New Los Angeles Dodgers owners Patton, Jr., Kasten,Walter, Johnson, Guber and Boehly pose after a news conference to announce the new ownership of the Major League Baseball team at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

T.J. Simers’ interview with the Dodgers owners went about as well as expected


Yesterday I slammed T.J. Simers for apparently prejudging the Dodgers owners in advance of his conference call with them yesterday morning. He seemed to be doing his Simers thing: looking to pick a fight and put his subject on the defensive, then turn around and say “god, what a bunch of clowns” rather than actually try to learn anything from his subject. Which is what he always does, of course.

And based on the column describing the call, that’s exactly what he did.  Focusing on petty things like the fact that Magic Johnson sat next to Frank McCourt at a game last month, which Simers has been harping on ever since. I guess Johnson could have punched out McCourt — woulda made Simers happy — but it may have presented some problems getting the deal closed.

But beyond a couple of those sorts of things, to the extent this went poorly for the Dodgers owners, it wasn’t all on Simers. It sounded like Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten didn’t exactly do their best to come off well:

I asked Magic about the owners’ introductory news conference. It appeared he had misled folks or was not aware of the parking-lot lease that will benefit McCourt.

Magic told the media McCourt wasn’t going to get a dime.

“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Magic said.

“I was expecting an apology,” I said.

“About what?”

“About misleading people in thinking Frank won’t get a dime.” I read to him what he had said at the news conference.

“I already told the truth; we’ll move on to the next question,” he said.

As I noted last week, it does appear that Johnson was either misleading or was simply uninformed when he said what he said. And being snippy about it later, even if taunted into being so by Simers, is not the best stance to take. There were several other testy exchanges in which the owners didn’t come off particularly well.

T.J. Simers is likely not an easy person to deal with, but most players don’t take his bait and get into it with him like this. They usually smile and deflect him, probably having been given a briefing about his schtick during spring training.  One would think that the team’s owners would have someone brief them on him too.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.