato chips topped with bits of speck ham and creme fraiche and simple, well-executed entrees like sea bass on a white bean ragu and a tender, beefy ribeye.

The bar program is better than ever, especially for cocktail lovers — the list of inventive craft drinks is long, and everything we sampled has been great. You can also get fancy Jell-o shots, made with Aperol, blood orange and bubbly, which are delicious and are a fun way to kick off your experience.

I also love that you can get a reservation, but they keep bar seats open for spontaneous drop-ins.

128 N. Cleveland Ave., St. Paul; 651-645-4128; gusgusmn.com

KALSADA

  • A Row Of Lumpia On A Plate.

    Lumpia with banana ketchup at Kalsada on St. Paul’s Selby Avenue. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Chicken Adobo With Eggs.

    Chicken adobo at Kalsada on St. Paul’s Selby Avenue. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Three Plates Of Carrots Ginataan, Lumpia And A Tomato Cucumber Salad

    Carrots Ginataan, lumpia and a tomato cucumber salad at Kalsada in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • The Outside Of Kalsada, A Restaurant.

    The outside of Kalsada in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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Filipino food has been hard to find in these parts, and I’m thrilled that this restaurant in the former Augustine’s space on Selby Avenue has filled that void.

Chefs Leah Raymundo and John Occhiato, who also own Cafe Astoria and Stella Belle in St. Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood, did very little to the pretty space here, which already had a tropical vibe.

Raymundo is channeling her home country with modern, soulful versions of dishes like lumpia, chicken adobo and kinilaw, the Filipino version of ceviche. The flavors are bright, deep and tropical and the vibe very comfortable and neighborhoody. There’s a full liquor license in the evenings — and a long list of tropical cocktails — and a full espresso program for weekend brunch.

1668 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-0496; kalsada-stpaul.com

MARIO’S

Pepperoni Pizza
Pepperoni pizza from Mario’s on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Pizza, for some reason, really evokes strong feelings in people. It’s why I’ll never do a “best pizza” story — I’d never see the end of the emails.

But if you are a lover of a thick crust, this new spot from the owners of Estelle is for you. I personally love all pizzas if they are done well, and these springy-crisp-crusted pies, which are topped with just the right amount of sauce and cheese — are definitely done well.

There’s a lot of complaining among food writers I know that it’s tough to get a really good sandwich in the Twin Cities. That’s still true, but I’d definitely put the hoagies here — with their sesame-crusted, house-made bread — in the really good category.

The restaurant, in the former Tillie’s Farmhouse space on Cleveland Avenue, has plenty of space for eating in, but the team is also doing a brisk takeout business.

232 N. Cleveland Ave., St. Paul; 651-207-5252; mariosstp.com

MOMENTO

  • Pepperoni Pizza

    Pepperoni pizza at Momento in downtown St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Salmon In Sauce On A Plate, With Vegetables.

    Salmon at Momento in downtown St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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It was definitely a sad thing for many St. Paulites when Pazzaluna never reopened after pandemic closures.

Happily, the restaurant’s wood-fired oven has been fired up again with this (much smaller) restaurant. The bar here is front and center, and for many people, that’s where they preferred to be at Pazzaluna anyway. Momento is the latest restaurant from Morrissey Hospitality, which ran Pazzaluna and also runs St. Paul Grill across the street.

It’s clear they’re going for quick service for people headed to events downtown in the evenings (they are also open for lunch), and they have accomplished that. I’ve been there before several concerts, and the service is brisk and the food comes out fast.

The food — burgers, tacos, pasta and the like — is decent, and the cocktails are solid. The best thing we had in three visits was definitely the thin-crusted, properly topped pizza.

360 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-223-7000; momento-stp.com

MYRIEL

  • A Plate Of Duck.

    A duck dish from Myriel in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • Black Lentils In A Bowl, With Garnish.

    Black lentils at Myriel in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • A Bowl Of Soup.

    Celery root soup at Myriel in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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I have long admired chef Karyn Tomlinson’s sparse, Nordic-inspired cuisine, and Myriel, in the former Bar Brigade space on Cleveland Avenue, is the perfect place for the first restaurant of her own.

Tomlinson, who was at the helm of Minneapolis’ beloved Corner Table when it closed, also won the national Cochon 555 competition. She’s a big believer in whole-animal butchery — which also means using every part of the pig, cow, lamb or whatever is on the menu. That also means that the menu changes frequently. I usually recommend a la carte dining here, unless you want to make an entire evening of dinner, as that experience has run three-plus hours for me several times.

That being said, everything I have eaten here, including the best duck I’ve ever tasted and black lentils that I’m still craving six months later, has been delicious. It’s where you want to take your food-loving friends when they visit, or where you want to linger over pretty plates of food on a romantic night.

