Thank goodness Dwight Howard was finally traded. We can all rest.
- MLB's newly-revamped playoff format has been released, and the added Wild Card round will be played on Oct. 5, with both games airing on TBS. That will come just two days after the regular season ends, so there will be one day in between to hash out ties. Two of the Division Series (best of five) will begin on Oct. 6, with the other two beginning a day later. The Division Series will wrap up by Oct. 12. TBS gets up to 18 of the possible 20 games, with MLB Network getting the other two. The American League Championship Series will start on Saturday, Oct. 13, with a potential Game 7 eight days later on Oct. 21. The National League Championship Series starts, and potentially ends, a day later on each end. The ALCS airs on TBS, and the NLCS airs on Fox. The World Series, on Fox, begins on Wednesday, Oct. 24, and could end in a Game 7 on Nov. 1.
- Speaking of that playoff schedule, Al wonders what happens if there's a three-way tie in the Wild Card (with only one off-day between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, you can see the problem), and it doesn't sound like, at present, MLB has a great answer, other than to cross its fingers and hope that doesn't happen.
- 20-year-old super prospect Manny Machado made his debut for the Orioles last night - something of a surprise to the baseball world - and he managed a single and a triple on the night. The natural shortstop played third base, and the Orioles are making it pretty clear that they're all in for the stretch run. Not a bad idea, given their recent, long run of failure - but might it not have been a good idea to pick up an extra piece or two at the deadline?
- Jay Jaffe looks at the Pirates' incredible run of offense since the start of June, and their corresponding surge in the standings. Andrew McCutchen's explosion has certainly helped.
- The Cleveland Indians have been in a spiral downward ever since they realized that you can't keep winning games with a strongly negative run differential. Earlier this year, they took a chance on Johnny Damon, but that chance is now over - the Indians have released the veteran. His .610 OPS simply wasn't cutting it.
- FanGraphs explains why Prince Fielder is now a hitter with power, rather than a power hitter.