St. Louis Cardinals' Kozma hits a three run home run in front of Washington Nationals catcher Suzuki during the second inning in Game 3 of their MLB NLDS baseball series in Washington

NLDS Game 3 Live Blog: Cardinals vs. Nationals, baby!

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4:42 PM: Bryce Harper flies out to second and that’s the ballgame. Cardinals win 8-0 and take a 2-1 lead. The Nats’ backs are up against the wall.

Stay tuned to HBT for some postgame analysis and all kinds of other things on a busy, busy evening of playoff baseball.

4:41 PM: Jayson Werth walks. He’s the Nats first baserunner since the sixth inning.

4:24 PM: After not going down in order in any of the first six innings, the Nats have gone down 1-2-3 in both the seventh and the eighth. We’re heading to the ninth with the score still 8-0.

4:18 PM: Michael Morse with a long fly out. No oohs or ahhs from the crowd this time. They’re starting to get jaded just like the fans of every other team. Playoff frustration will do that to you.

4:15 PM: Costas and Kaat continuing on the Strasburg stuff. Believe me, I have beaten that horse as much as anyone, but the two pitchers who pooped the bed in this series so far would have pitched even if Strasburg was on the team. And the Nats offense has sucked too. Strasburg will be a fun conversation topic if the Nats lose this series, but let’s not pretend he’s the difference between victory and defeat.

4:13 PM:  Mattheus just walked Allen Craig and unleashed the loudest F-bomb I’ve heard in a televised game since Greg Maddux retired.

4:07 PM: Ryan Mattheus is in for the Nats now in the top of the eighth. He gets two outs but then allows a Jon Jay single, a Carlos Beltran ground rule double and a Matt Holliday single and now it’s 8-0.

3:53 PM: It looked like multiple broken ankles would happen on the play, but Bryce Harper just grounded to first to a diving Allen Craig, Rosenthal covered first and just beat out Harper for the out.

3:45 PM: Garcia finally gets out of the inning, throwing 30 pitches to do it.  The bottom of the seventh awaits.

3:40 PM: Molina works a full count off Garcia and then takes ball four.  A run scores, it’s 6-0 St. Louis.

3:35 PM: The Cardinals start the seventh inning with back-to-back singles by Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran off of Christian Garcia. Then Matt Holliday grounds out to third, but the runners advance on the long throw.  Davey Johnson decides to walk Allen Craig to load the bases. Yadier Molina comes up with the bases loaded and one out.

3:30 PM: And Rosenthal gets Jayson Werth to foul out. The Nats have left a ton of runners on base today. Just can’t get that key hit.

3:26 PM: It’s Trevor Rosenthal. Here comes some serious heat, folks.

3:25 PM: Suzuki pops up — the 12th flyball out of the game — but then Stephen Lombardozzi lines a single to right. Two on and two out and here comes Mike Matheny to take Carpenter out of the game. We go to the pen. MLB Network cuts away before they say who is coming in. Oh well.

3:21 PM: Chris Carpenter strikes out Espinosa on a called strike three.  Joe West took approximately eight years to make that call. Because it’s the Joe West show. Meanwhile, Mike Matheny comes out to check on Carpenter. Carp says he’s OK. I guess we’ll see in this at bat to Suzuki.

3:18 PM: Ian Desmond leads off the bottom of the sixth with a single past Kozma at short. He’s 3 for 3. Chris Carpenter is approaching 100 pitches. He has pitched 17 innings all year before today. You have to figure he’s done soon.

3:13 PM: Carpenter strikes out. It’s 5-0 Cards after five and a half. At least Nats fans won’t be hitting rush hour all at once when the game ends.

3:11 PM: Kozma strikes out and the dangerous Chris Carpenter comes to the plate. Two out, runner at third.

3:09 PM: Daniel Descalso flies to right, Yadier Molina tags up and scores, Freese advances to third. 5-0 Cardinals. Pete Kozma to the plate with the infield in.

3:06 PM: Craig Stammen is in for Edwin Jackson to start the sixth. He plunks the first hitter he faces — Yadier Molina — and then gives up a double to David Freese.  Molina had to stop at third because it was a high, high hit that just glanced off the wall. Werth almost caught it. Two runners in scoring position, no one out. This could break open big here now.  Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty making a slooooow walk to the mound to allow time for the pen to get going.

2:59 PM:  And Morse pops up to right, leaving the bases loaded. A real missed chance there. Cards lead 4-0.

2:58 PM: Jim Kaat, in describing that walk: “it won’t show up in the box score, but …”  Actually, Jim, yes, walks do show up in the box score.

