Greinke’s arm, bat power the Brewers past the Nats

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Did you like that headline? Sounded just like a real newspaper article, huh? Never had one day of J-school!

Anyway, Zack Greinke, some may recall, was a pretty good prospect as a position player back in high school. He swung a nice bat and, indeed, many think he could have gone pretty far a hitter.

That was a long time ago, of course, but he got some wood on a ball today, hitting the go-ahead home run in the fifth inning of the Brewers-Nats game.  Oh, and since they pay him to pitch he did a little of that too, striking out ten dudes in seven innings of work.

This was the Brewers’ 13th win in the past 16 games.  Or their 27th in their last 50.  Or their 104th in their last 212th.  Remember, I didn’t go to J-school, so I never learned how to properly construct those littler sports reportery-sounding statistical blurbs.

The point stands, however: the Brewers are hot. And even if that four-team race so many of us predicted in the NL Central this year doesn’t materialize, we may very well have the makings of a pretty nice two or three team race soon.

Note: I am aware that the photo is blurry. Just as I’m pretending to be a real journalist for the purposes of this post, I think the AP photographer was pretending to be an artist. I kinda like it when they do that.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?