This is probably not going to result in any major changes with the Washington Nationals, but it’s worth noting today that Major League Baseball approved a change of ownership from Ted Lerner to his son Mark Lerner.
Mark Lerner, of course, has had a large hand in running the Nationals for years, but in baseball, each team has a designated “control person” who is officially listed as the team’s owner and who casts the team’s vote in league-wide decisions. Until this morning that had been Ted, who is now 92 years-old. Mark Lerner is 64. For what it’s worth, Mark told the Washington Post today that Washington Nationals decisions have long been family decisions and that “I don’t think you’ll see much difference in the way Dad and the family running it vs. myself and the family.”
The biggest decision facing the Nationals in the coming months is going to involve whether to offer — and how much to offer — Bryce Harper when he hits free agency, of course.
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.