Phillies take lead as Reds melt down in epic fashion

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Well, that bottom of the seventh inning was probably one of the worst meltdowns I have seen in quite some time. And this is coming from a Mets fan. The Phillies now lead the Reds 6-4 in the eighth inning.

It all started when Chase Utley reached first base on a questionable HBP against Aroldis Chapman. The replays were pretty darn inconclusive, but you’d think Utley would have reacted a bit more had hit actually been hit by a 102 mph fastball. Maybe his life was just flashing before his eyes or something. Either way, he reached first base.

After Chapman fanned Ryan Howard for the first out, Jayson Werth hit a ground ball to third, which should have been thrown to first for the second out, but Scott Rolen decided to throw to second, instead. Again, replays were inconclusive, but Utley was ruled safe at second base.

Then, things went completely haywire. Jimmy Rollins hit a flyball to right field and Jay Bruce completely lost it in the lights, or more likely, the sea of white towels being waved at Citizens Bank Park. If that wasn’t bad enough, Brandon Phillips dropped the cut-off throw, allowing two runs to score. And to complete the trifecta of “I just don’t know,” it sure looked like Utley may have missed third base.

In summary, the Phillies have scored six runs thanks to six hits, four errors, four walks and three hit-by-pitches. Five of their six runs are unearned. The Reds are basically saying, “here, you can have it.”  

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.