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The Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016 — Full Countdown

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Over the past few days we’ve counted down the Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016. In case you missed a few entries, here they all are:

1. The Chicago Cubs break the curse and win it all
2. Jose Fernandez killed in a boating accident
3. Vin Scully calls his final game
4. David Ortiz’s historic farewell season
5. Alex Rodriguez’s career comes to an end. Probably.
6. Ken Griffey Jr. gets a record 99.3% of the Hall of Fame vote
7. Baseball gets a new Collective Bargaining Agreement
8. The Year of the Reliever 
9. Bryce Harper ties to Make Baseball Fun Again
10. Aroldis Chapman gets baseball’s first domestic violence suspension 
11. The Drake LaRoche Sage tears the White Sox apart
12. Tim Tebow plays baseball
13. Ichiro becomes the All-Time Hit King
14. Bartolo Colon hits a homer
15. The Jose Bautista-Rougned Odor fight
16. Bud Selig gets elected to the Hall of Fame
17. Yoenis Cespedes shows off his wheels
18. MLB adopts “The Chase Utley Rule” 
19. Jenrry Mejia permanently banned for third positive PED test
20. The lifespan of a ballpark gets shorter
21. Chris Sale freaks out, shreds White Sox throwback jerseys
22. Trevor Story and Gary Sanchez make big rookie splashes
23. A.J. Preller suspended for hiding medical information
24. Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman sue Al-Jazeera
25. Curt Schilling fired from ESPN

I hope you enjoyed these. Thanks so much for making HardballTalk and NBC Sports part of your daily routine over the past year. Here’s hoping 2017 is good to you and yours.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.