Cubs defeat Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in Game 7 to win the World Series

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After more than a week and seven games of World Series play, we finally have a champion. For the first time since 1908, the Cubs are World Series champs, taking Game 7 by an 8-7 margin over the Indians. It took 10 grueling innings.

The Cubs wasted no time getting on the board, as outfielder Dexter Fowler led off the game by drilling a Corey Kluber two-seam fastball to dead center field, just a couple of feet past the outstretched glove of Rajai Davis. For the fourth time in the series, the Cubs scored first.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks wasn’t his usual dominating self and he endured some sloppy defense behind him, but he was mostly able to limit the damage. The Indians pushed through for their lone run in the bottom of the third inning when Coco Crisp led off with a double, moved to third on a Roberto Perez sacrifice bunt, and scored on a Carlos Santana line drive single to right field.

In the fourth, the Cubs took a lead they wouldn’t surrender, scoring twice in the fourth. Bryant was able to sneak a single through a shift on the left side, then Kluber hit Anthony Rizzo to set up runners on first and second base with no outs. Ben Zobrist reached and moved Bryant to third base when Mike Napoli made a bad throw on what should have been a double play, getting only the force out at second base thanks to some fancy footwork by shortstop Francisco Lindor. Addison Russell then hit a shallow pop-up to right-center field just beyond the range of the shortstop. Center fielder Rajai Davis made the catch, but seemed surprise Bryant broke for home. He hesitated and then made a high throw, allowing Bryant to score and break the 1-1 tie with a nifty slide. Willson Contreras followed up by smoking a line drive to right-center field that would’ve been catchable if Davis had not initially broken in rather than back after contact was made. 3-1 Cubs.

Javier Baez made it 4-1 in the top of the fifth, swatting a home run to right-center field. That ended Kluber’s night. Lights-out reliever Andrew Miller came in, but he found himself in trouble, too. He gave up a single to Dexter Fowler, but got Kyle Schwarber to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Bryant, however, battled Miller in a nine-pitch at-bat to ultimately draw a walk. Rizzo followed up with a single to right field and Bryant was able to come around and score the Cubs’ fifth run.

Hendricks was almost able to get through the fifth inning, inducing a ground out from Crisp and striking out Perez. But Santana battled back from 0-2 to draw a walk and manager Joe Maddon wasn’t taking any chances. Hendricks came out and Jon Lester came in for his first relief outing since the 2007 postseason. Kipnis hit a grounder between the plate and pitcher’s mound that catcher David Ross grabbed, but he fired wide of first base. Santana went to third and Kipnis to second. Lester then spiked a curve that bounced and hit Ross in the mask, caroming towards the first base dugout. Santana scored easily and Kipnis was not far behind him, sliding in just ahead of the tag to make it 5-3. Lester fanned Lindor to finally end the inning.

Ross made up for his defensive miscue by swatting a one-out solo homer off of Miller in the sixth, pushing the Cubs’ lead to six runs at 6-3. In doing so, he became the oldest player (at 39 years old) to homer in a World Series Game 7.

Lester remained in the game for the sixth. He struck out Napoli and got Ramirez to ground out before yielding a single to Brandon Guyer. But this time, the two-out runner didn’t amount to anything as Davis grounded out to end the inning. In the seventh, Lester worked around a one-out walk to Perez, getting Santana to ground out and Kipnis to strike out.

Maddon again sent Lester back out for the eighth. He got Santana to ground out, then struck out Napoli looking. Ramirez kept the inning alive with an infield single, ending Lester’s night. Closer Aroldis Chapman jogged to the mound. After getting four outs on Tuesday, he wasn’t as sharp nor did he have his trademark velocity. Sitting in the high 90’s rather than the low 100’s, Chapman gave up an RBI double to Guyer, then served up a two-run home run down the left field line to Davis, knotting the game at six apiece.

The game would remain tied from there, with Maddon leaning on Chapman once again in the bottom of the ninth. Luckily for the Cubs, he was able to navigate through the frame with no scary moments. Before the 10th inning, the game entered a brief rain delay.

Once play resumed, Schwarber led off with a single to right field off of Bryan Shaw. He was replaced by pinch-runner Albert Almora, Jr. Bryant flied out to deep right-center, just a few feet shy of a home run, but Almora tagged up and advanced to second base on the play. Shaw then intentionally walked Rizzo with a base open to bring up Zobrist. Zobrist slapped a double down the left field line, plating Almora with a double. Shaw filled the bases by intentionally walking Russell. Miguel Montero then ripped a single to left field to make it 8-6. Shaw was able to get out of the inning from there, striking out Heyward and getting Baez to fly out.

In the bottom of the 10th, 25-year-old reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. entered the game looking to get the save. He struck out Napoli to start the inning. Ramirez grounded out for the second out. Edwards walked Guyer to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Davis. Davis ripped a line drive single up the middle to plate Guyer, cutting it to 8-7. Edwards excited, lefty Mike Montgomery entered to face Michael Martinez. Martinez weakly grounded to Bryant, who threw to Rizzo at first base to seal the World Series for the Cubs.

The curse is over. For the first time since 1908, the Cubs have won the World Series. Thus ends a truly thrilling World Series. A thrilling postseason overall for that matter. Hopefully you had as much fun following it as we did.

