Baseball will have Bieber Fever on Saturday. And it will be Good.

37 Comments

When I saw that FOX is going to debut Justin Bieber’s new video prior to Game 3 tomorrow, my first impulse was to scoff, as people of a certain age and disposition always scoff at whatever teen sensation is out conquering the world at any given moment.

But my second thought is to appreciate the move as pretty brilliant. Not just for Justin Bieber’s marketability — who cares? — but for baseball’s.

Game 3 is the early start game, with the first pitch going down before 7PM.  The early start combined with all that Bieber Fever is going to ensure that a ton of young, impressionable minds are going to be watching.  While I predict that the vast majority of the Bieber people will go off to shop for glittery lip gloss or trade Silly Bandz or whatever it is Bieber people do once the video is over, even a tiny percentage of those folks is a big number of people. If they stay, and if they watch, baseball may do what it’s always accused of being unable to do, and that’s attract some young fans.

A pipe dream? Maybe. But not every baseball fan was created via a nice game of catch with dad or watching the Brooklyn Dodgers through a knothole or whatever the hell old Brooklyn Dodgers fans claim they used to do. Some fans just happened to see baseball on TV once and it caught their fancy.  If three minutes of bubblegum pop makes even a couple thousand new baseball fans, I for one will be happy to endure it.

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

Getty Images
5 Comments

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).