I’m not at all comfortable with the glee some in the baseball world have had at the NFL’s labor issues. I mean, no, I really don’t care about the NFL all that much in and of itself and won’t miss it if it’s gone, but the situation is ugly there and I tend to think that when bad things happen in other sports that it’s bad for baseball in some way too.
Part of this is because I think the division between sports fans and non-sports fans is more significant than the division between baseball fans and, say, football fans. Because of this, I worry that if football’s ills turn people off, it risks turning them off sports, not just off football. Likewise, to the extent there is litigation between the NFL players and the league, it will likely have implications for labor relations in other sports too, so baseball fans do have a stake in all of this.
So no, my interest in the NFL’s labor situation has not been one borne of schadenfreude. It’s been more of cautious curiosity and at least a mild bit of trepidation.
Against that backdrop comes a thought-provoking article from Larry at IIATMS, in which he talks about how the existence of the salary cap is so central to the current NFL battle and how, if baseball had one like so many people want, it would likely make its labor problems worse, not better. It’s worth a read, especially if you’ve found yourself engaged in the salary cap wars over the past 15 years or so.
The larger lesson to take from this is that there really aren’t any panaceas in this world. Things that solve problem X always — always — lead to unintended consequence Y. Those consequences may be minor or they may be major, but the point is that anyone who says that any given course of action would cure all of a complicated system’s ills is pretty much full of it.
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.