How limited are the Dodgers new owners?

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I’m writing this from a hotel room in Los Angeles, where — despite it being just before 5am as I type this — my body thinks it’s still on eastern time. Stupid body.

Anyway, I flew here last night and, being a wise and prudent man, made my way to the hotel bar so that I might come to quickly understand my environment and the people that inhabit it. I found them to be a curious lot, somehow taken with the notion that the Dodgers’ new ownership group — despite not taking actual control for another month — will somehow will this team into immediate contention.

I was about to educate them about just how deluded they are when it comes to such matters — see my Dodgers preview here a little later this morning to get some real talk about this team that should disabuse anyone of such assumptions — but since they were buying my drinks I decided to nod and say “well, maybe.”

But no, it’s not happening. At least not in 2012. And not just because there is no way to practically improve this team at the moment. Rather, because there may be … constraints on this ownership group due to a $ 2 billion price tag.

Magic Johnson has basically pshawed that notion, saying that the Dodgers are going to be the Yankees west. But The Economist thinks differently:

At this price, everything would have to go right for the new owners to make a profit. They are required to make costly capital improvements to Dodger Stadium as part of the deal … And although the deal has been described as a “100% cash offer”, it is doubtful that even Guggenheim has $2 billion of its own capital lying under the mattress and available to buy a baseball team. The far more likely outcome is that the acquisition will have to be financed with a heavy debt load, whose interest payments will probably siphon off much of the franchise’s revenues and limit the owners’ ability to invest in it.

We’ve obviously seen that scenario before. But this time they’re claiming that things will be different. Will the new owners damn the torpedoes, and order full speed ahead on free agent acquisitions, or will they worry about that cash flow and skew conservative?

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).