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 gets the best of the Dodgers

Astros behind McCullers Jr. get shutout win in hostile Dodger Stadium

Yordan Alvarez added some big insurance runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Having dropped two of three in San Francisco against the league record-leading Giants over the weekend, the Astros exited an off day on Monday and entered a hostile environment at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game series on Tuesday night. With some timely hits and an excellent start from their starter, Houston would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Dodgers 0

Astros' Record: 65-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2)

Losing Pitcher: Walker Buehler (11-2)

Houston scores first as McCullers Jr. out-duels Buehler

After nearly turning the game's very first pitch around for a home run but instead going foul, Jose Altuve still started the game with a single in the top of the first. A double play would erase him, though, as the game remained scoreless into the top of the third. Martin Maldonado led that inning off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch by Walker Buehler, then scored on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Houston threatened again in the top of the fourth, getting two on with two outs, bringing up Martin Maldonado with an empty base, which the Dodgers would use by intentionally walking him to get to Lance McCullers Jr., who grounded out to strand all three runners. He made up for it on the mound, though, out-dueling Buehler, who finished six innings while allowing a run by getting into the seventh scoreless. He would get two outs into that frame while giving up a single and a walk, leaving two on base for Blake Taylor, who came in to get the third out. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.

Alvarez adds insurance as Astros take the opener in LA

Clinging to the one-run lead in the top of the eighth, Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who demolished a 415-foot two-run homer to add two big insurance runs, extending the lead to 3-0. Kendall Graveman took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and, despite allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter, was able to finish a scoreless inning.

With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, Houston handed the ball to Ryne Stanek to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He would get the job done, earning the save by retiring the Dodgers in order, giving the Astros the win at the dismay of the fans in Los Angeles.

Up Next: This short series's second and final game will begin thirty minutes earlier on Wednesday at 8:40 PM Central. For the Dodgers, they will get the debut of Max Scherzer (8-4, 2.76 ERA), while Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros.

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