NLDS 5: CHC vs. WAS — And we have a Championship Series, just 4 wins to the World Series…

I really should stop saying things like “yet” in posts. Yesterday, I posted that the Cubs-Nationals game was the longest one yet, and then they go and make it even longer tonight. Four hours and 37 minutes for Game 5 of the NLDS. And it was definitely a battle to the very end.

Well, mainly it was a battle because neither team could rely on the thing that was carrying them through most of the series — pitching. Pitching was just terrible on both sides tonight — 23 allowed hits, 15 walks, and 17 allowed runs. Both starters left early in the game (the 3rd and 4th innings), giving up 3-4 runs each and still most of the runs were scored by both bullpens. And the only innings in which anyone didn’t score runs were the 4th and 9th. It was messy.

In the 1st, the Cubs’ lead-off batter doubled (though it was challenged by the Nationals but rightly upheld as safe), moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a ground out. The Cubs then loaded up the bases but couldn’t get anyone else home. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Nationals came back strong starting with a lead-off home run to get them on the board. After consecutive singles, another batter hit another homer, a 3-run shot into the left field seats to push the Nats into the lead.

But to set a pattern, the Cubs came charging back, loading the bases in the 3rd and then scoring 2 runs on a ground out and a wild pitch. Then in the 5th, with 2 outs, the Cubs got 2 singles that promptly scored on a double and put the Cubs back in the lead. After the Nationals intentionally walked the next batter, they got a strikeout but it was a passed ball so the batter took off for 1st. The catcher over threw the ball, so the batter made it to 2nd while the other runner scored another run (also another example of sloppy game play tonight). And the inning continued on. The next batter reached on catcher’s interference (and it wasn’t Ellsbury, Yankee Universe!) to load up the bases, so the next batter being hit by a pitch scored yet another run for the Cubs.

And then into the 6th, the Cubs worked a 2-out walk that scored on a double. And the Nationals answered back in the bottom of that inning with their own 2-out walk. A double moved runners to scoring position, and a walk on a wild pitch moved the runners up and scored a run. A double scored one more to chip off the Cubs’ lead. But the Cubs held on tight in the top of the 7th with 2 1-out singles putting runners on the corners. A fielder’s choice out at 2nd scored one run, despite the Nationals’ challenge of a possible slide interference with the runner at 2nd (they ruled it wasn’t, but I think it really was because of how he swung his feet in the slide).

So the Nationals pieced together some offense in the final third of the game to chip away at the Cubs’ lead. In the bottom of the 7th, they loaded the bases, but only one run scored on a long sacrifice fly. And then in the 8th, they got 2 walks and one of them ended up at 3rd on a double play. He then scored on a single. Another single had 2 runners on bases and threatening. So the Cubs fired over to 1st base at one point to pick off the runner there. It was ruled safe, but challenged by the Cubs and then overturned (though I’m not sure how).

And with that, the Nationals just ran out of outs. Much to the Cubs’ sheer glee.

Final score: 9-8 Cubs, Cubs win NLDS 3-2, advance to NLCS

Okay, so a wrap up of the ALDS… my predictions (last week) were actually pretty good this year (bold is the actual result):

  • ALDS 1 — Yankees over Indians in 5 games (Yankees over Indians in 5 games)
  • ALDS 2 — Astros over Red Sox in 4 games (Astros over Red Sox in 4 games)
  • NLDS 1 — Dodgers over Diamondbacks in 3 games (Dodgers over Diamondbacks in 3 games)
  • NLDS 2 — Nationals over Cubs in 5 games (Cubs over Nationals in 5 games)

The final one, of course, I obviously got wrong as of tonight. But for the first time since I’ve been doing this, even the game numbers were right! Not to pat myself on the back, but pat-pat. Actually, after being so very wrong for five years, it’s nice to have a moment of right before I get to be so very wrong all over again. (Believe me, it always happens this way, so it’s why we cherish the momentary times of right.)

Okay, so now that we have a Championship Series, here’s where I’m predicting:

  • ALCS — Yankees over Astros, in 6 games*
  • NLCS — Dodgers over Cubs, in 4 games

*Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean this is who I’m “rooting for” in each game, just which team I think will win each series. I mean, of course, I’m always “rooting for” the Yankees. But for me, the Yankees-Astros series all comes down to pitching. If the Yankees’ starters have strong outings, this will be the result. If they don’t, the Astros will win in 6 games. And I’m aware that I’ll probably be very wrong now as I’m now overdue for wrong.

