Cole Hamels hasn't been a member of the Chicago Cubs for long <a title="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-jackie-robinson-jersey" href="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-jackie-robinson-jersey">http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-jackie-robinson-jersey</a> , but he knows what to say to get their fans on his side.Hamels participated in his first game between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers at Milwaukee's Miller Park on Monday and was quick to notice how many Chicago fans always pack the stands during the games."When you have a majority Cubs fans in the stands, I don't know if that's a rivalry yet," he said, per Tony Andracki of NBC Sports Chicago. "I've been in rivalries. They're not gonna like me for the comment, but you can look at the ticket sales."Hamels wasn't wrong about the sheer number of Cubs fans in attendance Monday, either. When Anthony Rizzo hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning against relief pitcher JoshHader, it sounded like Wrigley Field with the amount of celebration happening in the crowd.The southpaw started the game that Milwaukee ultimately won 4-3 and allowed two runs and five hits in six innings of work. Chicago was in position to win, but the bullpen combination of Carl Edwards Jr. <a title="Kenley Jansen Jersey" href="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-kenley-jansen-jersey">Kenley Jansen Jersey</a> , SteveCishekand Jesse Chavez was unable to preserve the lead in the final two frames.Cubs fans invading opposing teams' parks is nothing new, especially in the National League Central, but Milwaukee is particularly vulnerable since Chicago is typically less than a two-hour drive from the city. Chants of "Let's goCubbies" could be heard throughout the game, as they so often are when the Cubs are on the road as a popular and recently successful team with a national fanbase.Hamels is a veteran who has pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers and has a World Series MVP on his resume. He has been in the league since 2006 and pitched on the biggest stage the game has to offer, so his opinion on what constitutes a rivalry holds some weight.Chicago may have had plenty of fans in attendance, but Milwaukee still earned the win and moved within four games of the division lead. The Cubs hold a 9-5 advantage in 14 head-to-head games this year, but the Brewers have five contests remaining against the division leaders before the end of the season.If they take advantage of those games and come from behind to win the division, Hamels and the rest of the Cubs may finally recognize them as worthy rivals. COOPERSTOWN <a title="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-corey-seager-jersey" href="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-corey-seager-jersey">http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-corey-seager-jersey</a> , N.Y. (AP) — Late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, former managers Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson and Charlie Manuel, and six players headed by Lee Smith are on the 10-man ballot for the baseball Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game Era committee to consider next month.Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Joe Carter also are on the ballot for the 16-man committee, which meets Dec. 9 at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. The committee considers candidates from 1998 to the present <a title="Enrique Hernandez Jersey" href="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-enrique-hernandez-jersey">Enrique Hernandez Jersey</a> , and a candidate needs at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected.Any candidate picked will be inducted July 21 along with any players elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in a vote announced Jan. 22. Mariano Rivera and the late Roy Halladay join a ballot with top returnees Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina.When the Today’s Game Era committee last met two years ago, former baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz were elected. Piniella received seven votes, while Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser, Johnson and Steinbrenner each received fewer than five. Mark McGwire also received fewer than five and was dropped from this year’s ballot.“I believe that committee and the people who have the power of votes, it would be hard pressed not to acknowledge this was a transformative figure in all of sports <a title="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-manny-machado-jersey" href="http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-manny-machado-jersey">http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-manny-machado-jersey</a> , not just baseball,” Yankees general Brian Cashman said in defense of Steinbrenner at the general manager’s meetings in Carlsbad, California. “It’s very political at times … so there’s some powerful people that view it differently, I’m sure.”Smith’s highest voting percentage during 15 years on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot was 50.6 percent in 2012. He received 34.2 percent in his 15th and final appearance in 2017.Baines never received more than 6.1 percent and was dropped after his fifth appearance in 2011 for falling under the 5 percent threshold. Hershiser and Belle were dropped after their second appearances in 2007, and Carter (2004) and Clark (2006) after their first.The Hall has four committees. Modern Baseball (1970-87) meets in December 2019 and Golden Days (1950-69) and Early Baseball (before 1950) in December 2020.The 16 voters this year will be announced later.
