Talking baseball while wondering if the Packers are worried yet:
1. Poor Mike Burkhart. Under normal circumstances, few people in baseball have tougher jobs than the guy who runs the tiny, antiquated visiting clubhouse behind the first-base dugout at Wrigley Field. The challenges multiply in September, when teams travel 30-35 players, as opposed to the normal 25, and things have seldom been crazier than right about now.
They could clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win over the Cubs and a Cardinals’ victory over the Nationals, who are in third place in the NL wild-card race, five games behind the Pirates and Reds.
It will be interesting to see how much they celebrate. They should, in my opinion, as they haven’t been to the playoffs since 1992, when the skinny Barry Bonds was still a Pirate. But Clint Hurdle has said all along his goal is to win a division, and the Pirates still have a chance to catch the Cardinals, so maybe the Pirates will go easy on the liquor and smokes. But I wouldn’t count on it.
2. Two days later, it’s still hard to believe the White Sox could blow a 6-0 lead in the ninth inning. That rally against Nate Jones and Addison Reed pretty well sums up what has been a worst-case scenario type season for the Sox, who are a nifty 37-70 since May 26. They interrupt their trip to Detroit and Cleveland to come home for a Monday night makeup against the Blue Jays. The crowd at U.S. Cellular will pretty much be made of friends and family members. Hopefully someone will take the time to give Chris Sale a big hug. The White Sox ace had his shot at a 13-13 season end after Robin Ventura lifted him after 7 2/3 innings and 97 pitches on Saturday. His steal campaign to collect Cy Young votes was badly damaged by his allowing six runs in a Sept. 15 loss to the Indians but he still has one more chance to make an impression, facing James Shields on Friday night, in a start that could potentially be a must-win game for the Royals. I’d be stunned if Sale doesn’t pick up where he left off in Detroit.
3. The Cubs don’t appear too worried about Welington Castillo’s upcoming surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Dale Sveum said Sunday that he hopes the Cubs will re-sign Dioner Navarro to be Castillo’s backup but said he expects Castillo’s playing time to increase next season. He has started 107 of 153 games before leaving Thursday’s game with the injured knee. He’s thrown out 29.5 percent of base-stealers, which ranks 10th among the majors’ regular catchers, and leads catchers with a 2.7 defensive WAR. It will be interesting to see if Navarro agrees to stay put or wants to explore the free-agent market, where he can get more at-bats.