And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Indians 6, Blue Jays 1: This game freaked me out in that the score went final before 2:30 yesterday afternoon.  There’s almost something unnatural about a game being over that early in the day. I’d love to live on the west coast, but having baseball be over before noon out there would totally wig me out.  Anyway: I’m going to resist the urge to use the word “masterful” to describe Justin Masterson’s start because I bet he’s got that since he was in little league. Oh, wait, I did it anyway, didn’t I? 8.1 IP, 8 H, 1 ER.  And Matt LaPorta homered for his third straight game, which just goes to show you that some quality time in Columbus, Ohio is good for the body and soul.

Angels 2, Rangers 1: Jered Weaver pitches two-hit, shutout ball over
seven to give the Angels a series win over the Rangers. It’s the
Rangers’ first series loss in nearly a month.

Yankees 4, Mariners 2: A-Rod hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the
eighth inning. Remember back when he wasn’t clutch? Nah, me neither.

Reds 3, Cubs 2: The AP game story goes several paragraphs talking about
Dusty Baker’s history in Chicago rather than talk about the actual game.
Annoying, but worth it for this line from Dusty: “I was here four out
of the 100 years. Most people act like I
was here the whole hundred.” As for the game, Travis Wood makes his
major league debut for Cincy and it was a good one: 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER. 
The scoring ended on a fielder’s choice in the 10th and that’s kind of
boring so maybe it’s OK that the game story guy spent so much time
talking about Baker and Chicago.

Astros 6, Padres 3: Luke Gregerson couldn’t find the zone in the tenth inning, walking two guys with two outs and then allowing a triple to Michael Bourn. The Astros have won six of nine games.

Rockies 7, Giants 3: The good news: the Giants actually scored more than two runs for the first time since last Friday. The bad news: they still lost, which makes it six in a row. And memo to the AP writer who put the game recap together: you are fined $10 for using the term “danced” to describe Aaron Cook’s sinkerball. If you’d read your style book you’d see that it clearly states that only knuckleballs “dance.”  Please make a note of it in the future.

Rays 5, Twins 4: A day after quoting that “the Twins are 38-0 when leading after eight innings” stat they lose a game they were leading after eight innings. George Burns was right: statistics are a horrible bitch goddess.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 1: The Brewers little hot streak continues as they take their eighth win in 11 games. Prince Fielder homered again. He had seven homers at the end of May. Now he has 18.

Pirates 3, Phillies 2; Nationals 2, Mets 1: Can I tell you how
satisfying it is for your team to have a night off and having them still
gain ground in the division because their opponents lost to a couple of
hapless teams?

Athletics 8, Orioles 1: It’s getting to be a stretch to even call the Orioles “hapless” seeing how long
it’s been since they had any hap. It’d be like describing city streets
as “horseless.” I mean, sure, there ain’t no horses out there anymore,
but are we really saying anything meaningful by noting their absence? As for the Athletics, Trevor Cahill wins again after allowing one run over seven innings. Ryan
Sweeney and Chad Cliff Pennington (I have no idea, so don’t ask) each had four hits. Nice performances, but as I was looking at ESPN.com’s little scores page last night I noticed that, for a while at least, their little “top performers” box to the right of the scores had all three positions filled with Athletics. Typical ESPN East Bay bias. 

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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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.