Sports

Yellow-bellied Game 7 starter for Rays seeks to exorcise Astros demons he had hoped stayed hidden


You’re up, Morton.

You’re up, Morton.
Image: (Getty Images)

Charlie Morton has proven himself as a big-game pitcher in the past. It was just three years ago that Morton started Game 7 of the ALCS and got the win with five innings of two-out shutout ball. Ten days later, he came out of the bullpen to pitch the final four innings of Game 7 of the World Series, earning that championship-clinching victory.

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Charlie Morton also is a coward. Those Game 7s came when he was with the 2017 Houston Astros, also known as a cheaty bunch of cheating cheaters. Morton knew all about it, and he did nothing.

“I certainly have thought about it a lot because it negatively impacted the game, and people’s perception of the game, the fans, opposing players,” Morton said this February. “And that doesn’t sit well with me. Where I was at the time, I don’t know where I was.”

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Morton, to be clear, was in the Astros’ clubhouse, in the Astros’ dugout, on the Astros’ mound, riding their sign-relaying and trash-can-banging antics to a World Series ring. He wasn’t some kid, but a 33-year-old man with nearly a decade of major league experience, pitching for his fourth team. He knew what was happening was wrong, and he did nothing to stop it.

“I was aware of the banging,” Morton said. “Being in the dugout you could hear it. I don’t know when it dawned on me, but you knew it was going on. Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it. I don’t know what that would have entailed. I think the actions would have been somewhat extreme to stop it. That’s a hypothetical.”

And if Mike Fiers hadn’t spoken up, Morton never would have had to reckon with that. Well, on Saturday night, he’s center stage for the Rays as they try to avoid making a different kind of inglorious history by joining the 2004 Yankees as the only teams to blow a 3-0 series lead in baseball history. As it is, that 2004 ALCS is the only other time a baseball playoff series has gone from 3-0 to a Game 7.

Either the Astros win and Dusty Baker returns to the World Series, or Morton does. Isn’t 2020 great?

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And if you enjoyed Morton’s flimsy explanation of why he never did anything about the illicit activities from which he directly benefited, you’re going to love the post-Trump era.


There’s going to be a Game 6 of the NLCS because Game 5 turned on the Will Smith vs. Will Smith matchup.

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Just add it to the “simulation is broken” evidence pile, along with Friday’s late college football game, in which the undefeated Cougars came from behind to beat the previously undefeated Cougars. That would be a 43-26 win for No. 14 BYU at Houston, thanks to a 22-0 fourth quarter that started with a shovel pass touchdown.

BYU is 5-0 now, and its only remaining road game is Boise State, which still hasn’t started its season, and maybe Army in a make-up of a game that was postponed in September because of COVID-19. The other games on BYU’s remaining slate are home dates with Texas State, Western Kentucky, North Alabama, and San Diego State. There’s a legitimate shot that they go 10-0 or 11-0, and then what?

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The Zamboni Company, which makes Zamboni-brand Zambonis, would like to correct the record and let everybody know that the Zamboni that caught on fire on Wednesday was not a Zamboni-brand Zamboni, as Zamboni-brand Zambonis are the only Zambonis that you can rely on for quality and non-explosiveness when it comes to your ice-resurfacing needs.

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“Use of the brand name (ZAMBONI) as a generic product descriptor is inaccurate,” said the Zamboni Company, the maker of Zamboni-brand Zambonis, in a statement about how to describe the Zamboni fire that involved a Zamboni not made by the Zamboni Company.

As PR efforts go, this is a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Sorry, a small adhesive bandage on a bullet wound. Every ice resurfacing machine is a Zamboni, and the Zamboni Company seems to know this by referring to the Zamboni-brand Zambonis as ZAMBONI Zambonis. And, hey, they don’t catch on fire, so do be sure that if you’re in the market for a Zamboni, get a ZAMBONI Zamboni from the Zamboni Company instead of an off-brand Zamboni from someone whose Zambonis might cause a Zamboni fire.

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