Can the Angels make history?

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The media has been quick to hand the
Yankees their 40th pennant. Mets fans are already picking which side of
hell they will be rooting for in the World Series. But a dramatic
comeback win on Thursday night was enough to remind you that these
Angels still have some fight left in them. As Game 6 looms, let’s take
a quick look and see if history is on their side.




Since the introduction of seven-game LCS play
in 1985, 30 teams have taken a 3-1 lead. This includes the 2009
Phillies, who defeated the Dodgers in five games to advance to the
World Series, and the 2009 Yankees, who will attempt to close out the
ALCS as Andy Pettitte opposes Joe Saunders in Game 6.




Excluding the Yankees, 23 of the other 29 teams have advanced to the World Series. So, who beat the odds?



1985 Royals: 
The first year of the best-of-seven format, the Royals caught fire
after a shutout by Danny Jackson in Game 5 to surge past the Blue Jays.
Though it wasn’t without controversy, the Royals went on to defeat the
Cardinals in seven games for their only World Series championship.




1986 Red Sox:
The season was rightly marred by the end result, but their comeback
against the Angels was remarkable in its own right. The late Donnie
Moore famously blew a save in Game 5 and the Angels never recovered.
Neither did Moore.




1996 Braves:
Behind lights-out pitching from John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg
Maddux, the Braves outscored the Cardinals 32-1 over the final three
games of the series on their way to becoming the first National League
team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in LCS play.




2003 Marlins:
This series is best — and unfairly — remembered for the Steve Bartman
incident in Game 6, but the Cubs actually had three chances to advance
to the World Series. Kerry Wood came up small in Game 7, allowing seven
runs over 3 2/3 innings as the upstart Marlins dashed Chicago’s hopes
at their first World Series since 1908. The Marlins went on to upset
the heavily-favored Yankees in the World Series.




2004 Red Sox:
The comeback by which all comebacks have become measured. Capped by
Curt Schilling’s “bloody sock” in Game 6 and Johnny Damon’s two homers
in Game 7, the Red Sox became the first ever team to win a series after
being down three games to none. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the
World Series for their first championship since 1918.




2007 Red Sox:
Boston walloped the Indians over the final three games of the series by
a score of 30-5, taking the final two games at Fenway Park. They were a
buzzsaw in the World Series, cruising right past a well-rested Rockies
team for their second World Series title in four seasons.




Of the six teams highlighted above,
only the 1985 Royals, 2003 Marlins and 2004 Red Sox were able to
complete the comeback on the road. With Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia
in their way, the Angels have a heckuva hill to climb, but history
doesn’t preclude it from happening.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

Screenshot 2016-02-09 at 5.07.54 PM
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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.

Bud Selig to teach a class at Arizona State law school

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Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.

Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.

Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.

Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.