New Jays GM a fantasy dud

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Though he is a quick learner, apparently.
10 years before replacing J.P. Ricciardi and assuming the title of Blue Jays interim general manager, Alex Anthopoulos took part in Scoresheet fantasy baseball, a game of which I also happen to be a fan.
I’m not going to do a full rundown — if you’re interested, click on the link — but Scoresheet leagues tend to be drafted somewhat similarly to regular fantasy leagues, with the caveat that most are keeper leagues. The big difference is that no categories are involved: games are simulated by the Scoresheet software using actual stats that each player accumulates during each of the 26 weeks of the season. Also, defense counts and managers can employ tendencies, such as when to put the bench into play, whether to sac bunt with anyone but the pitcher and when to pull the starter. It never works perfectly, but it’s still plenty of fun to watch unfold, and there’s a simulated postseason that uses a mixture of September stats and full-season stats to try to come up with the fairest possible result.
As is turned out, Anthopoulos discovered the game long before I did. Thanks to a hot tip from Rotoworld’s Nate Stephens and a little digging, we see that Anthopoulos took part in the 10-team AL-only Harwell League in 1999 and 2000.
In 1999, his “Big Uns” team finished an incredible 49-113, a full 23 games behind any of the league’s other nine clubs. It scored 542 runs and gave up 989. For comparison’s sake, the 1962 Mets scored 617 runs and allowed 948.
Things got ever so slightly better the following year. In the turnaround to end all turnarounds, Anthopoulos’ club went 111-51, a full 62-game improvement. The “Big Uns” scored 1,170 runs and allowed 788. To put that in perspective, one major league team has reached four figures in runs scored in the last 50 years, that being the 1999 Indians at 1009.
So, obviously, this league had some balance issues. Anthopoulos went from worst to first in the regular season and then won the championship 4-1 in the best-of-seven series. Keying his turnaround were some big offseason deals. He moved Mark Mulder, Freddy Garcia and Nick Johnson for Tim Hudson and Paul Konerko. Next was Konerko, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar and one-time top prospect Ryan Anderson for Jason Giambi and Jim Thome. He then spun Thome for Eric Chavez. He somehow managed to swindle away Manny Ramirez, Jorge Posada and Troy Glaus as well, though that did cost him Chavez. Less impressive was trade of Michael Cuddyer for Ron Villone, though that would never come back to haunt him.
To put it mildly, he was an active owner during his two years in the league. But that all changed after 2000, when he got an entry job with the Expos and left fantasy baseball behind. Or at least declined to continue playing under his own name.
Anthopoulos is no lock to keep his GM job once the Blue Jays name a new president, but outgoing CEO Paul Beeston is recommending him for the job. He certainly has my support, and only partly because of the Scoresheet background.
No, the far more significant factor is that, if his team name is any indication at all, he apparently was a “big” Married with Children fan.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

MIAMI, FL - MAY 21: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the first inning of the game against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on May 21, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Marlins 9, Rays 1: Jose Fernandez struck out 12 in seven innings. After the game he said “it’s time for me to learn how to manage myself on the mound and learn how to pitch.” Wow, he’s doing all of this in ignorance? Just imagine how many dudes he’d strike out if he learned to pitch. It’s like Barry Allen in season 1 of “The Flash” when he still didn’t even know what he was doing but was still pretty impressive. I mean, look at Fernandez in the picture above. He even sorta looks like The Flash.

Astros 4, Orioles 2: George Springer hit two solo homers, but the real story was, once again, just how strikeout-tastic the Astros pitching staff was. Astros pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts on the night. That goes with their 18 strikeouts on Wednesday night and their 19 strikeouts on Tuesday to set a new major league record for strikeouts in a three-game series with 52. The New 52, as it were.

Pirates 8, Diamondbacks 3: Gerrit Cole hit a three-run homer but the Pirates blew the lead he gave them. Luckily Josh Harrison, who didn’t start because he was sick, came off the bench to hit  two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to give them back the lead for good. They’d add some insurance later. Always gotta be careful not to add too much insurance, though, as it may inspire Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray to bump you off. Or maybe Kathleen Turner and William Hurt.

