San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 3

Game 3 Live Blog

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9:52: And down goes Uribe. Rangers win. It’s 2-1. Now it gets interesting. Bumgarner v. Hunter tomorrow, my friends.  I’ll be back liveblogging then.  Stay tuned to HBT for Matthew Pouliot’s game racap.  Night folks!

9:49: And down goes Huff. Two down, and we’re an out away from this being a competitive series again.

9:47: Feliz makes short work of Pat Burrell. Now on to face hitters who pose an actual threat.

9:43: In comes Neftali Feliz. I’m rather surprised he remembers the route to the mound.

9:41: Ozzie Guillen comes into the booth and says that he was surprised Washington didn’t use Feliz.  Either that or else he was talking about the cruise he’s planning after the Series is over. It’s hard to tell with Ozzie sometimes.

9:37: OK, I now realize just how dumb I’m going to look if Feliz comes in for the save and blows it.  Thank God it’s Saturday night and none of you are reading this. I’ll be able to go back and erase the past few updates!

9:33: O’Day gets out of it. Know what? I don’t care if it worked. It was still a dumb decision. You have to use Neftali Feliz when the game is on the line. That Washington has consistently failed to do so this postseason is inexplicable.

9:27: Darren O’Day comes into the game. There are two out in the eighth. Tying run at the plate. Why on Earth can’t Washington bring his best relief pitcher in here? This is atrocious.

9:25: Colby Lewis hits a dude, and he’s being yoinked.  Ron Washington makes the call to the pen. Now it gets interesting.

9:22: Andres Torres goes yard. 4-2.  This may not be as bad for Texas as you might think. If it stays a save situation, Washington may be forced to hunt down Neftali Feliz and actually use him in this game.

9:21: “Darren Oliver is getting loose.”  The bullpen is soon going to be part of this game for Texas. Don’t go calling this one a victory yet, Rangers fans. Wait a second [phone rings] Ron Washington is calling ME into the game!

9:14: Jeremy Affeldt is pitching. He has a beard, but it’s not as bushy or black as Wilson’s. “Have some mild uneasiness about the beard!”

9:07: Martha Plimpton for “God Bless America?”  Wasn’t expecting that. And since FOX is using this to promote one of its shows — it was even announced by the PA guy — can we dispense with the notion that it’s all patriotic and sacred and stuff?  Bring back “Take me out to the Ballgame,” OK?

9:04: Wow, there goes Cody Ross again. Home run, 4-1, Rangers.  Someone is going to [over]pay him a TON for this postseason performance.

9:03: Pat Burrell just struck out for the third time. He’s brought zilch to the table this series. Or the postseason overall (Burrell is 6-for-37 with 18 Ks). Bochy needs to sit him down.

9:00: Just saw two ads for the same political race in this commercial break. In one, the incumbent was portrayed as a nice man. In the other, pure evil. They both can’t be right! Someone is lying!

8:57: For the second time tonight a Giant pitcher fakes to second and the crowd goes nuts, thinking it’s a balk. Yay for Texas in the World Series, but there are likely a lot of new fans at the ballpark tonight.

8:54: And Francoeur takes a walk.  This, my friends, is not the Giants’ night.

8:53: McCarver on Ian Kinsler’ stolen base: “Posey actually makes a good throw . . .” as the video shows it going well to the third base side of the bag.

8:50: Ah, Jeffy is up with a runner on.  I can’t decide if I want him to go yard or screw himself into the ground whiffing on a big swing.

8:43: And the threat ends with Aubrey Huff on second. The Giants have suddenly reverted to the Giants we all came to know late in the season.  Just not looking good at the plate.

8:41: Was just about to say that Lewis had been walking some dangerous territory with those hanging curves, but then McCarver said it, so let’s just forget it. /stopped clock.

8:39: Know what I don’t care about? Whether Brett Favre starts tomorrow. Anyone else trying to play on a broken ankle would be considered a psycho, a detriment to his team or both. Favre, though? He’s like a kid out there!

8:37:  OK, the runaway train movie looks like it might be good.

8:34: Why is Vlad Guerrero stealing? Shot down, of course. He runs like he’s smuggling cinder blocks, yet off he goes? Eh, Rangers still up 4-0.

8:28: Seriously, what has happened to Sanchez?  He’s been MIA all postseason. Just awful.

8:27: Josh Hamilton just abused that baseball.  Bye-bye Sanchez. Or at least it should be.

8:25: Wow, Uribe flashed some leather, and the neighborhood play at second was fair enough as far as I was concerned.  Wait — replay showed it may not have been the neighborhood play. Nice DP!

