It’s officially “so and so should be considered” season

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I had a go at this concept last year. The concept that, when it comes to postseason awards, it’s somehow a legitimate argument to say “so and so should be considered” when the person advocating such a position doesn’t actually think they should win it. That he should be “in the conversation.”

Person 1: I think Joe Shlabotnik should be given consideration for the MVP.

Person 2: OK, do you think Shlabotnik deserves to win? Is he going to be given your first place vote?

Person 1: No, but he should get consideration! He should be in the conversation.

Smack my head.

If I think Fetzelrod is the MVP, why should I “consider” Shlabotnik?  In reaching my decision isn’t it understood that I’ve considered and rejected Shlabotnik? I’m a Fetzelrod man! Don’t waste my time with this Shlabotnik tomfoolery!

Anyway, here’s Richard Justice today at MLB.com:

There can’t be a conversation about the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award without including Derek Jeter, and doesn’t that make this whole season even better?

Starting off well!  Then, after going through the stronger cases for Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton he adds:

Regardless of how it plays out, it’s fun just having him in the discussion.

This after he says Jeter’s MVP credentials are “doing his job at the top of the lineup,” “playing nice defense,” “winning” and “leadership.”  Of course Trout has done a better job at the top of the lineup, plays better defense and plays for a team with only two fewer wins than Jeter’s (and more since Trout came up from the minors).  Leadership: OK, such as it can be known, we’ll give it to Jeter.

But the point here isn’t that I think Jeter isn’t as good as Trout. Opinions vary. The point here is that Justice makes no effort to argue it himself, which suggests that, had he an MVP vote, he would not have Jeter above Trout.  Rendering the whole “Jeter should be in the conversation” conversation pointless.

Guess what: Jeter has had a kickass season, especially for a player his age. This is late career stuff we usually only see from inner-circle Hall of Famers. It is notable and worthy of great kudos and praise. But there is nothing which says that praise may only be given to a guy in the context of a “who should win the MVP” article.  Just write the “hey,  Jeter is great” article. You can actually do that. There is nothing to stop you!

But by not doing it, you muddy the MVP waters and either actively our passively encourage sloppy reasoning when it comes to the MVP.  “In the conversation?”  Bah.  Either a guy is or is not your MVP choice.

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).