Major League Baseball (finally) approves the Cubs' sale

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I’m pretty sure that Ron Santo was the starting third baseman when the Ricketts-buying-the-Cubs negotiations started. With the exception of a bankruptcy court’s rubber stamp, however, the process is finally over:

Major League Baseball owners welcomed the Ricketts family to an exclusive fraternity Tuesday, unanimously approving its proposal via conference call to become the owner of  the Cubs . . . The Ricketts family still must clear one more hurdle in bankruptcy court before it can assume day-to-day control of the team. The transaction, valued at $845 million, is expected to be closed by the end of the month.

Whether this will mean anything for the Cubs on the field in the short term is debatable. Rick Morrissey, despite what seems like some wild optimism — “I dare say the Cubs could field the same team next season minus Meltdown Bradley (all right, and Kevin Gregg) and be a factor in the playoffs — thinks that there won’t be a lot of offseason personnel moves. The fact of the matter is that they have a lot of big contracts, one of which — Bradley — they’re probably going to just eat.  Ricketts is a billionaire, and you usually don’t get to be a billionaire by making hasty, public-pleasing decisions.  He’s probably going to stand more or less pat this year and see what he has before tearing things up.

But it is a new day in Chicago, and for that Cubs fans should be happy indeed.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.