A good story by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com about how the Biogenesis thing is a tricky thing for the player’s union. The issue: unlike years ago the players these days want PEDs gone and offenders punished. But part of the union’s job, obviously, is to defend players. This quote from union head Michael Weiner is interesting for the exact language used:
“There’s no question, we have two things we’re trying to accomplish here. On the one hand, we’re defending players who have a defense. On the other hand, we have an obligation to enforce the joint drug program. If we have evidence that a player violated the program, then we have to do something about it. Is that a conflict? I could imagine circumstances where it could be a conflict. But that’s what a union does all the time, and that’s what we’re doing here. It’s not much different than what we’ve done in the past. It’s just higher-profile, I guess.”
I like the “players who have a defense” line. Which suggests, contrary to what many who are critical of the union suggest, that there are limits to what the union can and will do for a player. Weiner goes on to talk about the Ryan Braun appeal last year and notes that, while many hated that outcome and considered it to be some exercise in legal technicalities, no person in Braun’s position would eschew mounting such a defense. But the key takeaway, I think, is that there was a defense available there.
Other fun stuff in the story: Jerry Hairston, Jr. is quoted at length about the drug testing program and how, while it isn’t perfect, it is working. The same Jerry Hairston, Jr. who was named in the Mitchell Report.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.
The Red Sox defeated the Rays 3-2 on Sunday afternoon thanks to some nifty base running by second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The win marks their 11th in a row, inching them closer to a division title.
With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the tenth, Pedroia led off with a single off of reliever Eddie Gamboa. After Xander Bogaerts lined out, David Ortiz ripped a double into the right-center field gap. Pedroia, running hard the whole way, rounded third and motored towards home plate, but the relay throw home — from center fielder Jaff Decker to second baseman Logan Forsythe to catcher Luke Maile — beat Pedroia by a good 10 feet. He was a dead duck.
Pedroia danced around Maile’s glove, avoiding the tag. Maile, on his side, continued to attempt to apply the tag on Pedroia. When he finally did, the ball was knocked loose and Pedroia scored the go-ahead run. The play was reviewed but the call was upheld.
Joe Kelly kept the Rays off the board in the bottom of the 10th, securing the 3-2 victory for the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays also won on Sunday, meaning the Red Sox still have a 5.5-game lead in the AL East. Any combination of two Red Sox wins and Blue Jays losses will seal up the division for the Red Sox. The two clubs round out the regular season with a three-game set against each other in Boston.