Did you know that there is a 100% correlation between watching football and death? Really, every single person who has ever watched a football game has either died or will, without question, die in the future. Stop the dying, people. Stop watching football. It’s for your own good.
In case you haven’t decided to turn your life around and drop the demon pigskin, here’s what you missed this past weekend on HBT. First, the playoff action:
- The Cardinals stunned the Nationals in the ninth inning late Friday night.
- But don’t worry, the Nats will be OK long term.
- Still, OK or not, until they win a World Series, their legacy will always be that of the team that tempted fate and paid the price.
- Meanwhile, the Giants watched and waited on the tarmac.
- The series may have already started, but our ALCS preview and NLCS preview are still worth your time.
- Over in the ALCS, Raul Ibanez played the hero again, but it wasn’t enough.
- And losing the game wasn’t even the worst part of it. And the playoffs won’t be the same without Captain Jetes.
- For the Tigers, their closer’s ninth inning meltdown was a blessing in disguise.
- Stay classy, Washington: rooting for the Cardinals gets a Washington Wizards player threatened.
- All the talk about Alex Rodriguez struggling when, actually, Robinson Cano has been worse.
- And the umpiring has been even worse than Robinson Cano. And Joe Girardi is all over it.
- Not Jose Valverde comes through.
- The Cardinals beat the Giants, and it’s all on Madison Bumgarner.
Meanwhile, in non-playoffs news:
Wow. This time next week we’re gonna know who’s in the World Series. Nifty.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Indians manager Terry Francona has set his starting rotation for the first three games of the World Series against the Cubs. Corey Kluber will start Game One, followed by Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin for Games Two and Three, respectively.
Kluber, the ace of the staff, has had a terrific postseason. He’s made three starts with a 0.98 ERA and a 20/7 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings. The Indians won two of his starts — Game Two of the ALDS and Game 1 of the ALCS.
Bauer was unable to make it out of the first inning of his ALCS Game 3 start against the Blue Jays after the stitches on his pinky opened up and caused blood to pour out. He suffered the injury repairing one of his drones, which he builds as a hobby. Bauer insists he’ll be good to go in Game Two, though he also insisted that the injury wouldn’t be an impediment against the Jays.
Tomlin has made two solid starts for the Indians, allowing a total of three runs over 10 2/3 innings. The Indians won both games he started, Game 3 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the ALCS. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes that if Bauer can’t go in Game Two, Tomlin will be moved up to start in his place.
It isn’t difficult to see the fingerprints left by Cubs’ president Tom Ricketts and general manager Theo Epstein on the club’s remarkable 2016 season. In a piece for FOXSports.com, former Yankee Alex Rodriguez highlighted the duo’s effectiveness in liberating the Cubs from a five-year losing streak and six-year postseason drought, citing both the unrelenting work ethic and passion that Ricketts and Epstein brought to the club as major factors in their success.
Rodriguez’s first brush with sabermetric savant and all-around baseball wizard Theo Epstein came in 2003, when the then- 27-year-old All-Star was eyeing a deal with the Red Sox. The Major League Baseball Players Association eventually nixed the trade, and the Rangers’ young shortstop was sent to the Yankees shortly thereafter, but not before Rodriguez glimpsed the inner workings of Epstein’s mind.
What I remember best about that time was watching Theo furiously scribbling out the Red Sox lineup for the upcoming season on a room-service napkin. That’s when I saw Theo’s baseball mind at work. I saw he had a passion for the game, a depth of knowledge, and a thirst to be great. Theo’s passion was contagious. We were three 20-somethings convinced we were about to turn baseball upside down together. Though I never got a chance to work with Theo, I knew then that he was going to be a force.
A-Rod also referenced Ricketts’ thorough approach to rebuilding the organization. Ricketts, who purchased the franchise for $875 million in 2009, first made it his mission to transform Wrigley Field into a comfortable and enticing playing environment, then targeted top-tier management to run the show behind the scenes. With Ricketts fully backing Epstein’s transformative approaches — including an overhaul of the Cubs’ farm system, investments in international player development, and a comprehensive understanding and practical application of sabermetric advances — the Cubs’ path to a 97-win season in 2015 seemed a natural consequence of the pair’s hard work.
This year, the attention has been even more intensely focused on the Cubs’ elusive third World Series title. Rodriguez, however, believes that winning a championship is secondary to the strides Ricketts and Epstein have taken with the club.
Together, Ricketts and Epstein have built one of the greatest franchises in baseball and transformed 1060 W. Addison St. It’s a task that no one could quite get right for a hundred years. While four more wins would put a giant exclamation point on five years of focused work and determination, I won’t worry if this team doesn’t win the World Series in the next nine days.