Yesterday was an important day. It was the fifth anniversary of Bud Selig convening a committee to investigate the Oakland Athletics potential move to San Jose.
Not that we shoulda expected anything by now. Anyone who has followed baseball’s business matters for any length of time can tell you that Bud Selig forms committees for one purpose and one purpose only: to get people to quit asking him about things or blaming him for stuff. To give him a committee he can point to in order to say “hey, they’re working on it. I’ll know something when you do.” There’s no real urgency to fix the problem, obviously.
So the A’s still sit in Oakland, San Jose spins its wheels and people act like the A’s not being there is about anything other than the Giants owning territorial right to San Jose. Which they don’t like to mention, because to do so is to remind people that baseball has carved up territories in a way that is every bit as retrograde as European carving up Africa in the 19th century.
But at least the five year anniversary gives me an excuse to listen to this:
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.