AP Anthony Bosch

The wrong thing is OK as long as you get results, I guess

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Lester Munson, ESPN’s legal analyst, is a humdinger.

He was so monumentally and repeatedly wrong in analyzing the Barry Bonds case that people were embarrassed for him. He was wildly incorrect about evidentiary rulings. And he wasn’t merely mistaken about them. He was so awfully mistaken about them that it was clear to anyone who understood the issues that, the moment he wrote what he wrote, his take was simply incoherent. When Barry Bonds got off on three of the four charges against him, he called it a “triumph for the prosecution” — who he called “brilliant” despite their monumental screwups — and said Bonds went 0 for 4. Which makes me wonder if he knows less about baseball or the law. In the wake of his crazy ramblings about that case multiple legal experts weighed in on him and concluded that he was off his rocker. Indeed, he probably transcended wrongness at some point and went straight into Wonderland.

So it’s no surprise that when a new steroids case is in the news, Munson is going to crank up the crazy machine again. He has a Q&A over at ESPN about Biogenesis. One of the topics he handles is Major League Baseball’s gambit of (a) suing Anthony Bosch for tortious interference; and (b) leveraging that lawsuit into his cooperation in the league’s investigation.  He starts out thusly:

MLB filed a lawsuit against Bosch. Legal experts, including me, scoffed at the MLB action. The lawsuit was based on a legal theory known as “tortious interference” or wrongful obstruction of MLB’s efforts to rid baseball of steroids. Tortious interference is a legal theory of last resort. When you are stuck without a winning legal theory, you rely on the theory of tortious interference. It is rarely successful …

So far so good. But then:

Filing the tortious interference lawsuit demonstrated that MLB commissioner Bud Selig was committed to the elimination of PEDs in baseball. Stung by the embarrassing loss in the arbitration over the suspension of Ryan Braun, MLB could easily have ignored the Biogenesis issues and watched as the story slowly died. They could have enjoyed their record attendance and profits instead of taking action and prolonging the steroid era. Instead of taking an easier path, Selig pursued Bosch. The success of MLB’s lawyers in forcing Bosch into a cooperation agreement is nothing less than astonishing. It is a tribute to Selig and to the lawyers that they have succeeded in what appeared to be a hopeless situation.

And here I thought the whole problem with steroids in baseball is players getting desired results through shady means. I never realized that we should be paying “tribute” to them if it all worked out for them.

Pokes at Munson aside, why is the most reasonable assumption here that MLB’s legal strategy — which really should not have created leverage considering how ill-fated it was — is the reason Bosch is cooperating?  Do we really know enough right now to know for sure that his cooperation is because he was worried about that lawsuit? Or is it possible that MLB has offered him other things that induced it, rendering them less tribute-worthy? If Munson grants that the lawsuit was weak sauce, why is he not at all skeptical of the current arrangement? I mean, just this morning we learned that Bosch was looking to cash in prior to his getting in bed with MLB.

This is the real issue with Anthony Bosch. Why is he willing to change his story now? Was it the alleged brilliance of MLB in pursuing a misguided legal gambit, or is he simply being an opportunist?

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.