You may recall that I took Ken Rosenthal to task for calling Mark McGwire a “distraction” and demanding that he resign back in January. Rosenthal, however, unlike the majority of big time baseball writers out there, will admit when he’s wrong. He does that today:
In late January, when the furor over Mark McGwire was raging, I wrote,
“Unless McGwire moves to change the conversation, the noise is not going
to subside, distracting the team in spring training and beyond.”
I whiffed on that one.
McGwire did not move to change the
conversation, yet the noise did subside. He was not a distraction to the
team in spring training. He is not a distraction now.
Good for Ken.
Even better for Ken is that later in today’s column he questions just how long we should hold grudges against PED-implicated players. He doesn’t ask that we condone their acts — and no one should condone them — but he appreciates that the choices facing these guys during that time were not black and white. Indeed, Rosenthal eben uses the phrase “black and white,” which pretty much sums up my views on the matter (i.e. it’s not one of those colors). If he weren’t in St. Louis getting ready to cover tomorrow’s
Cards-Dodgers Cards-Mets game, I’d kiss him.
Um, OK, maybe not. But good for him for displaying some refreshing thought and consideration on a subject that so rarely lends itself to such a thing.
Gee, between the Ron Washington thing and now this, one almost gets the sense that the things that get everyone all worked up in the offseason really don’t matter as much as we like to pretend that they do.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.