Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues

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Dirk Hayhurst writes about his 2003 rookie league team, the Eugene Emeralds over at Sports on Earth. Specifically, their off-the-field sexual habits which ranged from mere immaturity and over-clocked machismo to what seems to have been, by any definition of the term, rape.

It started with mere exhibitionism — players letting other players watch through windows when they brought women back to their rooms, which they called “show time” — but eventually devolved into videotaping each other having sex without the consent of the woman involved. Then it devolved into sheer odiousness and, if one had been so inclined to speak up at the time, illegality: “running a train.” In which, with the lights out, a player would get out of bed, saying he needed to use the bathroom, only to be replaced by another player who would sneak in through the window and take his place without the woman knowing:

There is, of course, another name for “Running the Train”: rape. The women most likely didn’t know what was happening and could not have consented to it. Perhaps they were too afraid to object once they realized. When the subject came up, however, the guys on the team had a different explanation: “They wanted it, man. Besides, we joked about it before we brought them back to the hotel. You know, made them feel like it was their idea. Besides, chicks love ballplayers!”

“Aren’t you worried that this is going to come back to bite you in the ass?” I asked, after the latest recounting of the “train schedule.”

“Why? You gonna tell?”

Hayhurst is telling now (in pretty graphic terms, so be warned). And, as has so often happened in the past, someone, somewhere will probably give Hayhurst grief for talking about his past teammates and what went on in his baseball career. But this is way more serious than sharing conversations from the clubhouse. This is about a culture, present in some form in many places, but particularly acute in sports culture, that needs to be exposed and rooted out.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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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.