Updated bare-bones no explanation given predictions

Everything I had to say about last night’s check-swing ending was on Twitter last night, so instead I’m updating my bare-bones postseason predictions to reflect who has made the LCS round.

ALCS: Astros over Red Sox in 7

NLCS: Dodgers over Braves in 5

World Series: Dodgers over Astros in 6

World Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Quick Hit: On last night’s Red Sox-Rays game

By now, I think most agree that by the letter of the rulebook, the call involving last night’s ground-rule double is the correct one.

However, by the spirit of the rulebook and the game, it was the wrong one. Why? Because ultimately it rewarded the Red Sox for a bad play.

Obviously there’s nothing that can change that the call last night was wrong, and regardless of what happens it won’t help the Rays, but the rule should be changed.

Dodgers-Giants is better than Yankees-Red Sox

Tonight, for the first time ever officially*, the Dodgers and Giants will meet in the postseason. The only bad thing about that is that it comes in a best-of-five series, instead of best-of-seven.

And it will provide an opportunity to show to a national audience that the greatest rivalry in baseball is not Yankees-Red Sox, but rather Dodgers-Giants.

Why?

For one, it is older. These two franchises have been going at it in the National League since 1890 (and they’d met in the now-considered-an-exhibition proto-World Series in 1889). Benjamin Harrison was president when this rivalry started. At that time, the pitcher stood 50 feet from the batter, not 60 feet and six inches. Brooklyn wasn’t even officially part of New York City yet, but rather a separate entity.

Speaking of Brooklyn, that’s another thing: this is a rivalry so heated it literally spans a continent. Whether representing different parts of New York or different regions of California, the rivalry has been continuous. The locations changed, but the rivalry still remained.

It also has had more changes in fortune. For all the claims of a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, the fact is that for 86 years it was no more a rivalry than it was a competition between a freight-train and hapless pedestrian: the Yankees would win almost every major confrontation. Even in those times where the Yankees were bad or fell to the Red Sox in the pennant race, the Red Sox were never able to do anything to break the image of being the lesser of the two, their days as the true leader of the rivalry (back when the Yankees were known as the Highlanders) a distant often-forgotten memory. While the two have been on more equal ground since the curse was broken, and at times Boston has actually had the upper-hand, it is unlikely that anyone will ever look at the rivalry again any time soon with the idea of the Red Sox as anything other than the underdog- even as their spending habits and success become increasingly like New York’s.

Compare that to Dodgers-Giants, where the “top” team has changed several times. The Giants dominated the early days, the Dodgers ruled the final years in New York City. The two have gone back-and-forth since arriving in California. Although the Dodgers have won more rings in California (and began winning them far earlier than the Giants), it is far harder to declare that the Dodgers will always be the top dog of the two. They have matched up well throughout history. The overall status of the rivalry is 1,269–1,247–17 in favor of the Giants- only a 22-game difference. By comparison, the Yankees currently lead the Red Sox 1,232–1,033–14, for nearly a 200-game lead.

Perhaps the fact there has rarely been a clear favorite of the two has contributed to the fact that there have generally been fewer players who have worn both uniforms for extended periods of time (Jeff Kent comes to mind as one of the few exceptions). Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, and Roger Clemens all had extended time with both sides of the Northeast rivalry. Not so in the California showdown. Juan Marichal‘s stint with the Dodgers late in his career lasted just two games. Duke Snider‘s twilight time with the Giants only lasted 91 games in one season. Jackie Robinson, it is sometimes said, retired rather than play for the Giants. Ask about how Roger Clemens did in a Yankees-Red Sox game, and you need to ask what year it was. In Dodgers-Giants, it isn’t as needed.

It is also, admittedly, a far more ugly rivalry. While of course this is a bad thing, it does speak to how intense the rivalry is and has been. For all the talk of the intensity in the Boston-New York rivalry, the honest truth is that it is surprisingly civil and tongue-in-cheek, even among many fans. While there certainly have been ugly moments among both fans and participants, they pale in comparison to that of Dodgers-Giants. If you go to Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park in the opposing team’s jersey, may end up getting cussed at, insulted, and possibly have a beer poured upon you. If you do that in San Francisco or Los Angeles, and there is a legitimate chance you will be physically assaulted (still very, very, small, but far greater than probably any other rivalry this side of European soccer hooligans). I am not making this up when I say that the Dodgers-Giants rivalry can be connected to at least two homicides as well as a few assaults, including one that left a man in a medically-induced coma for months. Pedro Martinez once threw Don Zimmer to the ground, but Juan Marichal once went at Johnny Roseboro with a bat. It was a horrific incident that left Roseboro needing 14 stitches and Marichal’s reputation in the gutter for decades, to the point where Roseboro himself had to appeal to writers to get Marichal into the Hall of Fame. If such a thing were to happen in Yankees-Red Sox, it would be impossible to find out anything else about baseball since it would be the only thing talked about the rest of the year.

