What we're watching: Wainwright vs. Kershaw

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– Roy Halladay will face a patient Boston lineup having pitched 50 innings over his past six starts. Included in that run is a complete-game victory over the Red Sox in which he gave up just one run. Halladay is just 13-12 with a 4.33 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox, but he has handled them well over the last two years, going 4-2 with a 2.27 ERA and three complete games in six starts. The Red Sox will throw Clay Buchholz as they aim for a second straight win in Toronto.
– Dan Haren, the NL’s ERA leader for the first half of the season, will match up against the red-hot Cliff Lee as the Diamondbacks and Phillies continue a three-game series. Haren bounced back from a subpar four-start run to limit the Dodgers to one run over eight innings in a win last week. Lee, on the other hand, has won six straight starts, allowing just seven runs in the process. He’s 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA since joining the Phillies.
Game of the Night
St. Louis vs. Los Angeles – Two of the game’s hottest pitchers will square off in Los Angeles, as Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw are set to duel. Wainwright leads the NL with 14 wins and hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in a start in two months. Since the beginning of July, he has a 1.21 ERA in nine outings. Without working as deep into games, Kershaw has been just about as outstanding, amassing a 1.50 ERA in his last 12 starts. However, the Dodgers have lost each of his last five starts and Kershaw hasn’t been sharp in two of his three starts this month. Even if he’s at his best tonight, it’s no guarantee of a win. He pitched eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals on July 29 and ended up with a no-decision when St. Louis came back to win 3-2.

Murray Chass rightfully nails Major League Baseball on minority hiring

Rob Manfred
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When Murray Chass lays off his vendettas against the people he feels have wronged him, he’s still capable of making some sharp points. Particularly when he’s working in his old bailiwick of the business of baseball.

On Sunday he wrote a blog post about minority hiring in baseball. As in, the nearly complete lack of it, at least in front offices:

Manfred has talked a better job on minority hiring than he has performed. He has created a pipeline program through which members of minorities are supposed to be able to advance into major league front office positions. However, no role models seem to exist as inspiration for younger employees.

In Manfred’s 20 months as commissioner, clubs have hired or promoted 19 high-ranking executives. Eighteen of the 19 are white males. The lone minority is Al Avila, the Tigers’ general manager.

Chass reports that Rob Manfred and, in the past, Bud Selig have leaned on clubs to hire friends or trusted lieutenants but claim they have no power to tell clubs who to hire when it comes to minorities. It’s pretty dang good point.

Moving beyond Chass’ points, it’s worth observing that one way baseball could better populate the executive ranks would be to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. What a better way to become a friend and crony than to have, you know, been there a long time? The game has had a horrible track record in doing this, however, for one simple reason: it pays crap wages for all but the highest of executive positions, pushing away candidates for whom money is, in fact, an object to pursuing a dream in baseball which, by demographic necessity, favors the rich and thus favors whites. Earlier this year MLB launched a pipeline program aimed at getting more minority candidates into entry level MLB jobs. That’s a good start to addressing the problem, but it’s going to take years for that to bear fruit, assuming it ever does.

Back in June Kate Morrison and Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a four-part series regarding this very issue, and it’s well worth your time. Among the points made is one that, given his vendettas, Chass surprisingly didn’t make himself: sabermetrics is partially to blame! Go read Kate and Russell’s work on that, but the short version: front offices want MBA/STEM types now, not people with athletic backgrounds. People with those degrees have expensive educations and, in turn, cannot afford to take pennies to work in baseball when they can make far more in other industries, thereby continuing to favor the rich and the white.

I don’t think Rob Manfred or Bud Selig before him or the people who run major league baseball teams are bigots. I don’t think that baseball, as a whole, wants to keep minorities out of top jobs. Chass doesn’t make such a claim either and he, like I, noted the pipeline program.

But baseball is a business rife with cronyism and nepotism which leads those in power to hire friends and relatives, thereby keeping the executive class overwhelmingly male and white. Baseball has shown that, when it wants to, it can lean on teams to make certain hiring choices. Will it do the same to push for greater minority representation in management ranks? Or will it continue to throw up its hands up and say “hey, that’s on the clubs?”

Tim Tebow hits a homer in his first instructional league at bat

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets hits a home run at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Because of course he did.

It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt.  The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.

Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.