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Some teams are complaining about Shohei Ohtani’s decision-making process

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has a column today (subscription only) in which he reports that certain team officials speculate that Shohei Ohtani’s decision about which team to sign with has already been made but that he made everyone jump through hoops anyway. They’re frustrated about the waste of time and all of that. Rosenthal makes a reference to the process as “eyewash,” which is a term baseball people use to describe phony effort aimed at making someone think you’re doing all the necessary work when you really aren’t. One executive suggested that teams were being “played.”

Their reasoning: Ohtani quickly eliminated 23 teams, and all east coast teams, and set meetings with the seven finalists super quickly. The anonymous team executives are wondering why they put so much time into responding to his agents’ requests — they made teams fill out a questionnaire about how they’d use Ohtani — if he had a small group of teams in mind anyway. They’re suggesting that the whole process is eyewash to make it appear as if he hadn’t already chosen a team.

To which I say: who friggin’ cares?

Ohtani appears to be a special talent. A special talent who will be paid less than a middle reliever for the next three years at least because the owners and the union threw his bargaining power under a bus in the last CBA. That they’re now moaning about having had to answer some questions from him as he decides where to go is pretty rich. And that’s before you look around and realize that teams routinely show disingenuous interest in players for their own purposes, be it to make other teams pay a higher price or to leverage players they really want. And that they freely use all of their power and leverage to keep costs down and control players, especially pre-arb players.

These clubs should be thankful they even had a remote chance at picking up a young, front-line starter who can hit homers for less than the Cubs are paying Justin Wilson. For them to take aim at his decision making process as disingenuous is beyond petty.

After reading this I hope Ohtani picks his team soon and holds a press conference in which he says “I knew I was coming here all along. I just wanted to make you puppets dance. Dance, puppets, dance!” After which he takes all of the answered questionnaires from the losing team and blows his nose with ’em.

Back in reality, Ohtani has completed interviews with representatives from the seven finalists and now the ball is in his court to make a decision. He has until December 22nd to do so, though one expects he’ll do it more quickly than that.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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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.