And here come the misleading BALCO/Canseco/Bonds connections

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Yesterday I anticipated that, in the interests of narrative over information, some writers would probably try to turn the Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon PED suspensions into some larger story about Bay Area drug corruption with callbacks to the days of BALCO, Canseco and Bonds.

And I was not disappointed. John Shea:

The steroid cloud that once hovered over Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi and Co. in Oakland, and Barry Bonds and his BALCO brethren in San Francisco, is back by the bay.

Bruce Jenkins:

First we had the steroid-enhanced A’s of the late ’80s and early ’90s, led by Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Then came the BALCO scandal, with Barry Bonds and several lesser Giants as the central figures. The 2007 Mitchell Report implicated players associated with both Bay Area teams, and recent years have brought more drug-related suspensions, most recently the bombshells that sidelined Cabrera and Colon in the middle of highly influential seasons.

Tim Kawakami:

It keeps happening, and most specifically, it keeps happening in the Bay Area, home of two baseball teams and a seemingly endless amount of PED use … The Bay Area is the Hometown of Steroids …
Of course, it starts with the whole sordid history of BALCO (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) and Barry Bonds and the early steroid adventures of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. The Mitchell Report was littered with the names of Bay Area players; now, years later, the Bay Area is home to three players testing positive for PED use.

I don’t begrudge a writer using a framing device. But this particular framing device — BALCO, Bonds, Canseco, etc. — is highly misleading.  It creates the impression that the problem is bigger than it truly is and implies connections where there are none.

The subject of PEDs in sports is rife with overheated and misleading rhetoric. What it lacks is actual factual reporting and constructive commentary and ideas. This kind of thing isn’t helping.

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).