HBT Weekend Wrapup

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Stuff you may have missed while you sat by the trailer drinkin’ beer with your grandma at the state park:

  • A-Rod is OK after taking a BP liner to the leg. Thankfully this gave us all a chance to slam A-Rod again. My favorite: Wallace Matthews at ESPN New York,
    who described the incident — which was caused when FOX’s Joe Buck said
    hello to A-Rod, who returned the greeting — thusly: “a player who once
    again just can’t seem to help himself when it comes to
    courting, and being courted by, the lure of cheap celebrity.”  As if
    Matthews wouldn’t have slammed A-Rod for being “an aloof prima donna who
    has no time for the press or his fans” had he not acknowledged Buck’s
    greeting.
  • The Rangers will try to lock up Cliff Lee this season.
    I’m going to guess that the difference between their losing bid and the
    Yankees winning bid will be less than the difference between What Chuck
    Greenberg could have paid for the Rangers last spring but ended up
    paying for them last week due to the bankruptcy gambit. I also will
    guess that no one will make the connection at the time and will instead
    use the occasion to write more “the Yankees are trying to buy another
    championship” articles.
  • Torii Hunter got a four-game suspension
    and, in a rare move, didn’t appeal it. I guess his union rep explained
    that it would be hard to convince the league that it was Brandon Wood
    who threw all of those balls on the field during his temper tantrum.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Erik Bedard underwent season-ending surgery
    (note: his season never began). Drew’s post on it asks “what’s next?”
    in the headline. The only possible answer: Bedard and Ben Sheets team up
    to fight crime.
  • The Pirates fired
    pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho. Kerrigan isn’t
    a huge surprise in that the pitching has been bad. Varsho more so
    because, really, I thought the benches in Pirates’ dugout had been
    performing at or above expectations.
  • The Dodgers DFA’d Garret Anderson. You have to think this is the end of the road, as there are only so many GMs who will give a guy a contract based on accomplishments that are 7-8 years old.
  • The good news: the Rays haven’t lost one pitcher to arm trouble this year. The bad news: they’ve lost two.
  • Mark Prior: Don’t call it a comeback! He won’t be back for years!

And now let us plow into the week.

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.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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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.