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Ryan Braun, Yasiel Puig meet in NLCS two years after near trade

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Part of the reason is history. Put any two clubs together on top of 140 years of major league baseball records and you’re going to find a few dozen places where they bumped into each other and walked away from the encounters slightly changed. The Red Sox and Astros are about to play a league championship series that isn’t just Chris Sale vs. Jose Altuve. It recalls Jeff Bagwell vs. Larry Andersen, and young Roger Clemens vs. old Roger Clemens, and, for that matter, 2017 Chris Sale against 2017 Jose Altuve, when Altuve homered three times (twice off Sale) to start the Astros’ championship push. It’s a series between the two teams that the 1986 Mets vanquished. It’s a series between the team that gave up on J.D. Martinez and the team that committed $110 million to him. It’s the Marwin Gonzalez family reunion.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

By contrast, the Brewers and Dodgers have managed, for two guys at the same small party, to stay mostly on separate sides of the room — friends of friends but not exactly friends, nor really enemies. They’ve never faced each other in the postseason. They were in separate leagues until the 1990s, so they haven’t even faced each other that much in the regular season. They’ve never really swung a trade of any importance — the last trade, period, (Vinny Rottino for Jason Vargas) was almost a decade ago. No major star has split his career between the Brewers and the Dodgers: Only two players have hit 50 home runs for each franchise, and neither of the two (Greg Brock and Gary Sheffield) is in either club’s Hall of Legends. No pitcher has won 30 games, or saved more than 10, for both franchises. They’ve never played a marathon game against each other, or — near as I can tell from an incomplete investigation — been in a brawl against each other.9

“We have to concern ourselves with the whole team,” manager Dave Roberts said, making it clear that Puig was an obstacle. General manager Farhan Zaidi, asked to handicap the chances of Puig ever playing for the Dodgers again, declined. “It’s certainly a possibility,” he said — and that was before Puig posted Snapchat stories of himself and his teammates drinking on a party bus, causing an official Dodgers statement expressing “disappointment” in him. They placed him on revocable waivers in August and, only after some debate, recalled him in September, whereupon he had his best month of the season. Still, he was used mostly off the bench in the 2016 postseason.

Braun, by contrast, had largely rehabilitated his career, three full seasons after he was suspended 65 games for violating the league’s drug-prevention program. He had steadily improved each season following the suspension, and his 2016 season — a .305/.365/.538 line, 4.4 WAR, mentioned at the bottom of a couple of MVP ballots — wouldn’t have looked out of place in his normal, pre-suspension aging curve.nike jerseys nfl cheap

He was still booed at Dodger Stadium, where fans might never forgive him for beating out Matt Kemp for the (now-tainted) MVP award in 2011. But where every article in 2014 had referred to him as “disgraced outfielder Ryan Braun,” by 2016 they were back to saying “star outfielder Ryan Braun.” His contract — four years and $76 million remaining — was no longer a burden, though his limited no-trade protection would become full no-trade rights in early 2017.

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