Archive for Base Paths

Another statement of editorial opinion

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Man vs. tarp

And Tarp gets in the first lick:

(Via Fark.)

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No carping

In 2014, 17-year-old Rena Takeda did a photobook called Carp Girl, and the juxtaposition of those two words didn’t quite induce a spit take, but came close enough for me to wonder about the phrase. And it goes like this:

Japan has 12 professional baseball teams. There is a team that placed in the high ranks of NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) for the first time in 16 years. That is Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Since it is low salary team, they cannot keep the players who declared FA (free agent) in the team. However, people in Hiroshima love Carp. Thanks to their fundraising, it has recovered from team continuation crisis.

In recent years, this team gets new fans. Japanese professional baseball mainly has male fans, and it is natural that citizens support their local team. Originally, there has been a culture that female Carp supporters are called “Carp-girls”. However, “today” Carp-girls means that women with any relation cheer Carp, which is the biggest feature that “Carp-girls” are now interested.

And it would have been nice to catch some photos of Rena doing some, um, Carping, but she was only seventeen, and there are times when I think the Japanese really prefer women in their twenties who look seventeen. So no pix in uniform. Then again:

Rena Takeda with a fan

Rena Takeda on the cover

Rena Takeda sitting around in her underwear

In the 1980s, when I was fooling around with laserdiscs, I acquired a few examples of Japanese sub-erotica, in which the camera lingers lovingly over the body without ever showing you anything even close to being R-rated, to the accompaniment of something vaguely like smooth jazz. Apparently nothing much has changed over the years:

Rena’s first acting job, in 2015, was in a film with the wondrous title Assassination Classroom, successful enough to warrant the production of a sequel.

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The Show business

Minor League Baseball does more than just provide players for the Big Leagues; they also serve as laboratory for various experiments that may eventually show up in The Show. It would be well to remember, though, that not all experiments are successful:

Minor League Baseball today announced rule and procedure changes that will be implemented with the start of the 2019 Minor League Baseball season on April 4.

The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, aim to reduce the amount of downtime taken by mid-inning pitching changes and visits to the pitcher’s mound by position players and coaches, and reduce the risk of injuries to pitchers being used as base runners in extra innings games.

That’s right, put some gloss on it:

At the Triple-A and Double-A levels, the starting pitcher or any substitute pitcher is required to pitch to a minimum of three consecutive batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the starting pitcher or substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher.

If you’ve ever been irritated by a reliever coming in to pitch to one batter, immediately followed by another reliever, then this is the rule for you. (And now you know why a 25-man roster in the majors typically contains 13 pitchers and 12 men to cover ever other position.)

Visits by coaches and position players will be limited based on the classification level. Triple-A teams will be allowed five (5) visits per team (down from six), Double-A teams will be allowed seven (7) visits per team (down from eight), Single-A teams will be allowed nine (9) visits per team (down from 10) and there will not be a limit on mound visits for Short Season and Rookie-level clubs.

For any extra-innings played, each club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning.

As before, the manager can come out once to talk with the pitcher; the second time, the pitcher leaves the mound, never to return during the game.

And one of the dumber recent rules has been revised, albeit without much effect on its level of dumbth:

At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. If the last batter of the previous inning was the pitcher, the player to occupy second base to start the following inning will be the player in the batting order before the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. By way of example, if the pitcher bats in the eighth position and the number nine hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number seven player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base.

Not to say that football handles overtime at all well.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

Addendum: The Triple-A Dodgers will so have radio broadcasts, despite what I said.

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It was nice while it lasted

Apparently we’ve lost our local radio affiliate (that would be KTOK) for Los Angeles Dodgers baseball. What’s more, we’ve lost our local radio affiliate (that would be KGHM) for Oklahoma City Dodgers baseball. If we actually want this stuff, we’re going to have to use an Officially Approved App. My tablet will handle it, I think, but hitting the radio dial is a lot less problematic than trying to keep some damnable app going.

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Somewhat silly sod

It’s like a prairie dog, kinda sorta:

Apparently, Sod Poodles mature into Chihuahuas and ultimately Padres:

The Friars’ new Double-A Affiliate in Amarillo, Texas, on Tuesday announced that “Sod Poodles” had won its “Name the Team” contest. The other finalists were the Boot Scooters, Bronc Busters, Jerky and Long Haulers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The Chihuahuas are San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate in El Paso.

(Via Fark.)

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The next-to-last rung

One step to go before The Show:

New York Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow is expected to start the 2019 season with Class AAA Syracuse, a promotion for the former NFL quarterback.

