The Rundown: MLB Playoffs Begin with Big Cubs Presence, Strong AFL Start for Davis, Overseas Viewers Angry With MLB.TV

The MLB postseason is underway and though the Cubs aren’t playing, the organization had a significant impact on the first slate of games. The joke used to be that the playoff team with the most ex-Cubs had the least chance of advancing, but that’s no longer the case. Three of Friday’s four games included contributions from players who used to call Wrigley Field home.

Guardians 2 Rays 1

Shane Bieber was lights out as Cleveland went up on Tampa Bay yesterday. The former Cy Young Award winner was drafted and developed under the tutelage of “pitching whisperer” Carter Hawkins, now the GM of the Cubs. Bieber held the Rays to three hits in 7.2 innings with eight strikeouts. The Rays are favored to win the three-game set even though the Guardians hold the home-field advantage. Harold Ramírez, who had a tryout with the Cubs earlier this year, was 1-for-3 for Tampa Bay.

Tyler Glasnow will take the mound for the Rays today in an attempt to stave off elimination. Triston McKenzie will start for Cleveland. Glasnow and Bieber are rumored to be on the trade block this winter, and the Cubs could have interest in either or both.

Phillies 6 Cardinals 3

The Phillies torched the Cardinals with a six-run 9th inning that left the home crowd aghast. It was the first time in 94 postseason games that St. Louis, an 11-time World Series champion, had blown a lead of at least two runs going into the final frame. The Cardinals were 74-3 this season when leading after eight innings.

José Quintana kept Philadelphia’s bats in check all afternoon. The ex-Cub, who arrived in a deadline trade with the Pirates, allowed only a single to Matt Vierling and a double to Alec Bohm while pitching into the 6th. Kyle Schwarber was 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly, and Nick Castellanos was 0-for-3 with a walk. David Robertson earned the win in relief.

The backstory to this series is even more fascinating than yesterday’s game and actually affected both NL games yesterday. The Phillies were struggling earlier this year when they dumped ex-Cub catcher and former Cards manager Joe Girardi. Current manager Rob Thomson led Philadelphia to a 65-46 record after a 22-29 start that cost Girardi his job.

Robertson was rumored to be headed to the Mets along with Willson Contreras but was instead traded to the Phillies for Ben Brown, who’s now one of Chicago’s top pitching prospects. Contreras stayed in Chicago, where he held Wrigley Field Farewell Tour 2.0 last week. If he signs a qualifying offer he’ll be on hug watch again all next season.

Padres 7 Mets 1

By all rights, the Mets should have won the AL East. Their refusal to part with prospects for Contreras and Roberston frustrated Jed Hoyer and may have cost New York the division title. Additionally, the Cubs swept the Metropolitans in mid-September, something that didn’t sit well with first baseman Pete Alonso.

“Well, to be honest with you, people look at the Atlanta series and they think that was the determining factor,” Alonso told reporters on Thursday. “But to be honest with you, we got swept by the Cubs like three weeks prior. So if we didn’t get swept, if we had one more game — or if you look at, I don’t know, the 60-some other games where it was close, tough-fought game but we didn’t come through.”

The Mets finished tied with the Braves at 101-60 but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker. That makes their deadline stand-down all the more puzzling.

Yu Darvish earned the Game 1 win with an efficient but brilliant performance. Daniel Vogelbach was 0-for-4 for the Mets, and New York’s trio of catchers (Tomas Nido, James McCann, and Francisco Álvarez) finished 0-for-3. Future Cubs ace Jacob deGrom will try to even the series this evening. Blake Snell, who will be on the block this winter along with Darvish, will attempt to advance San Diego to the Divisional Round.

Mariners 4 Blue Jays 0

Luis Castillo and Andrés Muñoz combined on a shutout, Cal Raleigh hit a two-run homer, and the Mariners won in their first postseason game since 2001. Former Cubs killer Eugenio Suárez had two hits and an RBI. If Seattle clinches this afternoon they’ll head to Houston to face the Astros.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Yesterday’s stunning meltdown in St. Louis is the beginning of the end for the Cardinals. Not just this year, but for 2023, too, when the Cubs reclaim the NL Central. The Cardinals won’t overachieve next year, and up in Milwaukee, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are entering their final, albeit expensive, arbitration years. Look for the Brewers to be rumored sellers this winter and at next year’s deadline. As my Milwaukee friends say, “Thanks, Christian Yelich.”

How About That!

Welcome to elimination day in the Wild Card round of the 2022 playoffs.

The end of the 2022 season resulted in 34 immediate entries into this year’s free-agent pool, including ex-Cubs Jackson Frazier and Sean Newcomb.

MLB attendance increased in 2022 but still lags behind pre-COVID numbers.

Minor League attendance was down significantly, however.

Stephen Vogt had the best retirement party a player can ask for.

Whether or not you believe Aaron Judge is the true home run king, here are 12 baseball records that will probably never be broken.

A culture war between the front office and the position of manager cost Joe Maddon his job with the Angels, just as it did with Mike Shildt when the Cardinals axed him. It’s an emerging trend in baseball.

A last-minute policy change at has left some overseas viewers angry, with many accusing MLB of a cash grab.

A Brooklyn councilman is pitching legislation demanding Major League Baseball ditch its exclusivity agreements with streaming services so fans get access to all local teams’ games on broadcast or cable TV.

Extra Innings

Today’s winners: Rays, Jays, Mets, and Phillies.

Saturday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Sean Holland, who does the bulk of game recaps here at Cubs Insider, also writes previews and recaps over at Bears Insider. His assessment of Sunday’s Bears-Vikings contest offers little to smile about.
  2. A jailed Belarusian activist and a pair of human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine will share this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
  3. This time-lapse video of a bunch of houseplants is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
  4. The post-Covid era is becoming America’s Age of Resignation because nobody wants to work anymore. Somewhere Red Foreman is looking for an ass with which to drive his shoe up into.
  5. Also, that sort of makes Mike Judge something of a prophet.
  6. What do old dudes do to pass the time? If you’re Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi, you grab a scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone. Is Bruce sporting a hairpiece or transplant these days?

They Said It

  • “All you can do is make the most of opportunities and provide the organization and fan base with a belief in us heading in the right direction. And I think our staff and our players did a pretty good job of that. We could have done better this year, but I think that’s always true. And I think overall, we brought it every day and controlled our end of it pretty well — to a point where I do believe that with the addition of some more talent on our team, I think we’re in a place to compete.” – Hoerner

Saturday Walk-Up Song

I’ve framed today’s post sufficiently enough to include a very explicit video. Earmuff the kids and your local televangelists. The song slaps, and the message is a lot more positive than most think.

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