Something needs to change to avoid future incidents like Machado-vs.-Welke

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that Padres third baseman Manny Machado was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for “aggressively arguing” and making contact with home plate umpire Bill Welke after a controversial strike three call in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado. The clip of the incident is below, showing that Welke’s call was poor. Machado’s behavior was also poor, as he indeed made contact — inadvertently or not — with Welke and repeatedly swore at him. Machado also threw his bat, though it was not in anyone’s direction and no one was put in harm’s way.

Machado chose to appeal his suspension, as is his right. While that matter is in the process of being resolved, the Major League Umpires Association put out a lengthy statement on Facebook and a shorter but hashtag-laden post on Twitter. The statements were problematic for a number of reasons, chiefest being that the union is publicly commenting on an ongoing matter. MLB can keep Machado’s suspension at one game, which seems likely, or it can reduce his suspension to zero games. The league can also choose to reduce or remove the fine as well. Once the matter is resolved, the MLBUA should feel free to comment publicly on the matter.

MLBUA’s statement was also poorly proofread, hyperbolic, and creates a very legitimate argument for bias against Machado and/or the Padres going forward. The MLBUA described Machado as “violently” throwing his bat “with no regard to anyone’s safety.” It continued, “It is NOT okay to throw a temper tantrum and physically touch someone of authority, just because you don’t agree.”

MLBUA then moralized, asking, “What does this teach the MLB’s immense and ongoing influential youth movement trying to attract young fans to the game? Major League Baseball has to always lead by example in all cases of violent behavior, on and off the field.” It closed out, saying that the union was “extraordinarily disappointed” in MLB’s “inaction.”

Among the hashtags MLBUA used on Twitter were “#TemperTantrum,” “#RepeatOffender,” and “#Nonsense.”

Major League Baseball then released a statement on Tuesday night, saying, “…we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association.” The league added, “We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”

Whoever put out the message on behalf of the MLBUA should have asked themselves, “What is my purpose here and for whom am I posting this?” The entire purpose of a trade union is to create a cohesive unit, establishing bargaining power on behalf of labor versus capital. So, MLBUA is not writing this for fans, for players, or for MLB executives; it is publicly commenting for umpires. An ancillary benefit might be to engender public support for umpires vis-a-vis Welke.

It must then ask itself if the statement creates solidarity among umpires. And I think that’s a solid no. Machado is not the first player and will not be the last to make contact with an umpire and to throw a “temper tantrum” of that magnitude. So why single Machado out and die on this hill today? I would be shocked if more than a handful of umpires outside of Welke and his closest confidantes appreciated the MLBUA reacting the way it did. It doesn’t help them achieve any union-specific goals and might actually hurt them. Repeatedly referring to Machado’s actions as a “temper tantrum” and “nonsense,” and calling him a “repeat offender” is unprofessional. It’s something an Internet commenter would write in the heat of the moment, not the representative of a trade union in one of the most profitable industries in the country. Furthermore, in singling out Machado, Machado himself as well as his teammates have a legitimate reason to believe Welke and his crew might be biased against them not just for the remainder of the season but for the foreseeable future.

On a more pedantic note, the MLBUA wrote that it is not okay for players to act the way Machado did against “someone of authority.” It’s not the power that should shield umpires from workplace violence; it’s their humanity. Machado should no more or less scream and yell at an umpire than he should anyone else in any walk of life. However you rank umpires, coaches, front office executives, teammates, opponents, fans, etc. — they should all be treated equally.

All of this being said, there was one part of MLBUA’s statement that rang true. As mentioned, Welke did suffer violence in the workplace. I disagree with MLB that the comparison was inappropriate. There is nuance to what constitutes “workplace violence.” Is it a mass shooting? Of course not. But in no other employment setting would it be appropriate for one person to scream, curse, and throw items across the room during a disagreement. The union correctly wrote, “Physical contact simply cannot be tolerated.” The crux of all of this is that Major League Baseball doesn’t discourage altercations between umpires and players/coaches. Things have gotten better since the implementation of instant replay, but some instances — especially ball/strike judgment — can turn into very heated altercations.

MLB needs a flat rule instructing players and coaches not to argue with umpires. The team of the offending person(s) would incur an in-game penalty as well as a potential fine and suspension. In exchange for this loss of power on the part of players and coaches, the umpires should be subject to actual oversight. As it stands, umpires are almost never punished in any way for any kind of behavior towards players and coaches, nor are they often punished for poor results in terms of correct calls made. The umpires already have the advantage with their authority; their lack of oversight puts that advantage on steroids, which is why there’s often so much frustration. Umpires instigate confrontations a non-negligible amount of the time. If they felt like they would actually be held accountable for it, they might be much more reluctant to act, for example, the way Ron Kulpa did towards the Astros in early April.

MLBUA helped gain that power imbalance for its members, so it isn’t likely to give it up very easily. I don’t see my utopian dream coming to fruition anytime soon. But that’s the crux of every umpire-involved confrontation: authority. Umpires and players/coaches need to be on a level playing field in that regard, and the rules need to be crystal clear on what kind of behavior is allowed from both sides. Until that happens, we’ll be seeing a Machado-vs.-Welke incident once or twice every year ad infinitum.