Nationals

Manning gets slice of pizza market in new hometown

Manning gets slice of pizza market in new hometown

DENVER (AP) Now Broncos fans can call the audibles while Peyton Manning cheers them on.

Pepperoni! No, make that sausage!

Manning became the newest franchisee for Papa John's pizza, signing a deal to own 21 stores in the Denver area Friday, the same day the pizza maker also announced it had signed a multi-year contract to continue as the official pizza of the NFL and the Super Bowl. Terms were not disclosed.

``He's the kind of partner we're looking for, not only in marketing but in business,'' said Papa John's chief marketing officer, Andrew Varga.

Manning connected with Papa John's for a promotion at the 2011 Super Bowl and has since been featured in commercials with founder and CEO John Schnatter. The most recent ad shows the quarterback goading Schnatter into offering a total of 2 million free pizzas to fans who win weekly drawings, doubling the number of freebies the CEO gave away last year.

During Sunday's game between the Broncos and Saints, Manning will star in a new commercial stating that, as a new franchisee, he, too, now gets to give away free pizzas. He also gives fans information about how to join him in becoming a franchise owner.

``It's a smart investment now and will be long after I'm done playing football,'' Manning said.

With his quick wit and clean off-the-field reputation, Manning has long been considered one of the top pitchmen in sports. The spoof he did of himself in a send-up of a United Way commercial on ``Saturday Night Live'' is a classic.

Papa John's has spent the last decade or so solidifying its sports connections. It's the title sponsor of the football stadium at University of Louisville. It also had its name on the college bowl game held in Birmingham, Ala., from 2006-2011.

The company signed with the NFL in 2010 and has been expanding the partnership since then.

Now, it has Manning as its No. 1 pitchman.

``The pizza category is fun. Our founder has fun when he gets into the commercials,'' Varga said. ``You throw Peyton into that mix with the NFL platform and it makes it easy to execute lighthearted commercials that are very much in character for both.''

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With 'Baby Shark' as his new walk-up song, Gerardo Parra broke out of his slump for the Nats

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With 'Baby Shark' as his new walk-up song, Gerardo Parra broke out of his slump for the Nats

WASHINGTON - When Gerardo Parra stepped into the batter’s box for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, everyone in the ballpark knew something was different with the 32-year-old outfielder.

His walk-up song, “Baby Shark”, drew the immediate attention of everyone in attendance. And it would not be the last thing that Washington Nationals fans remembered from Parra on the day.

“I wanted to put on something different,” Parra said postgame. “My [two-year-old daughter Aaliyah Victoria] loves that song. Before the game, I tried merengue, reggaeton, hip-hop, then I said, ‘You know what, I want to put in Baby Shark.’ I'm happy for that.”

After his performance against the Phillies in a 6-2 victory, “Baby Shark” should probably stick around as his walk-up song.

Parra was 0-for-23 when he came to the plate in the fourth inning. Before then his last hit came on June 1 against Cincinnati. Quickly Parra broke that hitless streak and doubled to plate the go-ahead run for the Nationals. He took a first-pitch slider from Zach Eflin and drove home Matt Adams, giving the Nats a 2-1 advantage.

Later in the game, he followed that up with a home run in the eighth inning as the Nats hit back-to-back jacks. It gave Parra, who started in the outfield for Victor Robles, his first multi-hit game since his June 1 appearance and his fourth such game on the Nationals roster.

But paired with his walk-up song, Parra’s sixth-inning assist to get out Bryce Harper is going to make him a fan favorite.  As Harper tried to go from first-to-third on a Scott Kingery single to shallow center, Parra scooped up the ball bare-handed to throw Harper out at third base. Without it there would have been no outs with runners on the corners and Patrick Corbin nearing the end of his start. Instead, the Nats cruised through the rest of the inning to preserve the lead. The Phillies appealed the play but to no avail.

“That's the only chance I had to get Harper,” Parra said. “I know he's an aggressive player and I tried to get everything perfect. Bare-handed, throw the ball as fast as I can. I think that changed the game.”

“It’s 'Mini-me,'” manager Davey Martinez, who played 16 years in the major leagues primarily as an outfielder, said about Parra after the game. “That’s what I tell him too. He came down [to the dugout after the play] and said, ‘You didn’t do that, you never did that.’ I go, ‘Too bad I ain’t got video of it…’ It was a tough play, barehanded, coming up firing. He’s really good, he’s a good outfielder.”  

With “Baby Shark” as his walk-up song Parra went 2-for-4 with a home run and a game-changing assist in a one-run ballgame. It looks like Parra has found his new walk-up song.

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Trey Mancini, the Orioles' lone bright spot, exits game after getting drilled with 92 MPH fastball

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Trey Mancini, the Orioles' lone bright spot, exits game after getting drilled with 92 MPH fastball

Trey Mancini, the Orioles' only hope at an All-Star, exited Baltimore's matinee against Oakland in the top of the first on Wednesday, after he was struck on the left elbow by a 92-mph fastball from the Athletics' starter Chris Bassitt.

Baltimore's Chris Davis pinch-ran for Mancini, who left the game almsot immediately after being hit. 

Baltimore announced on Twitter that Mancini exited the game with a left elbow contusion. 

Mancini, the Orioles' first baseman and outfielder, was a bright spot in a rather lackluster Baltimore lineup.

The only Oriole with a real chance at an All-Star selection, Mancini is batting .304 in 70 games and leads Baltimore with 84 hits, 18 doubles and 16 homers.

The 27 year-old also has one of the highest slugging percentages on the Orioles (.558).

Fans reacted with anguish on Twitter after Mancini exited the game.

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