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Thor’sLinks: For the Nats, It’s In The Cards

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The only fan base that will ever love Howie Kendrick more than we do, will forever be those of the Nationals

MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

PLAYOFFS

Two nights ago Game 4 epic contest between the Astros and Rays lasted almost 4 hours, or about as long as it took me to drive from Irvine to Palm Springs during rush hour. Yesterday we got a reprieve. The Cardinals-Braves game was parked in Atlanta, where the outcome is pre-ordained. Visiting teams celebrate. Thusly, the affair really only lasted about 30 minutes. In those minutes, the Cardinals opened the game by sending 14 guys to the plate and scoring 10 runs. Jack Flaherty, the Cards starting pitcher batting 9th, not only got to the plate but ran all the way around the bases and scored a run. Obviously, this was before he even needed to take his first warm-up throws from the mound. It got worse, but who cared. Fans in Missouri were already celebrating their 4th beers and fans in Georgia were already slunking away from their suburban sanctuary of a ballpark to their suburban sanctuary gated communities......Twitter found something useful to do.....And the rest of us were saved from the possibility of an all east coast playoff.

The 10 runs in the first inning is an MLB playoff record. Every single player in the starting batting order scored before the first 3 outs of the game were recorded. It was so bad that before the Cards defense even took the field for the first time, Cards manager Mike Shildt was making defensive changes to give Matt Carpenter the rest of the day off. And when it ended the Cards had advanced with a score of 13-1.

In the evening game. the Dodgers also jumped off to a fast start. They took Stephen Strasburg to an 0-3 deficit before he had recorded 4 outs on them. We had a pretty intense pitcher’s duel going on after that. That is, until Dave Roberts decided to totally blow his bullpen decisions and squander a game he had in the palm of his hand. First he blessed us with Clayton Kershaw making another one of his signature Clayton Kershaw playoff appearances. Sorry, but it’s the truth. One cannot erase history. When Kershaw entered the game the score was 3-1 and it was the bottom of the 7th inning with 2 outs. Runners were at 1st and 2nd base. Kershaw got Anthony Rendon to strike out on 3 straight pitches and all seemed right in Chavez Latrine. Then Kershaw went back out for the 8th inning. First pitch = ball. Second pitch = home run. Third pitch = home run. Kershaw had thrown 6 total pitches, 5 for strikes, and given up 2 earned runs on 2 hits, both home runs, against 1 strike out. His 2019 playoff ERA went up from a pretty poor 4. 50 to a miserable 7.11. He has had about a dozen of the barfs in his playoff career, but at least he gets to have lots of playoff chances in his career (32 games now since showing up in 2008).

And there you have it. Game tied, which lasted through the 9th inning. Kershaw took the sudden-death game and turned it into a sudden death overtime. Graciously for the sake of Washington, DC baseball fans, Dodger manager Dave Roberts had burned Kenta Maeda bailing out Kershaw, and ignored Kenley Jansen and Dustin May. He had inserted reliever Joe Kelly at the end of that 9th inning (and was inadvertently saving Jansen to mop up after Kelly’s upcoming meltdown). So in the 10th inning, the Nationals took immediate advantage. Kelly unintentionally walked Adam Eaton. He gave up a ground-rule double to Anthony Rendon. He intentionally walked Juan Soto. And with the bases now loaded that brought to the plate none other than Howie Kendrick, he of the LAD-killing, LAD-dominating, LAA heritage. A halo gathered above his aging helmet one more time, invoking the general power that The Angels lord over Dodger Stadium. Howie smacked the first pitch, low and across the middle of the plate, foul. Clearly, Howie was going for the kill. The second pitch came into the inner third of the plate, thigh high. It would land on the other side of the center field fence, just beyond the word “BANK”. Directly over the letter “A”. Cody Bellinger could only embrace the powder blue padding and kiss his season good-bye as he watched all his “fans” dash for the parking lot early. The Dodgers have been booted 3 games to 2 by the final score of 7-3. And the last World Series of Southern California remains from Anaheim.

This game was overrun by Game 5 predictions all over the Internet. Too many to bother with. The only one that hit the mark was this one from Joe Posnanski ($$) which, after all his math, ended with: “I fully realize that all of these stats basically show the same thing: there’s no predicting these games...This is the game we love. There’s no predicting it. There is only enjoying it.

Tonight it’s the final Game 5, with the Rays going to Houston to take on the Astros. It’s shocking just to be here.....Or maybe we shouldn’t be shocked.....And that dichotomy is what has the Astros and Astros fans so nervous................


ANGELS

The AFL, which is kind of small to begin with so take this for what it’s worth, has announced their All-Star rosters. (I am linking you to the free one instead of the $$ one.) jo Adell, Brandon Marsh and Isaac Mattson all made the the East team. That means that Jahmai Jones, Aaron Hernandez, Nathan Bates, Franklin Torres and Austin Warren did not make it..........


