Daily Dose: Brandon Webb doesn't need shoulder surgery

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After being examined by three different doctors in three different
states this week Brandon Webb was told that he doesn’t need shoulder
surgery. However, he has also been advised not to throw for at least
another six weeks and is not expected to come off the disabled list
before September, if at all this year. Even if he’s not going to pitch
again this season Webb’s recovery is vital to his status for 2010.

Arizona holds an $8 million option on Webb for next year, along with
a $2 million buyout, so as long as he can avoid another setback while
making some progress the team seems almost certain to bring him back.
However, the Diamondbacks’ decision to pull a long-term contract offer
from the table in the middle of last year because of concerns about
Webb’s health now looks brilliant.

While one of the most durable pitchers of this era faces the
possibility of making just one start this season, here are some other
notes from around baseball …

* Fredi Gonzalez continues to say that the Marlins will use a
closer-by-committee approach with Matt Lindstrom sidelined, but Leo
Nunez picked up his fourth save Wednesday while Dan Meyer set him up by
working the eighth inning. Those are the only two real candidates for
ninth-inning duties at the moment, so Nunez has clearly taken over
primary closing duties until further notice.

* Koji Uehara was off to a nice start after coming over from Japan
this offseason, posting a 4.05 ERA and 48/12 K/BB ratio in 67 innings
before last week’s trip to the disabled list with an elbow strain.
After further tests he’s been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor
tendon, which is expected to sideline the 34-year-old for six weeks at
minimum. David Hernandez will replace him and has AL-only potential.

* On the heels of trading Lastings Milledge to the Pirates, the
Nationals demoted Elijah Dukes to Triple-A on Wednesday. Dukes is
similar to Milledge in that he’s disappointed offensively and
defensively while bringing various off-field issues to the table, but
also like Milledge he still has plenty of long-term upside and turned 25 years old last week. If the Nationals deal Dukes, they’ll be selling low again.

* Mike Aviles came out of nowhere to hit .325 as a 27-year-old rookie,
but hit just .183 through 36 games this season before being placed on
the disabled list with a strained forearm. His forearm soreness turned
out to be a torn elbow ligament and the Royals announced Wednesday that
he’ll undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Aviles now faces 9-12
months of recovery and an uncertain future.

AL Quick Hits: Alex Rodriguez homered Wednesday and has gone
deep in four of the past six games … Frank Francisco blew the save
Wednesday just hours after Ron Washington announced that he’d reclaimed
closer duties … Jason Bay struck out in all five of his at-bats
Wednesday and is in a 0-for-15 slump … Ervin Santana (triceps) is
scheduled to rejoin the rotation on Friday, according to Mike Scioscia
… Alexei Ramirez is headed for X-rays after exiting Wednesday’s game
with a finger injury … Brad Bergeson held Boston to one run over eight
innings Wednesday, but relievers blew a four-run lead … Initially set
to return Saturday, Erik Bedard (shoulder) is now due to come off the
disabled list Tuesday … Jered Weaver allowed a season-high seven runs
in a no-decision Wednesday … Jose Contreras threw eight innings of
two-run ball Wednesday, whiffing eight … Justin Morneau, Nick Punto,
and Mike Redmond left Wednesday’s game with injuries.

NL Quick Hits: Cole Hamels was knocked around for seven runs
Wednesday to leave his ERA at 4.98 … Adam Wainwright had a career-high
12 strikeouts and allowed one run in nine innings Wednesday, but took a
no-decision … Matt Diaz made a rare start Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with
a homer to put his OPS above .800 … Randy Wells induced a dozen
ground-ball outs while giving up one run in seven innings Wednesday,
giving him a 2.43 ERA in 10 starts … Jason Hammel took a complete-game
loss Wednesday despite allowing just one run because Clayton Kershaw
combined with three relievers for a shutout … Jair Jurrjens had seven
innings of one-run, one-hit ball Wednesday to even his mark at 6-6 …
San Diego is shopping Kevin Kouzmanoff, with Seattle said to be
interested … Colby Rasmus delivered a walk-off homer Wednesday after
Pablo Sandoval dropped a foul ball … Johnny Cueto tossed six shutout
innings in a 1-0 victory Wednesday.