“That’s a great next step for him,” newly hired Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said, via, at the GM Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., on Wednesday. “We’re excited to get him back in camp and hopefully after a trip to Syracuse he’ll be able to prove to us and everybody in baseball that he can make an impact in the big leagues.”

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner hit .273 and slugged six homers and 36 RBI in 84 games in 2018 for Class AA Binghamton before an injury — a broken hamate bone in his right hand — required surgery and cut his season short in July. The 31-year-old hit .301 in June and was hitting .340 in July before the injury.

(Via Fark.)

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Lord of the infield flies

This seems at least somewhat indisputable:

Half the fun of barroom baseball arguments is comparing players from widely disparate eras. Mike Trout, for instance, is often compared to Mickey Mantle. Well, what if Mantle were playing today? If, instead of growing up a dirt-poor dust-bowl Okie with a drinking problem, the Mick grew up middle class in a nice New Jersey suburb, like Trout did? Give Mantle 21st century diet, nutrition, and training, and who knows? Maybe he hits 100 homers a year, steals 95 bases, hits .450 lifetime …

Or maybe not, because the Mick did what he did against 1950s competition. Put Mike Trout on the field back then, when black players were a rarity, relief pitchers were scarce (and not very good), and all but the superstars still had to work regular-guy jobs in the offseason, and maybe it’s Trout who hits 100 homers, steals 95 bases, goes .450 lifetime …

Or maybe not, because of course, Trout wouldn’t have all those 21st century benefits — nutrition, training, coaching, travel teams that play against top-tier competition all year long …

There’s always a variable you missed somewhere. And after you take that variable into consideration, there’s always another one. (Trout plays for the Angels, an American League team, which means that somewhere in the argument, someone will bring up the designated-hitter rule.)

Even if you go all sabermetric on it, and somehow decide that the average pitcher in 1958 is 0.7924 times as good as the average pitcher from 2018, then multiply Mantle’s stats by the phases of the moon, divide by the cosine, carry the one … it still doesn’t matter, because all of that is ass-pulled.

And if this is true of baseball debates, how much more so with political arguments.

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Predictive search

Feel free to be suspicious:

So long as you don’t address them directly. (Once you do, they become magically deaf.)

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That twenty-seventh out

Just a little reminder, as the days grow shorter:

Comes now the short day of winter, and with it the rule of the games that are themselves ruled by that clock. A baseball game ends, of course, but it also finishes. Football, hockey and soccer have some extended play if the score is tied, but each eventually quits playing the whole game and settles for a scoring duel. Basketball, at least, will keep playing until one team is ahead when time runs out. Bud Selig’s abominable 2002 All-Star Game mandated tie aside, a baseball game is not over until it is finished, and then it’s part of the record and in the past.

Through 162 games, the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers had identical 91-71 records. A one-game playoff was mandated, but technically, says the rule book, it’s not a playoff game: it was played under regular-season rules, as though it were the 163rd game. The Dodgers won that game, and took home their sixth consecutive National League West title with a record of 92-71; the Rockies were one game behind at 91-72. L.A. sees no playoff action until later today.

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Now there’s some imagery

This chap is Milwaukee pitcher Jhoulys Chacín, or, more precisely, Jhoulys Jose Chacín Molina, who was born in deepest Venezuela three decades ago:

Jhoulys Chacin

I’m not quite sure I buy the description, but I do like the way it sounds:

It gets better:

Oh: Brewers 2, Cards 1.

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Commemorative bitcoin

Or something like that, anyway:

Get in on the Crypto craze! A first of its kind collectible, pick up a digital bobblehead at Dodger Stadium on September 21 with a Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner or Kenley Jansen Crypto token for your Ethereum wallet. It’s the first Crypto giveaway in Major League Baseball, and believed to be the first such promotion in sports.

While supplies last at guest’s point of entry, the first 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance will receive a card with a unique code and directions to a website where a digital bobblehead can be unlocked and added to their Ethereum wallet. The player Crypto token received will be randomly selected, with approximately an equal number of Kershaw, Turner and Jansen codes distributed at the stadium gates.

Ask the resident ten-year-old to explain it to you, if you must.

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They’re right, you know

If you don’t believe them, check the record books:

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I’m being followed by a Moon Possum

Moon Possum? Moon Possum:

The Moon Possums, Comet Jockeys and Space Chimps are among the five possible names for the minor league baseball team moving to Madison [Alabama].

