So I'm in the World Series

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Fantasy baseball nerd.jpgI mentioned a long time ago that I was participating in a simulation league for media guys. The game: Rob Neyer Baseball. It’s a historical league based on the Diamond Mind platform, and I am owner/general manager/manager of the Matewan Massacre. Other owners include Neyer himself, Jonah Keri, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, Baseball Prospectus’ Rany Jazayerli, Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods fame, FanGraphs’ Carson Cistulli and many others. It’s been a load of fun, but the season is almost over.

I’ve done well: I beat Mr. Neyer’s very own team to advance to the World Series, but
make no mistake about it: I’m an underdog against Jazayerli’s team, The Process, which finished the year with the best record in the league. He’s up 1-0 after a gem by his ace, Brett Saberhagen, and probably has a better top-to-bottom club than I do, but I have not yet given up.

The Massacre won its division with an 88-74 record, powered by an MVP season by Barry Bonds (.299/.421/.585 43 HR, 124 RBI in what turned out to be a really low-offense league).  Don’t look at me that way; the Massacre does not have a morals clause in its player contracts. Heck, my backup shortstop is former Chicago Black Sox Swede Risberg for cryin’ out loud. My rotation — which surprisingly became a strength as the season wore on — is populated by several fat, alcoholic 1940s and 50s pitchers. The closest thing I have to model citizens on the team are Luis Sojo and Clint Hurdle, but they were bench warmers all year. We’re all about winning in Matewan.

Game 2 of the World Series will take place later today, with three games tomorrow and the final two on Saturday if necessary.  I’ll let you know how my fellas do. If they win, Katie bar the door, because they know how to celebrate right-proper down in Matewan.

Marlins defeat the Mets, then pay their respects to Jose Fernandez on the pitcher’s mound

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miami Marlins players all wearing jerseys bearing the number 16 and name Fernandez honor the late Jose Fernandez before the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.

When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.

Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.

A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.

Indians defeat Tigers, clinch AL Central for first division title since 2007

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on September 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.

Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.

In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.

Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.

The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.

Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.

The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.

The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.