Braves starting pitcher Lowe raises his glove over his face after a run scored in the third inning by Phillies Oswalt in Atlanta

If I don’t survive the night, I love you all

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I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m totally freaked out. I’d be way better off if the Braves were already eliminated. As anyone who has suffered profound grief can attest, the shock, denial, anger and bargaining stages are harder to get through than the depression and acceptance part.  Or not. I don’t know. I’m just trying to grasp on to anything here.

OK, I’m overplaying that. In all honesty, this is about as wonderful as baseball gets. Partially because there’s the possibility for the horrible. If you’re a Red Sox, Rays, Braves or Cardinals fan tonight, your stomach should be doing flip flops. It’s good for the soul in some strange way.  Unless your happiness is way too closely tied to your favorite team’s performance you should appreciate that the all-or-nothing aspects to this make it thrilling.

Sure, I want my team to win and I want the Cardinals to lose.  But I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me that wants a game 163.  And that, even if it kills another part of me, I think the Cardinals winning the wild card would be a good thing because it will be a neat happening to consider.

OK, maybe not a good thing, but certainly an interesting thing, and interesting things make life better.  Interesting things are of just as much if not more value to a person than some vicarious triumph of someone we consider to be part of our tribe. I mean, the Braves don’t know who I am and don’t care about my happiness beyond how that translates into support they can quantify.  Fandom is almost always one-sided. If we as fans value the interesting as much as we value the rah-rah stuff at least we’re being repaid somehow.

Not that I will abandon the rah-rah.  I imagine — if my stomach allows me to anyway — I’ll be on Twitter tonight cracking wise and scared and happy and angry depending on what the Phillies hitters are doing to poor Tim Hudson.  I’ll say something like “Yay! Go team!” if the Braves win and something like “Oh drat” if they lose. But then I’ll wake up tomorrow and know that we have the playoffs and the offseason and the spring and then another summer ahead of us when everything is reset and begins anew.  And then I’ll realize, nothing truly permanent was lost, even in defeat.

But seriously: screw the Cardinals. I hope they get no-hit by Brett Myers tonight and that Tony La Russa pulls a muscle during his 19th pitching change.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
Associated Press
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.

Some Mets fans are not happy that Beyonce is playing at Citi Field

Beyoncé performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Associated Press
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The funny thing about that “stick to sports” stuff I was going on about the other day is that, in reality, a whole lot of the people who say “stick to sports” don’t really want to just stick to sports. They’re totally cool going on about political, social or cultural stuff as long as it fits their world view. It’s not “stick to sports.” It’s “don’t talk about the social implications of sports-related stuff in ways that upset me.” If sports and culture come together in other ways, however, they’re completely fine in grinding their axe.

For example, Beyonce is playing a concert a Citi Field this summer. The show is so popular that they added a second date. The Mets’ Twitter feed just announced that tickets will go on sale for the new show soon:

A while lotta Mets fans responded to that negatively. For political/social/cultural reasons that they are willingly bringing in to a conversation about a pop singer and a baseball stadium that will double as a concert venue:

And they go on and on.

How much do you want to bet that a whole lotta these respondents would tell you to “stick to baseball” if you wanted to bring up how race affects the sport or how, if instead of Beyonce, this was announcing a Kid Rock/Ted Nugent-headlined festival and you mused whether that was a case of the Mets somehow endorsing their messages?