Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays, Game 1

Accusing Cliff Lee of cheating probably isn’t the smartest thing ever


I’ve been kind of out of it today thanks to spending a good chunk of it at an Ohio Bar Association seminar on media law. My role: defending the entire blogosphere against accusations that we’re ruining the newspaper industry. It would have been less fun if I knew in advance that I would be doing that, so I’m glad no one told me. But unaware as I was, you’ll be happy to know, my dear readers, that I did not give in.  I fully admitted to the fact that we’re ruining the newspaper industry and told them that maybe the newspaper industry should figure out what to do about that, because it’s kinda not my problem.  They weren’t quite sure where to go with that. Before they could figure it out, I split. I declared victory in my car while driving home and listening to the Pogues. All in all a good day.

The point of all of this is that I really didn’t read much news today (In those newspapers! Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t ruin them after all!) As such, I missed the little dustup about Cliff Lee’s cap.  Seems that Michael Kay of YES is accusing Lee of cheating by putting resin on his cap, mixing it with sweat and doctoring the ball with it. I have three thoughts about this:

1) Joe Maddon — who’s really savvy — never complained about this during the ALDS, nor have any of Lee’s opponents that I’m aware of.  I don’t know if Lee was doing anything wrong, but I’m a bit skeptical of this kind of thing when it first comes up on talk radio.  Let’s wait and see if Joe Girardi complains — which he might, because hey, maybe Lee is messing around a bit here — but let’s wait for someone who isn’t, you know, Michael Kay or a WFAN caller to say something about it before we go too nuts;

2) Maybe this is not the most important thing in the world — a nine figure contract tends to trump wagging tongues — but given how badly everyone in New York wants Cliff Lee to sign with the Yankees, is it the smartest thing for Kay (a Yankee employee) and all the talk radio people to be leveling these kinds of accusations?  If Lee has his choice of destinations, might he not prefer to go to a team whose broadcasters and fans didn’t spend October calling him a big fat cheater?; finally

3) Assuming that consideration doesn’t enter into it — which it probably wouldn’t — in the event Lee lands in New York, can we expect Kay to ever say a single thing about Lee’s cap and resin and all of that?

I’d bet a year’s salary that he doesn’t make a peep.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.