One of the better “how to fix the All-Star Game” stories you’ll read

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“How to fix the All-Star Game” stories run pretty thick this time of year. Everyone looks at the rosters and, more significantly, looks at all of the fill-ins and beg-outs after the rosters are announced and realizes that there has to be a better way to run a railroad.

I’m sort of blah about it all because, even though I will watch the game, I have more or less given up on the All-Star Game as some sort of important or particularly worthy pursuit. Occasionally interesting, sure, but asking how to fix it is sort of like asking how I’m going to fix that swag lamp in the corner of the basement rec room over the beanbag chair.  Eh, what’s the point?

Put people still try, and as far as those efforts go, Jeff Passan’s proposals over at Yahoo! are some of the better ones I’ve seen.  I think the key is the requirement that starters and starting pitchers play four or five innings.  Because really, it’s the token player usage and constant pitching changes which kill the proceedings more than anything. I’d like to see how Roy Halladay adjusts to facing a whole lineup of good hitters, some of them he seems twice, more than I want to see him mow down four dudes and then leave.

And yeah, Wily Mo Pena in the Home Run Derby seems pretty essential to me.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.