Some of these playoff races are shaping up to be pretty exciting. The AL East is crazy tight, and the AL Wild Card race has some surprising entrants. The NL Wild Card race is tightening up. Now’s the time of year you have to divorce yourself from the crappiness of the Cubs if you want to just enjoy baseball. It’s there to be enjoyed if you can get past the disappointment.

  • Last night, the Cubs had a chance to tie the game in the sixth when Darwin Barney hit a would-be sacrifice fly to center field with Starlin Castro on third, and Dave Sappelt on second. Both runners tagged, but, rather than try to get Castro at home, the Astros threw to third, nailing Sappelt. The problem for the Cubs? Castro hadn’t yet scored. The inning ended with the Sappelt out, and the Cubs didn’t get a run. Castro is getting some grief for not hustling all the way down the line, but I wonder how much of that is fair. On the one hand: always hustle. Just always hustle. It’s that simple. On the other hand, it’s technically possible that, given that each was tagging and running the same distance, Sappelt could have been thrown out before Castro scored even if both were running at full speed (i.e., maybe Sappelt is faster than Castro). Further, it’s fair to question whether Sappelt should have been tagging on the play at all (it was a relatively shallow fly ball, slightly to the third base side of center). I’m not really making judgments either way. I’m just pointing out that it’s easy to look at Castro and point the you-didn’t-hustle-and-the-Cubs-lost finger, but I’m not really sure how much blame he deserves.
  • For manager Dale Sveum’s part, he said the blame laid mostly with Sappelt, calling the decision to try and take third “not very smart.”
  • Brett Jackson is looking ahead to 2013 after a long offseason of working out. He says he knows there’s a lot of tedious drilling work he needs to do on his swing, and he also needs to strengthen his top hand.
  • I wrote about Jaye Chapman in yesterday’s Bullets (he’s thrown four scoreless frames in impressive fashion since being called up), and, what do you know, Dale Sveum was asked about him before last night’s game. Good timing. “[Chapman] has a power changeup to where you don’t feel you have to use a left-hander to get left-handers out,” Sveum said, according to Paul Sullivan. “He has great arm speed and he has closed in the minor leagues. You can tell he has a little attitude on the mound. He’s not afraid out there. So far he has impressed all of us.” You read too much into September appearances – especially when there are only four of them – at your own peril, so it’s nice to hear that Sveum has been impressed with what he’s actually seen.
  • Cubs coach Mike Borzello’s 9/11 story. He was the Yankees’ bullpen catcher at the time.
  • The MLBullets at BCB, apropos of the intro to these Bullets, discuss the surprising comebacks of the Brewers and Phillies.


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