And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Francisco Rodrigues Jose Reyes.jpgMets 6, Yankees 4: I ain’t gonna lie to you: I was watching the “Lost”
finale, not Mets-Yankees. Kind of glad I missed this one too, because I just don’t think my senses could take something as implausible as the Mets taking 2 of 3 from the Bombers. Better off staying in the realm of the possible: magic tropical islands with polar bears and malevolent smoke monsters and all of that stuff.

Tigers 6, Dodgers 2: I think Jim Leyland misses the NL. In the ninth he
pinch hit Dontrelle Willis for Phil Coke, but then when Joe Torre
switched pitchers Leyland called back Willis and went with Adam Everett,
and then put on the old squeeze play to score Brandon Inge. He then did
six double switches, changed out the ballpark’s grass for Astroturf and
said that if you had any problem with that you can take it up with league
president Chub Feeney
.

Marlins
13, White Sox 0
: Brett Carroll stole second base with a 7-0 lead,
so Ozzie Guillen had Randy Williams plunk him. Says Ozzie: “I don’t know
what happened there. This is baseball, you have to
respect. I was up by eight a couple days ago, and that’s just the way we
learned how to play the game. We had to do something
about it, and we did. We just told the guy not to play like that.”  With
all due respect, Ozzie, your team is 18-25 and just had its ass handed
to it 13-0. No one is going to listen to you at this moment about “how
to play the game.”

Cardinals 6, Angels 5: A comeback win for the Cardinals. Albert Pujols
continues to slump, but was part of a double steal that put him on
second base and allowed him to score the tying run in the eighth inning.
“That was Albert reading and making it happen,” manager Tony La Russa
said.  “That quote was Tony La Russa trying to make up with Albert after
stupidly angering him by having guys steal in front of him like he did
on Saturday night
,” I said.

Padres 8, Mariners 1: Close until the eighth inning and then the Mariners bullpen blew up.  The Mariners scored 15 runs on Friday night, but scored one run a piece yesterday and Saturday, so they’re feeling much more like themselves now.

Athletics 3, Giants 0: Of course, the Mariners’ offense looks like freakin’ murderer’s row compared to the Giants, who scored one run in the entire three-game series with the Athletics. Not to take anything away from the A’s, but five pitchers combined on this shutout, and the fact that San Francisco couldn’t touch a single one of them tells you that it’s more about bad hitting than it is good pitching. Jonathan Sanchez received no run support for the fifth time in his nine starts, so he pretty much can punch whoever he wants in the Giants clubhouse right now.

Blue Jays 12, Diamondbacks 4: Just your standard five home run three-game series for Edwin Encarnacion, with three on Friday night and one each the last two games.  The Jays avoid the sweep.

Brewers 4, Twins 3: Trevor Hoffman returned and pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth inning. The Twins had tons of chances, but left boatloads of runners on base.

Rays 10, Astros 6: The Astros managed to score five runs in five inningss off AL ERA leader David Price, but the Tampa Bay bats bashed Houston to make up for it. The Rays are now 32-12, one game off the 2001 Mariners’ record at this point of the season. I’m not gonna say that the Rays will win 116 games, but I remember that 2001 season very well and this Rays team looks stronger in almost every facet of the game than the M’s did.

Rockies 11, Royals 7: Zack Greinke takes a lot of tough-luck losses. This was not one of them (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R).

Red Sox 8, Phillies 3: Roy Halladay can’t blame bad luck for yesterday’s game either (5.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R). Tim Wakefield, however, pitched eight scoreless.  Between that and what Dice-K did to them on Saturday, one could say that the Phillies may need to worry about their offense a bit.  Of course, one could also say that there aren’t two pitchers in baseball that screw with your timing more than the eminently deliberate Dice-K and the Knuckle Knuckle King, so maybe it was just one of those weekends.

Cubs 5, Rangers 4: The fact that Carlos Silva is 6-0 is far harder to believe than anything that ever happened on Lost.

Nationals 4, Orioles 3: Walkoff job for Josh Willingham. Drew Storen had a hit too, and is batting 1.000 on the season. If used conventionally, he may not have another plate appearance all year, thereby making him a total beast in all the video games next year. That is, if they haven’t improved the video games any since that old Lance Hafner simulation where a guy with a 1 for 1 career batting line will get a hit every single time he bats no matter what.

Indians 4, Reds 3: The Indians salvage one and stop their losing skid. Homer Bailey left this one early with tightness in his shoulder. Is someone about to be very, very wrong?

Pirates 3, Braves 2: Cox gives Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann the day off with expected results.

The Braves’ top minor league team to rename itself

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Whereas once it was expected that all sports teams would be named after ferocious animals, notable historic figures or events or something else otherwise inspiring, there has been a trend in the minor leagues over the past few years to give teams somewhat silly names.

