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.

Nationals acquire Derek Norris from Padres

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres prepares to bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on October 1, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.

Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:

Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.

Breaking Down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame ballot: Bud Selig

Bud Selig
Associated Press
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. The final candidate: Bud Selig. 

The case for his induction:

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, in January 2015, as Bud Selig was stepping down after 20+ years as baseball’s commissioner, I wrote a column claiming that he was “The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History.” I stand by that assessment.

Which is not to say that he was perfect or that he was, in an absolute sense, good. He was simply better than all of the other commissioners, most of whom weren’t worth a tinker’s damn.

More important to that analysis than his historical comps, however, was that when people talk about how good or bad a commissioner was, they’re usually judging him by their own, subjective terms, not the terms of the commissioner’s employment. Contrary to popular belief, the commissioner is not a president, governor or mayor of baseball. He is not elected by nor answerable to the fans or the public. He may play up all of the trappings of political leadership because it makes him seem important and noble and serves to justify the power he wields, but in reality the commissioner of baseball is merely the Chairman of the Board for Baseball, Inc., answerable to anywhere between 16 and 30 owners depending on what time in baseball history he happend to serve.

People hate being reminded of that. They want to say Bud Selig was a failure because he did things they did not like, but that’s beside the point. He did things his employers liked and did them better than most others who preceded him. In the process he made a lot of people very rich, including all of the other owners, broadcast executives, players, agents and just about anyone else who holds a stake in baseball. His transgressions — discussed below — were real, but they were not considered deal breakers for anyone to whom Selig actually owed a duty. He may have betrayed you or me and he may have done things that harmed our love of baseball, but it was never his job to make us happy. Sorry I had to tell you that so bluntly, but it’s better you heard it from a friend.

So, the case for Bud: he did his job the way he was supposed to and he grew the game and made his employers rich. That’s not an inspiring case, but it’s the case we have.

The case against his induction:

Personally, I don’t think any commissioner should be in the Hall of Fame, but as we noted with the other executives, that ship has sailed. Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame for Pete’s sake and he bungled just about everything that came his way. Hall of Fame induction for a commissioner is a gold watch. A lifetime achievement award.

It may also be worth noting that he’s on the Hall of Fame board for crying out loud, so he has a blatant conflict of interest here, what with having been part of selecting or approving the very people who will vote for him on Monday. Based on what we’re seeing in other arenas, however, I suppose we’re over things like conflicts of interest in late 2016 America, so that gets us nowhere.

Still, let’s not pretend that Bud Selig was not an accomplice and, according to many, a ringleader of a literal criminal conspiracy that harmed people’s livelihoods and, in turn, compromised the product on the field. Let us not pretend he did not launch a disastrous, cynical and greed-inspired labor war that cost us the 1994 season and World Series. Let us not pretend that he did not turn the ownership ranks into a secret society open only to those who know the secret knock, rewarding those inside the club, however incompetent, and destroying entire franchises. Let us not pretend that he did not willfully turn a blind eye to steroid and performance enhancing drug use in the game, knowing that the resulting dingers helped boost fan interest and revenue, only to then turn around and vilify and scapegoat the players who used those drugs in a comically grandstanding and self-serving manner.

Should all of that be held against him? Absolutely. Will they be? I seriously, seriously doubt it.

Would I vote for him?

We hear from BBWAA voters so very often that to withhold a Hall of Fame vote from someone is not a “punishment” as much as it is a mere denial of the highest honor. We hear that withholding a vote does not deny a player’s greatness, just a place in the Hall. If that’s the case I see no problem withholding a vote from Selig, even if he was the greatest commissioner. Yes, he was great, but he also did a lot of stuff which brought ignominy to the game and which actively harmed people. Many, many players have been effectively barred from entering the Hall of Fame for far lesser transgressions. Bud Selig is not, in my view, worthy of baseball’s highest honor.

Will the Committee vote for him?

It’s a mortal lock. Baseball loves nothing more than patting Bud Selig on the back. He made everyone involved with it quite wealthy. I’d place the odds of him making it in on Monday’s vote at 100%.