More Peter Gammons. This time, as is his wont, plainly yet eloquently states why we shouldn’t listen to any of the owners cry poverty this offseason:
As unpleasant as it may be, go back to the bleak midwinter of 1994-95, and the strike that canceled the World Series. Revenues at that time were in the $1.5 billion-$1.7 billion range. Owners were begging the players to accept some form of salary cap based on the players’ splitting 55 percent of revenue, claiming that at the time players were actually being paid more than 60 percent. At the recent meetings, players were told their share is now somewhere around 46 percent, so as record revenues held they shouldn’t listen to those owners who make it sound as if they’re facing foreclosure.
It’s one thing for a team to say “we’re not interested in pursuing free agent X because we don’t want to spend that much money.” At least that’s true and, depending on where the team is on the success cycle, often defensible from a competitive point of view. It’s another thing altogether to say “we can’t pursue free agent X because we’re dead broke and the salaries are too high and baseball needs a salary cap, blah, blah, blah.” That’s just implausible, and such talk is aimed at winning a P.R. game as opposed to reflecting reality.
Even in these dark economic times, the owners are making much more money than they used to, and they’re keeping a much higher percentage of that money than they used to. It’s all good and sporting to slag on the allegedly greedy players. Why don’t people get more bent out of shape about the greedy owners?
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.