Cubs, Red Sox punt; ask Bud Selig to solve the Theo compensation issue

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It occurs to me on occasion that someone stumbling onto a headline like that will not comprehend it at all unless they already know everything about the issue it refers to, in which case the post is kind of pointless to begin with.

Sorry. Feeling existential this morning.

Anyway, the headline does kind of say it all.  Unable to come to any kind of agreement on what kind of compensation the Red Sox are owed by the Cubs for hiring Theo Epstein away, the sides have asked Bud Selig to make a decision. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times:

It’s unclear how long Selig will take. Also unclear is whether the solution will involve ordering a specific player or players to the Red Sox or setting parameters. There appears to be no precedent for it.

Hmm, a complicated issue with little or no precedent is being put on Bud Selig’s plate.  In that case the question isn’t what the solution will look like. It’s all about who’s gonna be on the blue ribbon committee and what epoch will the Earth find itself in when a report is finally released.

Snark aside, this is probably the right call. I’m not sure how the parties here can possibly negotiate about what Epstein is worth without it being insanely awkward.  The Cubs have to be in the position of saying that he’s not worth anything of value or else they’re not zealously negotiating, and that makes them look bad. The Red Sox have to be in the position of saying he’s worth the moon, and that makes them look bad for allowing him to leave.

Oh well. The best part: ultimately there’s going to be some minor leaguer or something who is sent to Boston who has 50 reporters mob him and ask what it feels like to be worth a year of Theo Epstein’s services. Which should be fun.

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.