The World Anti-Doping Agency can get bent

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WADA logo.jpgThe World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a statement yesterday, once again taking baseball to task for its PED policies.  They do this every year, and as it always is, this year’s statement is stupid and self-serving and deceptive.  I don’t consider myself a PED apologist, but given my thoughts and writings on the subject I understand why I get called that all the time. I thus understand that a lot of you may not grant me much credibility if I were to sit here and rip WADA the way they deserve to be ripped.

But Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan is absolutely no PED apologist (he and I have had multiple friendly disagreements on the subject in the past) so you should take his words really, really seriously when he tears WADA a new one:

WADA blitzed the public with half-truths, knowing full well that if any
sport dare argue, it would look like it was trying to hide something.
An organization full of blowhards and self-important ninnies became the
standard bearer in drug testing by using that scare tactic, and now,
sadly, its hollow principles exist not for the good of sport but
itself. No wonder WADA is so tight with the Olympic movement. They get
off on the same self-serving values.

And Jeff offers much, much more along those lines. A point he makes that almost no one else ever seems to make: WADA is in the business of selling stuff. Specifically, their own, self-proclaimed ideal anti-doping program. It makes them millions a year. Baseball won’t bend over for WADA, however, and that makes the organization very, very angry. It makes them do things like be overly-critical of baseball despite the fact that it now has a pretty damn robust testing regime. No, not as robust as WADA would like, but if WADA had its way athletes’ diets would consist of WADA-approved non-PED-certified paste and they would have their blood drawn under threat of imprisonment.

Check out Jeff’s column today and remember it the next time someone who doesn’t have anything to do with baseball — especially someone with their own financial agenda and an almost non-existent grasp of the concept of civil liberties — starts pontificating about the game’s terrible, terrible PED problem.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.