The ALCS starts tomorrow (Friday) night in Houston for 2 games there before it heads for possibly 3 games in the Bronx. It would then head back to Houston for the final 2 games if necessary. The NLDS begins Saturday night in the same pattern (LA-Chicago-LA, 2-3-2). First team to win 4 games goes onto the World Series, so Yankee fans, the Yankees are 4 wins from being back in the World Series (last appearance was when they won the 2009 one). Fingers crossed.

Go Yankees!

 

NL Wild Card: COL vs. ARI — Another messy start, “wild” cards indeed, and postseason is just beginning

So, if one thing watching these last 2 wild card games has taught me, it’s that starters really don’t have it for the 4th and 5th place teams in either league. Tonight in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks faced off against their geographic rivals, the Rockies, for the one-off NL Wild Card title. Despite rather disappointing starts once again, neither team was willing to give up so easy. Neither team had really great bullpens either.

That would explain the 30 total allowed hits and 19 total allowed runs scored tonight. For the playoffs, you want and usually see low scores more like international football) and not like American football type scores. Tonight was definitely not usual.

The Rockies starter was pushed out of the game in the 2nd inning (and 41 pitches), after giving up 7 hits and 4 runs, and striking out just 2 batters; comparatively, the Diamondbacks starter threw 58 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 6 hits, 4 runs, and struck out a single batter. And then, like last night’s game, both teams had to rely on their bullpens to pick up the game. But neither bullpen was really built for such an event, and both bullpen certainly dropped the ball. One team would rack up the points, and then the other team would catch up, and they basically did this all night long.

The Diamondbacks really commanded the game from the start offensively. In the 1st, with consecutive singles, a big 3-run home run got them on the board before an out was recorded against them. A 1-out single in the 2nd scored on a big triple, that kicked the Rockies’ starter out of the game right there. A new reliever in the 3rd gave up a single that scored as part of a 2-run home run to give the D-Backs a really big lead for the first third of the game.

Down 6-0, the Rockies had quite a bit to catch up. But they did, starting in the 4th inning. With 1 out, and 2 runners on base with singles, another single scored the lead run. A ground out moved both runners to scoring position which they promptly did on an RBI double and RBI single. That would be it for the D-backs starter at that point.

Things settled down somewhat for the middle section of the game until the Rockies found another opportunity in the 7th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then later scored on a sacrifice bunt. But that reduced gap didn’t last long. In the bottom of the inning, a lead-off Arizona batter singled and another batter worked a 1-out walk. They opted to send up their reliever, despite 2 outs on the board, to save their bench guys for bigger options. Which worked out well, as the reliever hit a big triple that scored both runners. It was his first professional extra-base hit ever.

He then struggled once he got back out on the mound (talk about a rollercoaster of emotion). He gave up consecutive home runs to put the Rockies back within striking distance again. But then the D-backs answered back, almost as if in revenge, in the bottom of the 8th. With 2 outs, 2 runners on base, and the 2nd reliever of the inning on the mound, a wild pitch moved both runners to scoring position before they did just that on yet another solid triple. That batter then later scored on an RBI single.

The D-backs called on their closer, who had his own issues but was able to rein them in just in time. A lead-off single advanced 2 bases on defensive indifference and then scored on a 2-out single. A little dribbler up the middle allowed for an easy force out at 2nd and to hand the Diamondbacks the win after a big battle back-and-forth.

Final score: 11-8 Diamondbacks, they advance to NLDS and will face the Dodgers in LA on Friday.

Okay, so I did well in my predictions for the Wild Card games. So far batting 1.000, but this will definitely change. Now that we know which teams are facing each other in the next stage of the postseason, I have my next phase of predictions:

  • ALDS 1 — Yankees over Indians, in 5 games
  • ALDS 2 — Astros over Red Sox in 4 games
  • NLDS 1 — Dodgers over Diamondbacks in 3 games
  • NLDS 2 — Nationals over Cubs in 5 games

Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean this is who I’m “rooting for” in each game, just which team I think will win each series. In fact, in one series, I’m hoping for the result to be reversed. Full disclosure: it’s not the Yankees-Indians series.

During their warm-up day at Progressive Field in Cleveland, the Yankees took some time to meet with the media, and they announced their starters for the ALDS. Game 1 will be Sonny Gray, followed by Sabathia, Tanaka, and Severino. Tanaka is being saved for when the series moves back to the Bronx as his home record is way better than his road record. And if they hit Game 5, the Yankees will announce their starter then. It could be Montgomery or Garcia, or they could call on Gray on short rest or one of the long-relief guys in the bullpen like Cessa. It really depends on how big of competition the Indians will be in the first few games.

Also, you can now “Vote Gardy” for Brett Gardner to win the Roberto Clemente Award, an honor given to a single player from all across the league who exemplifies excellence on the field and integrity and philanthropy off the field. Gardner is the Yankees nominee this season and deserves the recognition for being an excellent outfielder but also for his generous spirit and compassion in giving back to his home community in South Carolina and his work with the Yankees in the local New York area.

Go Yankees!

 

2017 Postseason Preview

Okay, here’s the annual blog post to wrap up the recent season and give a brief overview of what to expect in the postseason. And you’ll even get to hear my personal hopes (much more than predictions if I’m being honest) for how 2017 will turn out.

First up, the Wild Card games. Yes, the Yankees are back in the postseason again and will face the Twins tomorrow night. If you remember, the Yankees swept the Twins just 2 weeks ago, outscoring them 18-6 over 3 games. The most consistent starter Luis Severino will start for the Yankees. Severino had 14 wins and 6 losses in 31 games (and 193.1 innings), with an ERA of 2.98 and 230 recorded strikeouts just this season. If Severino and the Yankees’ offense work out like they’ve been known to work this season, the Yankees will be ready to face the Indians.

Okay, so here’s how the American League is set to play their Division Series. Boston, ending up 2 games over the Yankees, will face the Astros for their Division Series games. The Astros missed being the AL team with the most wins by a single game, falling short to the Indians who will face the winners of the Wild Card game.

The National League games will start just a day after the AL games. The Wild Card game will be played between the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, who ended up just a game ahead of the Brewers for that spot. Like with the Twins, the second spot for both Wild Card games went to teams that were exactly 6 games behind the first spot teams (Yankees and Diamondbacks).

The Cubs will play the Nationals in the NL Division Series, neither team coming close to the stellar season of 104 game wins the Dodgers had this season. So the Dodgers will face the winner of the NL Wild Card game.

And you know how the season proceeds from there. The winner of the best-of-5-game series of each set will face each other for the best-of-7 championship series to figure out the winner of each league. And those two winners will face each other in the Fall Classic, also known as the World Series.

Now, I don’t want to make my predictions too far in advance, so I’ll follow last year’s model and do a bit at a time. The AL Wild Card game is tomorrow night, and the NL Wild Card is Wednesday night. So we’ll start there.

  • AL Wild Card — Yankees over Twins
  • NL Wild Card — Diamondbacks over Rockies

Once we have winners from each of those categories, it will be easier (or let’s be honest, usually less humiliating) to predict the next set of games beginning Thursday with the ALDS games and Friday with the NLDS games. Those games are of the 2-2-1 layout, so 2 games played, a travel day, 2 games played (if necessary), a travel day, and 1 game played (if necessary). The team that wins 3 games advances to the next round (the ALCS/NLCS).

What’s your predictions? I try to remove my own bias (which is pretty much that the Yankees should be champions every single year), and be as objective as possible. However, this is my 5th year doing this blog, and honestly, this is the first year since 2012 that I’ve had any kind of hope that the Yankees could actually do something. Unfortunately, it’s all down to a game at a time, starting with tomorrow’s winner-take-all Wild Card Game.

Go Yankees!


As a postscript to this post tonight, I am saddened that I must once again express my sympathies after another tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and the families off all those affected by the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas last night.

The Mets’ AAA team plays in Las Vegas, the Vegas 51s, and several known current MLB players around the league grew up playing ball in its suburbs — Bryce Harper (Nationals), Kris Bryant (Cubs), Joey Gallo (Rangers), and the Yankees’ own Chasen Shreve. With three of those players heading into the postseason, I know their hometown isn’t far from their minds and hearts this October, as it won’t be from any of our own.

We will continue to pray for healing, comfort, and peace for all those injured or affected by last night’s events as both the city and the nation recovers from this latest horror.

