Why Indianapolis?

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ESPN’s Keith Law has a great piece up today on why the Winter Meetings are being held in a city that doesn’t even have a Major League team.  The short answer: the tail wags the dog. Minor League Baseball sets up all of this stuff to accommodate its trade show and job fair and Major League Baseball just tags along.  This leads to trouble when you get to cities with limited hotel room and meeting space and cold weather.

The fact that baseball struggles with this is curious. I mean, yeah, this requires a lot of room and stuff, but it can’t compare to, say, political conventions in terms of media coverage, can it? There can’t possibly be a need for as many hotel rooms either.  Any number of cities that aren’t Las Vegas should be able to handle this. A convention center + lots of hotel rooms is really all you need, right?

I’ll be honest and say that there have only been two issues in Indianapolis so far: (a) the wi-fi  sucks in the media room; and (b) it’s cold.  The former definitely needs addressing — thank God I hadn’t yet canceled the Verizon air card I used while clandestinely blogging at work, because it’s been a godsend. The latter: only the California guys are still complaining about the cold. The rest of us have manned up.

But regardless of whether Indianapolis is truly unworkable, I think Keith’s prescription is a good one: decouple the Major League meetings from the Minor League meetings and rotate them among a few cities that have a track record of being able to handle the meetings with aplomb.  Indianapolis seems to be working so far, but why gamble every year?

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.