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 1: J.A. Happ allowed one run over seven innings and notched his sixth win. He outdueled CC Sabathia who turned in his best outing of the season (7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 7K) but simply didn’t get the run support. Sabathia allowed one earned run in 20 innings in the month of May.

Nationals 2, Cardinals 1: Homers from Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa backed Joe Ross, who is quite quietly having a sweet season at the back end of the Nats’ rotation, boasting a 2.52 ERA in nine starts. OK, he’s probably not boasting. He seems like a fine young man who lets his actions speak rather than his words. That’s what my source tell me, anyway. My source is Joe Ross’ mom. I’m worried that she may be biased, however, so I’m using a second source: his grandma. I’m gonna get to the bottom of this Joe Ross character controversy, that I can promise you.

Rockies 8, Red Sox 2: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak ends at 29. And with that, Joe DiMaggio cracks open the bottle of champagne he saves for the end of every hitting streak of 25 games or more. Mercury Morris taught him that trick and you can never go wrong with doing something Mercury Morris thinks is cool. Trevor Story hit his 13th homer.Carlos Gonzalez and Dustin Garneau went deep too. Clay Buchholz‘s ERA is now 6.35.

Brewers 6, Braves 2Ryan Braun and Jonathan Villar each homered as the Brewers swept the Braves. They have three wins in Turner Field in three games this year. Atlanta has two wins in Turner Field in 22 games this year.

White Sox vs. Royals — POSTPONED: I don’t care if it rains

(Let’s all go to the bar)
I don’t care if there’s a hurricane
(Let’s all go to the bar)
And I don’t care if I’m the one to blame
(Let’s all go to the bar)

Video: Bryce Harper launches a homer into the upper deck

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals looks on against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on May 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has had a tough month of May. Opposing pitchers have become increasingly unwilling to throw hittable pitches in the strike zone for him, and he’s had trouble adjusting. Entering Thursday’s action, Harper was hitting .194/.454/.306 with two home runs in 97 plate appearances this month. 31 of those plate appearances ended in a walk, nine intentionally.

Harper finally got a pitch to hit in the sixth inning against Cardinals starter Mike Leake. Leake threw a 1-1 curve and Harper promptly launched into the upper deck at Nationals Park. It’s Harper’s 12th homer of the year.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s hitting streak ends at 29 games

BOSTON, MA - MAY 25:  Blake Swihart #23 of the Boston Red Sox congratulates Jackie Bradley Jr. #25 after he scored a run against the Colorado Rockies  during the fifth inning at Fenway Park on May 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was unable to continue his hitting streak on Thursday night, going 0-for-4 out of the leadoff spot against the Rockies in an 8-2 loss. He hit a deep fly ball to right field in the first inning, missing a home run by a few feet. He hit another deep drive in the fifth, but it was caught in front of the wall in center field at Fenway Park by Charlie Blackmon. In his final at-bat, Bradley weakly grounded out on the first pitch from Jon Gray to lead off the eighth inning.

Bradley’s 29-game streak tied Johnny Damon for the fourth-longest streak in Red Sox history. Dom DiMaggio still has the longest in club history at 34 games.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was able to extend his hitting streak streak to 19 games. He went 1-for-3, hitting a line drive single in the first.

Softball legend Jennie Finch to manage a professional men’s baseball team

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Jennie Finch attends a press conference at Marathon Pavilion in Central Park on November 3, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)
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Softball legend Jennie Finch will make history on Sunday when she will serve as a guest manager for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League. She will become the first woman to manage a men’s professional baseball team.

In the club’s announcement, GM Jamie Toole said, “We are really excited to have Jennie come out and manage the team. She is an incredible athlete and a wonderful person, and we hope our fans will enjoy seeing her in a Bluefish uniform for the day.”

Finch won the 2001 Women’s College World Series with the University of Arizona. She won the gold medal with Team USA in the 2004 Summer Olympics and silver in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Finch is only managing one game, but it’s still a positive step for inclusiveness in professional sports. Hopefully, in the future, we see more women in sportswriting, broadcasting, coaching, and front office positions.