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WeekEnd HaloLinks: MLB on notice: Epstein a playa

Billy Epstein wasted no time. He was up before dawn and standing at the head of the line at the WalMart store front that shall be the Tigers. He beat all comers to the Left Fielder aisle.Shopping hard. Nordstrom next?

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I was a busy boy yesterday. I had three customer meetings, two conference calls, and took two trips into the office to get email and paperwork completed in between. 7:15AM to 6:45PM. And all throughout the day, no matter where I went or with whom I was was working, no matter business, lunch or commute, every time I became a part of a group of at least three people the conversation instantly turned to Game 7. For the most part these were all people I have seen and worked with for nearly ten years. Never have I had this happen where everybody talks about The Big Championship Game of the day before.

A couple of NFL Super Bowls came close. But to drag those games down, there was that obnoxious snark of superiority out of every third person as to how they only watched for the commercials. And, to be honest, even Super Bowl commercials are no longer the national event they were a few years ago.

It's never happened to me with any NHL Stanley Cup.

It only approximated yesterday with the NBA Finals when the Lakers won, and when I was working downtown LA. But still that was mostly among the slightly more sports-minded people.

Yesterday it was everybody. Even people who would come right out and clearly confess that they didn't know sports very well. But that was OK, they would say, because they were with me and I knew a lot about baseball. Apparently, I had their back, and they could freely swim with the rest of us in the delight of Game 7 excitement.

That all makes sense now that I know that this Game 7 kicked absolute ass in the overnight ratings. It was THE most watched baseball game in 25 years. Over 40 million viewers. Now, to be clear, I am not sure how they count all those eyeballs in a global live streaming epoch, but 40 million people is roughly the combined population of half of America. (This list, from Oklahoma to Wyoming which would be 24 States, adds up to 43.7million.)..........

Things will be quiet among all these people when Monday rolls around. But not here, friends. Not here at all.

Welcome To The Off-Season Links:

Let's Get Organized

A new season has started. We have some important dates to track. Here is our calendar of events for the rest of this year:

11/5: Contract Options decision day
11/7: Final day for teams to extend Qualifying Offer. This year it's $17.2million
11/7: Finalists for the big-time 2016 awards are announced
11/8 - 11/10: GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona
11/8: Free Agency period begins
11/8: Gold Glove winners announced
11/10: Silver Slugger winners announced
11/14: Deadline to accept/reject Qualifying Offers
11/14: Rookies of the Year award winners announced
11/15: Managers of the Year award winners announced
11/16: Cy Young award winners announced
11/17: Mike Trout overlooked yet again for AL MVP Award
11/18: Rule 5 Draft protection deadline
12/1: Current CBA expires
12/2: Deadline for teams to tender pre-arb and arb contract offers
12/5 - 12/8: MLB Winter meetings in Washington, D.C.
12/8: Rule 5 draft
World Series Hangover

Joe Maddon is not perfect, and his tinkering in Games 6 & & opened the door for the dinosaurs to show their teeth. But he is still the smartest guy in the room. And to think, he was our to lose, and lose him we did...........

You can stop feeling sorry for Cleveland fans immediately. And you can start reminding Cubs fans that just because their team won a World Series, that doesn't mean they can let their guard down and start trusting everybody to do the right thing............

These lovable loser Cubs are such a monster that not only did they deliver on what everybody expected them to do all along, but they are already 3/1 favorites to do it again next year.............

Yeah. This is the bottom of the 9th that had me mesmerized. The gassed Aroldis Chapman was practically daring the Indians lineup to walk off with the title. It was more pitching than overpowering. The Indians had that World Series right there for the taking, and missed it. The Cubs absolutely stole that frame, right out from under the noses of Cleveland..........

I'm sure there are 1000 such stories about Cubs fans. This is the one we will go with............I'm sure there is only one of these stories about Cubs pllayers. So I cannot do anything but go with it. Ben Zobrist is a cool dude, as are his fans..............

What next for Steve Bartman?

Now may you rest, forever and in peace, Harry Caray, Budweiser has put in the time to make you whole..............


A Little Bit of Angels News

Did you hear? The Angels kicked off the off-season for all of MLB by acquiring Tigers' outfielder Cameron Maybin. You did hear, right? Yeah? No? well, welcome back to planet earth, then. I mean, with only World Series new to report, the Maybin acquisition was the top fresh news everywhere. Hey, it ain't Willie Mays, but the bar was pretty low out there in left field. Not only is Maybin an upgrade over the 2,816 guys we have experimented with since dumping Hambone off onto Texas, he is an upgrade over what would have been Hambone, too, had we kept him to this age...........As FanGraphs puts it, "this move is simply wonderful"............

Brett Oberholtzer, who had been DFA'd, has been outrighted to Salt Lake City. Still in the organization. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas, Oberholtzer family. And Brett? Yeah, you. Have a Do-It-Better New Year............


Trade Winds

Maybin was a good catch because the Tigers are looking to retool, and Epstein absolutely beat other team to the punch here. It was like his own personal Black Friday rush to the electronics aisle, when everybody else was still indulging in tryptophan-induced couch dreams. One guy that won't be getting out of Detroit is the significant bullpen upgrade option that is Francisco Rodriguez. His ERA+ of 128 last season was better than anything on the entire qualifying LAA pitching staff............

Here is your full roster of possible Free Agents this winter. Not all these dudes will make it all the way to market..............

Theo Epstein, when he recovers from his hangover, has the toughest job in all of baseball. His team is adored. They are indulged. They are, pardon the sickeningly over-used cliche, family. They are the Big Beast of Baseball, fulfilling the destiny ordained on them from before anything even started. So does Epstein stand pat, forcing all the other GM's to try and catch him? Or does he work to improve his weakest roster spots, which would mean kicking off the bus some guys that are national heroes today, riding int he parade? Theo won. Big. But now he wakes to a no-win situation of his own making...........

The Phillies declined their option on Ryan Howard. I'm shocked............

Dexter Fowler has already announced that he is stepping off that Cubs bus I keep talking about, and looking at Free Agency. But he is more than open to hiring back on with Chicago...for a raise, of course. I know that you have probably forgotten the Fowler backstory, what with all that has happened since last October. But Fowler is the guy who was traded from Houston to the Cubs two years ago, then was granted his Free Agency by the Cubs one year ago. Supposedly, he had agreed to sign on with the Orioles, then stunned everybody by signing back on with the Cubs overnight and saying that he never had anything inked with Baltimore...........

Ian Desmond, the dude nobody wanted and who signed on with Texas for a year and moved to the outfield, totally blowing it out and having a stupendous season, will be extended a QO by the Rangers. Not that any QO offer matters to Billy Epstein, but $17.2 million in the hand from Texas might be too tempting to even give Epstein a chance to bid high and use ex-infielder Desmond to fix our 2B..........

The Duffle Bag

Victor Rojas' brother is back in the Detroit organization, coaching the Mud Hens.........The MSM continues to crumble in the face of our Brave New World.................Mike Montgomery threw something called a "Golden Pitch" the other night. Very, very rare. I had no idea such a thing existed, but it's a fun angle............Cleveland, who quite recently put a major dump on San Francisco while enjoying their Cavaliers come back from a 3-1 deficit to take the NBA crown, now have to taste the bitter other end of that glory. And the Internet is there to make sure they chew and swallow that bitterness, forever............