MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

Selig’s biggest danger now: overreach


Buster Olney makes a good point in his column today.

Bud Selig is at the brink of near total victory in the PED war. He will soon have suspended all the Biogenesis players and will have presided over a sea change in which most players in the game have shifted from silence or tacit acceptance of PED use to where they are publicly decrying such use.  Some of this was natural evolution, some of it happenstance, some of it skillful maneuvering, but Selig is poised to get almost all the credit.

But one way in which he could risk these gains is by overreaching. Specifically, by taking the tack outlined by the Daily News the other day and insisting that his suspension of Alex Rodriguez be done under his “best interests” powers rather than under the Joint Drug Agreement, thereby cutting off A-Rod’s appeal rights.  Such a move would certainly be tough, but it also might be counterproductive:

If Selig uses his best-interest powers and suspends Rodriguez under the CBA rather than the joint drug agreement, he will basically be taking him off the field before he can appeal — before the due process — and place himself in a position of being the judge and jury for Rodriguez, leading up to protracted arbitration.

From the players’ perspective, that is not ideal due process. The union, whether led by Weiner or somebody else, may decide to fight for that principle, which could lead to a messy labor battle, with new faces at the table.

I don’t think there’s any “may” about it. Such a move would be seen by the union as a power grab. Rank and file players could very easily see A-Rod as a different type of offender than they might be and be fine with harsh discipline, but I believe they’d feel threatened if Selig changes the procedures in place so radically in midstream. That could lead to the union joining in with any fight A-Rod mounts, which could involve a run to federal court for an injunction and litigation that has nothing to do with A-Rod’s drug use and everything to do with the Commissioner’s power.

The alternative: suspend him under the JDA, let the Yankees deal with the awkwardness of A-Rod still being around pending appeal, but declare total victory as Commissioner with the union giving you almost unprecedented backing.

Olney says Selig could use that as a basis for then demanding tougher penalties for first time offenders. Maybe that works, maybe it doesn’t. But it certainly puts him and baseball in the catbird seat, with A-Rod’s appeal being a relatively minor distraction rather than having Selig on the defensive with a big court battle in which arguments are made that Bud went too far.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
1 Comment

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
Leave a comment

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.