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Is Biogenesis casting a shadow over the trade deadline?


It seems like all baseball news has been overshadowed by the looming Biogenesis suspensions and the circus that is Alex Rodriguez’s, Major League Baseball’s and the New York Yankees’ public feud. Indeed, as this week began it appeared as though today’s trade deadline would be a mere afterthought. Or, if not an afterthought, that it would be subservient to the Biogenesis drama, with teams looking to desperately cover for players they will lose to suspension.

Things have calmed down considerably in the past 24, hours, however.

For one thing, one of the teams that stood to be most adversely affected by Biogenesis suspensions — the Tigers, who will almost certainly lose Jhonny Peralta — filled their imminent shortstop hole with Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox. That, combined with the news that baseball is not likely to suspend Bartolo Colon due to him already having been punished for taking the substances he received from Biogenesis means that only one team currently in the playoff hunt stands to lose a significant player. That being the Texas Rangers and Nelson Cruz, according to multiple reports. Other players named in multiple reports include the Padres’ Everth Cabrera, whose team is not in contention, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is on the 60-day DL with a broken hand. Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season, but with his team far from contention, it’s unlikely the Brewers were going to do anything but sell anyways.

For another — and maybe I’m just imagining this — Major League Baseball appears to be settling on Friday as D-Day in the Biogenesis mess. Last night Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reported that the timeframe would be “within the next 72 hours” — a report that was later confirmed by multiple sources — as opposed to dropping their bomb at or around today’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. Maybe this is a matter of MLB still having work to do before issuing suspensions. Maybe it’s a matter of the league wanting to bury bad news on a Friday afternoon like politicians so often do. But maybe — just maybe — it’s a matter of MLB appreciating that the trade deadline chatter and commentary is pretty good for its brand and deciding to let that stuff have the limelight today.

The addition of a second wild card in each league also could be depressing trade activity, because teams are hesitant to sell while they still are in contention. Teams still need to sell tickets for the stretch run, and surrendering before August is no way to do that. Besides, there’s always the chance that a club goes on a late-season run.

MLB commended Braun for taking responsibility for his actions and said it wanted to resolve this issue, but otherwise has been publicly silent about the Biogenesis suspensions. Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, said in a radio interview this week that his client planned to fight the suspension.

“When the time comes and baseball does whatever it is going to do, then I will sit down with Alex and talk to him about the process of the appeal, filing the appeal and going in and presenting our best evidence that we have — and we think we have good evidence — to defend his interest, to protect him. That’s what I expect to be doing,” Cornwell told Stephen A. Smith, who was hosting the Michael Kay Show.

Rodriguez will always dominate the news, especially in New York. A-Rod would lead New York sports news for years even if he joined a religious sect that had him swear off sports, public appearances and money. He’s always the story in Gotham. But outside of that crazy media environment trades and playoff races seem to have been thrust to the fore last night and today.

Maybe Major League Baseball will fall back on old bad-P.R. habits and drop it’s bad news bombs after lunch today. But for now it seems pretty darn refreshing that we can focus on what’s truly good about baseball than what is, quite frankly, a major, major drag.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.