Atlanta Braves’ ‘The Freeze’ identified as U.S. sprinter

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An incredibly perceptive track and field fan might recognize “The Freeze” from the now-viral Atlanta Braves promotion.

The man behind the full-body suit and ski goggles is Nigel Talton, a sprinter who has clocked 10.47 seconds in the 100m and made the 2013 U.S. Indoor Championships 60m final (green jersey, second from the right in above video).

He ranks as the 4,678th-fastest man all time, according to Tilastopaja.org’s historic 100m rankings.

Talton harbored Rio Olympic dreams but did not qualify for the Olympic Trials because he had not met the entry standard of 10.16 seconds.

He has been racing domestically since 2010, when he broke the Iowa Wesleyan 100m record as a freshman, running 10.73.

He has also been a member of the Atlanta Braves grounds crew since 2012, according to the Washington Post. Chasing down fans on the Suntrust Park outfield track is a bit different than lining up against the nation’s best sprinters.

“Mainly with the big ol’ goggles, it was a big adjustment,” Talton said, according to the newspaper, adding that he is done racing this outdoor season but hopes to make the 2018 World Indoor Championships team. “I’m used to running in those kind of Boathouse speed suits or little short shorts for track meets.”

To make 2018 World Indoors, Talton would likely have to finish in the top two of the 60m at the U.S. Indoors in Albuquerque in February.

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Katie Ledecky issues invite to Bryce Harper during coming suspension

Katie Ledecky, Bryce Harper
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It appears Bryce Harper might be forced to miss some upcoming Washington Nationals games. D.C.-area native Katie Ledecky is here to soften the blow.

“If you end up suspended,” Ledecky tweeted to Harper after his mound-charging fight Monday, “come on down to Palo Alto and hang out at the pool for a day!”

It would be fitting. After all, Ledecky already joined Harper at Nationals Park in August, when Harper become a medal rack for Ledecky so she could throw a ceremonial first pitch.

Harper then sported a Ledecky swimming cap during the Nationals’ champagne-spraying celebration after winning the National League East title last season.

Ledecky, a rising Stanford sophomore, is preparing for the U.S. Championships in Indianapolis in four weeks. She will race in Santa Clara, Calif., this weekend on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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International baseball chief ‘confident’ after Olympic talks with MLB

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A top international baseball official remains confident of MLB participation, in some form, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the two sides met last week, according to a report.

“I am confident that we can find a positive solution with the MLB,” World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari said, according to “Around the Rings,” via Hardball Talk. “But I need to have more details.”

Fraccari has expressed confidence in MLB Olympic participation since baseball and softball were re-added to the Olympic program for 2020 last year, which will end an absence since 2008. MLB has never participated in the Olympics, but minor-league players have competed at the Games.

Fraccari said there will be another phase of discussions with MLB. The 2020 Olympic baseball tournament format and schedule must be finalized, according to “Around the Rings.”

Last month, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred repeated his skepticism of major leaguers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“There have not been any substantive discussions with the baseball and softball confederation about participation of major-league players in the 2020 Olympics,” Manfred said at the World Baseball Classic, according to the Japan Times. “I’m sure that those conversations will take place. We have not even been informed about what exactly the format of the event is going to be, how many days would be involved and whatnot.

“I am more than prepared to hear what the event is going to look like, describe to our owners what our options are with respect to participation in that type of event, and we’ll make a decision from there.”

Both Manfred and the MLB Players Association head have emphasized the difficulties in MLB participation in Tokyo 2020, most notably the fact that the Games take place during the MLB and minor-league seasons.

“The skepticism that you’ve heard from some relates to, no matter how you put the event together there would be a significant amount of major league players who would be away from their teams,” Manfred said in March, according to the newspaper. “It would alter the competition in our everyday game. I do not believe our owners would support some sort of a break in our season. Continuity is really important to our competition.”

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