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WeekEnd HaloLinks: LADs Kiki Cubs to curb

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Dodger win NL Pennant behind the mighty power of Kiki Hernadez’ 3-homer night.

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Five
I do these pictures and ledes of all the other teams because I am a shitload better at puns than they are.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Yesterday was a sports person’s dream. A rare Sporting Equinox where we had meaningful Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey contests all on the same day. No soccer, though, but soccer no longer counts. Leading it all, of course, is THE American Pastime of Baseball, Pennant Playoff Baseball, no less. Just a reminder that all the sports can suck it.

If you are a fan of empires, it was a PERFECT dream. The Dodgers have fulfilled the economic destiny they embarked upon immediately after booting Frank McCourt. They blew out the Cubs in Game 5 to take the NLCS 4 games to 1, winning the NL Pennant and entering the World Series. All that is left is to learn whether they will face the resurgent empire of the Yankees, or the rising empire of the Astros. That will be determined in short order.

Move on to Day Eighteen of Playoff-Links:


A Little Bit of Angels News

If nothing else shows up for today that is meaningful news to Angels fan, we have this sweet factoid to take with us through the off season: ours is THE most hated baseball team in the entire state of Texas...........

Somebody else other than me has noticed that Matt Thaiss is drawing bases on balls.


October Baseball

Last night was reminiscent of those Super Bowl blowouts, when the only reason to keep watching after mid-way through the 2nd quarter is for the commercials. It was over before we got half way through the 3rd inning. We entered that inning with the Dodgers up 2-0, partly due to a Kiki Hernandez solo home run in the 2nd. By the time Hernandez came back up to bat, the bases were loaded with 1 out and 1 run already in. Joe Maddon had already brought in his first reliever. But Hernandez had his home-run groove on and the first pitch he saw he launched for a grand slam. 7-0 Dodgers and the the hearts of the Cubs bandwagoners were flooding the exits. Bless the Chicago attendees, though. They refused to follow their hearts and, for the most part, kept their physical butts in their seats to the bitter and humiliating end. The final 5 12 innings were merely a victory march, and Hernandez did manage to return to the plate, wherein he homered a third time. That one came in the 9th, just to mock the fans as the watched their grasp on the throne evaporate out by out by out. The Dodgers have heir Adam Kennedy moment.

So here we are. The Dodgers won 11-1 and the Throne of Baseball now sits vacated. We are down to 3 final claimants, and the Cubs are not among them. Your 108-year wait is over, Chicago, and the National empathy is spent. You are back on the wait list already..........And the Dodgers? With 104 wins they have a lock on the World Series home field advantage.

The Dodgers may have lost their chance at a perfect sweep of the playoffs, but we still have the potential of a perfect sweep of home teams in deciding games. This is qualified by the word “Series”. Wild Card play-in games do not count.....................

Dallas Keuchel finds that baseball life can be hard when everybody catches up with his magic. Even life inside Yankee Stadium...........And, yes, the Yankees have caught up to Keuchel’s magic. Simply, they refused to chase Keuchel’s pitches into the dirt. That is something that I would sit and watch when faced the Angels, frustrated that halos were chasing crap but knowing also just how tempting those pitches can look several feet from the release point. I would be pissed at Angels batters (because it was so obvious what was going on and what needed to be done in reaction), but empathetic at the same time (because I know that I could not do any better).........

The Astros are making it painfully obvious that their offense has tanked in the ALCS. Pay particular attention to the Jeff Sullivan tweet. It’s near-historic.........And theories abound as to what has gone wrong. I, personally, don’t subscribe to the idea of it merely being bad luck..........What I DO subscribe to, is explanation #2 of this review. “[The Yankees] had a plan for how to pitch to the Astros, and it was a good plan.” to me, it’s the same argument for understanding why Aaron Judge looked so horrible against the Indians, but much better against the Astros. The Indians had a plan, and it was a good plan..........

Here is something I can agree with. Clayton Kershaw is a phenomenal pitcher, but Sandy Koufax was, in his prime, astronomical. And comparing them using certain stats does not inform, but obfuscates, the difference. One needs to look at ALL the stats, and the fuller picture, as this author does. And then it jumps right out.........

We are going to glue together a pair of FanGraphs articles about post-season pitching. The first one, from Travis Sawchik, notes that fastballs are back in fashion this year. 49.9% of all pitches versus 42.6% last October. (Read the comment from Carlos Beltran on how he trains - none too successfully this post-season - for the amped-up MLB fastball.)..........The second one, from Eno Sarris, looks into whether all those post-season amped-up fastballs are damaging pitchers? It’s not an unreasonable question to be asking in this age. Sarris confirms that this post-season pitchers are using more fastballs closer to their personal max velo. But he also points out, at the very end, that on a macro level we are seeing that “pitchers are throwing closer to their max - all season long.”..........

Long form history. This one about the 1932 World Series. But it has Babe Ruth and Burlesque dancers in the title, so how can you say no?..........


Everywhere In Baseball

That Tracy Ringolsby trial balloon on MLB expansion/re-alignment that was floated in BaseballAmerica earlier will gleefully launch 6 months of speculation. We are already seeing it provoke deeper thinking. And I say “gleefully” because there are nothing but fun in creating new possible leagues and divisions for discussion. And what else will we have to do with ourselves but discuss when we get to November?...........

Oh barf. Here is why the LAA offense was so far behind the rest of Baseball in 2016, in one simple chart. Look which positions were driving the most home runs. That would be 1B, then 3B, then DH...........

“Homer at the Bat” mockumentary coming to your TV this Sunday..........

In the world of sports biz, this Mark Lazarus guy doesn’t realize that he is already employed by the Yellow Cab equivalent of sports content distribution. He may always have his fleet of taxi cabs, but his Uber competition is already here and he is going to need government protection to assist him in fighting his greater battles...........

Ron Gardenhire is on some kind of national tour looking for a managerial gig. Early in the day yesterday it was the Red Sox. But by the time the day was out, word came that he was a lock for the Tigers. Keep in mind that the guy is already 59, won 1 playoff series in 6 appearances over 13 seasons as head coach of the Twins, and didn’t come within 20 wins of a Division title over any of his final 4 seasons in Minnesota...........That leaves the thinking that Alex Cora is already the Red Sox new manager, but they are waiting until the ALCS is over before making the announcement..........

Pay extremely close attention to this announcement coming from the MFY. The Yankees are getting into eSports. I share a lot of attention around here concerning cord-cutting, since it will play a major role in how we will consume sports content in general, and baseball content in particular, in the future. But also in our future shall be eSports. And I am not talking about the stuff of which you are probably aware of now. I am talking about virtual football and baseball teams eventually competing with the live-person sports leagues we have today. The major gaming companies are already actively working on the planning and development of these sports content services...........

A beautifully titled essay. Simply, “Bird-Brained”. Read it. Slowly. Enjoy your coffee break. Nothing monumental and nothing pretentious, but just perfectly great.........


The Duffle Bag

$1 million for a playoff ticket? To a preliminary round? I guess asking is free, and one never knows when a rich fool finds themselves in need............How to teach modern hitting mechanics, because the hitting mechanics of pre-modern ballplayers were clearly not any good...........Zack Hample has some playoff competition..........Brent Maguire with the re-tweet of the year..........

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