Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 16, Red Sox 5: After scoring 20 runs in their first nine games, the Rays asplode for 16. The most damage was inflicted by leadoff hitter Sam Fuld who went 4 for 6 — all extra base hits — with three RBI.  If this was the NBA Fuld would have stopped on first with that last double of his to get the cycle. Thank God this isn’t the NBA. Oh, and Fuld has some sweet catches in left, too. Before the season started there were Red Sox fans who liked to mock the Yankees’ pitching problems. Well, the Red Sox have now given up 69 runs in 10 games, so there isn’t anyone this side of that team of guys with handlebar mustaches who played the Gashouse Gorillas in the Bugs Bunny cartoon who Red Sox fans can mock for their pitching. And at least they signed Bugs later.

Mariners 8, Blue Jays 7: Wow. You figure that if you get seven runs and 12 hits in six innings off Felix Hernandez that you’re going to win. And the Jays had to figure they would given that they were up 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. But nope: the M’s came back. Luis Rodriguez’s two-run single with two outs in the ninth was the game-winner. Milton Bradley was a key part of the comeback too, homering in the seventh and walking in a run and scoring the following inning. After this debacle, I’m guessing John Farrell is going to be loathe to go to his pen tonight.

Indians 4, Angels 0: Break up the Indians. That’s eight straight for Cleveland, this one coming on eight shutout innings from Mitch Talbot of all people. Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo homer in the first was all the Indians would need, but Matt Laporta added a three-run jack in the second.  Are the Indians this year’s version of last year’s Padres?

Rockies 7, Mets 6: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Mets took the lead but the bullpen blew it. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Rockies were powered by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, each of whom drove in three. Jason Isringhausen pitched for the Mets. It was his first action in a Mets uniform since 1999.  Man, 1999 was a long time ago.

Rangers 2, Tigers 0: I thought that putting Neftali Feliz in the pen in favor of Alexi Ogando was a dumb move. And the part of that in which Neftali Feliz is not currently a starter is still dumb. Overall, however, the Ogando-in-the-rotation thing has been straight aces. He shut out the Tigers for seven innings running his scoreless innings streak to 13 in his two starts.  He left with a blister problem in this one and had a blister in his first start as well. Here’s hoping that isn’t a recurring theme.

Athletics 2, White Sox 1: Man, this one has to hurt. Mark Buehrle pitched eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball only to get the no-decision because his offense couldn’t do much of anything against Dallas Braden and Tyson Ross and because a Juan Pierre error in the ninth inning allowed the A’s to tie it up. Into the 10th and Kurt Suzuki homers off Jesse Crain for the game winner. Anyone have surveillance on Crain to make sure he’s not really a double agent, still on the Twins’ payroll?

Cubs 5, Astros 4: The Cubbies jumped all over Nelson Figueroa for 5-0 lead and then held on as the Astros chipped away but fell short. Starlin Castro was 3 for 5 with three runs scored. Second smallest crowd in the history of Minute Maid Park (20,175). I’m not going to say that baseball has come a long way in the past 25 years, but I remember some random promotional giveaway night at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in the late 80s that drew a little over 20,000 and Skip Caray went on and on about how weird it was to play in front of such a big crowd. And while the Braves drew particularly poorly then, it wasn’t uncommon for teams to routinely have four digit attendance nights without anyone saying much about it.  Only a handful of teams back then would think of a 20K night as some dire low.

Dodgers 6, Giants 1: For the second time on the young season, Clayton Kershaw shut the Giants down. Shutting them out, in fact, through six and two-thirds anyway. Including Opening Day and his last start against the G-men last September, he hasn’t allowed a run over his last 23 and two-thirds innings against San Francisco. The game was dedicated to Bryan Stow, who was beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day. Before the game the players came together on the mound, offering a joint statement about how the rivalry needs to stay on the field. It was a nice gesture as was the fund raising to benefit Stow that each team has done in recent days. Sadly, however, the type of people who attacked Stow are likely immune to this message. After all, if the example of sportsmanship baseball players typically exemplify and the nature of baseball itself doesn’t set the proper example, the words of players likely won’t either. Like the man said: there’s a meanness in this world.

