I went on yesterday about how Commissioner Selig’s little committee was probably set up for cynical purposes. Today the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers goes in a different direction, hatching the conspiracy theory that the committee was set up to ban the Designated Hitter:
be fair, it’s premature to ask such a potentially provocative question.
But thanks to Commissioner Bud Selig’s decision to turn recommendations
for on-field matters over to a newly created version of the NFL’s Competition Committee, the DH rule could face its first real threat since the American League accepted it permanently for the 1976 season . . . The commissioner did not mention the DH rule, but Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa and longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz, who joined
Selig on a conference call, both listed it as the one thing they
potentially would change if they could.
I’m no fan of the DH, so if there was even a shred of a scintilla of a hope that La Russa and the gang were going to recommend its abolition, I’d be playing it up like crazy. But there’s nothing here to suggest that the committee is even going to look at the DH rule, let alone opine on it.
La Russa doesn’t like it. Great. But that “if they could” in the last sentence of the blockquote is pretty important. Messing with rules is one thing. Abolishing the DH, however, messes with rosters. As in, the position on the AL roster that has historically had the highest average salary in baseball and is home to a lot of players who would otherwise be out of the league due to their inability to play defense. The Player’s Union would no sooner agree to getting rid of the DH than the Teamster’s Union would agree to give up seniority pay.
The DH made its debut three months before I was born. I’ve resigned myself to the DH. I’ve even prepared myself for the expansion of the DH to the NL one day, because I think that has pretty even odds of happening in my lifetime. Getting rid of it? No way. No how. The world simply isn’t that just.
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.