Not everything is great about the Chicago Cubs playing baseball throughout October.
For one, my wallet is fatter and my stomach is smaller than it usually is around this time of the year. Thanks to three straight *deep* postseason runs, I’ve spent a whole lot of my last three Octobers paying cover at dive bars, drinking marked up beers, and eating 10-15 too many hot dogs. I mean to say I love doing all of that and wish it upon my life every year from now until I die, but my belt and wallet both thank the Brewers.
That’s it. That’s the best silver lining I can come up with (actually, I got another, more legitimate one, but we’ll put a pin in that for now). Here’s some news from around the leauge …
- Jayson Stark’s latest at The Athletic really has me thinking, though I’m not sure if I totally agree with it. He argues that baseball desperately needs the ALCS to go to seven games … or to just be exciting in general. In other words, when the best offense meets the best rotation/a 108-win team meets a 103-win team, it needs to escape the gravitational pull of baseball-fans-only, the way LeBron James and Peyton Manning transcend their sports.
- Obviously, I agree in principle: I wish everyone would see baseball for how awesome it is. But I don’t necessarily agree that all of his “biggest and brightest” stars are really such huge names. Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Chris Sale? OK. Huge names. Huge draws. George Springer, Alex Bregman, and J.D. Martinez? Eh. Obviously, they’re all quite good – we know it as hardcore baseball fans – but there’s a VERY big gap there. Furthermore, while the drive never stops, baseball got the literal maximum attention possible when the Cubs took their World Series from a 3-1 deficit to extra innings in Game 7. That series had a TON of star power – more, I’d argue – and was about as exciting and landscape-changing as any matchup could have ever been. Oh, and it was THE WORLD SERIES, not just an ALCS. So while I hope baseball and even this series in particular gets more attention, let’s not pretend this is anywhere close to the baseball’s best and only shot.
- Relatedly, this is nuts:
Teams were previously 0-10. pic.twitter.com/PLJZIfoLWs
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) October 15, 2018
- And not to continue the disagreement, but I can’t really wrap my head around Buster Olney’s latest at ESPN either. In an article about the postseason, Olney more or less pleads with MLB teams not to ask the umpires to check opposing pitchers for foreign substances. His reasoning is that because so many pitchers do it, it’s not worth the “chaos.” Listen, I’m no rookie on this matter, I know a LOT of pitchers do it, but if someone is getting egregious with it and using foreign substances (pine tar, sunscreen etc) too openly – or not solely for grip, but for better spin on their pitches – then why in the world would I care about the “chaos” of what follows? We’re supposed to just let people cheat, because everyone cheats? Yeah, I’m not on board for that.
- And more broadly, I’m not really ever on board with this sort of argument, because the answer is painfully clear to me: if the rules are so dumb that everyone ignores them, change the rules. If it’s too hard to change the rules, because one side won’t give an inch, maybe consider enforcing the rules aggressively so that side then has a reason to come to the table.
- The Mets have an image problem. Despite a “head of baseball operations” vacancy, New York’s National League team can’t get some of their preferred targets to even take an interview for the open spot. Indians GM Mike Chernoff, former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, Twins GM Thad Levine, and Dodgers VP of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes have all declined the invitation to interview for a promotion. Ouch. The New York Post believes the issue is the perception that the new head of baseball ops will still have to answer to COO Jeff Wilpon, who fancies himself a baseball executive. While I no doubt believe that rumor, I think the issues with the Mets extend beyond that singular reason.
- Circling back to the ALCS, Chris Sale is scheduled to pitch in Game 5 on Thursday at Minute Maid Park as of now, but he had to go to Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday because of a stomach illness. “From what I know, it’s nothing serious,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, “but obviously whenever you have to go to the hospital, you’ve got to be ‘worried.’ But he should be fine. Hopefully, we get news in the upcoming hours and he’ll join us in Houston.” Hopefully, Sale is OK. His velocity was down quite a bit in his first start in the series.
- At MLB.com, Adam McCalvy discusses what might’ve happened if Ryan Braun was actually traded to the Dodgers back in 2016, when the rumors were hot and heavy. I know Braun has been a thorn in our side the last two season – and is just such a Cubs killer always – but I’m glad the Dodgers didn’t pick him up in time for the 2016 NLCS, when his right-handed bat could’ve helped the team escape one of the two losses they took against Jon Lester. Because you just know Braun would’ve been a monster that series. It’s just what he does against the Cubs.
- Speaking of which, Jon Lester’s 2016 postseason performance (3-1, 2.02 ERA in 35.2 IP) is Will Leitch’s choice for best Cubs playoff performance. I think I have to agree.
- Vin Scully declined Joe Buck’s invitation to join him in the broadcast booth for the Dodgers/Brewers NLCS game 3, and that makes me laugh. But while I’d like to think Scully finds Buck as frustrating of an announcer as the rest of us, it sounds like he was just being polite: “It’s not false modesty,” Scully said. “I just think I don’t belong there. “Those fellows have been broadcasting all year. I don’t want to get into their spotlight in any way, shape, or form. I think they’re doing a wonderful job.” Mmhmm. We hear ya loud and clear.
- Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde has interviewed for not one (Angels), not two (Twins), but THREE (Rangers) managerial jobs already this fall (that we know of), and he’s sure to get the call eventually. But he’s not the only guy related to the Cubs to draw interest:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 15, 2018
- Mark DeRosa, not unlike David Ross, became a player and fan-favorite during his playing days and has long been expected to step back in a dugout. So far, however, he likes his current job – in a suit, in front of the camera – more than grinding away, pine tar, and red eye flights to Texas. It’s understandable.
- Has to be, right?
Gotta be one of the five most iconic, right?
Carlton Fisk's homer and Joe Carter's walk-off immediately come to mind, too. https://t.co/5AO2LN2uCW
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) October 15, 2018
- And finally … I know the battery must’ve gotten crossed up, but the catcher and umpire really conspired to screw the pitcher on this one, eh?
Woof. Now that's a tough ball.pic.twitter.com/oF67xfJufO
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) October 15, 2018