And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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Cardinals 6, Marlins 5:
Cody Ross let one get through the wickets in the eighth and it rolled
all the way back to the 434′ sign in center, allowing the tying runs to
score and putting the eventual winning run, in the person of Ryan
Ludwick, on third. It happens. Trever Miller on the home run he gave up
to Pujols: “That wasn’t a situation where I was going to nibble on
[Pujols] at 3-1. He’s too good of a hitter, he’s not going to chase a
bad pitch. He’s going to get his pitch and hit it. Unfortunately, he
did.” Wait, why exactly don’t you nibble on Pujols there? He’s only
going to get his pitch to hit if you give it to him, and once you’ve
gone 3-1 on the guy, you really have no business giving it to him
unless the bases are juiced, and maybe even then you don’t. Wait . . .
unless Pujols has finally developed telekinetic powers which enable him
to will fat pitches into his wheelhous (as many of us have long
expected he might some day). Crap. That’s it. We’re all doomed. All
hail our Pujolsian overlord.

White Sox 4, Tigers 3:
The White Sox almost frittered this one away, but then Joel Zumaya
slipped on some wet grass while fielding a bunt in the ninth and then
Scott Podsednik singled in Brian Anderson to eke out the win. Anderson
after the game: “Had that gone the other way, it definitely would not
have been as fun a bus ride.” It’s 97.4 miles from U.S. Cellular Field
to Miller Park so a bus makes sense, but I haven’t thought too much
about this before and now I’m wondering what the cutoff is. Do the
Tigers take a bus to Cleveland (167 miles)? How about L.A. to San Diego
(124)? Sure, you and I always drive those, but these are rich, pampered
baseball players here. How about Philly-Queens? It’s 111 miles, but
there’s lots of traffic. But back to the White Sox: do you think they
considered carpools for the Milwaukee trip? I bet Ozzie Guillen never
drives. And he probably calls shotgun even when the car isn’t within
eyeshot yet. I get the feeling Jim Thome’s music collection is just
awful. Probably a lot of modern female pop country artists. On
cassette. I’d probably want to ride with Buehrle. I bet he hauls ass.

Astros 2, Cubs 1:
Game story: “Geoff Blum is the first Houston player with winning hits
in back-to-back games since Derek Bell did it on July 20-21, 1996,
against Atlanta.” I call B.S. on that. I watched virtually every Braves
game there was while Bell played in the National League, and I never
once recall Derek Bell getting a big hit. Ever. He was a total bust
against Atlanta, at least in my memories. In fact, I can’t think of a
supposedly decent opposing hitter that I, as a Braves fan, feared less
than Derek Bell. OK, fine, I’ll look: Hmmm . . . .270/.322/.405
lifetime against the Braves. That’s only slightly below his career
averages. I hate to say this, Forman, because you usually do such a great job, but you seem to have somehow screwed up Derek Bell’s page.

Phillies 6, Mets 3:
Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning to
win the game. I wonder what could make him do that. I mean, he’s old,
it was late in the game and it was past dinner time, so he was probably
tired too. Maybe a little something to help a ballplayer gain an extra
step when he might otherwise be flagging? Some sort of unnatural
fountain of youth, hmmm? Yeah, I’m just gonna come out and say it, and
I don’t care what anyone says: Ibanez is clearly doin’ the Dew.

Rockies 5, Brewers 4:
The problem with the Rockies’ winning streak is that if it goes on much
longer, it’s going to fool someone in the front office into taking the
“interim” tag off of Jim Tracy. Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in
awhile.

Pirates 3, Braves 1:
Javier Vazquez was brilliant (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 12K) but got the no
decision because the Pittsburgh staff was, on the whole, brillianter.
Odd things: Francoeur led the Braves’ offensive onslaught, getting two
hits and even walking once. See above note about blind hogs. Also,
Bobby Cox was ejected. That’s not news — he’s the record holder after
all — but this was very un-Bobbylike. I’m pretty sure Cox premeditates
most of his ejections, because they’re usually quick (i.e. he goes
straight to the magic word — God, he’s so romantic . . .) and because
they usually happen early in the game to ensure plenty of couch time in
the clubhouse. This one came in the ninth inning, so he really got no
leisure/beer time out of it to speak of. Just not like him, ya know? I
hope he’s alright.

Indians 4, Royals 3:
Greinke rebounded from his previous shelling, but he needed to be
better than good on a night when his offense didn’t really show up.
Shin Soo Choo hit a single off a freakin’ seagull in the 10th, driving
in the winning run. Learning to play the seagull carom in Progressive
Field is one of those things visiting defenders just don’t have time to
master in a short series. Oh, and now that the memories of the Royals’
early-season friskiness have long since passed, can we just get to the
end game on Trey Hillman and save everyone a lot of hassle?

Athletics 4, Twins 3:
It’s a shame about that lead Blackburn lost. It was. That was really a
shame. To go so suddenly. Ah, he was tiring for innings. But the very
end, when he actually gave it up . . . was extremely sudden.

Nationals 3, Reds 2:
The eighth inning throwing error by Brandon Phillips that allowed
Christian Guzman to score the winning run wasn’t as ugly as the second
inning throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman that allowed Alex Gonzales to
score the Reds’ first run. Phillips had a dude bearing down on him and
just misfired. Zimmerman’s was an air mail job that, at last report,
was entering Canadian airspace.

Mariners 6, Orioles 3: 3 RBI for Russell “how in the hell is he still at .317/.413/.614” Branyan.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1:
Max Scherzer gave up only three hits while shutting out the Giants over
seven and two thirds. Mark Reynolds struck out three times to raise his
total to 87. In 1948, Hank Sauer led the NL with 85 for the whole
season. The year before, Chris Nicholson led the league with 83. In
fact, since the end of the deadball era, guys have led the league in
strikeouts with 87 Ks or fewer on 21 occasions. Just thought you’d like
to know that.