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CARACAS <a title="http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-joyce-jersey" href="http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-joyce-jersey">http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-joyce-jersey</a> , Venezuela (AP) — For 10 years, ever since they bonded over baseball at work, Franlet Bencomo and Elbert Albarran haven’t missed an opening day game together.This year, however, they left their kids behind and ate a big breakfast before heading out to watch their beloved Caracas Lions because a hot dog inside the stadium costs more than 10 percent of the roughly $30 each makes a month at their minimum-wage jobs.“Now we have to eat beforehand, watch the game and go straight home” said Bencomo, in line for tickets six hours before the start of Friday’s season opener. “There’s no other way.”Throughout Venezuela, as winter league play gets under way, fans are having to make similar sacrifices to feed their passion for “pelota,” — the word for ball that’s used to describe the national pastime.Hyperinflation has pulverized incomes while putting ticket prices out of reach for many. Others are avoiding the ballpark for fear of getting mugged or because they don’t know how they’ll get home amid a nationwide transportation crisis. In response, more daytime games are being played.Venezuela’s eight professional teams are struggling. For the second straight year, state-run oil company PDVSA had to step in with a $12 million lifeline to pay for everything from imported baseballs to the salaries of the seven foreign-born players — most of them minor league prospects from the U.S. — on each team’s roster.During the offseason, vandals picked through stadiums, stripping bathrooms of metal faucets. Groundskeepers have been battling water shortages in several cities. Meanwhile, ticket prices remain a mystery, with some clubs changing them by the week to keep pace with inflation forecast by the International Monetary Fund to soon reach 10 million percent.In Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second-largest city, the situation is so dire that the Aguilas (Eagles) team canceled its opener and five other home games this month after an inspector hired by Major League Baseball ruled their diamond didn’t meet minimal safety standards. The club said several of its light towers had the copper wiring stolen and the state government, which owns the facility, hasn’t come up with the relatively modest sum of $39 <a title="Glenn Hubbard Jersey" href="http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-glenn-hubbard-jersey">Glenn Hubbard Jersey</a> ,000 needed to repair the lighting. Still, the Eagles will be playing on the road.Venezuela’s once highly competitive winter league has been in decline for years.While many of the 70-plus Venezuelan players on big league rosters return home for a few games each season, most arriving this year, such as Los Angeles Angels pitcher Eduardo Paredes or Detroit infielder Harold Castro, are little known and don’t reflect the nation’s powerhouse talent. Meanwhile, major league organizations have shut down all their academies in the country.Venezuela is scheduled to host the Caribbean Series in February at Barquisimeto, one of the city’s hardest hit by power outages that have roiled much of the country. Last year’s tournament, which brings together the champions of five Caribbean winter leagues, was moved from Barquisimeto to Guadalajara, Mexico, following deadly protests against Venezuela’s socialist government.Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, a former Venezuela league president and prominent opposition leader, said he remembers going to the stadium with his father during the 1960s oil boom and watching future Hall of Famer Earl Weaver manage the Cardinals in Barquisimeto. Pete Rose, after winning rookie of the year honors, and Barry Bonds are among other major leaguers who played in Venezuela during its golden era.“Back then there wasn’t such a big difference between salaries in the major leagues and what Venezuelan teams could pay,” he said.In something of a departure from his normally fierce criticism of President Nicolas Maduro, Aveledo applauds the government’s decision to spend part of its dwindling supply of dollars on baseball — even if he acknowledges that there are more pressing needs.From field crews to ticket scalpers to hot dog vendors, thousands of families depend on baseball to make a living, and Aveledo says the stadiums have long served as a sporting sanctuary where fans of all classes and political backgrounds can set aside their differences and mounting hardships.