The new Madoff-Wilpon judge makes the Mets’ prospects look a whole lot brighter

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I missed this in all of the McCourt crap last week — I really do only have so much brain space for legal/financial baseball news — but the case against the Wilpons and Saul Katz was moved from bankruptcy court into regular old court court, which was what Wilpon and Katz had wanted.

And better yet, the judge handling it all, The Hon. Jed Rakoff, said a number of things from the bench suggesting — and it’s only suggesting — that he may view the Wilpons’ duty to inquire into whether Bernie Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme to be far less encompassing than the bankruptcy trustee, Irving Picard, has suggested.

Today there is a profile on the new judge in the New York Times — a maverick of sorts — that may hold even more good news for the Mets:

“I can’t guarantee this, of course, but my tendency is to try to get quick decisions,” he said during a hearing last week in which he evinced, at least for the purposes of the legal argument before him, a fair amount of sympathy toward the team’s owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz …  He suggested that in accusing the owners of being “willfully blind” to the possibility that Madoff was a fraud during their many years of investing with him, the trustee might be holding them to an unfair standard.

Quick and favorable? Boy howdy, would that change things for the Mets, wouldn’t it?

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).