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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A’s legend Mark McGwire has enjoyed watching power surge in baseball

OAKLAND—Much has been made of the massive home run totals across Major League Baseball this year, with several teams—including the A’s—setting franchise for most homers in a season.

In fact, the league itself set a record earlier this month, with nearly three weeks still remaining in the season.

Former A’s star Mark McGwire, who hit more than a few home runs in his day, weighed in on this year’s power surge across baseball.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a difference (with the baseballs), but I don’t think that’s the only thing. Guys are throwing harder and guys are getting used to hitting velo(city). Guys are getting bigger and the way they’re generating bat speed, the ball’s coming in and when it hits it goes. There are ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:10 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: home run derby, mark mcgwire

Report: Don Mattingly took a pay cut to stay with the Marlins

It was mildly surprising that the Miami Marlins gave Don Mattingly a contract extension. That’s not a negative comment on Mattingly. He’s a fine manager, he has had nothing to work with talent-wise and, all things considered, he has kept the Marlins on an even keel when, thanks to all of the losing, a team in their position might otherwise have a cancerous clubhouse.

No, it was surprising because Mattingly was hired while the team was under previous ownership and had a completely different crew in the front office. Teams often like to have their own man in the dugout at some point and, give that his contract was expiring, it seemed like the Marlins would want to go in a different direction. But nope, he got two more years.

Ken ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:08 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: don mattingly, extensions, marlins, payroll

Recap of retirement gifts Giants’ Bruce Bochy received on farewell tour

SAN FRANCISCO—At some point next week, Giants manager Bruce Bochy will begin the process of packing up his office of 13 years. The hard part is done. Bullwinkle, a gigantic stuffed elk head that hung in his office for most of this decade, is now living in a local bar.

But Bochy still has plenty to pack, especially after a season-long farewell tour. It’s been emotional at times, filled with tributes from longtime friends and touching videos from longtime opponents. It also has been lucrative for a man who loves wine and will officially be off the clock next Monday. 

Perhaps the first sip will come from a bottle Bob Melvin presented during a ceremony in August. Or the one that was left in his office in Atlanta by a visitor who wanted to ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bruce bochy, gifs, retirement tour

LEADING OFF: Yost begins final homestand with Royals

FINAL DAYS

The Kansas City Royals host the Atlanta Braves in their first game since manager Ned Yost announced Monday he plans to retire at the end of the season. The 65-year-old Yost, who has been on a year-to-year contract, is the only manager to lead the Royals to back-to-back World Series, losing to the Giants in seven games in 2014 and beating the Mets in five the following year. Kansas City plays two games against Atlanta before finishing the season with a weekend series at home against Minnesota.

FINAL DAYS II

The Texas Rangers begin their last homestand at their 25-year-old stadium, first known as The Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers are moving across the street into a $1 billion-plus air-conditioned stadium with a retractable ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:43 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ballparks, gerrit cole, kris bryant, ned yost, rangers

Injured Yelich still in the hunt for batting title

The Milwaukee Brewers are charging toward a playoff spot without Christian Yelich.

And even while injured, Yelich is inching closer to a nice individual honor.

Yelich is currently the National League’s batting leader, although he’s out with a fractured kneecap and can only watch as his team chases a postseason berth. The batting race may not be foremost on his mind, but that’s coming down to the wire too — with Yelich’s .329 average holding the lead.

Ketel Marte is also batting .329, but he’s been shut down for the season with back problems. With an additional decimal place, his average of .3286 trails Yelich’s .3292. Washington’s Anthony Rendon went 1 for 3 on Monday night and is at .325.

 

 

QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:40 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: batting, christian yelich

Why Home Runs Will Be More Important Than Ever in October

Back when Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s made an annual habit of departing early from the playoffs, Beane retaliated against the narrative that his teams didn’t put the ball in play enough, didn’t bunt or steal enough or didn’t defend well enough–in short, that they “weren’t built for the postseason.”

