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Snake Bytes: 9/29: We’re not in Kansas any more

It took more than a decade of living in the States before I discovered Kansas City is not in Kansas.

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86th Annual Academy Awards - Show Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Team news

[MLB] D-backs' Gregor Blanco has playoff experience - Blanco in particular has seen just how quickly the momentum of a Wild Card Game can swing, and how the outcome can depend on one starting pitcher or one pivotal play. "It's one game that anything can happen," Blanco said. "I think you just have to show up that day and just let everything down and just find a way to actually win the game. It can be a [home run], one passed ball, the way you run the bases. You just have to take anything you can get in that game."

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks thinking through wild-card scenarios - One resource for the organization in preparing for the game is analytics director Mike Fitzgerald, who was a part of three wild-card games during his time in the Pittsburgh Pirates front office. “I think when there are unknowns you tend to steer more toward the conservative because you want to protect the downside,” Hazen said. “But (with Fitzgerald) it wasn’t just once -- they went through it three times. Just listening to how they constructed their roster at times, it’s helpful. It’s helpful hearing how other people with experience with it thought through the process.”

[Fanrag] What flaw will hold Diamondbacks back in playoffs? - It may be strange to say it, given the right-handers in the lineup, but the D-backs have struggled against southpaws this year. In fact, the Snakes have been the worst team against lefties among all playoff-bound or playoff-contending teams in 2017. Their 84 wRC+ facing left-handers is tied for fifth-worst in baseball. How can this be? Martinez and Goldschmidt are beasts, and stand to make the Dodgers’ left-handers nervous. It’s the rest of the squad that’s the problem. Here’s the projected Diamondbacks postseason lineup, left-right batting identity, and production against lefties this season.

[] Greinke faces Kennedy, KC, free on Facebook - Zack Greinke's final start of the regular season will be a dress rehearsal for the postseason when he and the D-backs square off with Ian Kennedy and the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the official MLB Facebook page, and include an exclusive pregame show. Here’s a direct link to the stream.

And, elsewhere...

[Fangraphs] There Is No Obvious NL MVP - This year, the NL MVP really will come down to what kind of secondary numbers a voter looks at in order to split hairs. Maybe most will decide that’s playing for a contender, which would hurt Votto and Stanton’s chances. Maybe it will go towards the guys who were seen as the difference between their team winning and not winning, in which case I’d bet on Goldschmidt slightly edging out Arenado. But while lots of guys can make a case, the reality is that voters can reasonably defend almost any ranking on their 2017 NL MVP ballot. Some guy who is first on one ballot might be sixth on another, and it won’t be worthy of any kind of outrage.

[] Stadium technology turns the game around - Sports fields are becoming the most advanced smartphone environments on Earth. Their goal: Updating arenas to overlay sports and other events with app-driven services that keep fans engaged, boost convenience, and put fans in control of the cameras. Pulling out a win means advanced connectivity skills in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, because 50,000 cheering fans expect always-on Internet service... “The competition is now the couch. The beer is cheaper at home. The bathrooms are right there. The network works,” says John Paul, CEO of VenueNext, whose on-site stadium app is used by more than a dozen pro teams.

[The Star] The bizarre tale of a baseball star beaten to death in the sky over Toronto in 1935 - William Mulqueeney had just beaten a man to death with a fire extinguisher. “Either one man or three of us were going to die; what would you have done?” he asked a Toronto Star reporter. What indeed. Mulqueeney was piloting a chartered four-seater aircraft when the passenger suddenly went berserk, turning on him and his friend, Irwin Davis. They were 2,000 feet up as the altercation escalated into a life-and-death struggle.

Awards season is upon us, and various writers are coming up with their nominees. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated gives NL MVP to Nolan Arenado over Paul Goldschmidt, but it was very close, and he recognizes Torey Lovullo as NL Manager of the Year. Meanwhile, the SnakePit’s favorite ESPN pundit doesn’t even rank Goldschmidt in the top 5 - it appears Leith Kaw could be replaced with a spreadsheet spitting out bWAR and fWAR. Fortunately, he’s not one of the voters for NL MVP this year. Interestingly, he picked Greinke ahead of Kershaw for Cy Young, though both are behind Scherzer.

Oh, yeah: and Giancarlo Stanton hit his 58th and 59th homers of the season. While the Astros are rounding into post-season form nicely, becoming the first team to win four consecutive games by 9+ runs since the 1887 Detroit Wolverines. They need one more win to become the third team with 100 victories this year: it would be the first time we’ve had three in a season since 2003.

[The Onion] Little League Team Spends 18 Minutes Getting Ball Back To Pitcher - Witnesses claim the ordeal began after a pop fly foul ball when 9-year-old outfielder Tyler Mitchell’s throw back to the infield failed to even reach the cut-off man, and whose second throw back after a slow jog up to the ball was then inexplicably picked off by the third baseman. The panicked third baseman then reportedly overthrew the pitcher, prompting calls of “Behind you!”