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Dodgers now one win shy of reaching World Series after defeating Cubs 6-1 in NLCS Game 3

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The Dodgers once again took care of business in the NLCS against the Cubs, winning 6-1 in Game 3 at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. They now hold a 3-0 series lead and can punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.

Kyle Schwarber gave the Cubs an early 1-0 lead when he slugged a solo home run to the opposite field off of Dodgers starter Yu Darvish, but that was it for offense on the Cubs’ end. Darvish buckled down and held them scoreless for the remainder of his outing.

Andre Ethier tied the game in the top of the second, drilling a solo home run down the right field line off of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Chris Taylor followed up with a 444-foot home run to straightaway center field, breaking the 1-1 tie. Taylor once again came through in the fifth, knocking in a run with a triple down the left field line. Hendricks finished the night allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts on 82 pitches across five innings.

Darvish drew a bases loaded walk against reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. in the sixth to make it 4-1. He went back out and worked got the first out of the seventh, but manager Dave Roberts decided that was the end of the line. Across 6 1/3 innings, Darvish yielded just the one run on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts, throwing 81 pitches in the process. Tony Watson got the final two outs of the seventh on a pop-up and a strikeout.

The Dodgers padded their lead in the eighth, scoring a run on a passed ball and another on a sacrifice fly from Kyle Farmer. Brandon Morrow entered to pitch the bottom of the eighth, working around a one-out walk of Schwarber to bridge the gap to Ross Stripling in the ninth. Stripling gave up a single to Alex Avila followed by a ground-rule double to left field by Albert Almora, Jr., putting runners on second and third. Manager Dave Roberts brought in Kenley Jansen to put out the fire. He did. He got Addison Russell to hit an infield pop-up, then struck out Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ to end the game in a 6-1 victory.

The Dodgers will attempt to close the series out in Game 4, which starts at 9 PM ET on Wednesday night. Alex Wood will make the start opposite the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta. The Dodgers have not appeared in the World Series since beating the Athletics in five games in 1988.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.