Report: Selig to retire after 2012

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He has presided over realignment,
revenue sharing, continued expansion, changes to the All-Star game,
instant replay, Interleague play, the Wild Card, the World Baseball
Classic, unprecedented labor peace, and of course, steroids and the
Mitchell Report, among other things. Not bad for someone who wore the
title of acting commissioner from 1992 to 1996.




But according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, Bud Selig will step aside as commissioner after his current contract expires following the 2012 season. Appropriately enough, the next labor agreement expires in December of 2011.



The decision doesn’t come as much of
a surprise if you remember that Selig announced his plans to retire
once before, only to have his contract extended for three more years.
However the 75-year-old Selig still has other plans outside baseball
that he’d like to pursue, namely writing a book and, yes, teaching history.




Rogers speculates on some potential
replacements for the top spot, ranging from top lieutenants Bob DuPuy
and Rob Manfred to popular executives like Andy MacPhail of the
Orioles. MacPhail is the son of former American League President Lee
MacPhail and the grandson of Larry MacPhail, who served as chief
executive to the Reds, Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers. Both are in the
Hall of Fame. MacPhail is held in high regard among major league owners.




For someone in their late-20s, it’s
almost hard to remember baseball without Selig as its commissioner. For
all the grief he’s taken, and many times rightfully so, Selig has
introduced radical and sweeping changes to our game. Some went along
kicking and screaming at the time, but it’s difficult to argue that we
aren’t better off with realignment and the expanded playoffs that along came
with it.

This isn’t to say that the game is perfect. Some (including
Mike Scioscia) would like the playoffs to move at a more natural pace
and I’m sure it will happen. Revenue sharing has flaws of its own that must be addressed in the coming seasons. To his credit, I’ve found Selig to be a reasoned and
prudent steward of the game, and I expect nothing less until his
contract expires. That said, I look forward to seeing how the next commissioner can build upon Selig’s accomplishments.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.