Team owner Ballcorps, LLC on Friday announced the proposed names. Thunder Sharks and Trash Pandas round out the final five names. Most of the proposed names gave a nod to the region’s deep connections to the national space exploration program.

The five names were selected from 10 possibilities during a period of online voting. All possible team names were nominated by north Alabama residents.

This year and next, that team is the Mobile BayBears, the Double-A (Southern League) farm club of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Possums, or whatever, arrive in their new home in 2020. Madison, near Huntsville, has about 48,000 people, and the new ball park under construction will cost about $1,000 per capita.

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Tribe drops the ball

From yesterday afternoon:

A few hours later:

Things happen, guys. Don’t worry about it.

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Short of The Show

Tim Tebow is not coming out of Double-A ball this year:

New York Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow has a broken hamate bone in his right hand and is likely to miss the remainder of the season, the team announced on Monday.

Tebow [had] surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks, “so his season is effectively over,” Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said.

The Binghamton outfielder sustained the injury in Friday night’s game against Eastern League opponent Trenton. Binghamton is the Mets’ Double-A affiliate. He was placed on the disabled list Saturday.

Currently, the Rumble Ponies are in fourth place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division.

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A record it would be hard to break

I was listening to the Los Angeles Dodgers game Sunday night, and the broadcast team of Charley Steiner and Rick Monday noted that official attendance figures in baseball are obtained during the fifth inning, then passed on a story from the minors sixteen years ago:

In the first season at The Joe, the RiverDogs set a new single season attendance of 234,840 — a record that would be eclipsed almost annually. The record was even broken in 2002 despite the outlandish game night promotion of “Nobody Night,” when no fans were allowed in to the ballpark until the game became official thus allowing the RiverDogs to set the record for lowest official single game attendance: zero.

The Charleston (South Carolina) RiverDogs, then the Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, started playing at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, named for Charleston’s longest-serving mayor (1975-2016), in 1997. The Dogs, still in the South Atlantic League, are currently the Class A club in the New York Yankees system.

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That’s some serious Rumbling

The Double-A Eastern League holds its All-Star Game on Wednesday, 11 July, and Tim Tebow will be there:

Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was named to the Eastern League All-Star roster Friday. Tebow is an outfielder for the New York Mets’ Double-A affiliate Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

And it’s not because of his marquee value, either:

“He’s made some big strides, and once again, you have to heap praise on his work ethic,” Binghamton manager Luis Rojas told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. “He’s put some work in to get [to] the point where he is.”

In 67 games, the 30-year-old former Florida and NFL quarterback is batting .261 with 12 doubles, 5 home runs and 30 RBIs. His .733 OPS is 35th-best in the Eastern League, and he is hitting .318 in June.

This year’s All-Star Game for the Eastern League will be held at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, New Jersey. If Tebow goes to Triple-A next year, he’ll play with the Syracuse Chiefs.

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Fark blurb of the week

No matter how you slice it, some people are getting cheesed off and saucy that a Staten Island minor league team wants to change their nickname to Pizza Rats.

(Linked to this.)

Oh, by the way, this is where it began:

And this is where it ended up:

Staten Island Pizza Rats merch

The Pizza Rats (a name being brought out for special occasions) are the Class A farm club of the New York Yankees.

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Not one helium reference

As noted last summer:

It helps that the owner of the Old [Colorado Springs] Sky Sox also owns the [Helena] Brewers, and the San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League. In effect, San Antonio is upgraded from Double-A to Triple-A. The Missions name will remain in San Antonio, but the current Missions will be getting a new home in Amarillo.

Still unknown: the name of the new Amarillo ball club, though it’s going to be one of these:

  1. Amarillo Boot Scooters — The Boot Scooters combines Amarillo’s genuine welcoming attitude with its fun western heritage.
  2. Amarillo Bronc Busters — Amarillo has deep cowboy roots and the Bronc Busters honors the community’s resilient, independent spirit.
  3. Amarillo Jerky — Commemorating its famous cattle drive, there’s only one region that can lay claim to the “Beef Capital of the World.”
  4. Amarillo Long Haulers — Long Haulers celebrates Amarillo’s famous Route 66, open roads, wind-bent trees, and the fun of Minor League Baseball.
  5. Amarillo Sod Poodles — A pioneer’s nickname for the “Prairie Dogs,” this fun-loving local animal is very aggressive in protecting its family and home.

Dear God, please, anything but “Sod Poodles.”

(Via Fark.)

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It was in the box score

An Orioles pitcher has a few problems with those big Kansas City bats:

Three of those homers, in fact, were consecutive:

After a leadoff infield single by Jon Jay against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, the Royals hit back-to-back-to back home runs, the first time they’ve done that since last July 23 at Kauffman Stadium against the White Sox.