Trevor Bauer says his finger will be OK for the World Series

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 17:  Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians walks back to the dugout after being relieved due to his cut pinky finger in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game three of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians starter Trevor Bauer said he expects his sliced right pinkie to heal in time for the World Series.

Bauer, of course, is a drone hobbyist and hurt his finger while fixing a drone. By the time he’ll have to pitch again he will have had nine days since his last, bloody start in ALCS Game 3. Yesterday he said “I’ll be ready to pitch in the World Series whenever they need me. I’m doing everything I can and I’ll be back out there for sure.”

Bauer reportedly suggested that Indians trainers cauterize his finger on Monday. They declined. Which is something Bauer should probably thank them for.

It’s time for Major League Baseball to take a stand on Chief Wahoo

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 06:  A fan holds a sign during game one of the American League Divison Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on October 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians are in the World Series. Come Tuesday they will be on baseball’s biggest stage — an international stage — for the first time in 19 years. In honor of this occasion, I’d like to know a couple of things:

  • Does Major League Baseball believe that Chief Wahoo is a racist caricature?
  • If not, why not?
  • If so, does Major League Baseball think it appropriate for a club to have a racist caricature as its logo?
  • If Wahoo is a racist caricature and if it’s inappropriate for a club to have a racist caricature as a logo what, if anything, does MLB plan to do about Chief Wahoo?

At the outset, I’ll say what should not come as a surprise to any of you: I believe that Chief Wahoo is a racist caricature. I’ve argued it ad nauseum over the years and really don’t wish to mount that argument once again. Mostly because I think the notion that Chief Wahoo is racist is indisputable. Also, because those who do not wish to see the Indians abandon that logo never actually argue that it isn’t racist. Indeed, I’ve not seen a single convincing argument in favor of Wahoo not being racist on his own merits. Oh sure, there are lots of deflections (A logo isn’t important! Tradition is tradition!; It’s just sports!; What about that other racist logo?! My quarter-Cherokee grandma says she’s fine with it!) but no one has once made even half a case that that red-faced, big-toothed, hook-nosed, feather-wearing abomination is not, in fact, a racially insensitive caricature. I don’t think such an argument could be made, actually.

So that’s not what I’m on about here. Rather, I’m interested in how this racist caricature can be eliminated from the sport I love and what has prevented it from happening to date. That’s a very different question, and it’s one that has little if anything to do with accusations of racism or good guys and bad guys. It has everything to do with institutions and inertia. And I think it’s time to drill down into that some.

Let us stipulate that the Cleveland Indians, as an organization, are not a bunch of racists. I don’t believe that for a second. They, like every other sports team, have a history and, for lots of reasons, the Indians history comes with Chief Wahoo packed in the baggage. While the Indians have made efforts over the years to diminish Wahoo, those efforts have not taken. The most likely reason for that is fear of fan backlash. Fans who, even if they themselves are not racists either, do what all sports fans do and root from a primarily emotional place, where real-world questions like “is what I’m wearing racially offensive?” are not permitted to intrude. It’s not just writers they want to stick to sports. They stick to sports themselves and, with a strong assist from cognitive dissonance, their conception of sports involves a Chief Wahoo cap and arm patch.

So, you’re running the Indians. Even when you win your division you don’t draw well, and thus the LAST thing you want to do is anger or alienate your most passionate fans. Of course you don’t get rid of that logo. Doing so would take some pretty considerable moral and ethical courage. Or, at the very least, moral and ethical courage in quantities that outweigh the short term P.R. and financial motives of a for-profit business, and that’s quite a bit. So let us stipulate two things, actually: (1) The Indians are not a bunch of racists; and (2) Even if they’re not, they’re not, on their own, going to get rid of Chief Wahoo. If they were going to, they would’ve done it by now.

Which is why I turn to Major League Baseball. If the Indians themselves are not going to do the right thing and eliminate Chief Wahoo, Major League Baseball should.

At this point I’ll say something which will probably surprise a lot of you: I’m not crazy. I may stand up on soapboxes and rant and rave about any little thing that crosses my mind, but I am, at heart, a realist. I know how large and sophisticated organizations work and I know that Major League Baseball is a large and sophisticated organization. It cannot snap its fingers and make whatever crazy, soapbox-standing bloggers want to have happen happen, even if wanted to (note: it does not want to). There are rules and norms and politics to even the most pedestrian of issues that cross Rob Manfred’s desk, and Chief Wahoo is not a pedestrian issue. It’s a controversial one that lends itself to passion and bad press and those are the hardest things an organization like MLB has to deal with. Indeed, it would prefer not to.

