Playoff Reset: League Championship Series Game 4

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The Game: ALCS Game 4. Kansas City Royals lead Baltimore Orioles 3-0
The Time: 4:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Jason Vargas
The Upshot: Can anything stop the Royals at this point? Probably not in the series, as it would take an historic comeback by Baltimore to keep Kansas City from the World Series, and they’ve shown that, in the ALCS anyway, they have no second gear. The real question now is whether the Royals can sweep the entire playoffs, as they shoot for their eighth playoff win in eight tries this afternoon. Jason Vargas? He’s hittable. The Royals lineup? You can pitch to them. But that’s the same story that has held for a couple of weeks now and it hasn’t mattered a bit. The Royals are gelling and the defense — maybe it’s most important, though undersold trait — is all but immune from struggling. The real question is whether Buck Showalter can get some fight out of his men or if, alternatively, they know where this is going and subconsciously play in such a way as to put themselves out of their misery.

The Game: NLCS Game 4. San Francisco Giants lead St. Louis Cardinals 2-1
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Shelby Miller vs. Ryan Vogelsong
The Upshot: Yesterday afternoon’s game was just plain weird, ending with the Cardinals’ worst reliever on the mound in extra innings of a playoff game and a guy who went 0 for 4 with a sac bunt as the hero in a mob scene. Going for the Giants is Ryan Vogelsong, who is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his last five playoff outings. The Cardinals have handled him in the regular season, however, and they’ll need to do so again in order to find themselves with their backs against the wall. Shelby Miller, who stood to be the loser in Game 4 of the ALDS before Matt Adams’ homer off Clayton Kershaw bailed him out, takes the hill for the Cards. Once again, one assumes, Yadier Molina won’t play.

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.