Sosa buries baseball in avalanche of non-surprise

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Judging by reaction around baseball, Sammy Sosa testing positive for steroids
(just a report at this point, mind you) is akin to saying the Yankees
have a big payroll. Is anyone surprised? Ummm … that would be a big fat

In fact, surprise was the word of the day. A sampling …

  • Lance Berkman is not at all surprised:
    “That’s not that surprising at all. There are just certain guys that
    you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out
    accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit.”

  • Don’t even try to throw a surprise party for Aramis Ramirez:
    “Nothing surprises me anymore. Everybody talked about it, but I played
    with him for two years here and I never saw him do anything wrong.”

  • Joe Torre is surprised when his own player gets caught, but not
    by anyone else: “As far as being surprised, I was surprised with Manny.
    And after that, I mean, how can you be surprised anymore? After Manny,
    how can you be surprised?”

  • Lou Piniella is surprised you would even ask him about it:
    “I don’t know that much about it. Maybe if managers had been trained a
    little more in these areas, I could answer better, but I don’t know. I
    wouldn’t know a steroid from a reefer.”

  • After dealing with A-Rod and now Sosa, Rangers GM Jon Daniels seems to wish he could be surprised:
    “But it’s the same reaction as I had with Alex [Rodriguez]. You hope
    it’s not true. But, unfortunately, nothing would surprise all of us at
    this point.”

  • Don Mattingly hopes these non-surprise surprises are going to soon come to an end:
    “I don’t think it surprises anybody any more. I think it’s good that
    we’ve got a policy in place. … “Obviously, there’s a lot of guys. I’d
    just go ahead — if there’s 103 guys, let’s get ’em all out. We’ll know
    who’s who and go from there. We’ll get it over with.”

  • White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone is surprised that Sosa drew attention to himself:
    “I’m kind of surprised that he came out for an official retirement,
    because sometimes when you do that and make a comment as he made, it
    has ramifications that you can’t foresee and in this case, these are
    some of the ramifications.”

  • And perhaps most surprising is the reaction of Angels reliever Darren Oliver:
    “Better him than me. He’s the one who has to deal with it. It seems
    like if you are caught with this, you can kiss the Hall of Fame

    You want a surprise? Oliver might now have a better chance than Sosa
    at the Hall of Fame. I don’t think anyone would have expected something
    like that.

  • The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Getty Images

    After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

    The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

    Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

    With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

    Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

    With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

    Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Getty Images

    So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

    According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

    Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.