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What used to be an NL West rivalry, is now an NL West - AL West rivalry

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Seven
Hat’s off to the Astros. AL West in the World Series.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Once upon a time the Dodgers and Astros were NL West rivals. Then the Astros went through their tank process and became a monster. And that was just in time to wreak havoc on the AL West thanks to just-in-time realignment. The Dodgers dodged that bullet for a while, but no longer. Pay no attention to the fact that the Dodgers’ Opening Day payroll was $241MM versus the $124MM for the Astros. The Astros $$$ are artificially deflated (see below), and temporary at that. Their numbers will rise and that delta will shrink.

There should not be as much delta between the two rosters in terms of talent, though. It’s been predicted all season that these Astros are damned good. The Dodgers might have all they can handle on their hands. It might be real sweet to see what the Dodgers kicked over into our backyard come back to haunt the hell out of them.........

Let’s start fresh with Day-Twenty-One-of-Playoff-Links:


A Little Bit of Angels News

Next season, C.J. Cron needs to play the role of Gold Glove first-baseman with a .600 SLG average. The Angels are not aiming quite that high. Not even close, actually.........

Somebody help me out here. Is “shoulder impingement” merely some newish name for a common condition that has been taking down baseball players for years? Taylor Ward was taken out of the AFL because of it. But this the syndrome that had already parked Andrew Heaney on the DL. But they are not alone. Brandon Morrow, Fernando Romero, Felix Hernandez and David Wright are easy to find............


October Baseball

And then there were TWO. In a somewhat surprising end, the Yankees and Astros moved out of New York City and back to Houston and their productions immediately and drastically flipped. In Yankee Stadium, the Yankees outscored the Astros 19 to 5. With a 3 games to 2 Series lead, the Yankees marched into Minute Maid Park extremely confident. So, too, were their fans. And Southwestern cooking turned everything on its head. The Astros outscored the Yankees 11 to 1, winning Game 6, and then Game 7, and the AL Pennant that goes along with. The pitcher sequence of Justin Verlander to Brad Peacock to Ken Giles to Charlie Morton to Lance McCullers, Jr. just ate the “baby bombers” right up and spit them out. Welcome, American League and East Coast scribes to the mound gauntlet that makes the AL West only appear to be far weaker. Now it’s Astros and Dodger in the World Series. The Dodger, too, have some pitching. And they have an offense. This could be the best WS we have seen in recent memory, and we have recently seen some good ones. Either way, more playoffs droughts are over. ...........

Josh Reddick knows that LAD fans are among the worst. First hand. He had no fears coming right out and saying so, which will only make his appearance this week in Chavez Ravine even more special........

Then again, with ticket prices being what they are for games in Dodger Stadium, nobody capable of affording to be in attendance might even know who Josh Reddick is..........

New York writer Phil Mushnick, certainly pissed that the Yankees are NOT in the World Series, and probably pissed that the Yankees are not in a World Series that will be played past his bedtime, turns horribly sour and goes off on Yasiel Puig having a good time while on the job. So Kyle Koster of TheBigLead takes a blow torch to Mushnick............

As we get more playoff games in the record books, and more games with bullpenning, we will eventually get enough data points to see how effective it really is. Even assuming that it is not effective over the long haul of a full season (due to arm wear), is it even a superior tactical approach in the highly leveraged situations that come in the playoffs? Maybe. Maybe not............

Aaron Judge avoided any further Hat Tricks or Golden Sombreros, but he did manage to tie, then exceed, the Alfonso Soriano MLB record of 26 K’s for a post-season. Judge now owns the record at 27, with no further games this year with which to push that record far out of reach of mere mortals. Here is his final accounting:

Tracking Aaron Judge’s 2017 Playoff Strikeout Accomplishments

This was a really fine play. Not the ultra-spectacular kind of thing that The Playoff Hype Machine wants to make of it (like here and here), but still an excellent play. What I want you to pay attention to, however, is the positioning of Brian McCann. Notice that he IS blocking the Greg Bird’s lane to the plate just a little. A call there would have been maybe technically correct. But once he receives the throw from Alex Bregman he removes his left foot from the lane and applies a clean sweep tag. THAT is how to play the position within the rules and with good fundamentals, keeping everyone safe. That is NOT how Willson Contreras played the position, mister very-pissed-off-Joe-Maddon..........


Everywhere In Baseball

Opt-Out Up-date: Justin Upton is still listed as “likely”...................

This year’s Super Two cutoff is 2 years, 123 days. One of the lowest we have had in a while. Eddie Rosario of the Twins gets the pinch..........

Here is why a guy like Justin Upton should opt-out. It’s also why, if you need one, you have a valid reason to root against the Astros in this World Series. Players need to take every advantage of every tiny opportunity to eke out every last penny they can while they still have any leverage in their careers. Because the owners have no compunction taking every advantage of every tiny opportunity to eke out every last penny from every player contract while they still have any leverage within the rules and loopholes of the CBA..........

In this review of pre/post season ELO ratings and which teams rise and fall, the Yankees improve by the highest ELO value, which is a meaningful observation. A less meaningful observation, although still a factual one, is how the various teams rise and fall relative to one another. Since that is close to a zero-sum game, the total number of positions that teams rise should work out to being close to the number of games other teams fall. And looking at it that way, the Angels tied for 6th as the team that jumped the highest (behind the Twins, DBacks, Brewers, Yankees and Rockies)............

Now about those Yankees. This was supposed to be a lost year. Rebuilding. It’s why a Brian McCann was sent away only to come back and bite them in the ass. Making it to Game 7 of the ALCS, instead, has Yankee fans believing they are so far ahead of schedule that 2018 is pre-ordained in their favor. But slow your roll, MFY fans. It’s hard to get back to the playoffs and even harder to advance. And beware even more the math that predicts a Dynasty. Dynasty talk is something that can get shut off at the spigot far faster than it gets turned on to begin with...........

And, Yankers, even if you ARE now among the elite of the American League. You are still playing catch up to the Dodgers over in the National League...........

I am conflicted about Dusty Baker. Maybe the Nats front office IS a mess. But is it fair, as I do, to think that his record is a lot about taking the helm of a team on the rise and not being able to close the deal when they get to the post-season? As with the Nats. Maybe that is just collateral damage from his 2002 episode..........

In the Managerial Merry-Go-Round, the Cora brothers were was spinning at top speed. Big brother Joey seems likely to not remember any of it. What Joey certainly does want to forget, would be his complaint last year that the system was rigged against Hispanic managerial candidates. At the very time ALEX Cora was signing on to take over the Red Sox, he was still being rumored to be moving to the short list with the Nationals.....And don’t forget, JOEY was once moved to the short list to take over the Mariners back in 2013...........And over in New Jersey, the Mets are about to sign Indians’ pitching coach Mickey Callaway to be their new manager. That one feels like the toughest of all the MLB skipper openings to be taking on...........And in Tiger Town, they netted their Ron Gardenhire. Real creative, guys. Real creative.........The Phillies are still out hunting...........

Is it just me, or does it look to you, too, that anybody with a major presence on the Internet wants to dabble with sports content streaming just to make sure they are not left behind in case something cool happens?...........


The Duffle Bag

The Dodgers wear the crown of the National League. Which would be no surprise since, all by themselves, they have roughly 40% of the salary commitments for the entire League.................ex’MLB’er David Bell returns to the Giants, as VP of Player Development............How come some guys get ALL the luck?..........Exhibit 2477 on Why The Playoff Hyperbole Makes For The Greatest Hype Machine..........Jake Arrieta’s wife is happy to be re-introduced to her husband............