470 S. Cleveland Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-3568; myrielmn.com

NOYES & CUTLER

  • Salmon On A Plate.

    Salmon at Noyes & Cutler in St. Paul’s Lowertown. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • A Porterhouse Steak With Butter On It.

    A porterhouse at Noyes & Cutler in Lowertown. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

  • A Restaurant Dining Room.

    The dining room at the new Noyes & Cutler in Lowertown. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

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Another space that has been rebooted since the pandemic, Noyes & Cutler has opened in the former Public Kitchen + Bar space on Mears Park in Lowertown.

Noyes & Cutler, named for the historic building in which it resides, calls itself a modern American steakhouse, and if you’re going to hang your hat on steak in these beef-obsessed cities, it had better be good. Lucky for us, it’s great — especially the juicy, perfectly cooked prime rib, which comes with horseradish sauce and au jus. It’s kind of a hard cut to find, and many places that offer it do so only certain days of the week.

Chef Aaron Cave is also making a killer porterhouse, which seems really expensive at $70 with no sides until you see the thing and realize it’s enough meat for four, easily. And the non-beef options we’ve tried, including a lick-the-plate good salmon preparation, have all been special-occasion worthy, too.

Public Kitchen never really found its footing, but I’m happy to say that Noyes & Cutler has food befitting the beautiful space in which it resides. Hopefully enough people find it to keep it around.

229 E. Sixth St., St. Paul; 651-968-1050; noyescutler.com

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ASK IRA: Is there an expiration date on Heat development when it comes to follow-up contracts?

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Ask Ira: Is There An Expiration Date On Heat Development When It Comes To Follow-Up Contracts?
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Q: Hi, Ira. With Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson, it isn’t that people were mad they spent the money. It’s the apparent disconnect between continued evaluation of these players when initially signed to these unwarranted sums and lengths of contracts to extend them. The Heat seem to do fantastic at unearthing hidden gems that either go undrafted or were outcasts. But then when the time to further secure their services comes, they overvalue their worth and give out these contracts that they shouldn’t. That’s the real problem. – David, Miami.

A: And yet that also is part of what makes the Heat the Heat, that they value living in the moment, that they don’t write off seasons. So, yes, if they need James Johnson and Dion Waiters in the moment, they sign them in the moment. And in the wake of the Big Three breaking up, they take the risk with Hassan Whiteside. Similarly, when an upgrade at point guard becomes available, they put aside concerns about Kyle Lowry’s age. And the reality is they ultimately were willing to give a third guaranteed season to P.J. Tucker. Why? Because the moment matters. The greater issue is the toll exacted by such long-term expenditures by living in the moment. And, to the Heat’s credit, they have gotten off that bad money before the ends of those contracts, with Waiters, Whiteside and the two Johnsons dealt, often in exchange for something better, be it Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder or tax or cap relief. There is plenty to be said about living in the moment. And there also is plenty to be said about a front office that also recognizes when it is time to move on. Soon there could be similar decisions on Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Omer Yurtseven, as we wait to see how this all plays out with Duncan Robinson. In the end, it could come down to whether Robinson is flipped, and what might come back in return.

Q: Omer Yurtseven has the potential to be the best undrafted, diamond-in-the rough find for this franchise yet. If he can hit the three, look out. He is a very underrated passer out of the post, as well, who can draw attention and kick it back out for an open three. He needs to be in the rotation. – Joe.

A: All of the elements you cite factor into the playing-time equation for Omer Yurtseven. But, more than anything, it will come down to his defense. That cannot be a net minus. What will be interesting to see is if Erik Spoelstra is prepared to meet him halfway, design a system other than requiring his big man to switch so often on pick-and-rolls. Spoelstra did that for Hassan Whiteside, and has done that with Dewayne Dedmon. So it could come down to a willingness to play more drop coverage when Bam Adebayo is out of the game and Yurtseven is in. That’s if Yurtseven gets in.

Q: Udonis Haslem will always be a Heat legend. Let’s have a great last ride. – Charles.

A: Of course, it’s not actually a ride until you get onto the road, or, in this case, onto the court. And that remains to be seen. As it is, the Heat are overloaded with center types, but lacking in aguile power forwards. I’m not sure Udonis Haslem qualifies anymore as a mobile big man.

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Friday is Orange Shirt Day in Canada. A Mendota Heights company is marking it, too.

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A Mendota Heights company is marking Orange Shirt Day, a Canadian grassroots movement to reflect on the treatment of First Nations people in the residential school system.

Patterson Cos., a large medical supplies conglomerate primarily in the business of veterinary and dental products, is promoting the holiday across its North American locations. While only 720 of Patterson’s 7,800 employees are Canadian or work in Canada, the company said it strives to promote holidays and days of remembrance from different cultures and backgrounds.

