"Everybody else gets screwed" except the Yankees and Red Sox

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Bud Selig has his little committee to talk about speed of the game, the postseason schedule and other rules changes.  The USA Today put their own committee together — including guys like Dusty Baker, Torii Hunter, Scott Boras and former umpire Steve Palermo — to talk about many of the same things, and unlike Bud’s group, USA Today showed its work.  The most interesting thing to me: everyone says that those pitch-striker strike zone boxes used on TV broadcasts are ridiculously off, which is something I’ve suspected for a while. “They should say at the bottom of the screen, ‘This is for entertainment purposes only,'” Palermo says.

The most controversial stuff — but I think the most righteous — comes when the subject of speed-of-the-game comes up:

“When you got a 15-13 game, it’s going to take
3½ hours,” Palermo says. “But I don’t think it should take 3 hours, 5
minutes to play a 2-1 game. You’re putting everybody in a deep freeze
by doing that. You might as well have Dean Smith come out and do Four Corners.”

The trouble, Palermo says, is there are certain teams and individuals who continually ignore baseball’s directives.

“This is a hot button with the commissioner,”
Palermo says. “We’ve got a couple teams — I’m not going to name names,
but I think everybody knows who they are — and they’re arrogant. They
don’t think this pertains to them. I had a president of one of those
ballclubs tell me the system is flawed. I told him, ‘Then how did the
28 other teams conform to what we’re asking except for you and your
next-door neighbor that you have a rivalry with?’

Says Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter,
realizing along with the other panelists that Palermo is alluding to
the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox “Everybody else gets screwed but those two teams.”

You don’t need a panel of experts to tell you that the Yankees and Red Sox have turned baseball into a snooze-fest, but it’s somewhat surprising to hear people in and around the game being so up front about it. They’re particularly tough on Papelbon, who always takes extra pitches in the bullpen after being summoned, thus lengthening the time for pitching changes, but they go on about the Yankees’ excessive mound visits too.  For my money they could pile on about how long and how often guys on those teams step out of the batters’ box in between pitches too.

We get it, Red Sox and Yankees: you’re important.  But you’re not THAT damn important, so get on with it, will ya?

Brewers hold off the Dodgers to force Game 7 of the NLCS

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Down 3-2 in the NLCS, the Brewers faced a must-win situation during Game 6 on Friday. Any residual uncertainty they might have felt about their chances of extending the series was all but resolved in the first inning, however, when Jesús Aguilar, Mike Moustakas, and Erik Kratz combined for a four-run spread to take an early lead. Powered by those early-game RBI, as well as masterful performances from Wade Miley, Corey Knebel, and Corbin Burnes, the club surged to a 7-2 win to pull even with the Dodgers and force a Game 7 tiebreaker.

Left-hander Wade Miley trounced the Dodgers in 4 1/3 innings of two-run, four-strikeout ball. He was bested by David Freese in the very first at-bat of the night, which culminated with a 402-footer to right field to put Los Angeles on the board, 1-0. After a few scoreless innings from the Dodgers, Freese returned to torment Miley in the top of the fifth, this time with an RBI double that narrowed the Brewers’ advantage from four runs to three.

Things didn’t go nearly as smoothly for opposing lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. In the bottom of the first inning, Ryu allowed a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain, followed by a four-pitch walk to Ryan Braun. Jesús Aguilar came up to bat with two out and two on, then smacked a two-RBI line drive double to right field. Moustakas and Kratz went back-to-back-to-back with Aguilar, putting up another three runs on an RBI double and single, respectively.

The Brewers kept rolling in the second inning. Christian Yelich and Braun each collected a double off of Ryu, bringing Milwaukee’s lead to 5-1 over Los Angeles. Braun advanced to third on a Travis Shaw groundout, but with Aguilar up to bat, Ryu wasn’t going to chance a repeat of the Dodgers’ first-inning debacle. He intentionally walked Aguilar, then whiffed Moustakas on three straight fastballs to cap the inning.

By the time both Miley and Ryu were forced from the mound, the Brewers stood 5-2 above their opponents. Right-hander Corey Knebel worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, striking out Manny Machado to eliminate another potential rally from the Dodgers in the fifth inning and retiring all four batters in the sixth (save for Joc Pederson, who reached base after taking a 96.3-MPH fastball to the wrist). The righty received another significant opportunity to do some damage against the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth, when he came up to bat for the first time in his professional career with the bases loaded and two outs… but saw just four pitches before swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

After Ryu’s unexpected departure in the third, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts cycled through five pitchers — Julio Urías, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and Kenta Maeda — in an attempt to squelch the Brewers’ comeback. The bullpen combined for four consecutive scoreless frames, but was ultimately foiled in the seventh, when, with runners on second and third and two outs, a wild pitch from Maeda ricocheted off the front of home plate and allowed Aguilar to plate yet another insurance run. Still not content with a two-hit, two-RBI performance, Aguilar came back in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single — only moments after a failed double play that would have ended the inning — to bring the Brewers to a cushy 7-2 advantage as they entered the ninth.

No similar last-minute rallies awaited the Dodgers there. Rookie right-hander Corbin Burnes orchestrated another flawless 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, retiring Pederson and Puig with consecutive strikeouts and inducing a game-inning, series-extending pop-up from Matt Kemp to wrap the win.

Game 7 is set for 8:09 PM EDT on Saturday. The starters for both clubs have yet to be announced.