“Baseball is a sport for red-blooded men, a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest”

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“Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.”     — Ty Cobb

Cobb uttered those words over 80 years ago.

Tonight, during the final gasp of baseball’s 2011 regular season, we were given an astounding, engrossing, riveting, spellbinding and intoxicating verification of the quote’s utter and absolute truth.

Four teams entered the evening with a shot at postseason life. After two extra-innings contests, an hour-long rain delay in Baltimore, three separate blown save opportunities, and a whole host of failures and heroics in between, only the Rays and Cardinals popped champagne.

From Chris Carpenter’s two-hit shutout in Houston, to Evan Longoria’s two-homer night in Tampa Bay, the baseball gods were beaming. And at the same time tugging mercilessly on the heartstrings of Braves and Red Sox supporters, who witnessed their teams finish off historic tumbles to the wrong side of history.

What other sport can possibly demand that 2,430 games be completed before crowning all of its yearly postseason invitees? Baseball is cruel. Its schedule is an unrelenting beast. But we soak it up. We read, we write, we analyze, we yell, we scream. And we ask questions. So many damn questions.

Then the game gives back with a night like this, rendering our mouths and minds inconsequential. We’re all morons at baseball’s mercy. Throw out the numbers. Forget the payrolls. It’s on to October.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.