First, Jorge Soler slammed his fifth home of the season into the Orioles’ bullpen in left-center field.

Next, Mike Moustakas blasted his ninth home run to right, a ball that landed on Eutaw Street on the fly, the 95th time that has happened in Camden Yards history.

Salvador Perez was next, and he smashed a home run over the center-field wall.

After two walks, Alex Gordon then crushed a three-run homer to right, making it 7-0.

One could reasonably say that Bundy is usually not that bad, but almost every pitcher in the majors is usually not that bad. But few have fallen so far so fast: one month ago, against the Blue Jays, Bundy pitched seven innings, gave up four hits and two earned runs, walked two and struck out 10. His ERA at the end of it all was 1.35. Now it’s 5.31.

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It wasn’t in the box score

Sunday, the Yankees erupted for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Cleveland, 7-4, and Francis W. Porretto reports:

Of course everyone who follows baseball noted rookie Domingo Germán’s six innings of no-hit pitching. (Manager Aaron Boone relieved Germán on the grounds of his pitch count.) Rookie Gleyber Torres’s walk-off three-run homer has received some attention as well. But virtually no one noted the following tidbit: announcer Michael Kay’s disclosure that Indians’ manager Terry Francona chews six pieces of gum every half-inning. That’s 108 pieces of gum per complete nine-inning game.

Ballplayers — and, for that matter, managers — have been known to chew worse.

And perhaps the more remarkable feat by pitcher Germán: of the 84 pitches he threw in those six innings, 53 were strikes. He struck out nine, walked only two.

But still, we’re talking gum here:

But Kay just left it there! With that knowledge he could have brokered a fantastic deal for a chewing gum pitch, and he let it drop! What brand of gum? Why that brand? When did Francona start? Did it have any impact on the Indians’ recent successes? And what about Naomi Francona’s dental history?

You gotta hope, or at least I gotta hope, that his gum comes with a proper baseball card in every pack.

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AAA is very narrow

The Syracuse Chiefs of the International League are the Triple-A farm club of the Washington Nationals. They are owned by, um, the New York Mets.

That happened last fall:

The New York Mets have reached an agreement to buy the Syracuse Chiefs and make the International League baseball team its top minor league affiliate, according to two sources briefed about the deal. Under terms of the agreement, the Mets will acquire ownership of the Triple-A Chiefs from the Community Baseball Club of Central New York Inc., and continue to play its games at NBT Bank Stadium starting in 2019, the sources said.

The Mets would own and operate the Syracuse Chiefs, the sources said, bringing in the resources necessary to build a franchise that struggled in recent years with its finances. The deal would end almost six decades of community ownership of the Syracuse Chiefs, dating back to 1961, and cut off the team’s nine-year affiliation with the World Series-contending Washington Nationals.

The Mets’ current Triple-A affiliate is the Las Vegas 51s (!) of the Pacific Coast League, which will be getting a new affiliation, a new stadium — and likely a new name — next season.

But that’s not what I came to tell you about. This is:

Brannock came up with the gizmo in a Syracuse shoe store in 1925, when he was a mere lad of twenty-two; the current version dates to 1927.

(Via Peter J. Rudy, who suggests “Shopping Carts” or “Parking Meters” for the Oklahoma City Dodgers.)

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They’re all away games

Ladies and gentlemen, your Caribbean Queens:

Major League Baseball appears to have its first team in the Caribbean — that is, from a legal standpoint.

According to Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald, Miami Marlins co-owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman are claiming the team is a corporate citizen of the British Virgin Islands by virtue of its corporate identity, Marlins Teamco.

The Marlins are claiming British Virgin Islands residency under the Marlins Teamco name in an attempt to avoid a profit-sharing lawsuit that was brought against them and former owner Jeffrey Loria by Miami-Dade County in February.

Loria, some of you may remember, bought the Oklahoma City 89ers in 1989, and sold them after the 1992 season, the year OKC first won the American Association title. There was some noise to the effect that the team was going to Jared; the family of Jared Kushner would purchase the Marlins from Loria. It didn’t happen, but the incorporation in the BVIs just seems like the sort of deal Kushner would have had in place. Meanwhile, the Jeter Marlins have angered fans by trading away most of the team to cut payroll.

(Via the Nightfly.)