Rays 11, Angels 1:
The Angels have given up 33 runs in their last four games. David Price
left in the fourth because he had already thrown 105 pitches. Dude’s
gonna have to figure out how to reign that in, because hanging around
long enough to take advantage of offensive outbursts like this is the
stuff that 18-win (and better) seasons are made of.

Rangers 1, Blue Jays 0:
Two good offenses collide in one of the most offense-friendly parks in
baseball. It’s 80 degrees at game time, so sit back, babies, and watch
the horsehide fly! Or, if that’s not your speed, all of the scoring in
the game can happen on a second inning sacrifice fly.

Red Sox 4, Yankees 3:
What a miserable night for the Yankees. Getting beat by the Red Sox for
the eighth time in a row is bad enough, but having it happen in a cold
rain via a blown lead has to add some extra pain. I guess someone has
to win a game in the Mets-Yankees series this weekend, but the way
things are going, I can’t feature either team doing it.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Under Armour
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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.

Bud Selig is still, laughably, pleading ignorance about the Steroid Era

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27:  Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig speaks at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Yesterday I raked Bud Selig and the Hall of Fame over the coals. Selig for his considerable responsibility for the prevalence of performing enhancing drugs in baseball during his tenure and his failure to take responsibility for it, the Hall of Fame for inducting Selig while continuing to bar the door to players who used PEDs.

Later in the day yesterday a remarkable story was written by Jayson Stark of ESPN. It was based on a one-on-one with Selig in which his legacy with respect to steroids was discussed. It was framed by Selig talking about how the students in the baseball in history seminar he teaches at The University of Wisconsin recently grilled him about what he knew and when he knew it with respect to PEDs and what could have been done to stop the proliferation of the stuff in the game.

What makes it remarkable is that, until yesterday’s interview, Selig believed that he had done everything he possibly could have done to deal with PEDs. It took Jayson Stark telling him that, maybe, he could’ve done more:

“Now let me ask you a question,” he said. “And I’m being serious. If you had been me then, what would you have done?”

Frankly, I was amazed that he asked . . . So that, I told him, was what I thought he could have done. He was the commissioner. So the one thing he could have done, without needing a bargaining table to do it, was raise this issue, speak about it more, admit to it earlier and bring it to the forefront.

And Selig, as if he had never considered the notion, agreed:

“That’s fair,” Selig replied. “That’s very fair.”

A moment later, he looked me right in the eye again. “Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Maybe I should have said more.”

It’s incredible that a man as honored and lauded as Selig has been — a man who has been praised for his savvy and effectiveness as a leader and, eventually, a negotiator — had never considered using the bully pulpit to deal with what he has claimed to be his most vexing problem as commissioner before yesterday. And when I say “incredible” I do not mean “amazing.” I mean “literally not credible.” As in, I believe he is simply lying when he implies that the thought never occurred to him.

Rather, I believe that he had little if any interest in speaking out about steroids until, years later, he had no choice but to thanks to Jose Canseco and BALCO and all of the rest. Steroids served baseball admirably. They increased offense and made big stars out of marketable men and helped everyone forget that, just a few years before, Selig and his fellow owners drove baseball off a cliff and cancelled a World Series because of it. The men who employed Bud Selig, baseball’s owners, made a lot of money off of that juice and, as such, Bud Selig standing up in, say, 1998 and saying that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were cheaters and that PEDs were a scourge that must be addressed was simply never going to happen. Not because Selig was in the dark or at a loss, but because, as it was with the players who used the drugs, it was in Bud Selig’s own self-interest not to speak.

Selig’s mendacity in that interview yesterday was even more remarkable than that, actually. Indeed, in addition to claiming he had no idea how to act back then, he claimed that, back in 1998, he was totally in the dark about why Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were shattering Roger Maris’ home run record:

“I talked to the Cubs about Sammy,” Selig recalled. “The Cardinals were thrilled with McGwire. It was a big civic celebration.”

And no one on either team mentioned a word, he said, about what was really driving those two men toward the threshold of history. So Selig said he turned to his “baseball people” in the commissioner’s office.

He says he asked, “What’s causing this?” And they reeled off what we would now describe as the usual, everything-but-the-elephant-in-the-room, theories: Expansion. The dilution of pitching. Questions about whether there was something different about the baseball.

“They gave me a whole bunch of reasons,” Selig said. “And I kept asking about steroids.”

Why Selig was asking people about steroid use in 1998 is a mystery, because Selig knew damn well that Mark McGwire was using PEDS as early as 1993, several months after he took over from Fay Vincent and became acting commissioner.

We know this thanks to an interview with former FBI agent Greg Stejskal, who was extensively quoted about his investigations into steroids in the early 1990s. Investigations which revealed Mark McGwire’s drug use dating back to 1989, which Stejskal told Major League Baseball about:

Stejskal said federal authorities, through their undercover operation, learned of McGwire’s steroid usage by 1993. A year later, Stejskal recalled that he shared information from the investigation related to baseball players with Major League Baseball’s then security boss, Kevin Hallinan, though the sport had no drug testing program at the time.

That story was written nearly seven years ago, by the way. No one associated with Major League Baseball has ever explained how the league did not know that McGwire was using PEDs in 1998 as a result. They clearly knew for five years by then. Unless you think that an MLB security chief, when informed of player being caught up in an FBI drug probe, wasn’t going to tell anyone about it.

Despite all of this, Bud Selig is walking around the Winter Meetings this week, getting his attaboys for his Hall of Fame induction and spinning unadulterated bull crap about what he knew and when he knew it with respect to PEDs in baseball. He’s gotten away with doing so for so long, so why should he change course now?