“Since this matters to Canadians, this matters to Patterson,” said Sarah Schoeneck, media relations manager. “We’re trying to foster a diverse culture and that means celebrating not just American holidays, but other holidays outside of the country.”

Orange Shirt Day falls on Friday, which is also National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, a new statutory holiday that commemorates survivors and victims of Indigenous residential schools. Orange Shirt Day was founded by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, whose favorite orange shirt was taken away on her first day of school.

For the second-annual Orange Shirt Day celebration at Patterson, employees are able to purchase orange shirts through the company and are encouraged to wear them for the day. Several hundred T-shirts were sold across 47 locations in the company.

Proceeds from the shirt sales will be donated to the Squamish Neighbourhood Animal Partnership and Protection Society, which is run by a Canadian residential school survivor. Schoeneck said the company decided to partner with this organization due to Patterson’s involvement in the animal health industry.

This year, Patterson donated nearly $1,600 to S.N.A.P.P.S.

Many initiatives to foster diverse culture at Patterson have been led by the company’s Patterson Affinity Zone group, an employee-led initiative that promotes inclusivity within the company. The group helps provide context and education around holidays that may be unfamiliar to employees, according to Amir Abdou, an integrations consultant at Patterson and a member of the Affinity Zone.

“We’re just trying to educate and help folks who are underrepresented and work with our allies to figure out how we can keep things moving forward,” Abdou said.

While Orange Shirt Day is a holiday celebrated by many Canadians, Abdou said he feels that celebrating the holiday here creates an opportunity for Minnesotans to learn more about the state’s Indigenous communities.

“It’s just important for people and all large companies, especially in the U.S., to learn from this and maybe learn their own ties or their own history,” he said. “Native (Americans) are obviously all over America. So it’s just an opportunity to learn about that history, more than what we were necessarily taught in school.”

Issues of reconciliation and reparations have long been debated in Canada, where the country’s Indian Residential School system, a church-run, government-funded institution, took Indigenous children against their will and subjected them to abuse, neglect and dangerous living conditions as they attempted to assimilate them into white European culture and religion.

Survivors created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of efforts to advocate for recognition and reparations. The commission ran from 2008 to 2015 and afterward released a final report of 94 “Calls to Action” for the Canadian government.

One of these called on the corporate sector in Canada to do its part, according to Ronald Reyes, a category manager at Kane Pet Supplies, one of Patterson’s Canadian companies.

“It’s still going to take generations for this to be rectified and finally get reconciliation,” said Reyes. “But, you know, every small little step that we do today really contributes to that.”

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For Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson, love of baseball began on Alabama field his father built: ‘It’s pretty special’

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For Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson, Love Of Baseball Began On Alabama Field His Father Built: ‘It’s Pretty Special’
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Looking around the packed stands at Morgan Academy in Selma, Alabama, the nerves came to Terry Waters. He pitched in college, but never in front of a crowd like this, with so much riding on each throw.

In those stands were scouts from every team in Major League Baseball. The former Troy pitcher needed to groove batting practice to the player all those scouts were there to see, a 17-year-old named Gunnar Henderson with flowing blonde hair peeking out of his hat and boundless potential.

“That got me a little nervous, I’ll be honest,” Waters said, laughing now with the freedom of one who knows how things turned out. “I didn’t want it to be my fault he had a bad day.”

Two days earlier, Henderson held his first pro day. That one, on a Tuesday, was attended by just one team: the Cincinnati Reds. But word spread like wildfire after the infielder cranked home runs over the fence and onto the football field beyond it with regularity, with no part of the field spared from his power.

So when Thursday came for Henderson’s next session, not one team wanted to miss the rural Alabama teenager who seemed destined to become a star. Waters had seen it earlier that year, when he joined Henderson at various showcase tournaments. In those events, Henderson stood out, even among some of the top high school players in the country.

And while Waters worried about his own strike-throwing performance, there was no need to worry about Henderson. Even then, he seemed unflappable.

“He just crushed the ball,” Waters said. “And then every game he played, every scout was there. It was just unbelievable. And I know he was under super pressure every game.”

Henderson has been ever since, rising rapidly to become the top prospect in baseball, then becoming the youngest player in the majors with the Orioles. But his performances have belied his age, with an uncanny ability to hit for power the opposite way.

On Wednesday, he was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, another feather in the cap of a player whose rise shows no signs of stopping. But before getting here, writing just his first name on the Green Monster at Fenway Park — a signature that will be known to all who come next — he was a little boy in a small town with a baseball glove.

