Dealing the last wild cards, and hearing the last of a lyricist

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants' home audience?

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants’ home audience?

Vin Scully ended his broadcasting career in the home ballpark of the Dodgers’ age-old rivals, receiving an affectionate pre-game visit from Willie Mays, awash in a sea of placards (THANK YOU VIN) and maybe the only known standing ovation ever afforded a Dodger in San Francisco. His final words were as gracious as you might have expected from this excessively modest man who always seemed to believe his gift from God was merely something on loan.

Tuesday night at the races

Sliding home safe with his first major league homer---an inside-the-park job padding a very temporary Braves lead Tuesday . . .

Sliding home safe with his first major league homer—an inside-the-park job padding a very temporary Braves lead Tuesday . . .

How Tuesday ended with one National League club all but eliminated from the postseason, another contender setting some home run records, a third contender showing a couple of vulnerabilities that might prove fateful come postseason time, and a couple of crazy (and heretofore unlikely) American League wild card sharps getting a little crazier . . .

Does landing Melancon number Papelbon’s days as a Nat?

Mr. Melancon goes to Washington, but . . .

Mr. Melancon goes to Washington, but . . .

Maybe the Nats really are looking to open the trap door through which Jonathan Papelbon will fall away. You don’t trade for the other guy’s star closer unless you’ve just about had it with your incumbent, for whatever reason.

Wasn’t that the reason the Nats themselves dealt for Papelbon a year ago Thursday? Because they’d just about had it with Drew Storen despite Storen having what should have become a bounceback for the ages, or at least for the Nats’ ages?

Blues for Vogelsong

Ryan Vogelsong, upon impact . . .

Ryan Vogelsong, upon impact, as caught by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographer . . .

If you’re my age, the first two words into your brain when you saw the pitch sail up and in and catch Ryan Vogelsong flush around the left cheek and eye Monday were Tony Conigliaro. Then, as Vogelsong was carted off the PNC Park field en route Allegheny General Hospital, you said a prayer that the Pirates’ righthander doesn’t face even one degree of what Tony C. faced.

For these Cubs, everything’s Jake

Arrieta lifted the Cubs to the division series, so it was only fair that Rizzo give him a lift to the celebration . . .

Arrieta lifted the Cubs to the division series, so it was only fair that Rizzo give him a lift to the celebration . . .

Maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates finally figured that if you can’t beat Jake Arrieta, throw at him. Any old excuse will do. Even sending him a message about hitting two Pirates in situations where the last thing any pitcher plans is to drill someone. All it got was a bench-clearing brawl in the top of the seventh that did nothing but delay what was, by then, the just-about-inevitable.

The Pirates retaliate the best way, beating the Cubs in a set-opener

Cole, keeping the Cubs in check Friday.

Cole, keeping the Cubs in check Friday.

The Chicago Cubs have been itching for a postseason place all season long. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Pirates, they’ll have to wait at minimum until the San Francisco Giants lose to the Oakland Athletics Friday night, if they lose, before they clinch that place.

Opening the weekend as hosts to the Pirates the Cubs probably knew it wouldn’t be simple. And Gerrit Cole made sure they didn’t forget that knowledge Friday afternoon. Cole went seven against Jon Lester and came out ahead, surrendering one earned run and punching out eight to Lester’s two earned and six punched out.

Great Scott, Houston!

Hometown rental?

Hometown rental?

Unless you’re a Delta Quadrant citizen, you know that the Houston Astros aren’t just a little bit ahead of their rebuilding schedule, they’re so thick in the thick of this year’s pennant races that you could afford to talk about them in such terms as, “What they need most right now is a starting pitcher who belongs in the front end.” And if the Oakland Athletics were willing to part with one, the Astros weren’t leery about dealing for him Thursday.

Ishikawa, from Giant pennant-winning bomber to recovering Pirate

Ishikawa, from Giants glory to gone from the Giants . . .

Ishikawa, from Giants glory to gone from the Giants . . .

How much does it hurt to go from pennant-winning hero to gone in what’ll seem like a blink soon enough? Travis Ishikawa is about to find out the hard way.

He’s going back to the Pirates the same way he left them in the first place last season, a waiver claim. The Giants, his first organisation, picked him off the waiver wire a year ago April and got better than they’d bargained for last October. Now the Pirates have taken him back, after the Giants designated him for assignment Friday.

The Giants give the Pirates the Bum’s rush out

You may not want to address him as Bum these days . . .

You may not want to address him as Bum these days . . .

Sorry to disappoint you. It’s not that Madison Bumgarner’s Wednesday night masterpiece was anything resembling boring, but that masterpiece plus the Giants’ bludgeoning of the Pirates in the National League’s wild card game wasn’t exactly the kind of hair raiser the Royals and the Athletics raised up the night before.

A neglected golden anniversary: the punch that flattened Bo Belinsky

Bo Belinsky, the devilish Angel . . .

Bo Belinsky, the devilish Angel . . .

No, I didn’t think the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose’s banishment from baseball could possibly go unnoticed, unremarked, and unanalysed, either. The notices, remarks, and analyses seem infinite even a day after the actual anniversary.

Some of them are interesting, some of them are boilerplate, and now and then you bump into one that scores the way Rose once scored runs: unequivocal, a shade on the merciless side, a shade on the side of straining to understand, but unapologetic about the proper conclusion that, for all the time that’s passed, Rose hasn’t exactly earned reinstatement to baseball.