Three opt-ins . . .

Tanka---opting to stay a Yankee . . .

Tanka—opting to stay a Yankee . . .

Opt-out clauses in player contracts often bewilder fans and sometimes wreak havoc, as did Alex Rodriguez when he exercised his during the 2007 World Series. Now they could wreak either benefit or havoc when players don’t exercise them. Consider these who’ve decided to stay put rather than opt out:

* Masahiro Tanaka—The Yankees right hander could have opted out of the final three years of his deal. Instead, he chose not to exercise the option. That takes a top of the line starting pitcher off the winter market. It also gives the Yankees a kind of hometown discount since Tanaka could have commanded more on the open market than the $67 million he’s due on the final three years.

WS Game Two: When a gut runs empty

Collins (in jacket, amidst Wilmer Flores, David Wright, and Travis d'Arnaud) stayed with deGrom's gut just a little too long in Game Two . . .

Collins (in jacket, amidst Wilmer Flores, David Wright, and Travis d’Arnaud) stayed with deGrom’s gut just a little too long in Game Two . . .

Standing by your man and trusting his gut is one of the most admirable qualities a baseball manager can have. Until or unless even his gut runs out of sustenance. When Jacob deGrom’s gut ran out of sustenance in the fifth inning Wednesday night, Terry Collins was caught flatfoot.

The Astros’ surprise ride crashes

Gomez falling as he tries to field Hosmer's quail becomes a metaphor for the Astros' heartbreaking division series fall.

Gomez falling as he tries to field Hosmer’s quail becomes a metaphor for the Astros’ heartbreaking division series fall.

The good news is that the Houston Astros have more than a pleasant future ahead of them. The bad news is that the present now hurts like hell after spending a season surprising just about everyone walking the earth.

“None of us were ready to go home when we came here at one o’clock today,” said Carlos Correa, the splendid rookie who’s already considered the soul of this team. “We were ready to keep playing. Unfortunately, we’ve gotta go home now and be ready for spring training.”

Johnny Royal, no-hit Cole, other trade winds, and Grienke’s streak stopped

Looks like he's Johnny Royal now . . .

Looks like he’s Johnny Royal now . . .

On the day where the big news should be a staggering group of pitchers (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz) and a sneaky-great infielder (Craig Biggio) entering the Hall of Fame, the Reds dealing Johnny Cueto to the Royals, right after Cueto knocked down health concerns with eight shutout innings against the Rockies in a park that normally vaporises pitching, threatens to equal it.

Giant Bats Get Their Freak On

The Freak flies his flag . . .

Did I say it was going to hover well and large over the Cincinnati Reds, when Brandon Phillips ran them out of what should have been a bigger first inning Tuesday, and Scott Rolen got so eager trying to field a short hop he chested the San Francisco Giants into a tenth-inning, life-saving Game Three win?

If I didn’t quite say that, Game Four may compel its saying just yet, with Pablo Sandoval tacking on the exclamation point with his mammoth two-run bomb in the top of the eighth, and Tim Lincecum merely signing off on what may yet prove these Reds’ death sentence.

Of All-Star Follies . . .

The Wright stuff for an All-Star start . . .

So you thought the Cincinnati All-Star ballot box stuffing scandal was scandalous? Try explaining the San Francisco All-Star ballot box stuffing this year. Once you’ve done that, explain to me how and why a guy (Pablo Sandoval) who’s only played in 44 games with decent numbers gets the fan vote to start at third base over the arguable first-half National League most valuable player (David Wright, New York Mets) who’s carried a team with an injury and inconsistency-wracked offence into the thick of the pennant races. Unless you think a 1.013 OPS through this writing indicates a player worse than one with an .848 OPS.