Craziness in the NCAA baseball tournament

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Texas and Boston College played the longest game in NCAA history Saturday night, with the Longhorns prevailing 3-2 in 25 innings.

While guys like me are worrying about the Stephen Strasburgs of the
world throwing 120 pitches in a start, Austin Wood of Texas threw a
ridiculous 169 pitches … out of the bullpen. Seriously.

Wood tossed 13 innings of relief, including 12.1 no-hit frames, and
said afterward: “I can’t believe I threw 13 innings. I was tired, but
we never doubted that we were going to win that game.” Then his arm
disintegrated as reporters looked on.

Texas coach and all-time Division I wins leader Augie Garrido called
it “the best pitching performance I have ever seen.” Boston college
coach Mik Aoki wasn’t quite as willing to shred his pitchers’ arms, so
he only let Mike Belfiore throw 9.2 innings out of the pen.

The seven-hour, three-minute game finally came to an end thanks to
Travis Tucker singling in the go-ahead run in his NCAA-record 12th
at-bat.

Along with Strasburg losing for the first time
and Texas winning in 25 innings, the opening round of the NCAA
tournament also saw Florida State jump out to a 32-0 lead over Ohio
State on the way to a 37-6 victory.

FSU had 66 total bases on 38 hits, including 15 doubles. As Ohio State
coach Bob Todd put it: “Everything they did was right. Everything we
did was wrong.” It’s not quite March Madness, but the NCAA baseball
tournament has been pretty damn interesting so far.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?