Christian Yelich
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Here’s what Sunday means for NL postseason contenders

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The Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, and Rockies are all headed to the playoffs this fall, but Saturday’s games came and went without clear winners established in the National League Central or the National League West. If all four teams pull ahead with wins on Sunday, they’ll force two tiebreakers on Monday when the Cubs host the Brewers for the NL Central title and the Rockies travel west to meet the Dodgers in Los Angeles for the NL West championship.

The losers of the tiebreakers, naturally, will face each other in the Wild Card Game, with the winner scheduled to face off against the highest-seeded division winner in the National League Division Series. The other half of the NLDS will feature the remaining team against the Braves.

The Cubs entered Saturday with a one-game advantage over the Brewers, but dropped a 2-1 squeaker to the Cardinals early in the afternoon and watched the Brewers defeat the Tigers 6-5 to close the gap at the top of the NL Central. Everything will hinge on Game 162, when the Cubs will send left-hander Mike Montgomery up against St. Louis righty Jack Flaherty at 3:20 PM EDT and the Brewers will hang their hopes on Gio Gonzalez over the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull at 3:10 PM EDT. Should the Cubs gain the edge over their division rival, it’ll mark their third division title in a row and eighth overall (sixth since moving to the NL Central). Should luck falls to the Brewers, on the other hand, it’ll mark their third division title (second since they moved to the National League in 1998) and first since 2011.

Over in the NL West, the Rockies and Dodgers will try to grab a foothold atop the division as they round out their final series against the Nationals and Giants, respectively. After dropping a 12-2 heartbreaker to the Nationals on Saturday night, the Rockies will send Tyler Anderson out against Washington rookie Erick Fedde at 3:10 PM EDT. The Dodgers, meanwhile, will roll with southpaw Rich Hill against Giants’ lefty Andrew Suarez at 3:05 PM EDT. A win for the Dodgers (and loss for the Rockies) would hand them their sixth straight division title and 17th in the NL West. For the Rockies, a division championship would be even more significant, as they’ve yet to clinch a single title in their 26-year history.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]