Jayson Stark has created a minor empire focusing on the small stuff. I don’t mean that negatively. His general reporting is fine work, but his signature is picking out the weird and obscure stats and other assorted baseball minutiae. Sometimes his trivia leads us astray — we really don’t need to know who the six players are who have had led the league in HBP, EQA and ingrown hairs since the color line was broken in order to understand what’s going on in baseball — but it’s almost always a fun ride anyway.
Take today’s column: the Most Creative Contract Clauses of the Offseason. The weirdest of them all is that Chien-Ming Wang gets a bonus for winning a Silver Slugger Award. This being the same guy who had his career derailed after a mishap running the bases. I’m guessing there is some confront-your-nemesis mojo working there, though, so we’ll give it a pass.
Other fun contract clauses belong to Jayson Werth, Derek Jeter and about a half a dozen guys on the Pirates who have the contract clauses that are most likely to never be exercised. You gotta click through and read the column for the details.
If I were a ballplayer I don’t think I’d insist on weird contract clauses per se. I think I’d focus on riders. You know, the deals in which musicians insist on specific colors of furniture in dressing rooms they’ll use for an hour and the specific brand of bottled water they’ll have waiting for them when they come off stage? Yeah, I’d total have one of those.
My rider would probably be simple — local beer at every ballpark except St. Louis, nice cold cuts and a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed — but I would insist on it being fulfilled with all legal options available at my disposal.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.