The Rundown: Grandpa Rossy Makes Coffee Run, Championship Series Set, MLB Denies Changing Balls

He told loitering reporters that he wouldn’t discuss specifics about his interview or even his candidacy in general, but David Ross seemed downright bubbly in pictures taken during Thursday’s Starbucks run. That’s right, the former catcher headed to the coffee shop around the corner from the Cubs’ offices with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in tow, looking pleased as punch to be there.

Epstein and Hoyer appeared equally upbeat, though that tends to be the case when you’re about to get your hands on a triple, venti, half-sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato instead of drinking from a fire hose. That latter exercise is how Epstein described the managerial interview process, since they’ve got to take in loads of info over a relatively short period of time.

I just hope no one ordered a pumpkin spice latte, since the last thing Tom Ricketts needs to be thinking about is PSLs.

With the first phase of the process now complete, the Cubs have time to take a deep breath and get back to more general planning. Their two remaining known candidates, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Yankees special assistant Carlos Beltrán, are now busy with the ALCS and will be indisposed until as last as October 20. Unless, that is, one of those teams grants permission for an off-day interview.

That seems more likely for Beltrán given his role, but who knows how that’ll all play out. With one of them guaranteed to be in the World Series, you have to think the Cubs would like to find a way to keep things rolling in the meantime.

I’ve still got my money on Rossy, as one Cubs play advised, but I do think the Cubs are content to let things play out for a while.

MLB Squeezes the Juice

Pee may be stored in the balls, but juice no longer is. Homers haven’t been flying out with the same distance or frequency during the postseason as they did during the regular season, which led to a discovery from Rob Arthur that the baseballs’ drag coefficient has skyrocketed. And just like it took them a very long time in the face of very obvious evidence to cop to a change in the balls in the first place, MLB isn’t about to admit that they’ve pulled another switcheroo.

Maury Brown of Forbes reached out to the league office and received the following statement:

“The baseballs used by Major League Baseball are manufactured in batches. Balls that are used in the Postseason are pulled from the same batches as balls used in the regular season. Regular season and Postseason balls are manufactured with the same materials and under the same processes.

“The only difference is the Postseason stamp that is placed on the ball. As has previously been acknowledged, however, the drag of the baseball can vary over different time periods.”

Had we zero context for this, it might have been possible to swallow the dubious explanation. Except that they’ve already lied about the composition of the balls in the first place and the notion that drag would just randomly spike in the postseason despite using a uniform group of baseballs is foolish.

But most damning, at least in my eyes, is the fact that there were already rumors in the gambling community that MLB was going back to the older “non-juiced” ball for the playoffs. The reason given at the time was that it would help to cut the length of games, since a lot of contact that had been resulting in home runs would be dying on the track.

You might point to the Cardinals’ 10-run outburst in the 1st inning of Wednesday’s decisive NLDS tilt, but they did that all without the benefit of a homer. Between elite pitching, a ball with less jump, and the cooler conditions, the games were supposed to follow more of a normal flow. Have they? I have found the postseason quite interesting, though that probably would have been the case anyway.

My bigger concern is that it sure feels like MLB’s relationship with Vegas is promoting anything but the integrity they boasted when it got started last year. Shocker.

Notes from Around League

  • The Nationals and Cardinals square off tonight in St. Louis to open the NLCS, with Miles Mikolas taking on Aníbal Sánchez. Not the Game 1 matchup you’d have predicted.
  • Gerrit Cole struck out 25 Rays, a record for a division series. The Astros and Yankees open on Saturday in Houston with TBD going for both sides.
  • The Phillies fired manager Gabe Kapler Thursday, creating yet another opening for one of the men who doesn’t get the Cubs job. Of course, there are other candidates out there as well.
  • Girardi will be interviewing with the Mets next week, Beltrán is on their list as well.

Cubs Notes

  • Kosuke Fukudome slashed .256/.347/.397 this season in Japan as a 42-year-old.
  • Jon Heyman tweeted that the Cubs are “weighing a couple big job changes — possible reassignments, no firings — on the draft/player development side.” Well, yeah, they already did that with Jason McLeod. Heyman is obviously talking about additional moves, which makes sense if they’re going to bring in new people to lead the hitting and pitching development infrastructure. Those hires will want their own people, which mean shuffling things around.
  • Different social media platforms have their own special flavor, with our comments here offering yet another dimension. Based on fan input I’ve seen Facebook is in favor or Girardi or Ryne Sandberg as manager, with Ross as the bench coach. Twitter skews more to Ross or Espada. Still not sure about this crowd.

They Said It

  • “I don’t know what a lot of people mean.” — David Ross
  • “It’s drinking from a fire hose. So, I don’t think there’s going to be much thought about having to Joe’s footsteps. Except, I think the right manager will ask a lot of questions about what Joe did to make him so successful, and what’s not broken that doesn’t need fixing, and then what areas there are where he can make his own mark and where we can move the ball forward.” — Theo Epstein
  • “Let me get an iced venti PSL, two shots, vanilla” — Jed Hoyer, maybe

Friday Walk Up Song

1979 by Smashing Pumpkins — Really just all about that big, orange gourd.

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