The latest on HGH testing: Bud embarks on another "study"

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HGH.jpgBud Selig says baseball’s new science adviser — Dr. Gary Green — is examining the human growth hormone blood
test
that the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) is peddling but he isn’t sure when
the study will be completed.

This is classic Bud: when he doesn’t want to deal with something he commissions another “study.”  I’m assuming that the HGH test study will be complete some time after the “What should we do with the Athletics” study, which has been pending for well over a year now despite the fact that everyone knows what the result will be. I’ve been critical of that particular bit of foot-dragging, but in the case of the HGH test I’m just fine with it.

Why? Because the WADA HGH test is basically useless, because WADA is a publicity and profit-seeking shakedown operation, and that because no one ever calls them on it, Selig is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

As Murray Chass noted yesterday WADA’s head — Dr. Gary Wadler — is the go-to quote of choice whenever a steroids story pops up, selling his organization’s agenda and products as though he were an independent scholar or something. The effect of this is that anyone who exhibits opposition to WADA, even on legitimate grounds, has come to be seen by the media and the public as not being serious about combating PED use. And that’s even the case if the WADA product in question — an HGH blood test — is of dubious efficacy.

Bud Selig and baseball were late to the anti-PED party, but they’re pretty well-versed in it now. They know that WADA’s blood test has caught exactly one offender in several years, and even then it was because the authorities were tipped off about the guy using drugs beforehand. Because of that, they know that it’s probably a useless test that they’d never be able to sell to the players’ union.

But they also know that simply rejecting it out of hand would make them appear soft on PEDs and would lead to a bunch of articles — with critical quotes from Dr. Gary Wadler, natch — excoriating them. Articles that fail to note that the same man tut-tutting baseball is out to make a buck.

So what to do about it? Stall! Commission a study. Punt the issue for several months if not longer. And you know what? It’s the smart play.

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).