THE PALLILOG

MLB owners and players still have one big obstacle to overcome

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I don't think the expression "it's darkest before the dawn" is true, but it better ring true for the negotiations between the owners and players if there is to be any 2020 Major League Baseball season. Both sides are easy to dump on as their talks have gone nowhere this week while the NBA, NHL, MLS, NWSL, EPL, and probably other sets of letters made meaningful progress toward resumption of play. It should be remembered that in stark contrast to the NFL, NBA, and NHL, MLB does not have a salary cap. That adds a crucial and difficult layer to negotiations those other leagues do not have.

Still, if the two sides can't work it out let them all burn in sports hell. The owners made a ridiculous proposal this week asking for absurd salary reductions. We all get that if hoping to win 20 million dollars in a lawsuit you probably sue for 40, but the owners' offer was garbage and designed at least in part to split the players' union. The players' expected counter proposal isn't much better. The owners contend that with no fans in the stands they will lose money every game that is played, so for the players to come back with let's play more games than the 82 the owners suggest and with zero further pay cuts for the players, come on!

There is more nuance to this than generally gets discussed on the radio, or for that matter than most want to hear. In the end, baseball fans don't want to hear about the labor negotiation pains. Show us the baby!

Astros legacy

Not to make an older generation of Astros fans feel old, but…Billy Doran Thursday became eligible to cash Social Security checks. 62 years old for Billy D. The Astros' second basemen heritage is excellent led by Craig BIggio, Jose Altuve, and Joe Morgan so Doran is only the fourth best 2B in franchise history. The Astros' shortstop heritage is shall we say, underwhelming, so if Doran had been a shortstop he'd be the greatest the Astros have had until Carlos Correa came along.

In September of 1982 Doran got the call up to the big leagues at 24 years old. He held down the 2B position until the Astros dealt him to his hometown Cincinnati Reds in late August 1990. In 17 games with the Reds Doran batted .373 with an OPS of a nifty 1.007. Alas, his back gave out. Doran needed surgery and hence didn't play at all in the postseason as the Reds went on to win the World Series.

Doran's 1990 season was excellent and a huge bounce back after he'd looked washed up the season before. Over the last three months of the 1989 season Doran hit .148 in July, .122 in August, and .167 in September. That's three months and more than 200 at bats batting .139. I don't remember the quote exactly but Doran said something along the lines of "I am so bad that guys in bad slumps don't call them slumps anymore they call them Bill Dorans." Self-deprecating humor can be a very positive thing.

Doran was a tough and steady player. Offensively, he was never special but was a very balanced switch-hitter. For his career Doran hit .267 right-handed and .265 left-handed with .373 slugging percentages from each side. Defensively, there are those who saw them all who would argue Doran is the best defensive second baseman the Astros have had. Biggio has four Gold Gloves that suggest otherwise (Altuve one), but hardware doesn't tell everything. Doran had no chance at Gold Gloves because his Astros' career ran concurrently with Ryne Sandberg winning the Gold Glove every season with the Cubs.

NFL rule proposal

The NFL passed on putting in a rule that would have given teams an option of instead of attempting an onside kick when trying for a late game comeback, playing one down as a fourth and 15 from their own 25 yard line. Struck me as gimmicky, but onside kick recovery percentage has dropped sharply since rules changes designed to make them safer. Trying it couldn't have gone any worse than the now-aborted one year rule allowing review of pass interference calls/non-calls.

So, do you reckon the cash available shifts the Texans from their arrogant and lame keep the NRG Stadium roof closed for all Texans games policy? If the Texans can sell 25 percent of their tickets if the roof is kept open vs. zero ticket sales if the roof is closed, gee, what do you think they do?

Buzzer Beaters:

1. How do you think supply vs. demand plays if the Texans are allowed roughly 18-thousand people at open-air home games? 2. No, Pete Rose does not make the cut… 3. Baseball's greatest switch-hitters: Bronze-Eddie Murray Silver-Chipper Jones Gold-Mickey Mantle

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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