Mark McGwire: Baseball's Big Red Scare

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ESPN’s Howard Bryant, taking a page out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook, on baseball’s response to recent steroid stories  (i.e. David Ortiz) and the hiring of Mark McGwire:

Baseball responded curiously, if not brazenly. The league and the union both enthusiastically defended Ortiz without providing any evidence that could lead to his exoneration; and now, as the World Series is beginning, McGwire has resurfaced, with Selig’s exuberant blessing.

McGwire is not prohibited from working in baseball, and the Cardinals have broken no rules in hiring him. But he is today what he was in 2005 — a coward, accepting a job he knows he does not deserve.

Guilty until proven innocent; free to work but blackballed.  That’s exactly how it went during the Red Scare.  Is this really the level of discourse that will lead baseball out of the old era and into a new one?  Thank goodness Bryant doesn’t have the kind of power McCarthy had.

Communism was a legitimate threat in the 1940s and 50s, but McCarthy and his ilk decided to (a) overstate the threat so as to induce an irrational panic; and (b) fight the threat on the most irrelevant and ineffective of playing fields.  Steroids may or may not be a serious threat to the integrity of professional sports today, but Howard Bryant and his ilk are doing exactly the same thing.

As was the case with McCarthy, we’ll one day look back disapprovingly on this kind of rhetoric as well.

Kenley Jansen’s consecutive saves streak ends at 34

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game against the Braves, blowing his first save since August 26 last season. He had converted 34 consecutive saves.

Jansen yielded back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, staked to a 4-1 lead. After getting two outs, Matt Adams hit a three-run home run down the right field line to knot the game at four apiece.

After Sunday’s lackluster performance, Jansen is now 24-for-25 in save chances this season with a 1.49 ERA and a 62/2 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings.

Zach Britton sets American League record with 55th consecutive save

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Orioles closer Zach Britton finished Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Astros with a scoreless ninth inning, earning his sixth save of the season. He has now earned the save in 55 consecutive opportunities dating back to September 2015, setting a new American League record. Tom Gordon previously held the record with 54 consecutive saves. Eric Gagne holds the major league record at 84.

Britton’s last blown save came on September 20, 2015, then converted two more saves before the end of the regular season. He went 47-for-47 in save chances last season and is six-for-six so far this year.

Along with his six saves, Britton has a 2.65 ERA and a 13/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season. The lefty came off the disabled list earlier this month after missing two months with a strained left forearm.