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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Baker’s Choice no Scher Thing

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Dusty out-Dusty’s Maddon and Nats’ bullpen options fail worse than Cubs’. Cubs advance.

Divisional Round - Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals - Game Five
Dude. Getting picked off to end the frame with the stay-alive run on second base???
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Personal observation from last night: I imagine that it’s official that John Lackey will be retiring. When a Joe Maddon decides against calling on Lackey to enter a close game - a DECIDING game - when his pitcher comes to bat with one out in only the 4th of the bullpenning era, you know your time is over. When else would an experienced long-reliever be appropriate? And with a win the Cubs will have to pivot and face the Dodgers in just 48 hours. Instead, one inning later, Maddon called on a Brian Duensing that he had just used the day before. Duensing is better, better than even a fresh version of Lackey. Better for even only 3 batters. Better than even a burnt Duensing on Saturday.

Day Eleven of Playoff-Links:


A Little Bit of Angels News

Thank The Eppler! FanGraphs is out in Arizona checking up on the Instructional Leagues, and check out this opening observation: “The talent at the Angels complex in Tempe has significantly improved in the last calendar year due to an influx of projectable Latin American pitching and the bevy of athletic outfielders the club has added mostly through the draft“. Read further. There is good meat there..........


October Baseball

Poor Dusty Baker. He lives in a world without a giant reset button. We can never go back and test everyone’s theory that whatever it was that was the OTHER pitching choice was the better one to make. The guy brings out Max Scherzer, the pending 2017 NL CYA, with a lead and 5 innings left to win a series. And within a matter of minutes all the damage was done. The game had flipped from 4-3 Nats to 7-4 Cubs, and the Nats were playing chase. And the hit parade was on. There were runs scored in 5 of the next 6 frames.

Crucial in all those Scherzer runs was an event that resulted in the guys on the field whose sole job is to enforce the rules as they are written in the rule book, failing to enforce a rule as it is written in the rule book. Fortunately for Rob Manfred, for Joe Torre, for the entire MLB Front Office, and most importantly for the entire Chicago Cubs franchise and fan base, that rule includes the word “judgement”. And that word excuses all umpiring sins. It’s your lovely “human element” that so many think makes the game so much more enjoyable. What should have been 5-4 Cubs was augmented into 7-4 Cubs. And with a final score of 9-8 Cubs, that umpiring error spelled calamity.

In the end, it was Bryce Harper striking out to end Bryce Harper’s season, and Nationals fans hopes. Their tears now flow down the same dried up channels blazed by Cleveland fans only yesterday. But ignore the sniffles. It won’t require any special effort to hear the blare of enmity coming from the DC Metro area today. My two cents on the bet that Googling “nationals interference” will yield a harvest of hits to outlast my weekend links.

The game got intense for players too..........

Oh crap. Houston is doomed..........

Those of you who had to endure Cleveland fans when they invaded Angel Stadium will relish this forced march of those people back one more time through their own misery..........

Yeah, Dave Cameron, you used fancy-pants data sources to say the same thing I said hours and hours earlier yesterday. The strike zone Tuesday night in Cleveland was huge. But I posted the story first, and my visual presentation was better. Quicker to see and understand the point being made. Update the scoreboard: Dave Cameron 2,436,783 : Stirrups 1..........

Corey Kluber plays the language game. Being “healthy enough to go out and pitch” is NOT the same as being healthy. There are differences being pitching at all, and pitching well, and pitching at the AL MVP Corey Kluber level. Lots of folks might want to think about why the hell it is that MLB health status is treated like an NSA-class secret. Cleveland fans might want to think about unused names like Mike Clevinger and Carlos Corrasco...........

These playoff games are taking a very long time. I think we should pause for blaming bullpenning, since it’s possible to have these games be more than an hour in before the 3rd inning and the first reliever. So I would pay more attention to the first couple of innings and the intensity of the activities and action and measure THAT. If the objective were to be to quicken things up, you would have to find your leverage in a window such as innings 1 & 2 if you were to find something meaningful. And by “meaningful”, I mean something that would translate to the regular season. No team is going to accept the idea of being rushed into their own playoff demise........

Jeff Sullivan doing what he does best, breaking down the 12-pitch nail-in-the-coffin at-bat of Brett Gardner...........


Everywhere In Baseball

This is what shining in a showcase does for your career. Everybody looks for ways to constantly express their interest...........

Baseball is a game of adjustments. The Indians just got done grossly exposing Aaron Judge. Now Judge has to adjust back, and in the heat of playoff battle, before his reputation takes an historic hit. I feel for the kid. It’s threatening to become epic. I do expect that he will have made the necessary adjustments by Spring and come out again next year balls to the wall. That is, typically, what the the better MLB players know how to do, which is why they are there in the first place............

