And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 1, Braves 0: All I can say at this point is woe be unto whoever has to face Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt in the playoffs. I suppose it still could be the Braves in the NLCS, but I’d just not prefer to think about that at the moment. A day off and six games against the Nationals and Marlins sounds just lovely right now.

Oh, and yesterday I mentioned things that will prey on my mind all winter. Here’s another one: The Phillies added Roy Oswalt at the trading deadline. The Braves added Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel, and then lost Chipper Jones. That’s an even exchange.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1: And the NL West see-saw continues, with the Padres back in first place. Miguel Tejada smacked his 300th homer. It feels like whoever gets to play the Dodgers last will win this thing, because they haven’t put up a fight in weeks, it seems.

Cubs 2, Giants 0: The Cubs have won seven of eight. Mike Quade: you’re passing the audition. The Giants win games nicely. But when they lose, boy do they lose. Four of their last five losses were shutouts.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 4: Colorado continues to fail to take care of business, and now find themselves three games back of San Diego. This one was particularly rough: Ubaldo Jimenez was staked to a 4-0 lead before he threw his first pitch. He couldn’t make it past the fourth, giving up five runs on six hits. Jim Tracy said he’s “mentally out of whack.” Maybe he’s just tired.

Rays 7, Yankees 2: After a rain delay knocked out AJ Burnett, Joe Girardi felt like the best way to win this one was to send out Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo — four guys who are highly unlikely to find themselves on the postseason roster. Whatever, Joe.

Twins 5, Indians 1: I’m not going to say that the Indians have packed it in for the season, but when you get beat this badly by a bunch of hungover second stringers, you may not exactly have your head and heart in the game.

Marlins 7, Mets 5: Florida jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first and then held on. Jon Niese was all over the place for the Mets.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 1: A three-run homer and four RBI for Big Papi and a strong outing from John Lackey snap the Sox’ skid. And hey: a scoreless ninth for Papelbon. Miracle of miracles.

Pirates 11, Cardinals 6: Since taking over first place in that kicky and fighty series with the Reds in August, the Cardinals are 3-20 against teams with losing records. That’s absolutely astonishing. And if they lose four more games than they win before the season is out, they too will have a losing record. Which is even more astonishing given the talent on this team.

Brewers 13, Reds 1: Given that the Cards’ loss brought the Reds’ magic number down to three, this shellacking probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And there’s a bright side: seven or eight innings during which the outcome was not in doubt almost certainly gave Jeff Brantley ample time to talk about ice cream sundaes, barbecue, chilli dogs, professional wrestling and all of that stuff that makes me simultaneously love and loathe him as a radio guy. Just wish I had thought to tune in.

Mariners 6, Blue Jays 3: Jose Lopez went off for three homers, which is more air support than most Mariners starters get in a month.  From the game notes: “Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield and bench coach Nick Leyva
said they will apply to replace the departing Cito Gaston as Toronto manager.”  I like the use of the word “apply.” I picture the job vacancy being posted on the bulletin board above the coffee pot in the break room. I also picture a couple of bitter lifers in a table in the corner grumbling about how “they only post that internally because they have to. It’s all politics, man.”

Tigers 4, Royals 2: Miguel Cabrera got a leadoff single one inning. It was his only hit of the game. He had no other big moments or any RBIs. After the game, Johnny Damon said “Without him, we are probably in the cellar in our division. That’s how good he is.”  Somebody got the talking points!

White Sox 4, Athletics 3: Hey, the Sox won a game! They were down 3-1 in the eighth when Juan Pierre stole home to make it 3-2. Then a walk, a fielder’s choice, a single, a single and a double made it 4-3. Nice comeback for a team that has looked beat for the past two weeks.

Nationals 4, Astros 3: The game story makes an early, prominent mention of the fact that the Nats drew only 12,000 or so for this game.  I’m reading that 70s baseball book, and there is constant mention of teams — even good teams or teams with rich histories and deep fan bases — drawing pathetically by today’s standards. Things like the Yankees getting 19,000 on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium and stuff like that. The Nats’ 12,000 and change was roughly what the Cubs drew on average for the entire 1974, 1975 and 1976 seasons in Wrigley. Just a totally different era.

Rangers 2, Angels 1: Jeff Francoeur: secret weapon. He can take a hit-by-pitch. He can score on a passed ball in extra innings. He can find so many ways to beat you.  OK, not fair: he did hit a double to get into position to score on that passed ball.  The Rangers magic number is four heading into a four game series with Oakland, so this could all be done Friday night if everything breaks right.

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.