And may I never have to write another condolence message like this one for as long as I live.

Game 161: TOR vs. NYY — A bittersweet #CCStrong victory

We knew it would be close this season, and this one was pretty close to the wire. With the Yankees’ win today, they were one step closer to possibly taking the division from their Boston rivals. But they too won their game, and as the magic number was 1, the division win goes to the other guys this year. (More after the recap.)

CC Sabathia got the start today for this middle game of the final weekend series of the season, replacing Garcia in the rotation so that the incredible season of Sabathia could get yet another shot. Sabathia has had a truly stellar year, and he ends his 2017 regular season on another win, his 14th actually. He threw 75 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 4 hits and no runs, striking out 6 Toronto batters along the way.

Chad Green got the final out of the 6th inning for Sabathia and pitches through the 7th inning, keeping the Blue Jays scoreless, as Green tends to do all season long. Tommy Kahnle, however, had a less-than-stellar outing of his own, entering the game in the 8th inning. He gave up single and a walk, and with no outs, all the pitchers are on short leashes lately.

So, the Yankees turned to David Robertson, but even he had a few issues today. With 1 out, Robertson loaded up the bases with a walk. But then a sacrifice fly scored the Blue Jays’ lone run before Robertson got his 2nd strikeout to get out of the inning. Aroldis Chapman, of course, came on for the 9th inning and sailed through the Blue Jays’ lineup for his 22nd save.

The Blue Jays had a better outing today over the Yankees compared to recent games, as far as pitching goes at least. Even still, the Jays’ starter only pitched through 4 innings, still holding off most of the Yankees’ offense until his final inning. Aaron Judge led-off the 4th inning with his 52nd home run of the season, a monster homer that cleared the bleachers in left field, landing on the concourse in front of the retired numbers wall out there. Then with 1 out, Gregorius singled, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Another out later, Frazier’s single put runners on the corners, but a line drive ended Yankee hopes to add to their lead.

The Blue Jays then called on their bullpen to patch together their remaining 4 innings, and they did a pretty good job of fending off the Yankee offense, despite giving up another hit and 3 walks. The Yankees just couldn’t piece anything else together for themselves. But it was enough.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

Postseason prep: So, the Yankees finished their game and immediately turned the attention to Boston where the Red Sox are hosting the Astros for their final series. But the Red Sox got an early lead, thanks to the Astros’ starter having a pretty bad day. So upon their final out, the Red Sox officially solidified their division title and sealed the Yankees as the first Wild Card contender.

With only one game left to play (bring on the tears), here’s how the postseason picture looks. The AL Division Champions are the Red Sox, the Indians, and the Astros. The AL Wild Cards are the Yankees and the Twins. Over in the NL, the Division Champions are the Nationals, the Cubs, and the Dodgers. Their Wild Card race is coming down to the wire. The Diamondbacks are definitely the first Wild Card, but the other one is still up for grabs between the Rockies and the Brewers. Currently, the Brewers are a game behind the Rockies in the standings, and are right now winning their game. The Rockies play later tonight, and a win will seal their fate as the second Wild Card.

Okay, here’s how the postseason works: the one-off Wild Card games will be played on Tuesday, October 3 (Twins at Yankees) and Wednesday, October 4 (TBD at Diamondbacks). And the Division Series (a best of 5 games series) begins on Thursday (October 5) for the AL and Friday (October 6) for the NL. The winners of the Wild Card games will play the best teams of each league (the Indians and Dodgers, respectively), and the remaining two teams per league will play each other. It’s a best of 5 games series, so the first one to 3 games goes on to the next round — the Championship Series (best of 7 games series), which begins October 13-14. The World Series begins Tuesday, October 24, with a potential Game 7 on Wednesday, November 1.

It’s going to be an interesting October once again.

Go Yankees!

Game 154: NYY vs. TOR — Postseason clinched on Bird’s big swing

The champagne (or beer or soda in some cases) has been sprayed, the visitor’s clubhouse in Rogers Centre is doused, social media is abuzz. The Yankees are definitely playing October baseball. (But more on that later.)

Sonny Gray got the start this afternoon in the middle game in this weekend series in Toronto. Gray threw 96 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run, and struck out just 4 batters. His allowed run (and the only one the Blue Jays hit all day) was a 1-out solo shot straight up the middle in the 4th inning. Actually, Gray had a pretty good day overall. It felt slow at times, but sometimes slow means people aren’t scoring. And in that case, it was a good thing.

