Braden, Bay, decent men putting paid to indecent career endings

No hugs meant more to Dallas Braden than Grandma's---especially on the day he was perfect.

No hugs meant more to Dallas Braden than Grandma’s—especially on the day he was perfect.

Let’s have no more than absolutely necessary about the Alex Rodriguez contretemps. For now, say only that he’s managed to provoke comparisons to the end of the McCarthy era while suing his own union, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, in a filing that includes a rather nasty dig at the late executive director Michael Weiner (Weiner “falsely declar[ed] Mr. Rodriguez’s guilt and stat[ed] he should accept a suspension and resolve the Grievance at issue,” the filing charges) who urged A-Rod to make a deal rather than fight a war he couldn’t win.

The Magicians Can’t Vaporise Verlander

All Verlander, all night long . . .

Even if you knew in your heart of hearts, you could only feel for the Oakland Athletics as they got pushed away from the postseason Thursday night. When Sean Smith pushed a meek grounder to second that Omar Infante fed to a Prince Fielder who must have felt as though it took forever for the final out to reach his mitt.

Whoever said losing hurt worse than winning felt good is probably going to be a grudgingly respected figure by Oakland’s half of the Bay Area.

Two Coasts, Two Game-Winners, Neither Alike, Same Results

What a welcoming party for Ibanez (27) . . .

On opposite coasts, the team that led the majors in extra-inning wins picked the wrong time of the year, and an American League division series, to lose one for the first time Wednesday night. And, the team that led the majors in walkoff wins picked the right time of their series to pick up number fifteen, just a couple of hours later. And they couldn’t have chosen two more opposite ways for each to happen.

About the only thing each one had in common was that the hit that finalised the decisions came on the first pitch of each opposite coast at-bat.

The Tigers Puff the Magic Dragons

Home on a wild pitch to tie, a game-winning sac fly ahead . . .

All of a sudden, the Oakland Athletics don’t necessarily look like the magicians they spent the season and the wild card game proving themselves to be. The Detroit Tigers, all of a sudden, do.

These Tigers—who got to within a hair’s breadth just about of losing the American League Central to the Chicago White Sox—now sit halfway toward an engagement in the American League Championship Series, after spending Games One and Two proving they have a few spells of their own to cast.

Valentine, Like Queeg, Convicted Himself

Valentine’s reign of error is over . . .

This is not to suggest that any known or alleged president of Red Sox Nation should proclaim, “Our long national nightmare is over.” But it is to suggest that the Red Sox and their minions can go to sleep tonight not having to wonder whom Bobby Valentine threw under the proverbial bus this time, if not shooting himself in the proverbial foot yet again over some actual or alleged slight or accusation.

On to Vaudeville Wednesday

The Balfour declaration: We win!

Wednesday is when the regular season could end with a bang for two teams and a wild card settlement for one, after Tuesday ended with a wild card settlement for another team and a surety that Wednesday’s action merely ends the schedule for yet another.

Or: The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees could end up in a dead heat for the American League East; either the Oakland Athletics or the Texas Rangers will end up as the AL West champions; either the A’s or the Rangers will end up with the American League’s second wild card; and, the Los Angeles Dodgers watched what faint hope they had of reaching for the National League’s second wild card die in a center fielder’s glove in Dodger Stadium Tuesday night.

Brandon McCarthy, Scored By a Liner

Especially for a pitcher, keeping your head in the game is not supposed to mean to the point where your head nearly gets taken off.

Oakland Athletics righthander Brandon McCarthy throws Los Angeles Angels hitter Erick Aybar a 91 mph cutter practically down the chute in the top of the fourth Wednesday night. Aybar hits it on the proverbial screws. The ball slams into the right side of McCarthy’s head like a bullet, knocking the righthander down on the mound.

Herb Score and Gil McDougald, call your offices?

A Slip of the Hip Sinking the Yankee Ship?

Make that a slippage to the point where the Baltimore Orioles—yes, those Baltimore Orioles—are one game behind the Empire Emeritus. In the American League East standings. The Orioles helped themselves there Monday by shutting out Toronto, but the Yankees held the door for them falling to Tampa Bay, 4-3, when Robinson Cano faltered in the bottom of the eighth on maybe the key play of the game.

And it’s no ordinary faltering if Cano wasn’t kidding about a barking hip as he went for the play and he, too, goes down on sick leave.

Roberts—Scoring on the turn of Cano’s hip?

Yes, children—minus Strasburg, this Nats rotation DOES have good postseason chances

Let’s try this again.

Assume the Washington Nationals will stick to the script and implement, some time in September, the exclamation point of the Strasburg Plan. Period dot period. Assume, too, that there’ll be enough blue murder screaming over the Nats torpedoing their own postseason chances. Maybe even some conspiracy theorists demanding a formal investigation, perhaps into whether someone isn’t buying the Nats off bigtime to tank. (Would the conspiracy theorists surprise you, really?)

Now, shove all that to one side and look at the Nats’ rotation without Stephen Strasburg.

Zimmermann—Without the Stras, he won’t be leading a rotation of pushovers . . .

Deja Vu, All Over Again—Colon Drydocked For Synthetic Testosterone

Fifty games out for Tortilla Fats . . .

That’ll be a fifty game siddown-and-shaddap against Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Tortilla Fats got bagged for synthetic testosterone, the same actual or alleged performance-enhancing substance for which Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants got nailed last week. Except that nobody yet suspects Colon’s buds tried hoisting a phony Website hawking a phony product their man could say he bought without knowing what was really inside.