Look, I realize this is tenuous at best, but every baseball newsmaker in the country was watching election stuff last night too rather than making baseball news so the pickings are slim this morning. Anyway:
- An issue on the ballot in Wilmington, North Carolina that would have spent $37 million in public funds to build a baseball stadium resoundingly failed. The Atlanta Braves backed it and would have moved a single-A team there if it had succeeded. Worth noting that $37 million is less than the annual pay of the CEO of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, so if they really wanted a ballpark there so bad they could have built it themselves;
- Connie Mack IV, the great grandson of Hall of Fame owner-manager Connie Mack, was beat in the Florida senate race. This comes 20 years after he got into a bar fight with former big leaguer Ron Gant, by the way;
- Ben Chandler, the grandson of former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, lost his U.S. House seat in Kentucky.
- A former baseball writer/sabermetrician correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential race in all 50 states despite (a) being derided as a pansy-looking stat geek who lives in his mother’s basement; and (b) being marginalized as someone who is somehow unqualified to have insights on the subject about which he writes because he isn’t part of the journalist/pundit establishment which thinks data-free narratives and amorphous concepts like “momentum” and “gut feel” matter.
To sum up: a loss for a publicly funded ballpark, a loss for a guy who once punched a player I like in the crotch and a loss for the proudly innumerate. Not a bad night. Not a bad night at all.
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.