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All four Division Series could be decided on Monday

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Monday is going to be a big day for baseball, not only because there will be close to 12 hours of nonstop playoff action, but because all four Division Series could be decided on the same day. As Christopher Kamka of NBC Sports Chicago notes, the only time all four Division Series were decided on the same day was October 5, 1996.

Here’s what’s on the schedule:

1:05 PM ET – Astros @ Rays, ALDS Game 3 (MLB Network)

Astros lead 2-0

The Astros convincingly won both games of the series thus far. Justin Verlander tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 while Gerrit Cole was even better in his Game 2 start, fanning 15 Rays over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. The Rays will have to stave off elimination by besting Zack Greinke. Between the Diamondbacks and Astros, Greinke posted an aggregate 2.93 ERA during the regular season. The Rays will have their best starter on the mound in Charlie Morton, who tossed five solid innings in the AL Wild Card game against the Athletics.

3:07 PM ET – Braves @ Cardinals, NLDS Game 4 (TBS)

Braves lead 2-1

After a ninth-inning rally to come from behind and win 3-1 in Game 3, the Braves will try to defeat the Cardinals again on Monday to advance into the NLCS for the first time since 2001. Not including this year, the Braves have been in the playoffs eight times since 2002, getting booted out of the NLDS seven times and out of the NL Wild Card game once. The Cardinals will send Dakota Hudson to the mound for his postseason debut. The Braves haven’t announced their starter yet. It will be either Julio Teheran or NLDS Game 1 starter Dallas Keuchel. Teheran was added to the postseason roster after Chris Martin suffered an oblique injury. Keuchel limited the Cardinals to one run over 4 2/3 innings on Thursday.

6:40 PM ET – Dodgers @ Nationals, NLDS Game 4 (TBS)

Dodgers lead 2-1

The Dodgers’ offense went white hot exploding for 10 total runs — nine against the Nationals’ bullpen — in their Game 3 win. They’re looking to advance to the NLCS for a fourth consecutive year while the Nationals are hoping they can advance out of the NLDS for the first time since moving to the nation’s capital and becoming the Nationals. Their last NLCS appearance in franchise history came in 1981 when the Expos lost in five games to… the Dodgers. The Nationals’ playoff hopes rest in the right arm of Max Scherzer, who will start opposite lefty Rich Hill.

8:40 PM ET – Yankees @ Twins, ALDS Game 3 (FS1)

Yankees lead 2-0

The Yankees continue to serve as the Twins’ immortal playoff demon. Here’s a brief history:

  • 2003 ALDS: Yankees win 3 games to 1
  • 2004 ALDS: Yankees win 3 games to 1
  • 2009 ALDS: Yankees win 3 games to 0
  • 2010 ALDS: Yankees win 3 games to 0
  • 2017 AL Wild Card game: Yankees win 8-4
  • 2019 ALDS: Yankees lead 2 games to 0

This series hasn’t been particularly close, either. The Yankees won Game 1 by a 10-4 margin and Game 2 by an 8-2 score. The Twins’ starting pitching has been terrible and the bullpen has been just as bad. The two starters, José Berríos and Randy Dobnak, combined to allow seven runs over six innings. The bullpen has yielded 11 runs over 10 innings of work. The Twins will hope Jake Odorizzi can keep their playoff hopes alive, but he’ll have to overcome Yankees starter Luis Severino to do so. Severino returned in late September after missing almost the whole season due to shoulder and lat injuries. He’ll be making his 2019 playoff debut.

Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely

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The war between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball escalated significantly last night, with Minor League Baseball releasing a memo accusing Major League Baseball of “repeatedly and inaccurately” describing the former’s stance in negotiations and Major League Baseball responding by threatening to cut ties with Minor League Baseball entirely.

As you’re no doubt aware, negotiations of the next 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement, which governs the relationship between the big leagues and the minors — and which is set to expire following the 2020 season — have turned acrimonious. Whereas past negotiations have been quick and uncontroversial, this time Major League Baseball presented Minor League Baseball with a plan to essentially contract 42 minor league baseball teams by eliminating their major league affiliation. Baseball is also demanding that Minor League Baseball undertake far more of the financial burden of player development which is normally the responsibility of the majors.

That plan became public in October when Baseball America reported on the contraction scheme, after which elected officials such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren began weighing in on the side of Minor League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were not happy with all of that and, on Wednesday, Manfred bashed Minor League Baseball for taking the negotiations public and accused Minor League Baseball of intransigence, saying the minors had assumed a “take it or leave it” negotiating stance.

Last night Minor League Baseball bashed back in the form of a four-page public memo countering Manfred’s claims, with point-point-by-point rebuttals of Major League Baseball’s talking points on various matters ranging from stadium facilities, team travel, and player health and welfare. You can read the memo in this Twitter thread from Josh Norris of Baseball America.

Major League Baseball responded with its own public statement last night. But rather than publicly rebut Minor League Baseball’s claims, or to simply say, consistent with Manfred’s statement on Wednesday, that it preferred to negotiate in private, it threatened to simply drop any agreement with Minor League Baseball and, presumably start its own minor league system bypassing MiLB entirely:

“If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table. Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

So, in the space of about 48 hours, Manfred has gone from being angry at the existence of public negotiations to negotiating in public, angrily.

As for Minor League Baseball going public itself, one Minor League Baseball owner’s comments to the Los Angeles Times seems to sum up the thinking pretty well:

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams. That’s rich.”

Things, it seems, are going to get far worse before they get better. If, in fact, they do get better.