Conflicting reports on the Athletics-San Jose thing

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It has been three years since Major League Baseball set up a committee to look into whether the A’s can move to San Jose. So you’d figure there would be some resolution on the matter now.  Guess what? Nope!

Two conflicting reports over the weekend. First from Bill Madden of the New York Daily News:

Unfortunately, the “Moneyball” film came up empty with the Academy Award voters, and the same fate beckons for Beane and Oakland A’s owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher in their determined effort to move to a new stadium in Hi-Tech haven. The latter prospect, in which, for a variety of reasons, MLB is going to uphold the San Francisco Giants’ territorial rights in San Jose …

Then comes Hank Schulman’s report in the San Francisco Chronicle:

I’ve just been told by someone in the commissioner’s office that contrary to what a New York newspaper suggested yesterday, the A’s proposed move to San Jose is not on life support. And, it is not true that Commissioner Bud Selig and baseball owners have all but decided to uphold the Giants’ territorial rights to San Jose, which would preclude the A’s from going there.

Who knows? Madden’s report was casual to the point of catatonic, passing along that little nugget in the course of yet another lame “Moneyball” analogy. If it was news — Extra! MLB to slam the A’s! — you’d think it would warrant its own story or at least its own sentence. This smells like scuttlebutt that couldn’t be confirmed and is now being passed along as gossipy conventional wisdom.

That said, the reasoning in Madden’s story — Selig doesn’t have the support of the other owners to approve the San Jose move — makes a lot of sense, so it’s possible that that’s where things will eventually go.

But the key takeaway here is this: IT HAS TAKEN THREE YEARS TO DECIDE THIS.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.