Takeaways from MLB Week 26

Seth Gruen@SethGruenFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2016

Takeaways from MLB Week 26

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    The death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez shook the baseball world. It stopped, memorialized one of its great young talents and mourned.

    With difficulty, the sport tried to move on, holding onto the memory of the charisma and joy that Fernandez brought to the game while soldiering on to the end of the 2016 regular season.

    But nothing was more touching or memorable than what the Marlins did to honor their teammate.

Jose Fernandez Tragically Dies

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    Tragedy struck the sport and its fans when Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, died early Sunday morning in a boating accident.

    Fernandez was arguably the game’s most promising pitcher, posting a 2.86 ERA through 29 starts this season and earning his second selection to the NL All-Star team.

    The Marlins honored Fernandez with a pregame prayer, and each Miami player donned his No. 16 jersey on Monday. Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, visibly emotional, took the first pitch in the right-handed side of the batter's box in honor of Fernandez then hit a home run to lead off the game for Miami.

    The Miami Dolphins also honored Fernandez in their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night. Each Dolphins helmet had a sticker affixed to it that read "JF" with his number below.

    Fernandez was expecting a daughter. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported on Friday that attempts were being made to establish a trust for the unborn girl. The report detailed that several Marlins players have stepped forward indicating they would like to contribute to the trust.

Vin Scully Calls Final Game at Dodger Stadium

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    There is no other voice in professional sports more associated with one team than Vin Scully's is to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He began broadcasting the team’s games in 1950 when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn and he continued to do so when the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

    Scully was more a part of the baseball soundscape than any other announcer for more than half a century. On Monday he called his final Dodger home game. Scully’s final game as an announcer will come during the regular-season finale on Sunday.

    It’s possible that Scully will go down as the best single-team announcer in sports history.

    He became best known for his uncanny storytelling ability. Scully seemed to have a story about every player that ever passed through Dodger Stadium. As he got older, his stories only got better as his collection grew.

    Perhaps most impressively, Scully called every game by himself. For that reason alone there’s unlikely to be another announcer like him.

Cardinals Earn Controversial Walk-off Win

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    Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    On Thursday night the St. Louis Cardinals walked off with a 4-3 win in the bottom of the ninth inning over the Cincinnati Reds courtesy of an RBI double by catcher Yadier Molina—a play that probably left the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, in a wild-card race with St. Louis, screaming at the television.

    With Matt Carpenter on first, Molina hit a ball that bounced in the outfield, appearing to hit an electronic advertising board which sits beyond the fence at Busch Stadium, then back into play. Replays showed that it should have been ruled a ground-rule double.

    Instead umpires ruled that the ball was still in play, allowing Carpenter to advance home, scoring the game-winning run. Had it been a ground-rule double, Carpenter would have only been allowed to advance to third base.

    Reds manager Bryan Price did not immediately challenge the play. The umpires had left the field and the game ruled over. Price then wanted to challenge the play but wasn’t permitted to do so because the game had technically concluded.

    The situation exposed a hole in baseball’s replay rule that is assured to be discussed in the offseason. It was a bizarre circumstance that could end up having playoff implications.

Potential Friction Emerging Inside Cubs Clubhouse

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    In the weeks since the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central, manager Joe Maddon has made it clear that he would like to use the rest of the season as somewhat of a "spring training" in preparing his team for the playoffs.

    During an 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, Maddon pulled catcher Miguel Montero after four innings and replaced him with Willson Contreras.

    Maddon surely wanted Contreras to get experience catching starting pitcher Jake Arrieta in case the situation arose during the playoffs. But Arrieta, who gave up seven runs Wednesday and has had a dismal second half of the season, was not pleased with the move.

    "It felt like a spring training game from the get go," said Arrieta, per ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "Wasn't crisp, didn't have much working tonight. That's about it.

    "The feeling in the game from the first pitch just wasn't there. Switching catchers just felt like we were trying to do a little too much instead of win a ballgame.”

    Maddon said the team was aware the change would be made, per Rogers. But Arrieta said that he was unaware such a move would take place.

Mets Will Host NL Wild Card Showdown

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    By virtue of their 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, the New York Mets earned a spot in the NL Wild Card Round.

    The Mets will also play that game at home; they will host either St. Louis or San Francisco in Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game. 

    Center fielder Curtis Granderson scored two runs and went 3-for-4 and James Loney added a two-run home run. Their bats will be key to any potential success New York has this postseason. All year, the Mets offense has struggled.

    What might be most impressive about the Mets' 2016 campaign is that the team is headed to the postseason despite season-ending injuries to four of their five starting pitchers.

    New York’s starting rotation was once among MLB’s best and its greatest strength. But along the way it lost Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler to injury.

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