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Snake Bytes 10/20: Making a Deal With the Devil (Rays)

Deliver us from evil, Tampa Bay. Game one of the World Series is tonight.

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League Championship - Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Seven Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

World Series

[The Washington Post] The Rays’ Randy Arozarena is the breakout star of the MLB playoffs - Once the Tampa Bay Rays made the World Series, just squeezing past the Houston Astros on Saturday, something odd happened in a room off the team’s clubhouse at Petco Park: The Rays ran out of ways to explain Randy Arozarena this October. “I don’t have any words that can describe what he’s done, what he’s meant to us this postseason,” Manager Kevin Cash said of the player who has lifted his team again and again, then again with a two-run shot in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino just shook their heads and laughed a bit. When it comes to Arozarena — the shooting, slugging star of these playoffs — his coaches, teammates and opposing pitchers are brain-twisted and stumped. To date, on the doorstep of the World Series, Arozarena has the rookie record with seven postseason homers and counting. His 11 extra-base hits are a franchise record. He was named the ALCS MVP after bullying the Astros with four homers, a double and nine total hits in 28 at-bats. He’ll be the Los Angeles Dodgers’ biggest problem in a lineup that, to reach this title chance, fought inconsistency and had to scrap.

[] Here’s why Arozarena’s success isn’t a shock - Five of Arozarena’s seven home runs this postseason have come on fastballs, and that should come as little surprise considering what he did in the regular season. Arozarena hit seven homers in 23 regular-season games, all on fastballs, while hitting .316 and slugging .895 in at-bats that ended on heaters. The contact Arozarena made backs that up. He had a .306 expected batting average and .684 expected slugging percentage in at-bats ending on fastballs. Those metrics, which are based on quality of contact, plus strikeouts, indicate that Arozarena’s fastball contact was quite good — and he wasn’t merely getting lucky when hitting them.

[] Kershaw to start WS Gm. 1; Buehler in Gm. 3 - Curtain Klogshaw and Mom Jeans to start games one and three for the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively.

Around the League

[Forbes] Regular Fan Attendance For MLB Will Come With Whimper, Not A Roar - If baseball is lucky, the playoffs will not be a super-spreader event. It’s too soon to tell at this point and would likely not be known until after the World Series has ended. Should some infections spread from the games, it would be not only a PR nightmare but have MLB at the center of potential deaths due to COVID-19. Speaking with several baseball executives, what MLB is doing is feeling out how the return of fans will look like for 2021. With coronavirus cases on the rise and the expectation of a third wave during the fall and winter months, the return of fans will almost assuredly come with a whimper, not a roar with the model of a small percentage of ballpark capacity being allowed and only in states and markets that will allow for it in 2021. As those around the league have said, at some point the league needs to return with fans in the stands. It’s whether it can be done safely and when that is the question. The fans returning during the 2020 NLCS and World Series in Arlington, TX will be part of the measure as to whether the league can pull it off.

[USA Today] Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow on sign-stealing punishment: MLB’s goal was to ‘calm the panic’ - Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow feels he was unfairly targeted as a scapegoat in the sign-stealing scandal that raised questions about the legitimacy of the Astros’ 2017 World Series title and ultimately cost him his job. If he had known about it, Luhnow said, he would have tried to shut down the system in which video technicians stole opposing teams’ signs and relayed them to Astros coaches and players on the field. “It was bad. It shouldn’t have happened. Our team broke the rules. And I’m sure there was some advantage gained from breaking the rules,” he told reporter Vanessa Richardson of Houston’s KPRC television in his first one-on-one interview since he was fired in January. “But, unfortunately, had I known about it, I would have stopped it. Nobody came to me and told me it was going on, and I just didn’t know.”