Beane, the executive vice president of baseball operations for Oakland, pointed out that in losing four straight Division Series from 2000-03 his team actually struck out less than its opponents in three of them.

“Do you know what wins in the postseason?” he told me. “Hit more home runs than the other team. That’s what wins. Almost nothing has a greater impact.”

Beane is right. Take the 33 postseason games from last ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:34 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: home runs, playoffs

Dynasty Deferred: More Than Just the Cubs’ Playoff Hopes Died This Weekend

The Cubs—and, by extension, the would-be dynasty that looked all but certain upon the final out of the 2016 World Series—are on life support. Undone by consecutive ninth-inning Cardinals comebacks over the weekend, Chicago has dropped six straight games, falling out of NL Central contention and putting its playoff hopes in a perilous place: They now face a four-game deficit for the second wild-card (currently held by the surging Brewers) with just five games to go. If you’d like a dramatic visual representation of what that kind of skid does to your postseason chances, you’re in luck:

....

It’s safe to say, barring a miracle, October won’t feature a trip to Wrigley Field for the first time in five years.

This late September ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:30 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, dynasties, the sky is falling

Video: Mookie Betts makes 305-foot on-the-fly throw to nail Avisaíl García at third base

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts made one of the best throws of the season, making a 305-foot on-the-fly laser-focused throw to Rafael Devers at third base to nail Avisaíl García, attempting to stretch a double into a triple in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ji-Man Choi had doubled ahead of García and scored easily on the ground ball slapped down the right field line, but García couldn’t outrun Betts’ arm.

A demonstration of a cannon arm in action.

 

QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:25 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: arm, fielding, mookie betts, throwing

Diving catches are amazing baseball highlights ... but don’t they hurt? We asked.

Skipping ahead a little….

Or, that the most impressive part of a diving catch is not the catch but the dive and the fact that they do it at all because: Doesn’t that hurt?

“Yes,” said Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward.

“It’s not as bad as you think,” said Yankees center fielder Cameron Maybin. Except that’s not saying much because I think it seems really, really bad.

Think about it: Do you ever land face first on the ground as part of your job? And if you did, wouldn’t that be the end of strenuous physical activity for the day, if not the week? I don’t mean that facetiously or as part of a self-effacing punchline. I’m used to seeing all sorts of athletic feats beyond my personal capabilities on a professional stage. But ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:18 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: catches, fielding, ouch

How Brian Cashman has survived the most volatile job in sports

NEW YORK – Back in July 1987, a teenaged member of the New York Yankees support staff happened to be in the room when Woody Woodward received a call from George Steinbrenner.

About two weeks earlier, Woodward, the Yankees general manager, had carried out The Boss’ order to trade Joe Niekro, the 42-year-old knuckleballer who had just finished his second season as a Yankee. And now, as a starter for the Minnesota Twins, Niekro had baffled the Yankees for seven innings. The Yankees wound up winning the game, but the Boss was fuming.

From the speakerphone on Woodward’s desk, the voice of Steinbrenner blared out loud and clear: “Now, Woody, this is what you’re going to do. You’re going to go down to the clubhouse and you’re ...

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‘How Many MVPs Have to Go Down?’: Scott Boras Is Fed Up With MLB’s Unsafe Bases

The hard, slick bases used by Major League Baseball have taken out another star player, and agent Scott Boras is fed up.

“How many MVPs have to go down?” Boras said Monday after Kris Bryant, one his clients and the 2016 NL MVP, slipped on a wet base Sunday at Wrigley Field and sprained his right ankle, effectively ending his season. In 2017 Bryce Harper, another Boras client, was on his way to his second MVP when he injured a knee by also slipping on a wet base.

“We are in between Collective Bargaining Agreements,” Boras said. “The office of the commissioner has the authority to legislate matters of the game relating to weather … We were put on notice about this issue years ago. Where is the protocol for it? It borders on ...

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QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:03 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: bases, injury, kris bryant, scott boras

Monday, September 23, 2019

Fans Feel The Pain As Indy Ball Continues To Shrink

It wasn’t that long ago when it didn’t seem crazy to think that the biggest four independent leagues (American Association, Atlantic, Can-Am and Frontier) might one day field close to 60 teams.