2:57 PM: With runners on the corners, Carpenter gets Adam LaRoche to a full count and then … walks him.  Bases loaded and the tying run to the plate. It’s Michael Morse.

2:53 PM: The Nats have a little something cooking now. Jayson Werth was at first and took third on a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman.

2:51 PM: Carpenter retires Bryce Harper with a popup for the second out of the fifth. Costas says it’s nine popups or flyballs for Carpenter so far. Nats just getting under everything.

2:42 PM: After the sacrifice, Beltran grounds out to third, and Carpenter can’t advance. Edwin Jackson then strikes out Allen Craig. Gee, if only the Cardinals had one more out.  I’m not really rooting for either team here, but I sorta want bad things to happen to Mike Matheny now for bunting with his leadoff hitter after the pitcher hits a double.

2:37 PM: And Mike Matheny has Jon Jay bunting. Carpenter gets to third so I guess it worked, but with the pitcher nailing Jackson like Carpenter did, why doesn’t Matheny five Jackson a free out? When you have a boxer on the ropes, you don’t start clinching. You smack him in the head.

2:35 PM: Chris Carpenter nails a leadoff double off Edwin Jackson. It was freakin’ cranked and almost went out. Carpenter is 2 for 2 against Jackson and is now 4 for 7 against him in his career.

2:32 PM: Meanwhile, in game action, Ian Desmond doubled, but he was stranded at second. Chris Carpenter is shutting out the Nats on four hits through four.

2:29 PM: When the Nats were stuck with the 1PM start, fans complained that MLB was not respecting the history of the moment.  Glad to see the Nats themselves are properly reverent:

2:27 PM: Why hasn’t the government cracked down on Axe Body Spray for false advertising? I’ve used their products before and not once — once! — was the opportunity to participate in a foursome with three towel-clad beauties presented to me.

2:24 PM: Edwin Jackson strikes out two in the fourth. Guess he can’t mulligan the first two innings, but it’s good to see him snap out of it.

2:22 PM:  Costas just dropped a factoid Nats fans might not like: since the advent of the wild card, the team with the best record in baseball has only won three of 17 World Series.

2:15 PM: End of the third, still 4-0. Looks like everyone has settled down now.

2:13 PM: Not gonna say the Nats fans are totally out of it right now. Bryce Harper just flied out to left and, as Matt Holliday was camped out under it, the crowd was shouting “Nooonaann!” or something like it.

2:09 PM: Sometimes I say that I don’t think commercials work. Then the DQ chicken strip basket ad comes on and I’m all hungry for DQ chicken strip baskets. Hurm.

2:07 PM: Jackson strikes out Allen Craig and then induces a Yadier Molina double play. Jackson lives to give up solid hits in another inning.

2:01 PM: Matt Holliday hits a solid single to lead off the third. Jackson has nada.

1:58 PM: Meanwhile, the second inning ends with the Nats doing no damage. It’s still 4-0.

1:57 PM: I thought Bryce Harper looked weird earlier but I couldn’t figure out why. Here’s why: red contact lenses. Holy crap that’s disturbing.

1:54 PM: Jim Kaat notes that Joyce is “no stranger to controversial calls.” You don’t say.  Now MLB showing replays of the Armando Galarraga play. Oy.

1:53 PM: After a leadoff single, Danny Espinosa tries to bunt his way on, but was called out by first base umpire Jim Joyce. On replay, Espinosa was safe. Imagine Jim Joyce getting a call at first base wrong.

1:51 PM:  You guys think I’m a troll? Ha!

1:46 PM: Jon Jay hits into a double play. Jackson needed that like nobody’s business. Then Beltran grounds out. Inning over. But, dudes, 4-0 Cardinals.

1:43: PM: Next pitch, Chris Carpenter of all people hits a single to right field.  We officially have Bad Edwin Jackson in the house. I wonder what Stephen Strasburg thinks about all of this.

1:42 PM: Pete Kozma hits a three run homer! It’s 4-0 Cards. And Nats Park deflates, almost immediately.

1: 41 PM: After the double, Jackson goes 3-2 to Descalso who then deposits the payoff pitch into left for a single. Runners on first and second, no one out.

1:38 PM: David Freese leads off the second with a double. Edwin Jackson floated it over the plate despite Kurt Suzuki wanting it outside. If his command is off, he can be beaten around like nobody’s business.

1:33 PM: Carpenter strikes out Morse to end the inning. Carpenter threw a lot of pitches that inning. He tends to settle down as games go on. The Nats missed a chance.

