One way or the other, the remarkable journey of Jackie Robinson West Little League was due to end on Sunday. And just like we expected, they ended it with their heads held high, showing fight right until the end.
No, they were not able to overcome the undefeated team from Seoul, South Korea in the Little League World Series finals, falling 8-4 despite a furious sixth inning rally. But they gave a team that had outscored its first four opponents 34-13 everything it could handle and made sure they earned the title of world champions.
South Korea, which won its first LLWS world championship since 1985, took control of the game early, plating a run in the first inning on Jae Yeong Hwang's RBI double and another in the third inning on Hwang's RBI groundout.
Chicago would catch a big break in the third after South Korea was unable to get an out on a possible double play ball. However, with the bases loaded and one out, Seoul was able to bounce back with the gloves, making two really solid plays to escape with only one run allowed.
That would prove to be Chicago's best chance to tie or take the lead.
We live in a world where once something is said or written, it can't be taken back and certainly won't be ignored. And that counts double if it can be held against someone. Just ask rookie manager Matt Williams, who back in April made an unusual promise, stating that if his Washington Nationals went on a 10-game winning streak this season, he would dust off his old Babe Ruth impersonation and perform it before a game.
Well, the Nationals achieved their 10-game winning streak on Thursday, defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 in what was also their fifth walkoff win in six games. But it sounds like Williams doesn't plan on following through on his promise, at least not in the near future.
"It's not appropriate. You talk to folks and you say, 'Sure, we would love to win 10 in a row.' At some point, it will be fun and appropriate, but not right now,"Wed, Aug 274:05 PM PDTWashington at PhiladelphiaPreview Game
Few things are guaranteed in life, and even fewer are guaranteed in baseball, but one thing we can always count on is a rookie receiving the silent treatment following his first career home run.
Honestly, it's almost serves as an official welcome to the big leagues. Sure the guys will interact and play catch. Maybe they'll even sit next to a rookie if no other seat is available, but if he's a position player and he doesn't yet have a home run, have they really completely accepted him?
It's an interesting thought, and it might actually be one that Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Jake Lamb has pondered.Wed, Aug 276:40 PM PDTLA Dodgers at ArizonaPreview Game
If Washington Nationals right-hander Doug Fister was thinking about more than just baseball during his outing on Friday night, it would be perfectly understandable.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Fister took the hill against the San Francisco Giants just two days after undergoing a procedure to remove cancerous skin from the left side of his neck.
The stitches from the procedure were visible as Fister labored through six innings - his shortest outing since July 21 - in the Nationals 10-3 loss to San Francisco. Fister was only on the hook for four of those runs, but took his fourth loss as Washington's 10-game winning streak was snapped.
Both Fister and manager Matt Williams confirmed the procedure when asked about the mark on Fister's neck, but both insisted that it had no baring on his outing.
“I had some skin cancer removed a couple days ago,” Fister said. “It had no effect tonight.”
“I just wasn’t sharp,” Fister said. “I left too many balls over the plate.”
The stars — or maybe we should say clouds — could not have aligned any better for Chicago Cubs fans on Saturday. Right around the time Jackie Robinson West Little League was taking the field in Williamsport to play for the United States championship, the Windy City skies opened up, causing a lengthy delay in the middle of their afternoon game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Oh, don't worry, the Cubs grounds crew had things under control this time around. But the conveniently timed delay did allow fans at home and even fans at Wrigley Field to turn their full attention to the "Pride of Chicago" as mayor Rahm Emmanuel calls them.
In fact, those at Wrigley quickly huddled around the many hundreds of televisions that line the concourse and remained there for the entire championship game.
The most fun watching baseball from Wrigley in some time. #JackieRobinsonWestWed, Aug 274:10 PM PDTChi Cubs at CincinnatiPreview Game
The Kansas City Royals are on a remarkable roll and they aren't slowing down for anybody. With their 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, the Royals have now won 24 of their last 30 games, and have opened up a season-high three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Oh, and don't look now, but they also moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Baltimore Orioles for the No. 2 seed in the American League.
Kansas City hosting a playoff series at Kauffman Stadium? It could happen.
As for Saturday, the Royals rode the right arm of Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed just one run over eight innings. That run actually came on his very first pitch as Shin-Soo Choo greeted him with a home run. After that, Guthrie allowed just four more hits (all singles) and one walk, en route to evening his record at 10-10.
''The first pitch was actually a pretty good pitch,'' manager Ned Yost said. ''It was a fastball that was down. You're trying to get ahead with the first pitch of the game.''
Who are we to argue based on the end result?Wed, Aug 275:10 PM PDTMinnesota at Kansas CityPreview Game
It's possible that one game will be all that separates the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A's when their intense AL West race crosses the finish line on Sept. 28. If that proves to be the case, and the A's end up one stride ahead, then we can honestly say they were separated by just one pitch.
One wild pitch.
To be perfectly honest, it was one very, almost extraordinarily, wild pitch, and it came in the eighth inning of Oakland's 2-1 win on Saturday night.
With the game all tied at one, Oakland scraped together a rally that wasn't exactly pretty, but looks efficient in the boxscore. After Coco Crisp greeted reliever Joe Smith with a single, Craig Gentry attempted and failed to bunt him over to second on the first two strikes, but still ended up getting the job done on a one-hop comebacker to Smith. Josh Donaldson followed with a ground ball to second base, which advanced Crisp to third, and then Smith plunked Derek Norris to put runners at the corners.Wed, Aug 277:05 PM PDTMiami at LA AngelsPreview Game
Earlier this week, the San Francisco Giants filed the first successful protest in MLB since 1986 after the Chicago Cubs grounds crew was unable to cover the field in a timely manner, leading to the game being called off after 4 1/2 innings.
Now, the Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to follow suit, arguing that the umpiring crew in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays incorrectly allowed John Gibbons to challenge a play beyond the time frame specified in the new expanded replay rules. The call in question was not only reviewed, but ultimately overturned, and immediately afterwards Maddon made it known that he was protesting the game.
It's probably a long shot, but it appears Joe Maddon and company have a legitimate gripe.
Here's how it played out.Wed, Aug 274:05 PM PDTTampa Bay at BaltimorePreview Game
With the entire city of Chicago watching proudly, Jackie Robinson West Little League continued its dream run on Saturday, defeating Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas 7-5 in a thrilling United States championship game in Williamsport, Pa.
In doing so, Jackie Robinson avenged its only loss in the LLWS, a 12-3 defeat at the hands of the previously undefeated Las Vegas team on Aug. 17, and will now advance to Sunday's World Championship game against South Korea.
With ace Joshua Houston on the hill, Jackie Robinson fell behind 3-0 in the first inning, but quickly rallied for three of its own in the bottom half. Trey Hondras belted a two-run home run that immediately made it clear it wasn't going down without a fight. He followed with an RBI single in the second inning, giving Chicago its first lead of the afternoon.
With new commissioner Rob Manfred set to take over in January, a few changes in the landscape of Major League Baseball will likely soon follow. Among the first of those could be significant changes to baseball's blackout restrictions that currently affect streaming of games online and on mobile devices.
According to Maury Brown of Forbes, MLB is close to relaxing those restrictions, possibly as soon as the 2015 season, which would be a welcome change for frustrated fans who have been affected. Naturally, though, there will be a few catches involved, as was explained by CEO of MLB Advanced Media Bob Bowman.