The Yankees closed out the final third of the game, their bullpen making it look easy — Green, Robertson, and Chapman just breezing through the Blue Jays’ roster and shutting them down.

The Yankees didn’t really do much against the starter, despite his bad ERA and win-loss ratio this season. But what they did do was enough. In the 5th, Headley led-off with a walk and then stole 2nd base. One out later, Castro worked a walk as well. And then it was Greg Bird who made all the difference with his big 3-run home run into the right field seats.

The Yankees found another opportunity in the 8th inning when Todd Frazier hit a 1-out solo home run. And in the 9th, Sanchez led-off with a double, watched Headley work another walk, moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s RBI “single” (though how it wasn’t a fielding error, I’m not sure).

As Chapman threw his 10th pitch, a dribbling grounder to Bird (suitably) to get the out at 1st, the Yankees were going to the postseason regardless of how the rest of this next week turns out.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees

Okay, so yes, the Yankees are headed to the postseason. But the big question, the battle still to fight is WHERE. They will at least be a Wild Card spot. With today’s win and Boston winning their game against the Reds, both teams clinched postseason spots. But the Yankees remain firmly 4 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East.

Let’s talk “magic numbers”. As of now, the Red Sox’s magic number to be the AL East division champions is 5. Which means the Yankees’ magic number to take the crown from them is 5 games. So, the Red Sox need to lose 5 games, and the Yankees need to win 5 games.

As far as the actual Wild Card race, here’s how that’s looking. {Full Disclaimer: as I write this, many games are still in the middle of play, which could very well affect final standings where everyone lands by the end of the night.} The Yankees currently sit atop that list, 6 games ahead of the Twins. So, as of now, that’s who’s heading to the one-off Wild Card game.

However, there are 6 teams still very much in the race just a few games back — the Rangers (3.5 games behind the Twins), the Angels (4 games), Royals (4.5 games), Seattle (5 games), Rays (5 games), and Orioles (6.5 games). Realistically, the Rangers and Angels probably have the best shot at making up the difference, especially as the division winners (and deservedly so) of some of the other divisions will be playing some of the other contenders. It’s always down to the schedule, isn’t it?

Anyway, we’re still hoping for the Red Sox’s collapse here. So it’s still “Go Reds!” for tomorrow as the Yankees hope to close that gap by taking the series tomorrow afternoon in Toronto before heading home for the final week.

Go Yankees!

World Series 7: CHC vs. CLE — The drought, the Goat, whatever, it’s over for a century

My social media is pretty divided, and it’s not about the election. I have to say I think I’m most upset by the fact that my postseason bracket looks worse than Bauer’s finger after it met with a drone. But as I don’t gamble or anything, it’s just my pride or whatever that’s hurt. All this because I kept guessing wrong, so I went with the opposite of my head and was wrong. And I have to say, for once, my heart was actually wrong. Logic told me the Cubs would win.

But truthfully, they almost didn’t. And truthfully, neither team really played “exceptionally well”. I mean, the Cubs racked up 3 errors, 2 of which allowed unearned runs. This really could’ve gone either way. It wasn’t obvious until the very end who had this game, and it made things a bit more interesting in the long run.

Neither starter, Hendricks (Cubs) or Kluber (Indians), had a stellar night, both pitching only into the 5th inning. Kluber failed to get a single strikeout, something he’s not done all season in any game. And collectively, both pitching staffs allowed far too many hits and runs to be called “good” in any manner. Only those relievers who can on for only a couple batters came out fairly clean, and that’s not really a fair assessment of statistics.

But unlike most of the games this postseason, tonight’s game wasn’t about the pitching (which somewhat explains the MVP award, more later), but rather the offense. The Cubs struck first when Fowler led off the game with a big solo home run straight up the middle to get things started. The Indians answered back in the 3rd when Crisp led off with a double, moved to 3rd on Perez’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored on Santana’s single. But with 2 runners on base and just 1 out, the Indians couldn’t do much to turn that into more runs, the story of the night for them actually.

In the 4th, the Cubs broke the tie with some small ball. Bryant led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Rizzo’s hit-by-pitch, then to 3rd on Zobrist’s fielder’s choice, and finally scored on Russell’s sacrifice fly. Zobrist then scored on Contreras’ double to give the Cubs that insurance run. And Baez led off the 5th with a solo home run for one more.