1:31 PM: Carpenter goes full count to LaRoche and he grounds to second. If it was any other runner there would have been no chance at all for a double play. LaRoche was safe at first, but because he’s slow as molasses out there, it was close. Runners on the corners, two out and Michael Morse at the plate.

1:26 PM: One out Werth on first, Ryan Zimmerman hits a slow grounder to third which David Freese muffed. Runners on first and second now and Adam LaRoche at the plate. It was too slow a ball for a double play, methinks, but there should be two out now.

1:25 PM: Bryce Harper nailed a ball to right which sounded like a homer off the bat but fell short for an out. The crowd almost exploded. When I was at Nats Park in August I noticed that, like a lot of places with relatively new fan bases, Nats fans tend to think every pop up is a potential homer.  The phenomenon is enhanced, I imagine, by all the playoff Nattitude flowing through the place.

1:23 PM: Costas notes that Davey Johnson is “a forward thinking guy.” Which is totally true and always has been. One thing I’ve hated to see this year is the lazy idea that Johnson is somehow some crusty old school guy simply because he’s old.  Nothing is further from the truth.

1:21 PM: Jayson Werth leads off the bottom of the first with a single to center. The crowd goes nuts. They’re really amped in Washington, you can tell. Probably all thrilled that their bosses gave them the day off.

1:20 PM: As I watch the 115th Captain Morgan commercial of the postseason, I will note that Michael Morse was impossibly slow getting to that double to left field. The ball stuck under the pad on the wall, and Morse was expecting a bounce. If he’s more spry about it, Holliday may not score.

1:15 PM: Matt Holliday singled and then Allen Craig doubled into the left field corner. Holliday scores. 1-0 Cardinals. Then Molina ground out, and the Nats are out of the top of the first.

1:13 PM: Second out of the first inning is a popup to Danny Espinosa at second. He fought the sun. It looks kinda brutal out there. Keep it in mind for later.

1:10 PM:  Joe West is the home plate umpire. Not all umpires get to ump in the postseason. It’s an honor and a reward for what MLB thinks is good work. Think about that. Joe West.

1:08 PM: I know we’re supposed to hate everything on the Internet, but I’m not gonna lie, I like the Bronson Arroyo/Aroldis Chapman Red Hooded Sweatshirt commercial. Laugh every time. I don’t care what you think of me.

1:06 PM: In case you missed it earlier, here are the lineups:

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS            WASHINGTON NATIONALS
1. Jon Jay, CF                 1. Jayson Werth, RF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF          2. Bryce Harper, CF
3. Matt Holliday, LF           3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Allen Craig, 1B             4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Yadier Molina, C            5. Michael Morse, LF
6. David Freese, 3B            6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B         7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Pete Kozma, SS              8. Kurt Suzuki, C
9. Chris Carpenter, RHP        9. Edwin Jackson, RHP

1:00 PM: I forgot that we get Bob Costas for this broadcast. He’s so big now — hosts the Olympics and everything else — that it’s kind of jarring to hear him in a regular old baseball game, even a playoff game. I’ll say though — and I’m not being an NBC homer here, I’ve always thought it — that Costas was the best baseball play-by-play guy outside of the Valhalla in which Scully, Harwell and the like reside.

12:57 PM: Frank Robinson is about to throw out the first pitch. He’s accompanied by several members of the military. For there is no one short of that as badass as he is. Gotta love Frank.  Oh, and he threw a strike on the fly.

12:31 PM: Since Major League Baseball was so cruel and unethical to schedule the Nats first-ever home playoff game at 1PM, and since they put it on MLB Network, I realize that a lot of you guys can’t really see it.  In light of that, we’re doing you a solid and live-blogging it.

Seeing how much hell we’ve given the Nats this week, we promise to be equal opportunity trollers for this one.  I’ll admit it will be harder to troll the Cardinals without Tony La Russa around, but I’m sure we’ll think of something.  Suggestions in the comments, of course.

Be sure to hang out here once the game gets underway at 1:07PM Eastern. And that’s the case even if you think I’m gonna be mean to your team.  It beats workin’, right?

Video: Minor leaguer dives over the wall to rob a home run

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Meanwhile, in Tulsa, Zach Welz of the visiting Arkansas Travelers made a spectacular catch. It was the catch Torii Hunter tried to make on that famous David Ortiz homer in the playoffs a few years back except Welz made it.