When the 2020 season begins, the four leagues will be fortunate if they field 40 teams combined.

The Kansas City T-Bones, a long-running stalwart of the American Association, were battling being evicted from their stadium because of more than $700,000 in back rent and utility payments. The Can-Am League’s Ottawa Champions have had their lease cancelled because of more than $400,000 in unpaid rent.

And the Frontier League crowned the River City Rascals as the league champions in a celebration that was also a fond farewell. The Rascals owners ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 23, 2019 at 02:08 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: independent ball

Murray Chass is Not Done Yet

The latest from Murray’s non-blog on the AL MVP race. Here is the preamble to the BBWAA voting instructions sent to every voter as quoted by Chass in his post: “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier. The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:”

TJ Posted: September 23, 2019 at 02:08 PM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: murray chass

Ned Yost, manager of Royals’ 2015 World Series championship team, will retire

Ned Yost, the Royals’ career leader in managerial victories who guided the franchise to the 2015 World Series championship, will retire after the 2019 season ends Sunday.

The Royals announced Yost’s retirement on Monday morning, the day after the team hit the 100-loss mark for the second straight season. He was the first Royals manager to lead the franchise to back-to-back American League pennants and finishes with a 22-9 postseason record.

“With the development of our young players and our returning veterans, I feel and hope the worst is behind us in this rebuilding phase of our organization,” Yost said in a release. “My plan all along was to get us through the rough times then turn it over to a new manager to bring us the ...

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Zach Posted: September 23, 2019 at 01:09 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: ned yost, retirements, royals


Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-23-2019

Pittsburgh Press, September 23, 1919:

It is believed that Sunday’s Superba-Red game established a major record for brevity. The full nine innings were played, including the last half of the ninth, as the Reds were behind and had to finish that inning. The exact time was 55 minutes. The world’s record for brevity in a nine-inning game is 32 minutes, made by the Mobile and Atlanta clubs at Atlanta on September 17, 1910. It was the last game of the season and the players agreed to make it as short as possible, running in and out from their positions at full speed and hustling in every way to save time.

Unless something happened recently and I missed it, the longest inning in baseball history came on May 8, 2004, when the Tigers and Rangers ...

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Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 23, 2019 at 10:10 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Giants’ Madison Bumgarner convinced balls are juiced: ‘No denying it’

Madison Bumgarner isn’t one to mince words, and recently the Giants starting pitcher said what everyone’s been thinking.

The balls are juiced.

“There’s no denying it,” Bumgarner told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t think anybody at this point is denying the ball is different. It’s definitely different, and it’s affecting a lot of the all-time stats.”

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and a simple glance at the home run leaderboard serves to confirm Bumgarner’s suspicion. While New York’s Pete Alonso is the only player thus far to reach the 50-homer plateau, there are another seven players in the forties, and another 47 in the thirties.

Mind you, it’s not so much that he’s wrong, and more that he’s a little late to the ...

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QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 01:04 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs, madison bumgarner

CC Sabathia sheds tears as family reads tributes

CC Sabathia wiped tears with his hands and the top of his size 56 jersey. Honored at Yankee Stadium ahead of his retirement at season’s end, his sentimental side emerged as his wife, mother and children read tributes during a video displayed on the center field scoreboard.

“This is the first time I got emotional,” Sabathia said after the New York Yankees’ regular season home finale Sunday against Toronto.

True to his nature, the 39-year-old left-hander thanked the training and clubhouse staff by name. He watched retirement ceremonies for Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, but this was different.

“It’s kind of surreal,” he said. “To have a day for myself feels weird.”

  ...Read More...

QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:59 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: c.c. sabathia, retirements

LEADING OFF: Wainwright streak, Snell starts, Freeman out

WRIGHT CALL

After completing its first four-game sweep at Wrigley Field since 1921, NL Central-leading St. Louis sends Adam Wainwright to the mound for the opener of a three-game series at Arizona. The 38-year-old Wainwright is 4-0 in September, allowing one earned run in 27 innings. The 6-foot-7 right-hander pitched seven sparkling innings in a 5-1 victory over Max Scherzer and Washington on Wednesday.

The Cardinals lead Milwaukee by three games for the division, and their magic number is one to eliminate the third-place Cubs from NL Central contention after four straight one-run victories against Chicago over the weekend.

Numerous items to ponder here, should you be interested in doing so….

 

QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:56 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: adam wainwright, blake snell, freddie freeman, nationals, streaks

Haves, have-nots: MLB ties mark for 100-win, 100-loss teams

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Baseball’s haves and have-nots sure do have it this year.

The Los Angeles Dodgers gave Major League Baseball its third 100-win team while Kansas City became its fourth 100-loss club Sunday, matching big league records for success and futility.

The Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-4, joining the 102-win New York Yankees and Houston Astros as triple-digit victors. It’s the third consecutive year three teams have reached the century mark. Before this run, there were only three 100-game winners in 1942, 1977, 1998, 2002 and 2003.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the ...

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QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:44 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: going to extremes, winners and losers

For Justin Verlander, 20 wins a special moment

It wasn’t a record-setting day for Justin Verlander, but it was a winning one — a 20th victory, a division championship, a chance to celebrate and to imagine highlights still to come in a remarkable season and career.

Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s 13-5 Astros victory over the Angels, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts, his lowest total in a month. He threw 92 hard-fought pitches against an Angels lineup seemingly determined to delay his inexorable march toward 3,000 career strikeouts.

With 2,994 career K’s, Verlander (20-6) has one more regular-season start to get six more. But the 20-win season — the second in his career and the first since he won 24 games for the Tigers in 2011 — is his. So is ...

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QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:31 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: justin verlander, milestones, wins

Houston Astros clinch third consecutive AL West division title

For the third year in a row, the Houston Astros are champions of the American League West.

George Springer hit three home runs and Justin Verlander picked up his major league-leading 20th win as Houston routed the Los Angeles Angels 13-5 on Sunday to secure the division title. It also helped the Astros keep pace with the New York Yankees in the battle for the best overall record—and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Four races down, four to go, and our questioning turns to Hal Block. Mr. Block?

 

QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:20 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: al west, astros

Brewers move into tie with Nationals for first NL Wild Card

The Brewers, once left for dead after outfielder Christian Yelich suffered a season-ending injury, defeated the Pirates 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. That, paired with the Nationals’ 5-3 loss to the Marlins, moved them into a tie for the first NL Wild Card. The Brewers are 10-2 since Yelich’s injury.

During Sunday’s game, the Brewers brought a combined perfect game bid into the seventh inning. It ended when Gio González allowed a one-out single to Bryan Reynolds. The Brewers’ four runs came on two Eric Thames homers and an Orlando Arcia homer. The Pirates mounted a rally in the eighth inning, scoring three runs, but Josh Hader came in and slammed the door, getting the final four outs.

Is it just me, or, between this and how the ...

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QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:17 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, christian yelich, nationals, nl wild card

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Nelson Cruz hits career homer No. 400 before Twins hold off Royals 12-8

Nelson Cruz is a man of his word.

Twice before the season started, Cruz told team officials he planned to reach 400 home runs this season. The second time came during spring training, when he initiated a conversation with baseball communication director Dustin Morse about ways he could raise funds for charities off reaching 400.

When informed that would require him to hit 40 home runs, the then-38-year-old Cruz nodded and said, “Yes.”

Despite two trips to the injured list because of left wrist problems, Cruz’s actions have backed up his statements. His 40th home run of the season — and 400th of his career — helped the Twins down Kansas City 12-8 on Sunday for their third victory in the four-game series.

A reminder of how ...

