If you haven’t been following what happened to the site Deadspin, you should read this, and follow the links included there. Also, read about how investors who care nothing for and know even less about journalism are destroying on-line sports coverage. And non-sports coverage as well.
Or maybe you just want an entertaining summary of all 81 new Christmas movies coming out this year. My wife and I have been making fun of Hallmark Christmas movies for a while now, but I’d never actually seen one. So I watched a couple and I have to admit, they are a whole lot more fun to ridicule if you’ve actually seen one. But you only need to see one because they’re all exactly the same movie with different titles.
And congratulations to the real dynasty in baseball, the Fresno Grizzlies, whose parent club just won their fifth World Series this past decade. They’ve also got a Triple-A Championship of their own in that span.
Lots and lots of links today.
- Tom Verducci writes that the Nationals World Series title, after starting the season 19-31, was nothing short of a miracle. Plus they came from behind five times to win an elimination game, which has never happened before.
- Zach Kram writes that the “never-quit” Nationals won with a month of spectacular comebacks.
- Sam Miller writes that the Nationals will be remembered as a team that slew four giants. But not the Giants.
- Sami Higgins writes that no matter who you rooted for (except one of the teams that the Nats eliminated, I suppose), the Nationals run to the title was terrific fun and that the team was easy to root for.
- Josh Levin writes that the Astros were inevitable, until the Nationals defied the odds and won anyway. (You almost expect Stephen Strasburg to go “And I am Iron Man” to the Astros’ claims of inevitability.)
- Jeff Passan gets the story of Game 7 (and the seventh inning) from the eyes of the Nats players who lived it.
- Ken Rosenthal looks at how Nationals ace Max Scherzer went from not being able to lift his arm on Sunday to starting Game 7. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- David Schoenfield has a list of the biggest and best moments of the 2019 World Series.
- Gabe Lacques profiles World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and how he became the hero of the Series.
- Mike Oz shows how Howie Kendrick became the Nationals’ other big hero this postseason.
- Clinton Yates writes that Kendrick was both the hero the Nats needed and the one they deserved. It’s a great profile, but I disagree with Yates’ statement that Kendrick was never expected to be a superstar. I suppose that depends on your definition of “superstar,” but when he was in the minors, many people predicted that Kendrick would one day win a batting title, which he never did and never really came close.
- Kendrick’s home run in the seventh inning of Game 7 was among the top 10 plays in baseball history by how much it increased a team’s title chance percentage. It’s slightly ahead of Ben Zobrist’s double. What’s scary is that Rajai Davis’ home run in the 2016 World Series was even more valuable than both of them, even if the Indians didn’t end up winning.
- Zack Kram notes that the Nationals won because they spent money and didn’t worry about the luxury taxes.
- There have been 1,420 best-of-seven series in the history of major North American sports. (MLB, NBA, NHL). The 2019 World Series was the first one in which the road team won all seven games and Rodger Sherman says that challenges everything we know about home-field advantage. Or more likely, it was one incredible fluke. (There was one minor league hockey series in which the road team won all seven games.)
- Claire McNear spent Game 7 with Nationals fans in DC and writes that the win was validation for them.
- Sam Fortier was in the Nats clubhouse and captures the party there.
- Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, who turned 21 during the World Series, had his first beer during the postgame celebration. He says it’s his first beer, anyway. The drinking age in Soto’s native Dominican Republic is 18.
- Since a lot of Nats fans want to talk about former Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Craig Calcaterra talks about Bryce Harper. And the Detroit Pistons for some reason. But Calcaterra writes that while Harper had nothing to do with the Nationals winning this year, it was Harper’s arrival in DC that turned a perennial loser into a winner and that led to the team signing many of the players who do deserve the credit.
- Katie Baker looks at Harper’s place in the “Ewing Theory” (read the article for an explanation) and concludes that while Harper is no hero, he’s not a villain either.
- Michael Baumann writes that the Nationals franchise is a new model for creating sustained success.
- Now that the Nationals have won their first title in Expos/Nationals franchise history, which other franchise will be the next one to win their first World Series?
- Bill Baer looks at the Nats chances of repeating in 2020.
- The Astros have already been listed as the favorite for 2020.
- Now that they’ve lost the World Series, Bradford Doolittle looks at the challenges the Astros face this winter. (ESPN+ sub. req.)
- One of the challenges Doolittle lists is “changing the team culture” and Meg Rowley agrees that developing some human decency should be the first thing the Astros’ front office does this offseason.
- Ben Reiter thinks that the Astros should continue to be contenders for years to come.
- Ben Lindbergh agrees that the Astros should be World Series contenders for the next year or two, but he’s more pessimistic about the team’s long-term prospects.
- One big issue that both of those previous pieces address is the future of starter Gerrit Cole. Cole’s behavior after the game certainly indicated that he’s played his last game for Houston. Cole wore a “Scott Boras” hat after the game and said he doesn’t play for the Astros anymore. He also issued one of those “I thank all the wonderful fans for their support” statements that a player usually says after he’s signed elsewhere.
- Mark Townsend examines one of the biggest stories of the Series: Why didn’t Cole pitch in Game 7?
- Michael Baumann breaks down that fateful seventh inning of Game 7 and concludes that Astros manager A.J. Hinch blew it in that inning.
- Craig Edwards looks back at Game 6 and the interference call on Trea Turner. Craig Edwards explains the rule (complete with gifs) and says it’s a stupid rule that is inconsistently enforced. Also, it almost ruined the World Series.
- Doug Glanville recalls his experiences with this rule and writes that while the umpires got the call right, the rule is really stupid and needs to be changed. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Ratings for the 2019 World Series were the third-lowest ever.
- On the positive side, Game 7 was the most-streamed baseball game ever on Fox. When you add together the TV audience and the streaming audience, it was the most-watched non-NFL sporting event of the year on Fox.
- A Houston-area furniture store owner lost over $11 million betting on the Astros to win the World Series. Of course, it was all a way of hedging against the $20 million he’d have to refund his customers if the Astros won the World Series as part of a promotion.
- Former AL MVP Josh Hamilton was arrested on charges of felony child abuse. Sorry to drop this on you so suddenly like that, but there’s no good way to report that kind of story.
- As expected, the Royals named former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as their new skipper.
- Mark Feinsand has the number one off-season priority for each MLB team.
- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is now a free agent and Mike Petriello notes that players similar to Rendon have generally aged very well, so he’s probably a good bet on a long-term deal.
- Petriello also takes a stab at predicting which upcoming free agents will get qualifying offers and which ones will accept them.
- In collective bargaining talks, MLB proposed a deadline of the end of the winter meetings for teams to sign free agents to multiyear deals. The Players Association rejected the proposal out of hand as it would give teams more leverage to make “take-it-or-leave-it” offers. We are so getting a work stoppage.
- The Rays have formally asked permission to explore playing half their games in Montréal.
- Sad news as former MLB player and longtime broadcaster Ron Fairly has died at age 81.
- And finally (big roar of applause goes up), I’m sure we’ll have a lot more cool Halloween costumes on Monday. But for now, enjoy Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis doing his daily workout in his Batman costume. How does he move in that thing? How does Batman move in that thing?
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. We’ll be one day closer to the opening of Spring Training.