The hardware chronicles, 2016 continued . . .

Uncontroversial NL MVP Bryant . . .

Uncontroversial NL MVP Bryant . . .

Concerning the rest of Hardware Week, a few sobering observations:

* Kris Bryant, the National League’s MVP, was a no-questions-asked solid pick. And yes, it’s rare that a guy follows a Rookie of the Year campaign with an MVP and a World Series ring. Maybe the¬†least¬†controversial award pick this year was Bryant. But if they’d given the award to one player across the board, Bryant would probably have finished second to Trout. And there’s no shame in that.

A Cub pennant, and a Code Blue World Series

Rizzo raising arms with the pennant-winning double play ball snapped in his mitt: "I'm sleeping with this thing tonight. Are you kidding me?"

Rizzo raising arms with the pennant-winning double play ball snapped in his mitt: “I’m sleeping with this thing tonight. Are you kidding me?”

Apparently, God has a sense of humour, after all. Fathers have been known to use wit to discipline their children, you know. And the Father of fathers sure picked a beauty to teach us a lesson after His foolish American children picked Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton for the White House.

The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time since just after World War II. To play the Cleveland Indians, who haven’t won the World Series since just before the Berlin Airlift.

Seven isn’t Kershaw’s unlucky number anymore (we think) . . .

"The seventh inning? In a postseason game? And I came out of it alive? I'm going to Disneyland!!!!"

“The seventh inning? In a postseason game? And I came out of it alive? I’m going to Disneyland!!!!”

Look, ma—it went to the end of the seventh inning. And Clayton Kershaw wasn’t in flames when the inning ended.

Kershaw needed Game Two. He wasn’t exactly pitching on short rest. If you counted from his Game Four start in the division series, and considered his off-the-chart two outs of closing relief in Game Five—sending the Dodgers to this National League Championship Series in the first place—equivalent to a between-starts bullpen session, he actually pitched NLCS Game Two on regular rest.

The calls of the wild and a wild Dodger ninth

Gonzalez launches the game winner . . .

Gonzalez launches the game winner . . .

You could hear Dodger Stadium groan in the top of the third Monday night. An unearned Giants run that began with a steal and ended with a wild pitch was not supposed to happen when the Dodgers—behind Clayton Kershaw, yet—got crack number four at Madison Bumgarner this season.

You could hear the ballpark groan a little through the howls as the Dodger seventh ended, and Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig had a little debate following the inning-ending out Puig made on a checked-swing infield grounder. A debate apparently provoked by Bumgarner himself.

The Dodgers have the Padres in search of a run

Let's be Puigs about it: two triples in two games on the Padres' dimes . . .

Let’s be Puigs about it: two triples in two games on the Padres’ dimes . . .

Leaving spring training, a fair number of observers wondered whether their early crowd on the disabled list would leave the Dodgers in a wee spot of trouble to open 2016 in earnest. Not to mention how the Dodgers lost their last five spring exhibitions, including an embarrassing Freeway Series sweep in which the Angels outscored them 15-3.

Take my advice and don’t ask the Padres what they think, after opening the season against the Dodgers being shut out twice and destroyed once.

Season on!

Take that, Donaldus Minimus!!

Take that, Donaldus Minimus!!

Let history record that the first run batted in of the 2016 season was delivered by a pitcher. At the plate. A pitcher who’d had only three runs batted in in his entire career (nine seasons) prior to last year, when he drove in seven. And his name wasn’t Madison Bumgarner.

Let history record further that Clayton Kershaw was the beneficiary of the worst Opening Day blowout in major leaguer history a day later. And, that Bryce Harper rocked the best postgame cap around the circuits. So far.

At last it isn’t Kershaw’s elimination

This is a man who finally got through a postseason elimination game's seventh inning without disaster upending him.

This is a man who finally got through a postseason elimination game’s seventh inning without disaster upending him.

Seemingly, anyone who was within reasonable proximity testified that Clayton Kershaw wasn’t just amped up for Tuesday night’s Game Four start against the New York Mets. He was as fully charged as an electric company power station. Perhaps if you touched him you might come away with a shock comparable to that delivered by the electric eel.

Kershaw did everything he could to dismiss talk of any postseason jinx, the seventh inning in particular, before the game. Including that which suggested, with the immediate history’s backing, that on short rest in elimination games Kershaw could be had in due course.

The pitchers’ duel you wanted, and deGrom outduels Kershaw

deGrom put on a show to remember to open an NLDS . . .

deGrom put on a show to remember to open an NLDS . . .

Apparently, a problematic seventh inning in postseason play isn’t restricted to times when Clayton Kershaw faces the St. Louis Cardinals. Send him up against a kid like Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, even to the point of him engaging a pitching duel for the books, and the Los Angeles Dodgers bellwether runs into problems that cost ballgames as well.

These days make a fellow proud to be an Astro

Altuve got to abuse one of his favourite patsies over the weekend . . .

Altuve got to abuse one of his favourite patsies over the weekend . . .

How good does it get for the Astros these days? Good enough, apparently, that a slowly swelling cabal of analysts think they—not the Yankees, not the Blue Jays, not the Royals—are the American League’s team to beat. They didn’t say that about the Astros in their best years in the National League.

Now, the Astros are a team that likes to go out on the town
We like to drink and fight and f@ck till curfew comes around
Then it’s time to make the trek
We’d better be back to buddy’s check
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

It’s Trout’s All-Star Game, everyone else is just along for the ride

Mike Trout launches in the first. And what's with the gold trimmed gear on Buster Posey?

Mike Trout launches in the first. And what’s with the gold trimmed gear on Buster Posey?

What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?

* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.