The World Series umpire crew includes two first-timers

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Last year, after a bunch of missed calls in the early rounds, Major League Baseball made sure that the World Series was populated with experienced umpires. This year, not so much: the crew will include World Series first timers Sam Holbrook and Bill Miller, along with vets John Hirschbeck, Gary Darling, Mike Winters and Jeff Kellogg.

Using a highly scientific method (i.e. searching the HardballTalk archives) I can’t find any instances of Holbrook engaging in any poor umpiring-related shenanigans.  Miller shows up once last season after he allegedly called Yorvit Torrealba a bad word. Inasmuch as Yorvit Torrealba is not in the World Series, I think we’re cool here.

Ultimately, though, the “only experienced umps in the World Series” thing last year is a kind of dumb. Joe West has all kinds of experience and he stinks on ice. Whether they’re pups or graybeards, just make sure they’re the ones most likely to get the calls right, cool?  I mean, at least until we have replay and don’t have to cross our fingers and make a wish in order to ensure that important stuff isn’t blown in big games.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.