Great Moments in Easy Cheap Shots: T.J. Simers Edition

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We should probably just call this the T.J. Simers award. But I’m feeling charitable right now and I’m mostly just happy that he’s apparently not lost a single step despite a health scare in spring training. Maybe we’ll name it after him when he retires and gets a little cottage in Misanthropic Acres or wherever he decides to live.

In any event, he takes on Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire today, choosing the most insightful angle possible:

I had never met Mark McGwire before Tuesday night, but I knew of his reputation and the fact he has struck out so far as the Dodgers’ hitting coach. So given the Dodgers’ lack of power, I asked, “Is it time to introduce the players to steroids?” … I remember how much fun it was when Sammy Sosa and McGwire were hitting a lot of home runs. I thanked McGwire for providing those thrills and asked if he could still score some steroids.

I assume some sportswriters will laud Simers for his bravery for that, because the only apparent problem with cheap, low-rent questions among that group is when one doesn’t ask them in person. So good on ya, T.J. Next:

The Dodgers rank third to last in the major leagues in home runs and RBIs, and yet they have a guy who hit 70 home runs as their hitting instructor.

The Tigers lead baseball in offense and Lloyd McClendon is their hitting coach. The Orioles are second with Jim Presley in that job. The Rockies lead the NL and their hitting coach is Dante Bichette. The Reds are second in the NL with Brook Jacoby in charge of the bats. You know, it’s almost as if the hitting coach’s playing career is not a suitable proxy for his success as a coach.

There are interesting insights to be made about the Dodgers’ offensive struggles. Too bad there aren’t any sportswriters in Los Angeles interested in making them.

Bellinger, Puig power Game 7 win to send Dodgers to the World Series

Yasiel Puig
AP Images
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The Dodgers are headed back to the World Series following a 5-1 win over the Brewers during Game 7 of the NLCS. Cody Bellinger delivered the go-ahead shot after taking Jhoulys Chacín deep in the second inning, and Yasiel Puig‘s three-run blast in the sixth helped bolster the Dodgers’ lead as they wrapped up their second consecutive NL pennant.

The Brewers looked dominant from the get-go. Jhoulys Chacín set down a scoreless first inning while Christian Yelich proved he was capable of harnessing the power that nearly won him the Triple Crown during the regular season. He smashed an 0-1 pitch from rookie right-hander Walker Buehler in the bottom of the first, sending it out to center field to mark his first home run since Game 1 of the NLDS.

It wasn’t long before the cracks began to show, however. Cody Bellinger returned with a two-run shot in the second inning, and another double from Puig signaled the end of Chacín’s outing. He used just six pitches to get through all three outs in the second, then handed the ball to southpaw Josh Hader to start the third. The lefty didn’t disappoint. After sitting out of Game 6, he pitched a flawless three innings to keep the Brewers on the Dodgers’ tail, issuing just one hit, one walk, and four strikeouts until he made his exit in the sixth.

Had the Brewers been able to rely on Hader for a longer outing, they might have chosen to do so. Instead, Xavier Cedeño and Jeremy Jeffress combined for a disastrous outing in the sixth, first with back-to-back singles from Max Muncy and Justin Turner, then with a three-RBI homer from Puig that allowed Los Angeles to pull ahead with a four-run lead.

The Dodgers did their fair share of shutting down the Brewers at the plate, too. In the bottom of the fifth, Milwaukee verged on a tie after Lorenzo Cain drove a two-out, line drive double into left field. Julio Urias replaced Walker as Yelich came back up to the plate, but any thought of a go-ahead homer was quickly shut down as Chris Taylor sprinted to make a jaw-dropping, over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track.

The bats settled down from the sixth inning on — neither the Dodgers nor the Brewers found an opening against Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel and Brandon Woodruff and L.A.’s Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw, respectively. Woodruff struck out the side in the eighth, while Jansen refused to allow a single batter to reach base in 1 1/3 innings of work. Things appeared to shift back in the Dodgers’ favor in the ninth, as Puig and Taylor collected a single and double and Woodruff loaded the bases after intentionally walking Matt Kemp to get to Enrique Hernández. That feeling was short-lived, though, as Woodruff decimated Hernández and Muncy in back-to-back strikeouts to cap the inning.

With a World Series berth on the line, not to mention the club’s 23rd NL pennant, the Dodgers weren’t taking any chances when the bottom of the ninth rolled around. Up 5-1 with three outs remaining, Clayton Kershaw stepped on the mound for the first time since his Game 5 win. He looked just as dominant in relief, retiring Shaw on a groundout, inducing a six-pitch strikeout from Jesús Aguilar, and effectively dashing the Brewers’ World Series hopes as Mike Moustakas struck out swinging for the third and final out of the game.

Game 1 of the World Series is set for Tuesday, October 23 at 8:09 PM EDT, when left-hander Chris Sale will take the mound for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Dodgers’ starter has yet to be formally announced. The Red Sox are currently looking for their ninth championship title, while the Dodgers are on the cusp of their seventh.