Jim Riggleman clears the air with Jayson Werth

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The last-place Nationals dropped their fifth consecutive game on Wednesday against the Brewers, which caused Jayson Werth to proclaim that “things need to change.”

His quotes didn’t sound all that out of the ordinary for a team that’s regularly losing baseball games, but many speculated that Werth was directing his frustration towards Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

Well, Riggleman had a chance to clear the air with the high-priced outfielder earlier this morning. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, Werth assured him that the comments weren’t directed towards him specifically.

“I guess the short answer is no.”

“The long answer is, you know … ‘changes.’ We’ve got to start winning ballgames,” Riggleman continued. “The losing that has taken place here for a couple years, that’s got to change. We’ve got to change some things with how we play.”

It’s difficult to change things when the Nationals just don’t have the personnel to make it happen. Ryan Zimmerman has only played eight games this season and Adam LaRoche has basically been a shell of himself because of tears in his labrum and rotator cuff, so Werth hasn’t had any real proven protection around him. The Nationals entered play tonight with a .229 team batting average, second-worst in the majors behind the Padres.

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 now have a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they’ve only played five innings of baseball.

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?