Which leads to perhaps the number one reason why Dodgers-Giants is better than Yankees-Red Sox: it hasn’t been done to death by the national media. ESPN, MLB Network and other outlets go all-in on Yanks-Sawx, to the point where even those interested grow sick of it. Not so the California rivalry. It is the often-forgotten gem of the three biggest rivalries in baseball (the other one of the big three is, of course, Cubs-Cardinals). Perhaps it is because of East Coast Bias, or perhaps it is because they haven’t faced each other in the playoffs until now. Regardless, starting on Friday night the secret will be out: Dodgers-Giants is the superior baseball rivalry.

*(I say officially because the 1951 tiebreaker series that ended with Bobby Thomson‘s famed home run was technically regular season, the equivalent of a Game 163 in modern times. In addition, they met in some pre-modern World Series that are generally not recognized by MLB.)

What the world was like when Wainwright and Molina first teamed up

On Sept. 23, 2005, the world was a different place. George W. Bush was president, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers were cellar dwellers, and, perhaps most baffling of all, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina had never thrown to each other in a Major League Baseball game.

That would change that night, however, as Wainwright made his second career appearance. His first had come in a game where Molina had already been pulled. In the bottom of the 7th, with the Brewers leading the Cardinals 9-6 at Miller Park, Wainwright came in and put down the Brewers 1-2-3: Chad Moeller by flyball, Jeff Cirillo by pop-out, and Brady Clark with a flyball to center.

And Wainwright has seemingly been pitching to Yadier Molina ever since. They’ve had over 300 starts as a battery since Wainwright became a full-time starter in 2007. They’ll start again tonight in the Wild Card Game against the Dodgers. They’ll likely continue to serve as a battery next year, and presumably for however long the two of them stay with the Cardinals.

So how else was the world different back when Wainwright first threw to Molina? Here’s a sampling:

  • That weekend (Sept. 23-25), the number one movie would be Flightplan starring Jodie Foster.
  • The top song was “Gold Digger” by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx.
  • The Washington Nationals were in their first season since moving from Montreal.
  • Los Angeles’ pitcher tonight, Max Scherzer, was playing for the University of Missouri.
  • The Dodgers’ manager, Dave Roberts, was still an active ballplayer.
  • The City of Chicago had not seen a World Series title since 1917 (the White Sox would win it a month later).
  • Daniel Craig had not yet debuted as James Bond.
  • Tobey Maguire was still Spider-Man.
  • The Nintendo Wii was still a year away from release.
  • John Roberts was not yet confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • Most of the child cast of Stranger Things were not even in grade school yet. One of them, Priah Ferguson (who plays Lucas’ little sister Erica), hadn’t even been born.
  • Saturday Night Live had yet to have a broadcast in High Definition. The Colbert Report was just under a month from debuting. The West Wing, Alias, Malcom in the Middle, and That ’70s Show were all still on the air.

And finally…

  • Every other member of the Cardinals’ Wild Card roster had not played a game of professional baseball. And on the Dodgers only Albert Pujols had. And on Sept. 23, 2005 he was… at first base for the Cardinals as Wainwright threw to Molina!

Two neat links and a look at what is ahead

We start today with two neat links, both about diamonds. One from the present, one from the past.

The first is this article from Emma Baccelieri on the Long Time, a sandlot ballfield and performance venue in Austin with idiosyncratic rules and a deep love of the game. Home of the amateur adult-league Texas Playboys (which includes the architect of the field), the games held there raise money for local causes. A fascinating read about something I’d never heard about until today.

The other is an article at Atlas Obscura by Jonathan Goldman about the Dyckman Oval, a venue in northern Manhattan which was the center of Black Baseball in New York City until its late 1930s. Now covered by housing, playgrounds, and community center basketball courts, it’s a forgotten part of New York City’s baseball and Black history, without even a historical marker to indicate that it was once a stadium that often had people like Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Fats Waller sitting in the stands. Hopefully something is done to change that.

Moving on now to what you can expect in the coming days and weeks:

  • Tomorrow, there will be a tradition unlike any other; My bare-bones no-explanations-given postseason predictions.
  • Reactions to the postseason.
  • An incredibly stupid thing about mascots, which is to say it’ll be amazing.
  • Ruminations on the ultimate baseball trip that I’d have if I had several million dollars and/or a bunch of sponsors.
  • Possibly finally the first “Glick on Gaming” segment.

Thank you coming to the Baseball Continuum, see you again soon!

