Tomorrow, I am going to be the officiant at my best friend’s wedding, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m definitely a little nervous, too, of course – this is the first time I’ve ever done a ceremony – but I think it should go just fine. Also, I keep reminding myself that, as much as I like to think I’m the center of everyone’s attention always (FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER), no one will be looking at me.
Tomorrow, it’s all about the bride … and maybe the Cubs beating the White Sox. Here’s some news from around the league.
- As things stand at the start of play on Friday, the NL-Central-leading Cubs have a 2.5 game lead over the Brewers, the Braves have all but locked up the East, and the Dodgers have a 2.5 game lead in the West. Meanwhile, the Brewers have just a 3.0 game lead for the top Wild Card spot and the Cardinals lead the Rockies for the second Wild Card by just 1.5 games. Needless to say, with the exception of the Braves, the National League is a full-on shootout.
- And at The Athletic, Jayson Stark is embracing the madness by rooting for the most possible chaos imaginable. Apparently there’s a chance, albeit an unlikely one, that the Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies could finish with the same record, creating a four-way tie. In that case, there would be not one, but two tiebreaker games, and boy would that be fun to watch. Also, as a Cub fan, this would basically be BY FAR the best case scenario, because whomever they’d get in the NLDS would’ve already had to play at least two playoff games, meaning they’d like be leading off the NLDS with their third best starter, and that guy would be the one to pitch twice.
- Last weekend, Lorenzo Cain felt some rib cage discomfort while facing the Pirates, forcing him to change up his swing to remain on the field. By Tuesday, the pain got bad enough to remove him from the game. He sat out on Wednesday and the Brewers had an off-day Thursday, but now we’re all left wondering when he’ll be back. “It’s something I want to play through, but they told me to be smart about it,” Cain said. “So, I guess when the pain and soreness is out of there, I’ll be back on the field.” This is probably a smart move by the Brewers, because despite our desire for a four-way tie, the Brewers are probably going to make the playoffs one way or another. Thus, getting someone as important as Cain as healthy as possible for the Wild Card game/NLDS should be the chief priority.
- Carlos Gomez was ejected after arguing balls and strikes last night, and after the game he took to Twitter to make his case. Using video replay and the on-screen strike zone from the at-bat, Gomez argues that the ball was clearly out of the strike zone, which, like, whatever. Whether he’s right or not is sort of beside the point. I am 100% pro-getting the call right, including, if necessary, the use of replay/challenges, but for some reason this just comes off as a little too complain-y to me. Missed ball/strike calls happen all the time and usually to both teams – go ahead and argue in person and make your case and even get tossed out (I understand) – but to let a single ball/strike call stick with you that long after the game isn’t helping anybody.
- The Diamondbacks have reached the point where they have to consider the future for Paul Goldschmidt, who can be a free agent after next season. Would the D-Backs even consider trading their franchise face?
- FINALLY: the National League has a better record than the American League in interleague play for the first time in 15 years.
- Another pitcher succumbs to Tommy John surgery. This time, it’s Pirates righty Chad Kuhl. He’ll be out 14-16 months, and that means all of 2019. Bummer.
- A couple NFL Hall-of-Famers have sent a letter to the NFL Commissioner revealing their plans to stay away from the HOF induction ceremony until they received health insurance and an annual salary that included a share of league revenue. In the letter, the players allude to MLB’s seemingly better treatment of big league players. Jerry Crasnick offers perspective on that:
A major league player with one day of service in a particular season gets his health insurance paid for until the following Opening Day.
A player with 4 years of service is entitled to buy the #MLBPA plan for the rest of his life. But it's not free (and I'm told it isn't cheap).
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) September 18, 2018
In summation: The #MLBPA does a great job for its members and is certainly worth emulating. But the benefits that MLB players receive aren't quite as all-encompassing as it appears in the letter sent out by the Pro Football Hall of Famers.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) September 18, 2018
- With that said, I don’t think Crasnick was trying – at all – to neuter the NFL HOFers’ argument. Instead, I think he is simply pointing out that while they may be better, there is still a lot more pro sports can and should do for their players. And, heck, even if he wasn’t saying that, I am.
- At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan takes another look in the Rays’ “opener” idea, and notes its gradual spread throughout baseball. He, however, seems to remain unconvinced about the particular benefits of this strategy. Indeed, I find myself struggling with this concept a lot. On the one hand, I understand the desire to limit a starter’s exposure to a lineup the third or fourth time through an order, but I also know that can be just as easily accomplished after a starter has left instead of before he’s entered. At the same time, I guess starting with an opener leads to a little more certainty in game-planning going forward, but I’m just not convinced that certainty is 1. guaranteed 2. all that beneficial.
- Even more broadly, I’m struggling with my resistance to a new idea. From shifts, to batting the pitcher eighth, to not leading off with speed guys, to replay, to pitch clocks and literally everything in between, I’ve always considered myself a “progressive” when it comes to baseball. But I am certainly not pro-change for “change’s sake.” I’m scared to find myself among the dinosaurs, but I also don’t want to blindly fall in love with whatever’s new. In the end, I just need more time to consider the “opener.” For now, I don’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be, but I will reevaluate as time goes by.
- I’m not sure if you saw this, but it may be the funniest BIF story of the year. These guys are straight out of a movie.
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) September 19, 2018