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Apparently out of their league

“Play ball!” came the call — it happens every spring — and I figured it was time to dust off the old MLB At Bat app for my tablet. It remembered my Default Team (Los Angeles Dodgers), and my subscription, it said, expires in mid-August, at which time I will have to put up another twenty bucks. What it doesn’t seem to know is today’s date: the app refused to cough up any games since last year’s World Series. (That said, they were happy to stream Game 7 for me.)

Maybe I should say “Fark it” and buy that iPhone I was thinking about. But first, an uninstall/reinstall cycle, just in case.

Update, 5:20 pm: And that did the trick.


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Timmy the Rumble Pony

It would not be unreasonable to believe that Tim Tebow is rising through the minor leagues at a pace which his skills might not quite justify. Noises were made to that effect last summer when Tebow was shipped to the Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets, and I noted at the time:

Sterling Mets stands to make an extra $2 million for the rest of the season. And it means there’s no more upward pressure for a while, since the Mets don’t have an equity interest in their Double-A club, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

At St. Lucie, Tebow hit .231 with 5 home runs and 29 runs batted in; the Mets organization did invite him to spring training, where he did not particularly distinguish himself, but he’s still moving up to Double-A:

Tebow hardly did himself any favors during the major league portion of Spring Training, going 1-18 with 11 strikeouts and a walk. However, it is also fair to note that Tebow’s performance was better than that of Ryan Schimpf, who managed to be hitless during his 35 plate appearances, striking out 19 times.

This promotion is also notable for another reason. The Rumble Ponies ranked dead last in the Eastern League in average attendance, drawing just under 3300 fans per contest. Only four other AA teams fared worse than Binghamton, giving the organization plenty of motivation to find a way to draw fans. With Tebow, those numbers will certainly improve.

Perhaps inexplicably, Tebow will be wearing #83 at Binghamton. Last year’s Ponies, under manager Luis Rojas, finished second in the Eastern League’s Eastern (wut?) Division.

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Designated runner

“What we really need,” said the anonymous baseball executive, “is a new rule so absurd, so egregious, that people will forget how much they hate the designated hitter.”

And it starts in the minors, almost before you know it:

All extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning. So, usually, the guy who made the last out in the previous inning or a pinch runner for that guy. If the placed runner scored, it’s considered an unearned run.

The argument for this, as with so many other gratuitous tweaks and subtweaks, is to speed the game along because it’s Just Too Damn Long. I’m not buying it. There are, of course, people who will defend this sort of thing:

[I]t almost ensures that the first action in extra innings will be a sacrifice bunt to get that runner to third, often followed by an intentional walk to set up a double play, and bunts and intentional walks are dumb and unexciting most of the time. That said, it’s not going to come up so often that it’ll upset me so greatly. And heck, maybe we’ll get some fun out of it.

Of course, they’ve already ruined any drama in the intentional walk by reducing it to a mere signal: not one of those pitches even has to be thrown anymore, making it dumber and even less exciting.

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The Jersey diet

So this came in:

Not quite enough background:

It appears the Yankees organization has taken a stance on the Taylor ham vs. pork roll debate.

The Trenton Thunder, New York’s Class-AA affiliate, announced Wednesday that the team will be called the Trenton Pork Roll on each Friday night throughout the season to commemorate the team’s 25th anniversary. The new promotion begins on Friday, May 18.

Wikipedia explains the controversy in frightening detail. (This is New Jersey we’re talking about here.)

Funniest bit so far comes from the Fark submitter: “Yankees Trenton Class-AA affiliate to change their name to honor former NJ governor Chris Christie.”

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It’s the thought that counts

Gestures like this are not wholly unknown, but they’re uncommon enough to warrant mention and even, occasionally, applause.

And yes, A. J. Hinch and Dave Roberts did embrace like that — exactly like that — at the end of Game Seven.

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Not even a two-peat

The Local Malcontent, as he so often does, notices something I didn’t:

In this 21st century, there has not been any team to win back-to-back World Series, and I find that just extraordinary; eighteen years, eighteen different teams take the crown. Where’s any dynasty?

Dynasty, legendary teams which only get better with the next year’s season — it hasn’t happened in nearly 20 years: Yankees, Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox, White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees, Giants, Cardinals, again the Giants, again the Red Sox, AGAIN the Giants, the Royals, and finally after all these years, the Cubbies last year.

Not that this situation is about to change:

The Astros of Houston have never won a World Series to this point. I hope that their hits and their runs, rain down on the Dodgers nine, as Harvey rained down on Houston in August — that alone will ensure that the 2018 World Series winner will be some other team, as usual.

The Dodgers have won six World Series, though none of them consecutively, and none since 1988.

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