Previewing today’s Ryan Braun idiocy

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The Ryan Braun/Biogenesis report from Yahoo! came out in the evening, so most big columnists and opinion-spinners haven’t yet had a crack at it beyond their initial “oh man, Ryan Braun!” reactions.  But rest assured they’ll be out in full force today.

This is Ryan Braun after all. And the anger at him from the anti-PED zealots is extreme. In some cases maybe even more extreme than it is against A-Rod because Braun is seen as having slipped the hangman’s noose last year when he successfully appealed his suspension for testing positive for testosterone. The fact that he did so because the testers failed to follow the rules is irrelevant to them because that’s part of the due process owed the accused in baseball’s drug testing program and these folks don’t much care for due process.

And so it is with Braun Scandal 2.0.  His name showed up in Biogenesis records. Never mind that it, unlike the other players, wasn’t linked to any PEDs. Never mind that his official statement — that his lawyers used Dr. Bosch as a consultant during his appeal last year — is eminently plausible and worth exploring before we rush to judgment.  As per last year’s example we’re apparently allowed to pick and choose the facts when our outrage is at stake, so him merely being in those records are all that will likely matter when the Outrage Industrial Complex gets going.

Among the things I fully expect from the Outrage Industrial Complex later today:

  • People who trust Bosch’s records as 100% accurate insofar as they implicate ballplayers will claim that he is far too sloppy and untrustworthy to have served as a consultant for Braun;
  • People who have never litigated nor consulted a day in their lives will claim that it makes no sense for Braun’s litigators to have used Bosch as a consultant (Morosi is already on this one). The Outrage Industrial Complex LOVES to act like they know the first thing about the law in these kinds of cases;
  • People unconcerned with the actual facts of the situation will be quick to talk about how this is “poetic justice” and or “ironic” — and they will inevitably misuse the word “ironic” in doing so — for Braun to be ensnared again. And of course there will be no desire whatsoever by these people to actually let the investigation proceed beyond the 12 hour mark before deciding such things.

I’m sure there will be other examples. The news business comes at you fast. There’s no time for actually waiting for information to come out and/or be authenticated before drawing conclusions from it. That’s amateurish and naive.  Or at least that’s what people tell me.

Here’s hoping none of them never find themselves under fire for something and face the same sort of treatment to which they subject others.

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

Associated Press
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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.