The return to calm and quiet PR-friendly negotiations between the Yankees and Derek Jeter is easily the worst thing to happen this week. Really, wasn’t life much more fun when they were slamming each other in the media? And then, in turn, causing those of us in column-and-blog land to say equally silly things? Things like Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star said in his column this afternoon:
Yankee Stadium is an enormously successful sports museum. Derek Jeter is its Mona Lisa. The residual financial impact of Jeter on New York and the Yankees would make a pretty decent Ph.D. thesis. Let’s agree that his real-dollar value is greater than playoff games can tell … Cashman is a good guy and, better yet for the Yankees, an egoless pragmatist. But he’s already lost this fight. He lost it just by having the money.
At some reasonable point, the Yankees will vastly improve their current offer. It will be slightly less than Jeter’s opening gambit — six years, $150 million (U.S.). Then Jeter will do himself and the Yankees the favour of agreeing to lower his price because of his love for the pinstripes. Yankees fans will fall in love all over again — with the man and the club.
I’ll preface this by saying that Mr. Kelly’s picture shows him wearing large, heavy-framed glasses not unlike those frequently sported by irony-loving hipsters, so I guess there’s a chance that this is all sarcasm. But assuming it’s not:
1) The Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 and was gone for two years; the Louvre somehow survived;
2) Cashman hasn’t lost this fight;
3) The Yankees won’t vastly improve their offer; and
4) Even if they do, Jeter will not reject said vastly-improved offer.
Other than that, the column is all aces.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.