A Cub shows too much leg

Umpire Winters actually let Maddon make a little case before tossing him, despite the rule calling for automatic ejection for arguing replay/review call overturns, as Maddon did on the illegal Contreras block Saturday.

Umpire Winters actually let Maddon make a little case before tossing him, despite the rule calling for automatic ejection for arguing replay/review call overturns, as Maddon did on the illegal Contreras block Saturday.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t like Chicago’s soda tax. It took a play at the plate in Game One of the National League Championship Series to learn that.

Because Dodger shortstop Charlie Culberson was thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the seventh—no, he wasn’t, after Cubs catcher Willson Contreras blocked the plate before he had left fielder Kyle Schwarber’s throw in his possession.

This time, it doesn’t look encouraging for the Cubs

Flying the W against this year's Dodgers won't be easy for a drained collection of Cubs . . .

Flying the W against this year’s Dodgers won’t be easy for a drained collection of Cubs . . .

Before Cub Country begins salivating over the prospects of the Cubs reaching the World Series for a second straight year—after all, they’re the only one between last year’s combatants to get as far as a League Championship Series this time—a sobering truth must be faced. They’re going into their tango with the Dodgers with one and a half arms tied behind their backs.

The ballad of John Farrell’s execution

John Farrell---executed.

John Farrell—executed.

You can’t fire a third of the team, so it’s believed, so the Red Sox did the next best thing the day after they were shoved to one side by the Astros in a division series. They fired the manager who finally lost his way and control of the Red Sox clubhouse. Even if a lot of it wasn’t his fault.

A lot.

John Farrell was just too convenient a whipping boy for Red Sox Nation. To the point where enough believe he’d have been executed after 2015 if not for his courageous battle against cancer.

The Comedy of Errors tonight . . . on Chiller Theatre

When the original Mets drafted Giants catcher Hobie Landrith to begin the expansion draft that created the team in the first place, manager Casey Stengel explained it by saying, “You have to have a catcher, or else you’ll have a lot of passed balls.”

Scherzer after the top of the fifth, probably wondering, "Was I really there when this happened to us?"

Scherzer after the top of the fifth, probably wondering, “Was I really there when this happened to us?”

I’d pay money to know what the Ol’ Perfesser was thinking while watching Game Five of the National League division series between the Nationals and the Cubs Thursday night, from wherever he was perched in the Elysian Fields of heaven. “Amazin’” might have been his most understated thought.

Sometimes, the best team runs empty at the worst time

New York YankeesAfter the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the 1953 World Series, Duke Snider swore to New York Herald-Tribune writer Roger Kahn, much later to write The Boys of Summer, ”I still say we’re the better team.” The ’53 Dodgers owned the National League but lost the Series to the Yankees in five.

“That’s the hell of it,” Kahn replied. “That’s the rottenest thing in this life, isn’t it? The best team doesn’t always get to win.”

Strasburg breaks the mold and saves the Nats

Strasburg made no one but the Cubs feel sick in Game Four of their NLDS Wednesday . . .

Strasburg made no one but the Cubs feel sick in Game Four of their NLDS Wednesday . . .

Stephen Strasburg long-tossed in the Wrigley Field outfield before Game Four Wednesday afternoon. A couple of wisenheimers in the Cub bullpen wore medical masks over their noses and mouths.

Unavailable Tuesday even before the weather-induced postponement because changing weather caused him to breathe in mold—and feel feverish enough to be pumped full of antibiotics and IV fluids—Strasburg got the last laugh.

And the Nationals may yet get the last laugh with the division series moving back to Washington for Game Five.

Sweeping the Snakes, the Dodgers get a Hall of Famer’s endorsement

The Dodgers sweep the Diamondbacks. Now they wait for their NLCS opponent . . .

The Dodgers sweep the Diamondbacks. Now they wait for their NLCS opponent . . .

Psychologically speaking, when you get Sandy Koufax’s endorsement for a trip to the World Series it’s gilt-edged insurance. Speaking in baseball, alas, the Dodgers’ more than impressive sweep of the Diamondbacks out of their National League division series was just step one.

The Dodgers await the net results of the Nationals-Cubs division series. Which of them proves the Dodgers’ League Championship Series opponent didn’t exactly seem to faze Koufax as he stood outside the Chase Field visitors’ clubhouse while the Dodgers partied heartily enough after Monday’s 3-1 win.

Blowing in the crosswinds

Anthony Rizzo's jam shot floated into the crosswinds and hit the grass eluding three Nats to put the Cubs ahead to stay in Game Three, NLDS . . . will it help send the Nats home early again?

Anthony Rizzo’s jam shot floated into the crosswinds and hit the grass eluding Trea Turner (left), Michael Taylor (center), and Jayson Werth (right) to put the Cubs ahead to stay in Game Three, NLDS . . . will it help send the Nats home early again?

Don’t look now, but the Cubs are one game away from pushing the Nationals out of the postseason in round one. That would be territory both teams are accustomed to seeing, even if last year it was the Dodgers giving the Nats the push and the Cubs moving forward at the Giants’ expense.

Belief isn’t enough, except to the Astros

The Astros celebrate after putting the Red Sox to bed for the season Monday . . .

The Astros celebrate after putting the Red Sox to bed for the season Monday . . .

For a few moments it looked as though Astros manager A.J. Hinch made a big mistake in the bottom of the fifth in Fenway Park Monday. With one out and one on for the Red Sox, he brought in Justin Verlander, his Game One starter and winner—who’d never thrown an inning of relief in his life until now.

Later, in the bottom of the ninth, it looked like Hinch made a mistake asking closer Ken Giles for a six-out save when Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers stepped up to the plate to lead off.

The Bird was the word

This is how you flip the Bird to Andrew Miller when Miller throws a rare errant fastball . . .

This is how you flip the Bird to Andrew Miller when Miller throws a rare errant fastball . . .

Andrew Miller, who’s only human in spite of his reputation, knew the split second Greg Bird swung his bat Sunday that the fastball he threw the Baby Bomber wasn’t long for this world. It wasn’t even long for Yankee Stadium.

Miller had just ended a bases loaded threat when he got Starlin Castro to pop out to the back of the infield an inning earlier. Now, Miller had just thrown Bird a pair of sliders Bird couldn’t have hit with a shovel. And then it came.