We keep hearing that the Red Sox and the Cubs are continuing to negotiate a compensation deal for the Cubs’ hiring Theo Epstein, but according to Buster Olney, Bud Selig wants this stuff wrapped up before the World Series starts on Wednesday so it doesn’t distract from baseball’s big show.
I get his concern because that’s the sort of thing baseball commissioners are always concerned about, but that whole “it distracts from the World Series spotlight” notion seems like an antiquated one. It’s not like it was 25 years ago when the baseball press was only able to handle one big baseball story a day due to column inches and travel and communication limitations and stuff. Fifteen things can happen on the same day and they’ll all get covered.
No one who is predisposed to watch the World Series is going to avoid it because of a story about negotiations over an executive. And let’s be honest: baseball is a local game: people in Chicago care way more about Theo Epstein and the Cubs than the World Series. Especially when the World Series involves the hated Cardinals.
Embrace the cacophony, Bud. People talking about baseball, no matter the subject, is a good thing. We can handle more than one thing going on at once.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.