AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

UPDATE: Dusty Baker — not Bud Black — now “very likely” to be Nationals manager


UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today has more details on how talks broke down with Black. He was offered the job last Wednesday and accepted, but contract negotiations didn’t start until Thursday. The word is that the Nationals offered him a two-year deal for less than $2 million. Black is an established manager, so he understandably balked at the low-ball offer.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote a little while ago that “there’s a strain of thought” that the Nationals’ owners, the Lerner family, “don’t have a grasp on standard pay for managers.” That looks like an understatement right now.

10:40 p.m. ET: Heyman has updated his story and writes that the Nationals will offer Baker the job and that he’s now “very likely” to be the Nationals’ next manager. Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale of USA Today hears that negotiations with Black are “over.”

For what it’s worth, Heyman hears that nothing was ever settled with Black despite the reports last week. The Nationals were said to be leaning toward Baker over the weekend. Could this just be some spin now that talks with Black have fizzled? Who knows, but surely this situation smells fishy for sure.

10:30 p.m. ET: Bob Nightengale of USA Today confirms that the Nationals have reached out to Baker after they were “unable to finalize a contract” with Black.

10:07 p.m. ET: Some truly surprising news from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, who hears that the Nationals may hire Dusty Baker over Bud Black as their next manager.

It was reported last Wednesday that the Nationals were set to hire Black for the job. An official announcement was expected to come after the World Series. It still sounded like a formality just a couple of hours ago as James Wagner of the Washington Post reported that the two sides were “still ironing out contract terms with him.” Apparently those negotiations haven’t gone well and the Nationals have kept in touch with Baker, who was the other finalist for the job. What a mess.

The Nationals have made experience a top priority after firing first-time manager Matt Williams. The 66-year-old Baker obviously has plenty of it. He owns an 1671-1504 (.526) record over 20 seasons between stops with the Giants, Cubs, and Reds. He was let go by the Reds after the 2013 season.

Hopefully it won’t be long until we have more clarity about this increasingly confusing situation. Stay tuned.

On a night full of letdowns, Yankees’ defense let them down the most

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Game 4 of the ALCS was a gigantic letdown for the Yankees for myriad reasons. They lost, first and foremost, 8-3 to the Astros to fall behind three games to one. Their fans continued to act boorishly. CC Sabathia exited with an injury, likely the final time he’ll pitch in his career. The offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The biggest letdown of the night, though, was the Yankees’ defense. They committed four errors, their highest total in a postseason game since committing five errors in Game 2 of the 1976 ALCS.

Make no mistake: the two three-run home runs hit by George Springer and Carlos Correa, given up by Masahiro and Chad Green respectively, were the big blows in the game. But the errors contributed to the loss and were downright demoralizing.

The first error came at the start of the top of the sixth inning, when Alex Bregman hit a cue shot to first baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu couldn’t read the bounce and the ball clanked off of his knee, allowing Bregman to reach safely. He would score later in the inning on Correa’s blast.

The Yankees committed two errors in the top of the eighth, leading to a run. Yuli Gurriel hit another grounder to LeMahieu, which he couldn’t handle. That not only allowed Gurriel to reach safely, but Bregman — who led off with a double — moved to third base. He would score when second baseman Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle a Yordan Álvarez grounder.

Error number four occurred when Altuve hit a grounder to Torres to lead off the top of the ninth. The ball skipped right under his glove. Facing Michael Brantley, Jonathan Loaisiga uncorked a wild pitch which advanced Altuve to second base. Brantley followed up with a line drive single to left field, plating Altuve for another run. Loaisiga would throw another wild pitch facing Bregman but that one didn’t come back to haunt him.

The Yankees can’t control injuries, the behavior of their fans, or how good the Astros’ pitching is on any given night. They can control the quality of their defense. On Thursday, it was a farce, and now they’re staring down the barrel of having to win three consecutive games against the Astros to stave off elimination.