MANAGERIAL MUSICAL CHAIRS

Well, let’s put it out there. Other names that the Angels are interviewing for the job they are about to hand to Joe Maddon have been identified.....One of those names is Buck Showalter. There is some history there between Showalter and Moreno....Another of those names is John Farrell. The theory there on Farrell is that he is really good with pitching staffs. Which is something like being a really good painter who finds that they have enrolled in a ceramics class.....I admit that I have been hewn into a cynical jerk by years of daily LAA link maestering, so I cannot help but feel that using the media to alert Maddon that there are other big name alternatives is a good way to keep his asking price down.......

The Angels are not the only team in need of a new manager. Hell, they ain’t even the only California team in need of a new manager. The Giants are looking to poach the coaching staff of the nearby Oakland A’s. They want to interview A’s quality control coach Mark Kotsay. Presumably this will happen once Northern California turns their power back on............

The Cubs also want to poach, but are aiming higher than a Wild Card crew mate. They are sniffing around Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada. Sigh. It seems like just a year ago when Espada was rumored to be a candidate to manage the Angels..........

And Joe Girardi, who knows a thing or two about managing in the New York limelight, is a probable interviewee with the Mets. This one I like the most. Aaron Boone, managing over there in the Bronx, has had it pretty easy there.........The Mets will also be interviewing Carlos Beltran and Mike Bell..........


BASEBALL

Joe Maddon may be gone from Wrigley, but his ghost remains to haunt Wrigleyville. I had my chance a few weeks ago, but I didn’t get past Cubby Bear at Addison and Clark..............

I dunno about this. I went to read some insightful analysis as to how the Rays managed to overcome the mastery of Justin Verlander, and the point being made was that it was the baseball mad fans of Tropicana Field. You know, the ones that averaged 14,734 a game this year..........

The Braves organization heard Ryan Helsey, realized that as an MLB employee of Native American descent he has a point about the dickishness of their Tomahawk Chop schtick, and agreed to tone it down. They did not pass out the foam tomahawks or play the chant music or use the video graphics. But read the article carefully. This is only when Helsey is in the building. Any other time, well..........

Justin Verlander: “I felt good, body felt good physically.” Except for the part where “...the slider was the worst it’s been all year” and he suffered “inconsistent control”. But, no, we can’t just admit that the unusual lack of rest had anything to do with it...........

Tonight Minute Maid versus Tropicana Final is Gerrit Cole versus Tyler Glasnow for all the marbles in the final LDS. As MLB Trade Rumors points out, Pirates fans must be feeling pretty chipper. The Astros plucked Cole away from Pittsburgh for the price of Joe ‘replacement’ Musgrove, Michael ‘replacement’ Feliz, Colin ‘replacement’ Moran, and Jason ‘AAA’ Martin. The Rays got Glasnow AND Austin Meadows, in exchange for Chris ‘ready for a team buyout’ Archer and Shane ‘Rookie League’ Baz..........By the way, things don’t ALWAYS go the way that Gerrit Cole wants them to go. So there is a chance the game tonight could actually be interesting..........

Baseball needs the Rays to win tonight, because baseball needs more Ji-Man Choi right now..........

Dallas Keuchel was, yes, a victim of QO draft pick compensation. No disputing that. But Keuchel is pretty lapse on the history behind the comp: “This is whole draft-pick compensation thing went from a throw-in for a team losing a player, to is he really a free agent now?” No, Dallas. This is not true. The comp system was a mechanism that the owners and players came up with to help offset the loss of a roster talent that the source team had invested in from draft through to Free Agency. Unlike the other major sports, it takes a long time for a typical player to go from draftee to FA-worthy star. Yeah, there is a revolution going on NOW, but that does not change where the comp system came from. It never began as “a throw-in”..........

It’s 100 years since The Back Sox Scandal. MLB is climbing into the warm and cozy bed with legalized sports gambling. Could such a thing happen again? I vote with Eddie Dominguez, “...a former Boston police officer who was the security agent for the Red Sox from 1999 to 2007 before moving over to MLB’s Department of Investigations in the aftermath of the Mitchell report on use of steroids and other PEDs in the game.” In his own words: “The vast majority of players and coaches are honest, decent people. But I can also envision all sorts of scenarios in which someone with inside information who doesn’t make a lot of money will tip off friends who gamble as to what a pitcher will throw on a certain count. Baseball can’t control everybody around the game.” And he has a telling example that orbits around the celebrity and marketing import of David Ortiz..........And while we are talking about 1919, let’s fix this Shoeless Joe Jackson thing..............

Baseball people say stupid things. I think we should have waited a few more months as we went through the upcoming chapter of Free Agency Fiascos, where the totality of comments would make a nice list. But this early ranking of stupid things said is inspiring.............

Yeah. This goes right to the heart of the matter. Too many damned canned champagne celebrations...........


STUFF

Big Sexy wrote a book. Guess the title. Go ahead. Guess. I’d buy it, buy my expectations are for a sequel to Green Eggs and Ham...........Yankees fans: “...they just hate people”..........Orioles social media maven, who probably lives in the Baltimore area, going off on MLB social media maven, who obviously lives in the New York area...........One thing is for certain, Rays fans are spoiled shitless...........This really happened on San Francisco TV?..............