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Rob Manfred is meeting Donald Trump today

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Since the election, a parade of folks have made their way in and out of Trump tower to meet with our next president. Some are job seekers, some are favor-curryers and some are simply goofing around. I’m going to leave it to you to figure out what category Rob Manfred falls into:

Baseball has all manner of political concerns, even if you choose to ignore them while yelling “stick to baseball” at those of us who do not. MLB has its own lobbying outfit, it has deep interest in all manner of legislation, it is subject to special treatment under federal law which it desperately wants to protect and, of course, baseball teams are owned by a bunch of billionaires and billionaires ALWAYS have a seat at the table of power, whether we like it or not. Manfred is the billionaire’s public face, so it’s natural that he’s going to meet with the new president.

Trump himself has shown an interest in baseball. He played when he was young. He  feuded with Cubs ownership last year, when the politically active Ricketts family donated money to other candidates. He then hired part of Cubs ownership, younger brother Todd Ricketts, who will likely be the next deputy commerce secretary, in part I assume because the Ricketts later changed course and donated to Trump. There was the time Trump tried to buy the Cleveland Indians, which he almost certainly wanted to move to Tampa, but that fell through. I doubt even he holds grudges that long, and most of the people involved in that are dead now, so I don’t guess Manfred is there to make amends.

Either way,  later, when the photos of Manfred walking into Trump Tower hit the wire, save one. And then look at it the next time you feel like yelling at someone to keep politics out of baseball. Because baseball is not interested in keeping politics out of baseball or baseball out of politics. Why should anyone else?

UPDATE: From the pool reporter at Trump Tower:

At 11:49 am, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the pool, very briefly:

“I had a really nice meeting with the President-elect. He explained to me his history with the game and what a great baseball fan he is, and we are glad that we had an opportunity to get together before his inauguration.”

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).