As we observed last week, it’s not enough to note that the World Cup is getting great ratings and is generating a lot of passion and excitement. Or that, generally, soccer continues to grow in the United States. We must turn it into a zero-sum game and observe all of this in the context of baseball’s long-discussed demise (note: the discussion began in the 19th century).
The latest to provide a eulogy — or, technically speaking, a terminal diagnosis: Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philly Inquirer:
Baseball’s been a lifelong companion. But the old game is looking a little frail, and I worry about its future.
I can’t easily express any specific concerns. The worries my gut sense haven’t yet reached my head.
Something doesn’t feel right.
It’s like that moment we first noticed our parents’ mortality. Maybe it was nothing more than an incongruous comment, a faraway look in their eyes, or an uncertain step, but whatever it was, we instinctively knew nothing would ever be the same again.
Of course, all of that is leadup to a discussion of the World Cup. Which while it is wrongheaded and insulting about baseball, manages to insult the World Cup as well by not discussing it on its own terms as opposed to in terms of baseball’s alleged demise.
Then again, the author refers to a game involving “the Florida Marlins” from just last week, so maybe we’re not dealing with a guy who knows a whole hell of a lot about anything.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.