Wait — did they go and screw with my HardballTalk again?

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Um, yes. A little. Thanks for noticing!

No, it’s  not a major change like the one we dropped on you last summer. You know, the one that caused you to say that you’d never read us again and which made you threaten the lives of my family? Boy, I’m glad you weren’t serious about that! I’d hate it if you stopped reading.

No, this time it’s minor. At least from your end: we switched publishing platforms from Movable Type to WordPress. Bloggers among you may find that interesting. Non-bloggers, not so much. The point, however, is that changing over to WordPress makes the machinery of this jalopy work much more smoothly, and that makes Aaron, D.J., Drew, Matthew, Bob and I much less grumpy. It should also improve things for you. You may have noticed some time lags in posts and comments appearing, as well as a few other quirks. That should mostly disappear. There are other, more subtle things that you may not notice but which will make your time-wasting, er, I mean your reading experience a bit better.

The one big change, however, is comments. While registration for commenting is not new to you, your old registration on Movable Type won’t work now. You will, as that email you should have received from NBC told you, have to register with WordPress. The good news is that if you’re an avid blog commenter already you probably already have a WordPress login. If not, registration is not obtrusive as  far as these things go, and will only take a moment. We don’t, it should go without saying, use your registration information for any ulterior marketing or spying purposes or for any other sort of tomfoolery.

So that’s that. If you experience any hiccups, let me know. If you’re just a crotchety old fogey who hates change, well, yeah, me too.  But we promise that after this we won’t go messin’ with anything for a while. Coo?  Of course it’s cool.

Craig

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.