The week that was

Jim Rodriguez: Some MLB teams have no chance in hell

The Pirates said goodbye to Gerrit Cole (above) and Andrew McCutcheon. Sbnation.com

What do Major League Baseball and World Wrestling Entertainment have in common? For a disturbing number of teams, the entrance music to WWE boss “Mr. McMahon” is a perfect description of the 2018 season: “No Chance in Hell.” 

Clubs like the Marlins and Pirates will be playing out the string as early as Opening Day. 

What must it feel like for a fan in Miami or Pittsburgh to know that your squad has no chance? I’m not talking winning a World Series or the division or squeezing in as the second Wild Card. Shoot, I’m not even talking about finishing above 500.

I thought revenue sharing was suppose to eliminate this kind of purging of a franchise. The luxury tax was installed to prevent the big clubs from spending smaller teams out of contention. Yet, I still see the Yankees trading for the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, Giancarlo Stanton, all the while taking on his quarter billion dollar salary.

Are the big spenders just smarter? Do they have better owners?

Disney recently bought BAMTech, Major League Baseball’s interactive and internet company for 1.58 billion dollars. As a result, each franchise is getting a check for a cool $50 million bucks this season.

The Marlins are using that money plus a scandalous payroll slash, to turn a profit. Not to win. Not to get better. But to make a profit. Another generation in south Florida gets to root for the visiting team at Marlins Park.

The butterfly effect is that players that remain on the team now want out. Christian Yelich’s agent says the relationship between his client and the Marlins is “irretrievably broken.” Whoa.

Josh Harrison said he wants out of Pittsburgh after the club traded their best pitcher, Gerrit Cole, and face of the franchise, Andrew McCutchen. Trying building a fan base on that foundation.

Clubs like the Marlins and Pirates will point to World Series titles in Chicago and Houston as the endgame. Yet for cities like Miami, Tampa, Oakland and now Pittsburgh the World Series is not realistic. It’s a sham. Teams are trying to catch lightning in bottle as opposed to building long term success. That’s like saying your retirement plans are winning the lottery. Good luck with that.

The lasting legacy of former Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, is not winning a World Series. It’s exposing the cold, soul crushing reality of the business of baseball. Loria openly questioned having a $100 million dollar payroll for a fourth place team. So after years and years of mediocrity, Loria sold the franchise for $1.6 billon dollars. His original investment was $30 million dollars.

That’s the real blueprint. That’s what Derek Jeter is trying to do in Miami. 

This is on MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred. This game is hard enough when you’re actually trying to win. It’s a shameful spectacle when you’re not trying to win.

Good luck you guys. Plenty of good seats available.

You can listen to my radio show, The Sports Bosses , weekdays at 10am ET on SBNation Radio. Follow me on Twitter @mediarodriguez

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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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