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QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 11:48 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: home runs, milestones, nelson cruz

In first, Israel qualifies for Olympic games in baseball

Israel qualified for the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time, with former major leaguer Danny Valencia hitting a three-run homer in an 11-1, eight-inning rout of South Africa on Sunday at Parma, Italy.

The Israeli team beat South Africa a qualifying contest between European and African nations….

There are only six national teams in the Olympic baseball event and Israel is the first to qualify for the contest. Japan, as the host nation, automatically qualifies and the other teams will earn their places during various preliminary competitions.

Team Israel advanced to the Europe/Africa Olympic qualifier after beating France in the European Championship on September 13. Overall, the white and blue crew finished fourth in the ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 22, 2019 at 07:20 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: olympic baseball

Olney: Why nobody might want to be Boston’s GM ($)

Two World Series titles in six years, and two executives—with two very different personalities, operating very differently—both dismissed. These decisions loosely frame the industry perception of the Red Sox as a chaotic company, a miserable place to work. Boston owner John Henry needs to understand this, because it is why some of the people he’d probably love to consider as possible replacements for Dombrowski privately dismiss the idea out of hand.

They saw what happened to Cherington. They saw what happened to Dombrowski.

In fact, a wide-held view in other front offices is that the highly respected and well-liked Red Sox president Sam Kennedy stands as a thin buffer between the team devolving to the level of the Mets, the team ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 22, 2019 at 05:58 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox

How did World Series champions who missed the subsequent postseason respond the year after?

With a loss to the Rays and an Indians win over the Phillies, the Red Sox were officially eliminated from playoff contention in a season following their World Series championship.

Boston has won 4 titles in the last 15 years, a mark no other team has matched in the same time frame. But the last two times the Red Sox have won it all, they failed to make it past September the following season.

After winning the World Series in 2013 with a magical bearded run following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox finished with a 71-91 record, which was good for last place in the AL East. They followed up 2004’s championship with a first-round sweep to the eventual champion White Sox and then fell to the Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS in 2008.

...
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QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:50 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: missing the playoffs, red sox, world series

Braves’ postseason goals grow after another division title

ATLANTA (AP) — One year ago, just winning the NL East was enough for the rebuilding Atlanta Braves.

Now manager Brian Snitiker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos expect more.

Even as players celebrated their second straight division title with beer and bubbly on Friday night, focus shifted.

“Our first goal was to win the East and we did, and I think now that’s not good enough,” Snitker said Saturday. “I think our guys know they’re capable of a lot more than that. The goal now is the big prize. We feel like we have a team that can do that. We are deep enough, strong enough. I think that is a realistic goal, not just to want to get in but to win the whole thing.”

Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz probably would have ...

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QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:39 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, playoffs

Joe West ejects Yankees’ Boone amid clash with rookie ump

NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees manager Aaron Boone clashed Saturday with another rookie umpire, and this time, veteran crew chief Joe West stepped in.

Boone was ejected by West, umpiring at third base, for arguing balls and strikes during a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

New York slugger Giancarlo Stanton struck out looking at three low strikes from rookie T.J. Zeuch for the final out of the first inning. Stanton argued briefly with plate umpire Jeremie Rehak — an injury replacement from Triple-A — before heading back to the dugout.

Boone, meanwhile, shouted profanities from the bench, and West signaled his ejection from across the field. Rehak also booted Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames during the exchange.

So, when two men ...

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QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:21 AM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: aaron boone, ejections, joe west

Cubs are living to regret Craig Kimbrel’s $43 million contract

Over his first nine seasons in Major League Baseball, no moment seemed too big for Craig Kimbrel.

The flame-throwing closer dominated in stints with the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, racking up 333 saves, 868 strikeouts and seven All-Star appearances.

It’s been a different story in 2019.

The now 31-year-old veteran hasn’t just looked human on the hill. He’s looked overwhelmed. As if there were no answers as to why his dominance has disappeared after signing a three-year, $43 million contract with the Chicago Cubs back in May.

Is it just me, or does that title have somewhat unfortunate implications?

 

QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:18 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: contracts, craig kimbrel, cubs

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