“It is one of the few things that unites us,” he said. “For the three months the season lasts <a title="Rickey Henderson Jersey" href="http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-rickey-henderson-jersey">Rickey Henderson Jersey</a> , there’s a different vibe in the country.”Indeed, last year stadium attendance rose 5 percent amid the political and economic crisis, although it remains down by a third from a peak in the 2013-2014 season.It’s not just the fans who have to endure sacrifices.Former All-Star shortstop Ozzie Guillen said he was tempted to skip returning home to manage the La Guaira Tiburones (Sharks) for the third straight season.In addition to cross-country bus rides on dangerous roads, players coming from the U.S. run the risk of getting food poisoning at neglected restaurants. And they have to deal with frequent power blackouts, like the one that postponed Monday’s game between the Bravos (Braves) and Magallanes in Valencia.“But I’m not here to cry,” said Guillen, who for the first time since growing up in poverty near Caracas said he has been without running water at his home in a well-to-do district of the capital.Guillen, the first Latino to manage a World Series winner with the 2005 Chicago White Sox, said Venezuelans’ passion for the game shows no sign of fading despite the country’s problems. While ticket and beer prices are rising fast, he insists the ballpark is still the “cheapest bar in all of Venezuela.”“I know things are difficult for the fans,” said Guillen, whose reputation for speaking freely about politics has sometimes gotten him in trouble. “But the game still brings more happiness and joy than sadness.” ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves need to win three straight games against the Los Angeles Dodgers to avoid suffering a ninth consecutive playoff elimination dating to 2001.First, though, the Braves need to worry about scoring a run as the best-of-five National League Division Series moves to SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Sunday night.The Dodgers, trying to make the NL Championship Series for the third consecutive year, won 6-0 and 3-0 in Los Angeles while holding the Braves to nine combined hits and issuing no walks.Article continues below ...The New York Giants in the 1921 World Series are the only other team to be shut out in the first two games of a postseason series.“We’ve just gotta go back home, regroup and win a game,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.It may not get much easier for the Braves in Game 3 as the Dodgers turn to rookie right-hander Walker Buehler as they go for a sweep of the NL East champions.Buehler, who had a 2.03 ERA after the All-Star break, pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings Monday in the NL West tiebreaker against Colorado that gave the Dodgers their sixth straight division title.“Obviously this will be my first playoff game <a title="http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-catfish-hunter-jersey" href="http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-catfish-hunter-jersey">http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-catfish-hunter-jersey</a> , but (Game) 163 has got to be somewhere between a regular game and a playoff game,” said Buehler, who finished with an 8-5 record and 2.62 ERA. “I’m just going with the same game plan, and try and stay under control.”Buehler beat the Braves in his only regular-season start against them as the 24-year-old allowed a run and two hits over 5 1/3 innings at Los Angeles on June 8.Worse yet for the Braves, that was when their offense was one of the best in the NL. That began to change in the second half and took a dive in September.The Braves are batting .145 in the two playoff games and have one extra-base hit, leaving the team with few answers after being completely stymied by Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw.“I can probably move guys around,” said Snitker, who will bat Ender Inciarte second. “The same guys are going to be out there. We are what we are. We’ve just got to hope. I’m not sure moving guys around, giving them different looks in the lineup, when you’re swinging the bats like we are, is even the answer.”Right-hander Kevin Gausman was slated to start Game 3, but Snitker changed his mind Saturday and will go with left-hander Sean Newcomb.Newcomb, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1, had a no-hitter through 8 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in Atlanta on July 29, but had his ups and downs the rest of the season while finishing 12-9 with a 3.90 ERA.The Braves are 10-25 in postseason games since last winning a series in 2001, when they swept Houston in the NLDS. Atlanta hadn’t made the playoffs since 2013, when it lost 3-1 to the Dodgers in the NLDS.The Braves were 1-3 against the Dodgers in Atlanta during the regular season, with Newcomb getting the only win, and 2-5 overall versus Los Angeles.