8:23: I’ve been digging this low, low strike zone tonight. And by “digging” I mean really, really hating.

8:20: Hey all — this started as a chat, but due to a glitch in the Matrix or something, we kept having technical glitches. So from here on out, it’s a live blog. Upside: while trying to fix the live chat, I missed a horrendous Jeff Francoeur at bat!

The deeper implications of the A.J. Ellis trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The trade of a light-hitting backup catcher is normally about as inconsequential as it gets. The trade of A.J. Ellis by the Dodgers to the Phillies, however, is anything but that. Indeed, it may be the public manifestation of long-simmering, well, maybe “feud” is too strong a word, but a definite butting of heads between the team’s front office and its best player.

While almost all of the clubhouse drama in Los Angeles has surrounded a talented but aggravating corner outfielder currently toiling in the minors, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote last night that the Ellis trade could very well be seen as the front office’s shot across Clayton Kershaw‘s bow:

Kershaw’s preference of Ellis was the subject of a longstanding tug-of-war between Kershaw and the front office, which wanted Yasmani Grandal behind the plate as much as possible . . . Some players interpreted the trade as a message from the front office.

This isn’t Kershaw’s team. It’s not Corey Seager’s team or Adrian Gonzalez’s, either.

It’s Friedman’s.

The notion that Kershaw likes to pitch to Ellis is pretty well-known, but the idea that it was so strong a preference that it created a dispute as to whether he has final say over a roster spot is news, at least to people who aren’t around the Dodgers all the time. Hernandez is a good columnist and is particularly well-plugged in to the Dodgers after many years of being their beat writer for the Times. He wouldn’t throw the notion of there being something of a power struggle in this regard out there all willy-nilly in order to stir the pot or something. I don’t doubt for a second that something bigger than most of us have seen is going on here.

As for the trade itself: yeah, it’s pretty debatable as to whether it makes any kind of sense. Carlos Ruiz is likely an upgrade over Ellis, but it’s a pretty marginal upgrade when you consider how few plate appearances the Dodgers backup catcher will make for the rest of the year. It’s especially marginal if you assume, as Hernandez and others assume, likely with reason, that the loss of Ellis is going to harm morale. At least in the short term before they get to know Ruiz well (worth noting, though, that he comes pretty highly recommended from Kershaw-caliber aces for all the same reasons Ellis does). I can see a lot of reasons not to make that deal even for an extra hit or two a week that Ruiz may give you over Ellis.

All of which speaks to what we don’t know. What we don’t know about the mind of Andrew Friedman and whether or not there is something more going on here than is immediately apparent. About the relationship between him and Kershaw and, for that matter, him and the rest of the team that would cause him to make a deal that plays as poorly with his own players as this one does. It could be something about Ellis. It could be something about Friedman’s relationship with Kershaw. It could be something totally unrelated to any of that, such as offseason plans and the roster in 2017 (Ruiz has a team option for next year, Ellis is a pending free agent). Unless or until Friedman speaks or a reporter gets someone to shed more light on this, there will continue to be questions.

In the meantime, I’ll grant that there are certainly different rules which apply to superstars than mere mortals, but veto power over a trade and/or playing time for other players isn’t typically one of them. If, as Hernandez suggests, there was a sense that Kershaw and Friedman didn’t see eye-to-eye on that and it wasn’t otherwise being resolved, it makes Friedman’s move somewhat more understandable.

World Baseball Classic pools, venues announced

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of Venezuela gets a hit and drives in a run against Spain during the first round of the World Baseball Classic at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on March 10, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Yesterday the folks who run the World Baseball Classic (i.e. the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission) announced the groupings and venues for next springs’s tournament. It breaks down thusly:

  • Pool A will play in Tokyo, featuring Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan;
  • Pool B will play in Seoul, featuring Chinese Taipei, Korea, the Netherlands, and either Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, or Pakistan (final participant to be determined at a qualifying tournament in New York next month);
  • Pool C will play in Miami, featuring Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the United States;
  • Pool D will play in Guadalajara, featuring Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

A winner and a runner-up will advance from each pool following a round-robin competition. That will result in a second round robin made up of Pool A and B — which will be called Pool E, because it HAS to be complicated — and which will be played in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Pool C and D’s representatives will make up Pool F, who will play in San Diego at Petco Park.

The winner of Pool F will then take on the runner-up of Pool E in a semifinal at Dodger Stadium, while the winner of Pool E will face Pool F’s runner-up there as well. The winners of those matches will play in the WBC final, also at Dodger Stadium.

Got it? Good.

Now we wait. And listen to people tell us how much we should care about the World Baseball Classic between now and March.