Craig Calcaterra

Jake Arrieta

Playoff Reset: NLCS Game 2


The Jays and Royals are traveling today. Well, they actually probably traveled yesterday, but we call this the travel day, so let’s just go with that. Tonight we get Game 2 from the senior circuit. Which, I suppose, we’re still calling that despite the fact that younger players are far more important to the NL teams than the AL teams.

What I’m saying is that words don’t matter all that much when it comes to describing all of this. Just watch, man. These games are pretty entertaining.

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jake Arrieta vs. Noah Syndergaard
The Upshot: Arrieta finally looked somewhat mortal in his last start against the Cardinals, giving up four runs in five and two-thirds innings. His boys still got an 8-6 victory, but it was established that, yes, it is possible to score off of him. The Mets don’t have any first-hand information to that effect, however, as he allowed just one run and struck out seven in eight innings in a 6-1 win over them back in July.

Of course this was the Mets’ lineup on that July afternoon:

Curtis Granderson RF
Darrell Ceciliani CF
Daniel Murphy 3B
Lucas Duda 1B
Wilmer Flores 2B
Eric Campbell LF
Johnny Monell C
Jacob deGrom P
Ruben Tejada SS

Things are much different with the Mets these days. David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud make things a bit tougher. The Cubs saw that with d’Arnaud just last night, in fact.

The Cubs will also have to contend with Noah Syndergaard this evening. They’ve seen him before. Indeed, they saw him in his major league debut last May when he gave up three runs in five an a third in a 6-1 loss. Things will be easier for him now in that he knows what the heck he’s doing. They will be harder for him in that this Cubs now, unlike back in May, have Kyle Schwarber, who has homered in three straight playoff games.

The season is long and teams evolve as it goes on. Both of these teams have evolved into ones with tough outs up and down the lineup and aces with ungodly stuff making it tough for those tough outs. And if the Cubs don’t want to have a rough flight back to Chicago tonight, they had best make things tough on the Mets this evening and even the series up.

The Hall of Fame electorate has been reduced by 20%


In late July the Hall of Fame delivered some very good, albeit long overdue news: BBWAA members who were more than 10 years removed from actively covering the game would no longer be allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame.

Prior to the move, once a writer was eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame — with said eligibility coming after 10 years of BBWAA membership — they got that vote for life. This meant that a great many voters who were no longer covering baseball, including many who never really covered baseball in a meaningful way, got a vote. Editors who oversaw baseball writers for a time. People who covered baseball for a few minutes during the Carter Administration but later went on to do other things. It didn’t matter. At the same time, active BBWAA members who were totally engaged with the game and who possessed a thorough knowledge of its history had no vote if they hadn’t been in the club for a decade. It made no sense.

While those BBWAA members without ten years still can’t vote, at least now the dead wood is out. At least in theory. In any event, the Hall of Fame announced today that, as a result of the change, the voting pool has been cut by about 20 percent. Specifically, it estimated 475 ballots would be mailed for the upcoming election. Last year about 600 ballots were mailed and 549 were cast.

This year Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman are the top new candidates for election. I suspect that the change will have zero effect for Griffey, who will be about as close to a unanimous choice as any ballplayer can be (note: there has never been a unanimous choice). Hoffman could see some benefit in that, in theory, the rule change will eliminate more older voters, many of whom may be less amenable to vote for a relief pitcher who plied his trade in an era of specialization.

The backlog could be helped as well. Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines all drew over 50 percent last year but fell short of the required 75 percent needed for election. If you believe that Piazza and Bagwell were dinged by PED suspicions, and if you think that older, less-engaged voters are more likely to harbor such suspicions, their totals should go up. The same could apply to Raines insofar as the merits of his Hall case tend to be less obvious to a certain stripe of voter. Possibly older ones who are less prone to dig deeply into the numbers and prefer to look at more traditional milestones. Not that Raines’ case requires a microscope to appreciate, but that’s another conversation.

These are all broad generalizations of course, and it’s quite possible they’re unfair generalizations. We don’t know how every single voter votes or which voters are being deprived of the franchise. Maybe the culling of the electorate changes things, maybe it does not. But whatever happens, it’s a good move aimed at arriving at a better, more engaged electorate.

LCS schedule announced: Cubs and Mets are the prime time players


Major League Baseball just released the start times for all of the games in the League Championship Series. And it’s pretty clear that, when it comes to scheduling, Chicago and New York are MLB’s kind of towns.

For the most part, when the ALCS and NLCS teams are in action, the NLCS gets featured in prime time with the AL relegated to the 4pm EDT slot. The only exception: next Saturday, if those games are necessary:

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 3.35.42 PM

I suppose some people will see some sort of regional bias in all of this, but a lot of biases make sense. Toronto is a huge city, of course, but US broadcasters like Fox and TBS don’t broadcast up there and don’t get any benefit of Canadian ratings. The other part of the calculation is simple math:

  • New York Metropolitan Statistical Area: 20,092,883;
  • Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area: 9,554,558
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2,071,133

It’s a business, eyeballs mean money and no matter how much people talk about how much they miss daytime baseball, the fact is that ratings are always, always, always better for night games.