Miller came on to relieve Kluber at this point, but couldn’t find that postseason momentum from earlier games. After an allowed single, Miller got a nice double play (upheld, thanks to a Cubs’ challenge), but then an allowed walk scored on Rizzo’s deep single.

But the Indians’ offense chipped away on the Cubs’ lead in the bottom of the 5th in a play very indicative of this game. With 2 outs, Santana walked and the Cubs pulled both Hendricks and catcher Contreras for the battery team of Lester-Ross (significant because this was Ross’ final game ever, as he’s retiring following this game). But Lester gave up a single, and Ross’ throwing error moved both runners up to scoring position. Lester’s wild pitch then scored both runners to keep Indians’ hopes alive and within 2 runs.

But Ross’ 1-out solo home run, a big shot over the center field wall, pushed the Cubs into what they felt was a comfortable lead. (It would be Ross’ final home run ever, by the way.) But there’s a trick in any professional sport — don’t get too comfortable.

In the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, Ramirez singled and the Cubs called on Chapman to make a 4-out save. Except he didn’t. Guyer came in and doubled to score Ramirez, and then Davis hit a 2-run home run to the left field seats. A friend of mine in the southwest asked online whether the sound he was hearing outside was thunder or the cries of disappointment from thousands of people in Illinois.

Progressive Field already had a strong Cubs’ presence in its stands, but when Davis hit that home run, the stands were literally shaking. The cheering outside the field in the plaza where it was standing room only for local fans was deafening. In that single play, Yogi proved once again to be the wisest man in baseball history. It wasn’t over. In fact, it felt like the entire game hit a reset button at that point. It was finally time for some real baseball.

And extra innings apparently. The game went into the 10th, after a bit of a rain delay, with both teams on opposing lakes praying for their respective players to be the ones who would break the tie and end their drought. As it was an offense-based game, the Cubs got the opportunity first. Schwarber led-off with a single and was pinch-run by Almora. After an intentional walk to Rizzo, Zobrist saw that opportunity and doubled home Almora. (For this reason, Zobrist was awarded the MVP of the World Series.) The Indians decided to load the bases with an intentional walk to Russell to go after the back-up, back-up catcher Montero. But then Montero did the improbably and singled home the insurance run.

Two outs later, and it was the Indians turn to make it turn in their favor. So they did what they did best — got two outs to put the pressure on everyone. Guyer worked a walk and moved to 2nd on defensive indifference before scoring on Davis’ single. This put the Indians within 1 run of the Cubs. So they weren’t taking any chances and called for a new reliever. Two pitches later, Rizzo pocketed the ground out ball as he made his way to the infield for the celebration.

Final score: 8-7 Cubs, in 10. Cubs win World Series 4-3.

Of course, the immediate jokes following the Cubs’ win tonight was something about meeting up in the next 108 years (which would be 2124 if you don’t feel like doing math). Now, I distinctively remember similar jokes about the Red Sox following their 2004 win, and it took them only 3 years to be World Champions again (and then 6 more years to do it again).

Like I said before, I think the Cubs as a franchise have a potential to be in the conversation as “good teams” for a bit now, much like how we refer to other “lovable underdogs” like the Mets. I don’t expect the Cubs to just drop in momentum, unlike say the Giants in odd years this decade or Red Sox following their 2013 win or the Royals this season after last year’s championship.

Not that I think they’ve somehow started a dynasty. I have a hard time believing in dynasties these days. Players move teams a lot now, even more than when they first introduced free agency. And front office executives are constantly on the look out for the newest young talent to break out and change the landscape of their team (like Sanchez this year with the Yankees). A dynasty needs consistency, and that’s not really something you see a lot in the game any more.

Maybe this is just a sentimental Yankees’ fan talking, but I think it’s okay to remember what was every now and then. It doesn’t make today or the future any less special. It’s just different. And sometimes, different is okay.

Go Yankees!

World Series 6: CHC vs. CLE — November baseball continues…

For the 38th time in World Series history (apparently, depending on how you count) there has been a “Game 7”. In fact, both teams have a history of losing in Game 7 — the Cubs in the infamous “Goat” series of 1945 (against the Tigers) and the Indians in the tragic 1997 series (against the Marlins). The only thing is that tomorrow night, one of these teams will actually win this year’s “Game 7”.

