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.

The Snakes prevail at the circus

Archie Bradley sliding into third with his staggering triple . . .

Archie Bradley sliding into third with his staggering triple . . .

People have said “anything can happen” in the postseason to the point where it sometimes becomes meaningless. Until or unless things happen the way they did in Phoenix Wednesday night.

This is one time when a score such as 11-8 tells you something above and beyond a couple of teams taking it to each other. Baseball above and beyond the call of sanity is one way to put what the Diamondbacks and the Rockies did, even if it’s the Diamondbacks moving on to a division series date with the Dodgers.

Let the intrigues begin in earnest . . .

They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:

Rios, who forgot how many outs there were when he caught this Game Four fly . . .

Rios, who forgot how many outs there were when he caught this Game Four fly . . .

The Mets had deGuts to win

Just call him Jacob deGuts . . .

Just call him Jacob deGuts . . .

Squaring off against Clayton Kershaw in Game One, Jacob deGrom plain outpitched the Los Angeles Dodgers’ maestro. Squaring off against Zack Greinke in Game Five Thursday night, deGrom didn’t have his first-game mojo working. So he went to his belly. And it turned out that the slender fellow with the delta wing hair and the infectiously prankish grin had all the belly he needed.

It didn’t hurt that he and his New York Mets had Daniel Murphy on their side, either. That’s why they’re going to the National League Championship Series and the Dodgers are going home early for a third straight year, possibly with their manager’s head in a noose.

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.

Dipoto’s departure: So who’s really running the Angels, and into where?

Jerry Dipoto (right) with Mike Scioscia, before the smiles died between them . . .

Jerry Dipoto (right) with Mike Scioscia, before the smiles died between them . . .

In his 1970s days with the Milwaukee Brewers, George Scott, the big colourful first baseman who’d been a Red Sox favourite, had a chat with the team’s then co-owner Edmund Fitzgerald, about whose team Gordon Lightfoot did not write “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” “If we’re gonna win,” Scott told Fitzgerald, “the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager’s gotta manage better, and the owners gotta own better.”

Roenicke run, but he wasn’t the Brewers’ problem

The manager usually takes the fall, of course, but Roenicke really took the fall he didn't deserve.

The manager usually takes the fall, of course, but Roenicke really took the fall he didn’t deserve.

The Milwaukee Brewers have thrown out the first manager of the season. And while you expect that when a team starts slowly, you also can’t help wondering how often throwing out the manager is the kind of move made by the general manager who should be measured for execution and just might get it yet.

Ron Roenicke, a graduate of the Mike Scioscia school of coaching, wasn’t the garrulous type fellow alum Joe Maddon is, but he is an acute tactician and handler of players. The problem wasn’t Roenicke’s game thinking or personality balancing, the problem was and is the team he was handed from the outset.

The Dodgers’ victory swim

Concerning the Los Angeles Dodger’s pool party to celebrate clinching the National League West in Arizona, a few observations:

1) There was a point during the season when the Dodgers had hit rock bottom, or close enough, while the Diamondbacks were hitting the high notes and the high standings. It isn’t exactly out of the bounds of reason to suggest that, on the assumption that the Dodgers had a resurrection in them, which wasn’t an assumption many were willing to make at that point in time, there could be nothing sweeter than to finish it at the Diamondbacks’ expense. Especially considering . . .

The Brawl Star Game

Super rookie Puig falls by a nose . . .

Super rookie Puig falls by a nose . . .

Jump not to any conclusions that not even a collarbone fracture in an earlier brawl this season sent Zack Greinke the message. Let’s run down how went the Tuesday night fights between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks — featuring a few rounds between several 1980s all-stars now among both teams’ brain trusts — for those who needed a scorecard to establish the, ahem, order of battle: