What happened to the playoff races?

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rockies_090907.jpgAre the playoff races all but over? From the Washington Post

Baseball’s playoff race died suddenly this weekend of natural causes. It was five months old. Survivors include the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Indeed this weekend was rough on some of the contenders.

(See standings here, and an analysis of the races here)

The Texas Rangers went 1-2 against the lowly Orioles to lose ground on the Angels and miss a chance to gain on the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays, after Monday’s disastrous double-header sweep against the Yankees — and six straight losses — are toast. The Twins dropped two of three to the Indians to fall 6 1/2 behind the Tigers.

In the NL, the Marlins and Braves don’t appear capable of making a run at the Phillies. The Rockies and Giants are hanging close to the Dodgers, but one gets the feeling that L.A. can hold their divisional lessers at arm’s length the rest of the way. And the Cubs? Well, at least they won’t have to blame the curse on a playoff collapse.

Only the wild card races are tight, with the Rangers standings 2 1/2 behind the Red Sox, and the Giants two behind the Rockies. But even those two races aren’t as up-for-grabs as they may seem.

Over at http://www.coolstandings.com, the math goes like this: The eight projected playoff teams (the six division leaders plus the two wild card leaders) have between a 70.5 percent chance (the Rockies) and a 99.9 percent chance (the AL East-leading Yankees) of going to the postseason, while among the pursuers, only the Giants (at 27.4 percent) have a better than one-in-four chance.

It doesn’t bode well for an exciting September, but I guess you never know. Someone might have a run in them yet. Let’s hope so.


If you Twitter, and think lacrosse can be interesting after all, feel free to follow me at @Bharks.

MLB cancels its Dominican showcase after players protest an international draft

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports that Major League Baseball has cancelled its Dominican national showcase, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Why? Because, Badler reports, trainers and players in the Dominican Republic planned to  skip the showcase in protest over Major League Baseball’s push to implement an international draft.

The kicker: Major League Baseball explored bringing in lesser prospects to serve as replacement players for the showcase. MLB, you might recall, has a poor track record of getting replacement workers to fill in for picketing players.

As Badler noted recently, the international draft proposed by Major League Baseball is, despite whatever MLB says, all about paying international players less money. From the Players Union’s perspective, it’s all about selling out amateur players to the supposed benefit of current union members. The allegedly altruistic justifications for the draft simply don’t hold water.

They certainly don’t fool the Dominican players who, even if they are ultimately powerless to stop MLB from stripping them of their bargaining power, will not give it up quietly.

World Series Reset: Cubs vs. Indians Game 2

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 24:  Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians throws during Media Day workouts for the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 2
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Trevor Bauer (Indians)

The Upshot:

We get going an hour earlier tonight due to the threat of rain. As of now, that still looks like it will be the difference between getting this one in or not, as the chance of rain looks to be a lot higher after a 7pm game would reasonably end:


Still, it’s going to be dicey and the conditions will be less than ideal. It will be especially less-than-idea for Cleveland if the game is delayed early and they have to go to their bullpen earlier than expected tonight. Andrew Miller escaped some jams last night and did his job, but he used a lot of pitches to do it — 46 — and may be pretty limited tonight, if he’s available at all. That puts a lot on Trevor Bauer’s shoulders. Or, actually, his fingers, including the pinky finger on his pitching hand which is full of stitches. Those stitches not holding cost him his ALCS start. Terry Francona is hoping to get a lot more out of his starter tonight. Given how little he has pitched in the playoffs he should have the energy as long as his finger holds up.

As for the Cubs, teams that have lost Game 1 of the World Series are 40-70 and, in recent years, have a worse winning percentage than that, losing it all in 12 of the past 13 years. Eh, not too impressed with that stat as it doesn’t actually deal with the series at hand. At hand, the Cubs have superior starters set to go in each of the next two games, starting tonight with Jake Arrieta. He’s not been fantastic in the playoffs this year, but he’s capable of dominating a game any time out.

The Cubs figure to have a better night at the plate now that Corey Kluber is out of the way. Particularly a lefty like Anthony Rizzo, who is probably happy to see Bauer. Jason Heyward will likely be back in the lineup as well. They had better have a better night. Being down 1-0 is not a death sentence in the World Series, even if it has looked like one recently. Being down 2-0 is not something Chicago wants to chance.