And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Twins 8, White Sox 5: Juggernaut. Five wins in a row for the Twins and their 11th in 12 games after making short work of the White Sox. Minnesota is 42-16 since the All-Star break. Mark Buehrle after the game: “Obviously they came in and kicked our butt every which way.”

Cardinals 4, Padres 0: There go the Cards, beating a good team again after dropping a bunch of games to bad ones. I can’t remember a team this schizo. This loss, plus the Giants win, drops the Padres behind the Giants in the NL West by a half game. They, San Francisco and Atlanta are all tied up in the loss column, however, so the wild card is a giant cluster right now.

Giants 10, Dodgers 2: This is the win I was talking about. And get this: runs! The Giants hadn’t had a ton of these in recent games. Jonathan Sanchez struck out 12. Ted Lilly had his shortest start of the season, giving up two homers and lasting only three and a third. He is 0-3 in his last four starts and has allowed 19 earned runs and seven HRs over that time.

Diamondbacks 3, Reds 1: A getaway day loss for the Reds, combined with the Cardinals win, drops their lead to seven. The game story is full of Reds players talking about how they don’t need to worry about St. Louis much anymore, don’t need to watch the scoreboard, etc. I guess that’s probably true — the Cardinals don’t seem like a threat — but it seems a few games too early for that kind of talk to me.

Mets 6, Pirates 2: Mike Pelfrey picks up his 15th win. The Mets sweep Pittsburgh. It was their first four game sweep of any team in over four years, which is rather amazing to me.

Indians 3, Angels 2: A Shelley Duncan roller slipped out of Alberto Callaspo’s hands in the bottom of the 11th, allowing him to reach and allowing Trevor Crowe to score from third. Walkoff error, baby.

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.