Zambrano's mother recovered, but everyone's still antsy about Venezuela

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Victor Zambrano’s mother was recovered from kidnappers in Venezuela on Tuesday.  That’s good.  The threat to anyone connected with Major League Baseball, however, remains the same: if they think you can pay a ransom, your family is subject to kidnappers.  That’s bad!  So bad that the Mets are considering asking their catching prospect Josh Thole to return home from his winter league team there.

Whether Thole — a young, not-yet-rich American who presumably has no family in Venezuela — faces the kind of threat that rich, native Venezuelan starts like Zambrano and Yorvit Torrealba do is an open question. I mean, it’s my uneducated guess that these kinds of people don’t want to risk the kind of heat that would come down if they started picking up random U.S. citizens, but who the hell knows? 

What I do know, though, is that if I were running a Major League team I’d (a) do everything I could to persuade my Venezuelan players to relocate their families; and (b) I’d probably not want anyone playing in the Venezuelan winter leagues.  Baseball simply ain’t worth this kind of thing.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.