Expos in a line

The Best and Worst Uniforms of All Time: The Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos

I think it’s fair to include the Expos in this one, don’t you? They’re not otherwise represented, and there is franchise continuity here.  To be fair, I’ll include the Browns with the Orioles, Senators v.1 and v.2 with the Twins and Rangers, the Pilots with the Brewers and so on. Cool?
Best: With apologies to Jonah Keri, I can’t in good conscious say that any Expos uniform would make a “best” list. They have their charms, sure, but so much of it is retro-charm and a fondness for things that are no longer with us rather than beauty on the merits.  No one who wasn’t an Expos fan really thought that stuff looked stunning at the time, even when it looked good.  For what it’s worth, the Expos rarely changed anything anyway. They sprung from the head of Zeus (or was it Bowie Kuhn?) fully formed, with powder blue roadies and the cool stylized M on the cap in 1969 and only made the slightest of alterations between then and 1992. The pre-1992 uniforms were good, but if we’re being honest here, we can’t say that they look better than the Nationals’ current road uniforms.  Which are probably the only uniforms that look better than the team’s home uniforms now that I think about it. That may change tomorrow when the Nats unveil new duds.
Worst: The last generation Montreal uniforms were bad, not because they looked so terrible, but because the team lacked the cajones to put the sylized “M” on the jerseys themselves where God, Nature and Rusty Staub intended it to be. And if any team was born to wear powder blue roadies, it was Les Expos, so they looked not quite themselves in gray. I hate the Nats current home uniforms because of that block lettering. Which, as I recently noted, was apparently a historical accident that left them looking like the Diamondbacks-East.  That will presumably be remedied tomorrow, with a script “Nationals” on the front a la the roadies.

Assessment: The Nats are probably limited to threads that are more or less like those they currently wear. They basically have to stick with red, white, and blue.  Marketing probably dictates that they keep the curly W on the cap.  It would be cool if they could experiment a bit, but it’s not gonna happen.  They’ll always look pretty good, but a bit boring. Which describes most teams nowadays, come to think of it.

Oh well, that’s it for the NL East.  Tomorrow we’ll start in with the NL Central.  There’s a bit more history there — the East has only two teams that predate the Kennedy administration — so it will a bit more fun.

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.