Getting here wasn’t the idea — at least at first. Henderson just had fun playing ball with his brothers and his father, Allen. He hasn’t changed, even if his surroundings and teammates have.

A field of their own

As Gunnar and his mother, Kerry Henderson, rummaged around the house looking for baby photos to use during Gunnar’s senior year, they stumbled on a favorite. Gunnar sat in the dirt, with tears streaming from his eyes and blood on his face.

He was just 4 or 5 years old. But with his brother, Jackson, four years older, Gunnar partook in the same drills. On that occasion, a ground ball off the bat of Allen had kicked up and plunked Gunnar on the face, a startling revelation that baseball — while fun — could also hurt sometimes.

“Made us tough growing up,” Gunnar said. “We’re tough kids, and that’s just how we were raised.”

And they were raised out there, on the Little League field Allen built shortly after they moved into their house in Selma. The transformation was swift, turning a horse pasture into a ball diamond by killing off some grass, forming an infield, laying bases and purchasing a backstop to install.

It was more out of necessity, Allen said. Without many options in Selma for reliable ball fields, he saw the flat patch of grass and felt the solution was to make his own. When coaching city and travel teams for his sons, the Hendersons would host practice. Baseball was all around, from the batting tee and net hung in the garage to the 200-foot fences in the back yard.

“That’s where they lived for quite a few years,” Allen said. “Worked out quite well for him.”

“It was really fun to go from your back porch to your back yard to be able to practice baseball,” Gunnar added.

That’s also where Gunnar’s early development took place, with his father preaching the need to hit the pitch where it’s headed. Allen wanted to divide the plate, noting how young pitchers felt more comfortable pitching away — so Gunnar learned to step in slightly, driving the ball toward left.

With a net in the garage, Henderson would hit balls off the tee set up on the outside, learning how to let the pitch travel deep to avoid rolling over it. There are some “battle scars” in that garage, Allen said, from the occasional mishit balls that found wall instead of net. But that was only to be expected from a daily exercise.

And once Waters began throwing batting practice off the mound to Gunnar as an eighth grader, Gunnar saw more variance, a balance of inside and outside pitching. He always had fast hands, an ability to turn on the baseball; what he learned with Waters is how to react.

“When it’s thrown away, hit it that way,” Gunnar said. “My dad’s big thing: wherever the ball is, hit it that way. I feel like that’s been pretty good for me, it has worked for me, and I feel like that’s been a huge help for my success.”

Early in his time in the minor leagues, Gunnar developed a slightly closed stance. It helped him catch up to the sudden jump in velocity that follows pro ball. But as he rose the ranks in the minors, pitchers began to exploit Gunnar’s determination to hit the ball the other way.

They pitched him inside at Double-A Bowie, requiring an offseason adjustment to develop a more neutral batting stance. And by the time he arrived with the Orioles, his quick hands showed immediately in his second at-bat, as he crushed a thunderous homer to right field.

At Morgan Academy, Gunnar hit all but two or three of his senior year homers the opposite way. He maintained an even split in the minors. In his first month as an Oriole, he’s done the same, with two to right, one to center and one to left.

It’s the same thing he showed four years earlier at his pro day, driving ball after ball over the fence and onto the football field beyond.

“Most kids want to pull the ball and see how far they can hit it,” Waters said. “He’s just as interested in hitting it off the left-center wall on a line drive as he is with pulling it and hitting the ball 50 feet over the fence.”

‘Where it all started’

In that predawn fog, the kind that hovers around ground level in Alabama, Gunnar would drag his father outside for his favorite part of the day. He wouldn’t need to be in preschool until 9 a.m., and that’s also when Allen began work.

So the pair woke up at 6 a.m., went out in the carport and threw the baseball, an early morning warmup before returning to the field behind their house for a more full practice in the late afternoon.

When Gunnar’s eyes glaze over in the visitor’s clubhouse inside Fenway Park, that’s where his mind wanders — to the travel ball practices held at his house, the groundball he took to the face and the throwing and hitting sessions with his father. They all took place there in Selma, the town he still calls home in the offseason.

Shortly after Gunnar signed his deal with the Orioles, he realized he needed something better than a tee in his garage to practice. He helped design and build a 50-foot by 80-foot structure near an old horse barn on their property and down the right field line of the field he grew up playing on.

“It’s kind of like a dressed-up looking barn,” Allen said. “Then you roll the doors back and it’s a full cage with all the essentials.”

That’s where he’ll return once the Orioles’ season ends. For Gunnar, that’s where his love for baseball began, on the little field his father built. And baseball will never wander far from there, even as he becomes a star in the major leagues.

“It’s pretty special to be able to go back there and relive it,” Gunnar said. “Having the batting cage right where it all started, that’s pretty special to me.”

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