Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun celebrates his 2 RBIs against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 5th inning of Game 1 in the MLB National League Championship Series baseball playoffs in Milwaukee

Great Moments in Cognitive Dissonance: big market/small market edition

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Here’s Associated Press columnist Tim Dahlberg on September 28th, talking about the “Moneyball” movie:

Bottom line is small market teams can’t win consistently, no matter how many numbers they crunch. The deck is stacked against them by the most important numbers in baseball — the size of a team’s payroll.

Here’s Associated Press columnist Tim Dahlberg this morning, talking about the playoffs:

No Yankees. No Red Sox. No Phillies, either, with what was supposed to be the best postseason rotation ever.

Too bad, because they were teams you could cheer for. They were also teams most of us love to cheer against.

Instead, baseball’s flirtation with parity gives us Milwaukee and St. Louis in a rematch of the 1982 World Series remembered by no one outside those two cities. And, instead of the Yankees and Red Sox in the American League, we get Detroit against Texas in what, at least on a rainy opening night Saturday, was a very tough matchup to sit through … The problem is, baseball isn’t winning. Outside of its core cities the game struggles to find a national audience. And, with the biggest cities out, that struggle gets even harder.

The common thread if you read the entirety of both of those columns, plus most other stuff Dahlberg writes: he just really doesn’t like baseball very much and, increasingly, doesn’t seem to understand it at all.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.