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Astros ride big second inning to defeat Dodgers 5-3 in Game 3 of the World Series

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The Astros once again emerged victorious in a close, hard-fought battle against the Dodgers. This time they took Game 3 at home by a 5-3 margin and now hold a 2-1 series lead with two more home games remaining.

Dodgers starter Yu Darvish couldn’t make it through the second inning, as the Astros put up a four spot on five hits and a walk. For a recap of that action, which resulted in the shortest outing of Darvish’s career, check out our in-game post from earlier. Darvish gave up six hits and a walk overall with no strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings, throwing 49 pitches in the process. The Astros tacked on another run in the fifth inning on an Evan Gattis single and a throwing error by reliever Tony Watson.

Astros starter Lance McCullers didn’t look nearly as dominant as he did when he hurled four scoreless frames in relief in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees. In the third inning, McCullers walked the first three batters he faced, but lucked into a ground ball double play from Corey Seager, which did plate the Dodgers’ first run. McCullers again ran into trouble in the sixth, walking Seager to lead off the frame, then giving up a double to Justin Turner. After striking out Cody Bellinger, manager A.J. Hinch brought in Brad Peacock. Yasiel Puig knocked in another run with a ground out. With Chase Utley batting, Peacock uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Turner to score, making it a 5-3 game. The right-hander saw his way out of the inning by getting Utley to pop out. Both runs were charged to McCullers, who gave up three in total on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts across 5 1/3 innings, utilizing 87 pitches.

Peacock then worked a scoreless seventh and eighth. He remained in the game for the ninth as Hinch opted to stick with the hot hand rather than closer Ken Giles. It was the right call. Peacock struck out Yasiel Puig, got Utley to hit a tapper back to the mound, then got Yasmani Grandal to fly out to right field to end the game in a 5-3 victory for the Astros. In 3 2/3 innings of relief, Peacock did not allow a hit and walked one while striking out four on 53 pitches. That is a yeoman’s effort.

The World Series continues on Saturday with Game 4 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Alex Wood will start for the Dodgers opposite the Astros’ Charlie Morton.

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.