OK, maybe the Cubs are jerking Andre Dawson around

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1:24 P.M.:  OK, I sort of laid off the Cubs on this earlier today because the story below seemed to be more a failure of reporting than of the Cubs decision on the matter (i.e. it seemed entirely possible that the Cubs had every intention of retiring Dawson’s number regardless of what cap he wore)  but now ESPN is reporting that the Cubs really are going to wait and see what cap he wears before deciding if they’re going to retire his number.

Let me refine the point I made this morning, this time directed at the Cubs:  someone please tell me why the Cubs would retire Greg Maddux’s number despite the fact that he’ll wear a Braves cap into Cooperstown while they now apparently won’t retire Dawson’s if he wears an Expos cap.

Maddux won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and pitched in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Andre Dawson won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and played in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Maddux had three more seasons with the Cubs than Dawson did, but of Maddux’s nine years in a Cubs’ uniform one was a late season callup, one full season was a far below average (ERA+ of 76 in 1987), and two were average, end of career years.  All of Dawson’s six years were above average years.

I see no reason for the differential treatment here, and I would like someone with the Cubs or familiar with their thinking to explain it to me.

11:00 AM: Chicago Breaking Sports News reports that “[Andre] Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub.”  They go on to note that there’s “No word on whether the Cubs would follow through with retiring his number if Dawson is inducted as an Expo.” Query: Does the reporter here really need official word from the Cubs on that last point? They retired Greg Maddux’s number last year, and he’s almost
certain to go into the Hall as a Brave, so they’ll almost certainly do
it for Dawson. 

But even if that’s not a given, the cap some committee of anonymous whoevers decides should appear on Dawson’s plaque can’t be the determining factor for the Cubs, can it? I mean, if they stand willing to retire his jersey anyway, they’re going to retire it regardless, right? I mean, what possible difference would it make to the Cubs?  It’s not like they can’t still sell 40,000 “Andre Dawson: Hall of Famer” seat cushions or foam fingers or whatever on “Andre Dawson Day” anyway, and that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m generally unimpressed with the practice of retiring numbers in the first instance.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).