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Rob Manfred threatens Oakland that Athletics might move to Las Vegas

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In a meeting last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred threatened that the Oakland A’s would move to Las Vegas if the City of Oakland did not drop a lawsuit against Alameda County regarding a dispute over redevelopment of the Oakland Coliseum property. The threat was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. Today Oakland’s mayor confirmed the story.

The A’s, as you know, have been endeavoring to get a new ballpark for years and years. The latest plan involves them building a park on the Oakland waterfront. Part of their effort involves acquiring all or at least part of the land on which the city/county owned Oakland Coliseum currently sits and develop the land commercially. Alameda County, part owner of the land, was on board with this and moved to sell its ownership stake in the Coliseum to the A’s. The City of Oakland is opposed to selling to the A’s and has sued to stop the transaction. Manfred’s threat was, basically, drop this suit, Oakland, or the A’s will pursue other options.

This story brings together multiple recent developments, all of which have a big impact on Major League Baseball and professional sports at larges:

It also, above all else, plays out against the backdrop of Major League Baseball increasingly looking to real estate development as an important ancillary revenue source — and in some cases a primary revenue source — for its clubs. It’s not enough for them to be given public assistance to build new ballparks. They also want gifts or, at the very least, sweetheart deals on real estate too, so baseball team owners can also become developers of mixed-use business centers featuring bars, restaurants, condos and, er, um, elevator testing facilities.

Will Oakland call Rob Manfred’s bluff. If, indeed, it is a bluff? Guess we’ll find out.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.