Major League Baseball continues to keep the Athletics in limbo

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We’re pushing two years since baseball said it was “studying” the issue of where the Athletics should play.  Could they find a way around the Giants’ territorial rights in San Jose? Is Oakland, in fact, a viable home for the A’s going forward?  We don’t know!  Because apparently doing some basic economic studies, looking at publicly-available data and having some tough meetings with the owners of the Giants is more complex than the Manhattan Project. Either that or baseball is just sitting on this, hoping the problem solves itself while the A’s fan base continues to become more disillusioned. And to shrink.

Baseball’s inaction is causing more concrete problems too. For example, San Jose had until this past Tuesday to put a stadium initiative on the spring ballot, but that deadline came and went because no one in San Jose wants to stake their political capital on a campaign that baseball could doom by inaction or by choosing Oakland.

At the same time, Oakland stepped up with an actual stadium proposal and a public hearing on the matter the other night that has reignited interest on the part of some Oakland fans. However, the step needed to make the ballpark an actual possibility — and environmental impact assessment — is likely to be put on hold. Why? Because Oakland officials wisely are loathe to spend millions on such a study if baseball is unwilling to commit to the A’s staying in town.

Mr. Selig: get on with it. Your continued inaction on the matter of the Athletics’ future is killing the team. If no deal can be cut with the Giants, pull the plug on Lew Wolff’s designs on San Jose. If Oakland is truly not a viable market for the A’s, say so and do what is necessary to forge a compromise on territorial rights.  You’re supposed to be the leader of this sport. Friggin’ lead for once, will ya?

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

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World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.