But as evidence that Judge is drawing the wrong kind of attention, here he is getting embarrassed against the legacy of Tony Gwynn..........So I will put this here:

Tracking Aaron Judge’s 2017 Playoff plate Accomplishments

Managerial merry-go-round: How is it that the Red Sox are already down to 3 candidates, just hours after firing John Farrell? Isn’t there some long-standing process in place to ensure proper opportunities in the MLB hiring practices? And are there not new programs being mandated by the Front Office?...........And look at this article, where everything is about speed and rehashing the same old names. Not even a thought about taking a step back, thinking about a process that includes fresh alternatives for a modern age, and exploiting all the time between now and Spring..........At least I am not the only person writing about dysfunction in this process..........The Phillies are looking to steal away Mickey Callaway from the Indians...........Joe Girardi burning out? Makes sense. This is his 10th season and, man, how many new ideas to keep pace with the rapidity of our changing game can one guy possibly be expected to have? And his big rookie in his first year was none other than the Joba Chamberlain who just retired..........

Note to baseball fans: tanking is NOT a requirement in order to regain success..........Oh, and by the way, not only did the Yankees retool in-flight, but they have established that they are already out ahead of the rest of MLB..........

Beautiful history. The Dolly Varden’s, Philadelphia’s 19th-century all-Black women baseball teams..........

In Sports Media Biz News, AT&T...er...DirectTV...er...the satellite TV industry...is on the verge of imploding. AT&T is going to post a pretty big loss this quarter. They want you to focus on two things: it’s all teh fault of hurricanes, AND, DirectTV NOW has added 300,000 subscribers! Awesome. But in the details you find that they have an overall NET LOSS of 90,000 subscribers, meaning that traditional subscriptions dropped nearly 400,000 in one quarter alone. So, you betcha, “It is becoming increasingly clear that the wheels are falling off satellite TV.“..........And it ain’t gonna get any prettier...........Note that the Cubs are finding Over The Top streaming service to be just fine. Who needs WGN?..........One thing not working in AT&T’s favor is the steep slide of NFL viewership. That cannot be helping NFL Sunday Ticket sales this year. But as NFL ratings are down for many (which is another reason that AT&T’s value is dropping, much like that of FOX), at least Amazon can claim to be winning the online battle..........And I’ll also offer up this moment of doom: my own missus is inspecting OUR cable bill and opening herself up to novel ways to gut it. It’s when that happens that she finds the vehicle to overcome her techno-phobia. If she can do it, anyone and everyone will...........


The Duffle Bag

Stadium improvements in progress. The Phillies, and the Royals...........Hmmm. Maybe Derek Jeter is smarter than I thought?..........The one redeeming value of social media: allowing the best of crowd-sourced humor to rise up and crush the souls of the losing side, and then make it easy for us to revel in it. Hey, this behavior happens anyway, always has. See Greece, Ancient. It’s part of being a sports fan...........Human traffickers are asking for leniency?? I wonder if they even understand the concept?.........The Orioles fans can have nice things, so why can’t we?..........Chicago company gets Nats home fans safely, even late. Unless Cubs lose, I suppose. Then Nats fans are on their own.............I would have thought that Guby was a KC Chiefs fan. Maybe Trout has made him a convert?..........


2017 IBWAA Awards Voting

As one who is privileged to lose astronomical amounts of time in the loving labor of providing your morning entertainment, I (as are others here on the masthead) am a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Not as formal as that fancy name, and nowhere near as recognized as that other baseball writers thingy. But, nonetheless, it gives me the chance to pretend to be serious. So, as serious as I have time to be, here are my 2017 awards ballot results and reasoning...........

My vote for National League Most Valuable Player is Anthony Rendon.

So far, there has been almost zero push back from my choices. The only one I remember was a wine about picking a guy who did not happen to have the highest WAR for the season at his category (shit happens). This one, though, is the one that is the most debatable. That’s because there are so many choices. Nobody stood head and shoulders above anybody else. All the commonly discussed candidates had quality seasons, if not dominating. Except for Giancarlo Stanton and his one skill of hitting baseballs over the tall green obstruction they put behind the outfielders.

Rendon tied Stanton for fWAR lead in the NL (so that should shut up one faction of objectors), but Rendon’s value came from what he did all over the field. His was the highest Defensive value in the NL and he carried a solid OBP driven by an ability to draw Bases on Balls. His rate stats were lower than many others as he only played 147 games, so I choose to ignore those much the way I was prepare to do same for Mike Trout. In the end, It’s Anthony Rendon for my vote, something that I was hinting at all season.

Runners up to Rendon were, in order, Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Tommy Pham, Joey Votto, Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, Charlie Blackmon and Zack Cozart.

This concludes my vote reveal. I’ll recap next week and then hang on to them to compare versus what the “pros” do. Regardless, I stand behind my choices and challenge anyone to do better.