How to forfeit a game

Last night, the Rochester Red Wings were shellacked by the Buffalo Bisons, 20-3. As the game dragged on in its last innings and the Red Wings turned to a position player to pitch, Wings’ announcer Josh Whetzel wondered if maybe baseball should have a mercy rule or maybe a way to forfeit when things get too ugly.

Well, there is one way to forfeit. Sort of.

Take a look at the MLB rulebook. Now, head down to pages 85 and 86, the part on unsportsmanlike conduct. Make note of rule 6.04(a)(4), which says that no one can “Make intentional contact with the umpire in any manner.”

You’ve doubtless seen this rule in action before: a manager or player is arguing with an umpire after a bad call, and touches them. They are then usually immediately ejected.

So, in theory, you could have your players line up in a row and start touching the umpire until enough players are ejected that there aren’t enough to continue, thus ending the game.

Of course, there are other easier ways to forfeit (see rule 7.03). You can just refuse to come out and continue playing, for example. Or you could continually break rules. Or the thing that, if properly enforced, would probably lead to a wave of forfeits, rule 7.03(a)(2):

Employs tactics palpably designed to delay or shorten the
game;

Yeah, like that will ever be enforced…

Baseball should give the Hall of Fame induction its space

Yesterday, the Baseball Hall of Fame had its inductions. Due to COVID protocols and the oft-delayed nature of the ceremony because of the pandemic, it happened in the middle of a weekday, with few games going on.

And that, to be honest, is how it should usually be. Well, not the weekday part, and certainly not the pandemic-related stuff. The bit where it is goes on with few if any games going on, though? That needs to happen from now on.

Baseball, alone among the major sports, is unique in that it has its inductions usually happen while meaningful games are also happening. It is often on a Sunday, when most of the league is playing.

While this is perhaps unavoidable due to the fact that baseball is a summer sport and thus would have to vastly change its induction ceremonies to hold it during the offseason (presumably using some sort of indoor venue with far less capacity), it is an odd look for a sport that holds its history so dear. It also isn’t very fan-friendly, leaving fans to have to choose whether to watch their favorite team play or see the greats get inducted.

That has to change.

Now, it should be noted that any such change would have to be done by agreement between MLB and the HOF. Despite popular belief, the two are separate from each other- MLB doesn’t run the HOF, although it certainly does have some influence and provides some funding, board members, etc. Still, such an agreement can likely be made.

In general, Sundays are day games for MLB teams, with the exception of the two that are selected for the ESPN game. But why not, for one day every year, have everyone play Sunday night? To make it up to the players, perhaps the Monday after can be an off-day or at least have a drastically smaller schedule (perhaps only featuring matchups of teams that didn’t have to travel far). Agreements, of course, would have to be made with ESPN and other rights holders, but during the middle of summer (which is normally when HOF inductions happen, as opposed to the strange September date this year) sports networks have more flexibility.

Alternately, they could have it be on Saturday, when more games are held at night anyway so only a few would have to be moved. But then again, having the inductions on Saturday wouldn’t make it much of a weekend.

Regardless, something should be done to give the inductions more of a spotlight. It’s what the Hall of Fame deserves, it’s what the inductees deserve, and it’s what baseball deserves.

Possible international sites for MLB games

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Previously, I discussed some possible neutral-field games in the USA or Canada. Today, it’s time to look beyond the borders and muse about possible neutral-field games internationally going forward.

Go below the jump for more.

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A few neat links

So, I’ve been slacking with updates this past week due to “real world concerns”. So to make up for it, here are three neat links:

First off, there’s Clem’s Baseball. It has a giant array of diagrams showing how ballparks have changed over the years, including how they’ve adapted for other sports like football.

Want to stay up to date on Japanese baseball? Jim Allen has been in Japan for decades and once worked the sports desk of Japan’s biggest English-language paper. Now, he writes about Nippon Pro Baseball on his blog.

Going back to ballparks to wrap it up: Stadium Page. This is, not surprisingly, a webpage about baseball stadiums, but the real treat comes in its page of “Unrealized Concepts” such as the Brooklyn Dodger Dome and the thankfully-abandoned plan to demolish most of Fenway Park and replace it with a new stadium.

And there you go- three neat links. Here’s hoping it won’t take me almost a week for my next post.

After the Field of Dreams game, other possible locations for neutral-field games

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

After last night’s amazing game at the Field of Dreams, it’s no surprise that people are already clamoring for another one (which they will get). But why stop there? After Iowa and previous games in places like Fort Bragg, Omaha and London, England, as well as the yearly game in Williamsport, why not expand the horizons even more?

Go below the jump for some ideas I have for future games outside of MLB stadiums.

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