I try to be positive on this blog for several reasons. The first of which being that there’s a lot of terrible and negative stuff out there already, and there’s no reason for me to waste my time and energy only to get lost in the vacuous void that is all that. And second, because there’s got to be something that is positive in every scenario, a silver-lining if you will, that reminds you why it’s worth moving forward and why you fell in love with this game in the first place.

So, the positives for this game clearly were in the Cubs’ favor. They showed up to play baseball, knowing this could be the end of their season, and they played hard. And it paid off. They took advantage of the Indians’ sloppy defense and off-night of pitching and made it work for them. Meanwhile, the Indians’ attempt to come back never fully materialized and always seemed to fall short at those crucial, key moments.

I said this going into tonight’s game: the Cubs’ starter Arrieta, being the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, is a really good pitcher. And he showed that in so many ways tonight — throwing into the 6 inning, giving up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 9 Indians batters. He kept things close and allowed the stellar Cubs defense to shine through at those key moments.

In the 4th, Arrieta showed a bit too much of his hand. Kipnis led things off with a double and then scored on Napoli’s 1-out single. Arrieta then loaded up the bases with 2 outs, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk, but got that all-important strikeout to end the Indians’ rally. Kipnis also got one by Arrieta in the 5th, when he laced a big 2-out home run into the left field seats. (Worth noting: Kipnis hit 3 of the Indians’ 6 hits tonight and scored 2 of their runs.)

But here’s the thing: all that would be amazing and great if not for the fact that the Cubs were already way ahead. Like light-years ahead in the score at this point. You see, Indians’ starter Tomlin just had a terrible night, and really had a hard time with consistency, right from the beginning.

In the 1st, with 2 outs, Tomlin gave up a solo shot to Bryant to get the Cubs on the board first. Rizzo and Zobrist then singled and scored on Russell’s double. But that ball should’ve been caught in the outfield, except neither fielder “called it”, instead letting it drop between them. A “Little League” play, if you will. It made the entire Cleveland area and its fans around the country groan and actually wish they were watching election coverage.

After a quick 3-up, 3-down 2nd inning, Tomlin looked to be righting himself and came back for the 3rd, but instead, he fell back into the rough pattern — loading the bases with a walk and 2 singles. Tomlin’s night was over, and the rotating door of the bullpen began. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on the Indians’ side tonight — Russell saw a pitch he liked and sent it sailing straight up the middle for a big, beautiful grand slam home run. And yes, that makes 7 Cubs runs scored at this point.

The Indians’ bullpen had better luck keeping the Cubs from expanding their significant lead, while not dipping into their reliable three backend relievers (perhaps, knowing they’d need them for tomorrow night?). With no strikeouts from Tomlin, the bullpen alone tallied up 6 strikeouts in its tenure, though they also allowed 7 hits (adding to Tomlin’s allowed 6). But the Indians’ defense showed up to play through most of the game and kept things stalled for the Cubs.

The Indians, however, clearly didn’t have much luck in the offense department tonight, to chip away at that hefty lead. After Arrieta came out, Montgomery took over to shut things down for the 6th and into the 7th inning. And for some weird reason, the Cubs called on Chapman to finish the 7th and pitch into the 8th. Several times, the Indians loaded up the bases, but always failed to do anything to help their score.

In the 9th, the Indians relied on their reliever to finish his 2 inning out, after a fairly clean 8th. With 2 outs, Bryant singled and then Rizzo hit a nice 2-run home run to edge the Cubs a bit further, and left the entire Indians franchise and fan base praying for an 8-run home run in the bottom of the 9th.

They got a partial answer to that one. For reasons that left everyone scratching their head, the Cubs sent Chapman out for another inning, where he promptly allowed a walk to Guyer. So they sent in Strop. With 1 out, Guyer moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on Perez’s single. Perez would then be thrown out trying to make it a double. After Santana worked another walk, the Cubs went to their bullpen again and called on Wood to throw just 2 pitches for a pop-up out to close out the game.

Final score: 9-3 Cubs, series split 3-3.

So, now we have a Game 7. It’s on. It’s still very much anyone’s game, anyone’s championship, anyone’s season. And isn’t that just a bit more interesting when all is said and done?

Go Yankees!