Major League Baseball is getting angry at Tom Hicks

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While everyone keeps assuming that the sale of the Texas Rangers to the Greenberg Group is imminent and that no one should be worrying, the fact is that the Friday deadline has come and gone and there’s still no deal.  Could last month’s report of financial difficulties be the problem? Or is it something new? Jon Heyman reports that all isn’t as rosy as everyone wants it to seem, and the problem is Tom Hicks, who is acting as both seller and (minority) buyer in this deal:

But MLB has about had it with Hicks, and top officials say they may
soon take over the sale of the team, which potentially could bring the
other two hopeful buyers back into the picture, those being Houston
businessman Jim Crane, and former agent, and current White Sox executive, Dennis Gilbert, who has appeared to be baseball’s top choice from the start. The sale
price is expected to be $570 million, according to sources. One
impediment to a deal has been Hicks’ insistence upon maintaining
significant power even after collecting the sale proceeds. Greenberg’s
big edge had been that he was willing to allow Hicks to remain as a
board member who’d attend owners meetings.

MLB fronted Hicks millions in order to meet payroll and expenses last summer.  One wonders, based on what Heyman is saying, what kinds of strings were attached to that deal. Could they just step in and make the deal with Greenberg — or call Crane or Gilbert — against Hicks’ wishes?

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).