The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Down East Wood Ducks. Etc.

I suspect a lot of that is fueled by a desire to sell intentionally uncool merchandise to ironic hipsters. Some of it may simply be a function of branding and creating a team identity that will not, for a moment, cause the local nine to be confused with anyone else. Not that those things are mutually exclusive. Whatever the impulse, the trend will no doubt continue.

The next place we could see it: Gwinnett County Georgia, where the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A team plays:

Gwinnett Braves general manager North Johnson announced a contest to rename the Triple-A team for the 2018 season and beyond.

Fans and members of the Gwinnett community can suggest new team names starting Monday through June 2. After all team name suggestions are submitted, a final round of voting on the top choices will last from June 19-July 3 on the Gwinnett Braves’ website.

Like all but one of its other affiliates, Gwinnett is named the Braves, just like the parent club. Being so close to Atlanta has caused it some identify problems, however, as one suburban Atlantan telling another that he’s “going to the Braves game” tomorrow could be confusing. Especially now that the major league team also plays in suburban Atlanta, about 35 miles apart. It makes sense.

So, go to the website, folks, and suggest a new name. The sillier the better. Basebally McBaseball Face? The Gwinnett Crackers?

 

David Ortiz thinks the Yankees leaked his 2003 drug test results

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David Ortiz was one of the hundred or so ballplayers who tested positive for PEDs during the 2003 survey testing which was designed to determine whether or not baseball’s drug problem was significant enough to warrant full-blown testing the following year.  His and everyone else’s name was supposed to remain confidential — indeed, the test results were supposed to be destroyed — but the government illegally seized them and, eventually, his, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa’s names were leaked.

While most people have long moved on from those survey test results — and while Rob Manfred himself recently said that those results may not, in fact, establish that Ortiz took banned substances  — the story still sticks in Ortiz’s craw. So much so that he’s still out speculating about how his results were made public. His theory? The Yankees did it. From an interview on WEEI:

“What was the reason for them to come out with something like that?” he said. “The only thing that I can think of, to be honest with you, a lot of big guys from the Yankees were being caught. And no one from Boston. This was just something that leaked out of New York, and they had zero explanation about it.”

I’m gonna call B.S. on that.

At the time names were surfacing in connection with those test results, in the summer of 2009, I was given a list of players by an anonymous source. This person claimed it was a list of all 100+ players who tested positive in 2003. Given the nature in which they were provided to me and given that, at the time, there were a lot of people circulating hoax lists, I was dubious to say the least. I had a separate source at the time who knew people who had access to the actual list of players. The source would not tell me who was on the actual list — it was and continues to be confidential — but the knowledgable source did confirm for me that, as I suspected, my list was bunk. I obviously didn’t write anything about it and moved on.

Some added value from that conversation, however, was learning just how few people actually had access to the real list. A small handful of top officials at the union and the league office did, I was told, and obviously the government had it given that they seized it in their idiotic and illegal raid, but that was it. Clubs, I was specifically told, did not have the list.

We’ll never know for sure, but I strongly, strongly suspect that the source of the leak was either IRS/FDA agent Jeff Novitzky, who spearheaded the government’s investigation into PEDs or someone close to him, such as the prosecutors with whom he worked. Novitzky spent close to a decade outing and prosecuting athletes for PED use and, in my view and the view of many others who followed the story at the time, he saw his work as an almost holy crusade. As the above-linked story about the federal court smacking down his seizure of the 2003 test results as illegal, he was often overzealous.

The reporter who broke the story of David Ortiz’s positive test result was Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times. Schmidt almost always had the first stories about players being outed as PED users during that period and his reporting on steroids in baseball in general almost always carried with it a pro-government slant. As I said, we’ll never know for sure, but it seems obvious to me that federal investigators and prosecutors were his sources. I suspect they were his sources for the name-naming articles as well. When Ortiz’s name leaked, Novitzky’s investigation was on the brink of being smacked down hard by a federal court and, I suspect, he leaked Ortiz’s name to the New York Times as a means of putting a face on the story and getting public sentiment on the side of those who would name names.

Like I said, though, that’s all ancient history at this point. At least to most people. It’s not to David Ortiz, which is understandable given that the whole incident affected him personally. But I think he’s wrong on the Yankees being the ones to out him. I don’t think anyone with the Yankees knew who was actually on the list. And even if they did, they had no incentive to get into some sort of P.R. war about PED users given that they already at least one prominent superstar getting killed for PED use and a lot of other ones who could possibly have been on the list as well.

But the feds had the list. And a desire to have the bad guys they were trying to prosecute shamed in the public arena. I’d bet a decent sum of money that they’re the ones who leaked your name, Big Papi. I’d aim your rhetorical guns at them if I were you.