What does the La Russa extension really mean?

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Bernie Miklasz has a great column up over at the Post-Dispatch today, analyzing the announcement that Tony La Russa is coming back to the Cardinals next year. More specifically, analyzing the part of the announcement in which it was revealed that bullpen coach Marty Mason was not coming back.

A small detail to outsiders — I almost ignored it completely when I read about it yesterday — but Miklasz explains how that seemingly small move has big implications for the Cardinals. How it plays into what appears to be an ongoing power struggle between the front office on the one hand and La Russa and his coaching staff on the other. Miklasz goes one further by noting how La Russa’s one year + option extension may leave some of his coaches wondering where they fit in the world.

This is all very inside baseball of course, but it’s fascinating inside baseball.  Every team has a dynamic like this, and only a select few people are truly aware of it. An even smaller select few of those people are willing to write about it, but Miklasz does here.  Cardinals fans are better off for knowing it and the team will be much more interesting to watch because of it.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.