Part of that complication is that this is a club matter and clubs, under Major League Baseball’s business model, are mostly their own things and they can do what they please with most things. Certainly things like club identity, logos, colors, uniforms and the like. At most MLB gives final approval on new ideas in these areas, but it does not order clubs to change fonts or logos or mascots that have been in place for decades. “Hey, Orioles? You’re now the ‘Knights’ and your colors are purple and gold. Make it so” is not a memo Rob Manfred is going to write.

There is likely not even a mechanism in place for this. League-wide matters are dealt with via MLB’s constitution, to which all clubs agree, and that usually involves league wide ownership votes. This is not one of those things, though. Thirty club owners are not going to hold a vote about what mascot the Indians can slap on their cap. Large and complex organizations do not eagerly do things for which there is not a formal mechanism to accomplish said things. So, in addition to the historical inertia and the abhorrence of controversial issues and p.r. and the like, you have systemic reasons which make it easier for MLB to not act than to act.

But that does not mean it should not act. I believe it should, and I believe that the only way Major League Baseball will not, eventually, act to abolish Chief Wahoo is if it willfully ignores those questions I posed above. If it ignores, in fact, the very words it uttered just this week when the matter of the Indians name and logo was the subject of an Ontario court hearing:

“Major League Baseball appreciates the concerns of those that find the name and logo of the Cleveland Indians to be offensive.  We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation.”

To truly be a part of that dialogue, Major League Baseball itself is obligated to state its convictions on the matter. If it is having trouble finding its convictions I will, once again, offer a little guide to help them along:

    • Does Major League Baseball believe that Chief Wahoo is a racist caricature? That’s a pretty simple question. A human being as educated as Rob Manfred and as educated as the hordes of Ivy Leaguers who work for him can plainly and quickly answer if it wished to.
    • If not, why not? Like I said, if they can make a convincing argument that Wahoo isn’t racist it’ll be the first time anyone has done so, but like I also said, these guys are smart, and I bet if anyone can they can. I’ll give them a fair hearing.
    • If MLB does think Wahoo is racist, does Major League Baseball think it appropriate for a club to have a racist caricature as its logo? Based on everything I know about Major League Baseball and its commitment to diversity, inclusion and open-mindedness, it cannot answer this question in the affirmative if it believes Wahoo to be racist.
    • Finally, if Wahoo is a racist caricature and if it’s inappropriate for a club to have a racist caricature as a logo what, if anything, does MLB plan to do about Chief Wahoo?

And there we are. There’s nothing formal in place to make the Indians change, but if Rob Manfred gets to that last question, he can certainly lean on the club. He can make a public statement about it and what is right. Or, he can take a different tack and show the Indians how much merch they’d sell if they got a new logo. It doesn’t matter much. The Commissioner is not omnipotent, but in a matter of conscience that affects only one club, some meetings and phone calls and his power of persuasion could make a big difference here. All the difference, really.

But first Major League Baseball and Commissioner Manfred have to themselves be inspired to act. They have to cease dodging the matter by making reference to the controversy and the feelings it engenders and actually take a position in that controversy. The Indians have shown that they will not act unilaterally, so MLB should, at long last, weigh in itself to force their hand.

Commissioner Manfred will, no doubt, be in Cleveland for the World Series. He will, no doubt, hold a press conference or two. Given the Indians return to the international stage, the usual protests about Chief Wahoo will be louder than they typically are and Commissioner Manfred will be asked about the matter. I believe that he, on behalf of the league, should answer the questions I have posed here and that other journalists will no doubt pose to him in person.

I hope he does. I hope that, rather than once again merely acknowledging a longstanding conversation about a baseball team sporting an abjectly racist logo on its cap in the 21st century, he, on behalf of Major League Baseball, enters the conversation. I hope he does what no one else seems willing or able to do: eliminates Chief Wahoo, now and forever.

Doing so would not be the easy course. It would certainly be easier to dodge these questions than to answer them openly and honestly and to then do what one’s answers to them obligate one to do. But it would be the right thing to do. I suspect Major League Baseball already knows this.