Watch as he topples over the wall to come up with the would-be dinger off the bat of Tulsa Drillers first baseman Cody Bellinger:

MLB, MLBPA move to help baseball in Puerto Rico. After hurting baseball in Puerto Rico.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - JUNE 30:  A Puerto Rican flag flies from a building a day after the speech Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla gave regarding the government's $72 billion debt on June 30, 2015 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The Governor said in his speech that the people will have to sacrifice and share in the responsibilities for pulling the island out of debt.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Yesterday Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union announced that they will play games in Puerto Rico as part of a plan to develop and support baseball on the island. They likewise pledged $5 million for the creation of development programs in Puerto Rico and plan to stage special events there.

The press release about this made mention of Puerto Rico’s undeniably outstanding baseball tradition. What it did not mention is that, in the view of many, Major League Baseball itself harmed that tradition significantly when it decided to subject Puerto Rican players to the draft in 1990. A move that the MLBPA signed off on too, of course. Indeed, there’s a pretty strong argument that, if it were not for MLB and the MLBPA’s own acts, there would be no need to “develop and support” baseball in Puerto Rico like this at all.

An exploration of this can be read in this 2012 article from The New York Times. The article (and many, many others like it which have been written over the years) notes the sharp decline of Puerto Rico’s professional and amateur baseball leagues and observes that the once steady flow of players making their way from the island to the major leagues being reduced to a trickle.* (see update below) Why?

No one here disputes the diminished stature of baseball in Puerto Rico, and most agree on the culprit: Major League Baseball’s decision, in 1990, to include Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, in its first-year player draft. This means Puerto Rican players must wait until they have completed high school to sign a professional contract, and then they are going up against players from the United States and Canada in the draft.

Perhaps more important, major league teams have less incentive to cultivate talent in Puerto Rico because those players may end up with another team through the draft.

Sandy Alderson is quoted in that article dismissing the notion that the draft was to blame, but even his dodge is couched in basic economic incentives. He claims that, hey, there is stuff that is more financially lucrative for people to do in Puerto Rico than play baseball now. Well, sure. I’d just like him to explain how radically reducing the amount of money a kid can get from playing baseball due to taking away his right to sign with the highest bidder and by utterly killing the incentives for clubs to invest in developing players doesn’t enter into that calculus. Alderson doesn’t explain that one.

No matter what Major League Baseball might say on the record about all of this now, the fact remains that no one spent the past 26 years building academies in Puerto Rico like they have in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. No one has an incentive to turn a 12-year-old with promise into a 16-year-old prospect like they do in those countries because there is no longer any way for a teenager to sign for life-changing money like they can elsewhere. The draft has saved Major League Baseball hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to Puerto Rican players over the past 26 years and it has reduced the number of prospects who may push high-salaried MLBPA members out of work, but has done tremendous damage to the baseball tradition to which Major League Baseball and the MLBPA now pay lip service.

I’m glad that MLB and the MLBPA are doing something about baseball in Puerto Rico. But $5 million over the course of four or five years, which is what this plan involves, a couple of games (if they’re even played), doesn’t even represent a fraction of the damage that the league and the union inflicted when they imposed the draft.

UPDATE: A couple of people who know a hell of a lot about this stuff have pushed back against my post on Twitter:

Marcano has written a book about the excesses and abuses involved in the development of baseball talent in Latin America. He is 100% right about this and, to the extent my writing above made it sound like I was endorsing the model in place in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic on its own terms, I want to be clear that I am not. There is a lot of bad stuff that goes on there and for every kids signing a million dollar bonus, there are hundreds who find themselves at a professional dead end or far, far worse.

That said: Major League Baseball has no problem exploiting that system in those countries and its move to impose the draft in Puerto Rico was not born of some principled stand against those excesses. It was to be a foothold for an international draft which is primarily about cost savings. It would be quite possible to have a system in place that both (a) protects kids from abuses; but (b) provides the sorts of financial incentives to make baseball a worthwhile pursuit for those with the talent to play it.

Also:

Cooper, the managing editor of Baseball America, so he knows of what he speaks, notes that from 1987-1990, before the draft was imposed, 19 Puerto Ricans made their Major League debut. From 2000-03, 23 made their debuts. From 2013-16, 22 made their debuts.

That certainly blows my above comment about “reducing the flow of players to the majors to a trickle” out of the water. That said, Major League Baseball’s move yesterday was not just about the pipeline to the majors. It’s about baseball overall in Puerto Rico. Those numbers reflecting that the top eschelon of talent is still making it to the majors are undeniable, but the Times article from 2012 talks about the erosion of amateur leagues, Puerto Rico’s diminished standing in international tournaments and the reduction in size of the Puerto Rican winter league.

So, OK, I’ll walk back my comments about just how much the imposition of the draft in 1990 damaged baseball in Puerto Rico, but I maintain that it’s hard to argue that it did not do some damage.