Major League Baseball is lying about Jay-Z

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OK, this is really, really, petty in the grand scheme of things, but since Bud Selig hates it when teams announce actual news while the World Series is happening, this will have to tide us over. If you want, you can skip to the bottom to get my World Series prediction.

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were originally slated to perform before tonight’s game.  That has now been pushed back to Game 2 because, according to Major League Baseball, “Staging for the performance could adversely impact the field if it is wet, creating damaged and unsafe playing conditions.” Best to move it to the certain-to-be dry Game 2.

Except there’s another, more compelling reason for Jay-Z to cancel: he’s supposed to be in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio tonight:

Rapper Jay-Z is scheduled to perform with Alicia Keys before Game 1 of the World Series in New York on Wednesday night but is also scheduled to perform at the same time at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Jay-Z’s web site said that he will perform, as scheduled, at the World Series.  The first pitch between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies is scheduled for 7:57 p.m. According to the staff at the Schottenstein Center, Jay-Z is going to perform in Columbus and is skipping the World Series.

My guess:  someone here in Columbus told Jay-Z’s people that they’d sue him for breach of contract if he didn’t show up for tonight’s show and he begged Major League Baseball to let him move his Alicia Keys thing to Game 2.  Whether it was Jay-Z or baseball who, in the first instance, thought that the good people of Columbus would stand idly by while he dissed us for New York is unclear, but as always, the wholesome Midwest triumphs over the forces of east coast decadance and evil.

OK, to make up for that decidedly non-baseball story, I’ll give you my World Series prediction.  Matt has a full writeup here, so I’ll make mine short: Yankees in six. The Phillies are heavily lefty. The Yankees can throw lefties in five of seven games, and they have a bullpen that is particularly tough on lefties as well.  Cliff Lee will be Cliff Lee, but the Phillies rotation will otherwise be no match for the Yankees bats. In fact, if it weren’t for Joe Girardi I’d say it would be the Yankees in five, but I figure old number 27 will over-manage a game away.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to my predictions so far this postseason, you’ll realize that this pick all but guarantees a Phillies victory.  But maybe I know that you know that, and I’m changing things up to mess with you?  Ever thought of that?

No, seriously, the Phillies don’t stand a chance.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.