Reds 3, Padres 2: Once again Edinson Volquez was shaky in the first, allowing two runs, but once again he settled down and that’s all the Padres would muster all night. Mat Latos was the opposite in his season debut: he started strong, notching five strikeouts in his first three innings, but then made mistakes to Jonny Gomes and Chris Heisey, whose homers accounted for all of the Reds’ scoring.

Cardinals 8, Diamondbacks 2: Kyle McClellan allowed one run over six innings. He also doubled in a run in the third and singled in a run in the fourth to — wait for it! — help his own cause. Yadier Molina scored on the double, so without looking I’m going to say he was on third or else the double lodged in the wall or something. It was the most runs the Cards have scored all season. Oh, and Albert Pujols hardly contributed, going 1 for 5 with no runs scored.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.

Bud Selig is still, laughably, pleading ignorance about the Steroid Era

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27:  Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig speaks at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Yesterday I raked Bud Selig and the Hall of Fame over the coals. Selig for his considerable responsibility for the prevalence of performing enhancing drugs in baseball during his tenure and his failure to take responsibility for it, the Hall of Fame for inducting Selig while continuing to bar the door to players who used PEDs.

Later in the day yesterday a remarkable story was written by Jayson Stark of ESPN. It was based on a one-on-one with Selig in which his legacy with respect to steroids was discussed. It was framed by Selig talking about how the students in the baseball in history seminar he teaches at The University of Wisconsin recently grilled him about what he knew and when he knew it with respect to PEDs and what could have been done to stop the proliferation of the stuff in the game.

What makes it remarkable is that, until yesterday’s interview, Selig believed that he had done everything he possibly could have done to deal with PEDs. It took Jayson Stark telling him that, maybe, he could’ve done more:

“Now let me ask you a question,” he said. “And I’m being serious. If you had been me then, what would you have done?”

Frankly, I was amazed that he asked . . . So that, I told him, was what I thought he could have done. He was the commissioner. So the one thing he could have done, without needing a bargaining table to do it, was raise this issue, speak about it more, admit to it earlier and bring it to the forefront.

And Selig, as if he had never considered the notion, agreed:

“That’s fair,” Selig replied. “That’s very fair.”

A moment later, he looked me right in the eye again. “Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Maybe I should have said more.”

It’s incredible that a man as honored and lauded as Selig has been — a man who has been praised for his savvy and effectiveness as a leader and, eventually, a negotiator — had never considered using the bully pulpit to deal with what he has claimed to be his most vexing problem as commissioner before yesterday. And when I say “incredible” I do not mean “amazing.” I mean “literally not credible.” As in, I believe he is simply lying when he implies that the thought never occurred to him.

Rather, I believe that he had little if any interest in speaking out about steroids until, years later, he had no choice but to thanks to Jose Canseco and BALCO and all of the rest. Steroids served baseball admirably. They increased offense and made big stars out of marketable men and helped everyone forget that, just a few years before, Selig and his fellow owners drove baseball off a cliff and cancelled a World Series because of it. The men who employed Bud Selig, baseball’s owners, made a lot of money off of that juice and, as such, Bud Selig standing up in, say, 1998 and saying that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were cheaters and that PEDs were a scourge that must be addressed was simply never going to happen. Not because Selig was in the dark or at a loss, but because, as it was with the players who used the drugs, it was in Bud Selig’s own self-interest not to speak.

Selig’s mendacity in that interview yesterday was even more remarkable than that, actually. Indeed, in addition to claiming he had no idea how to act back then, he claimed that, back in 1998, he was totally in the dark about why Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were shattering Roger Maris’ home run record:

“I talked to the Cubs about Sammy,” Selig recalled. “The Cardinals were thrilled with McGwire. It was a big civic celebration.”

And no one on either team mentioned a word, he said, about what was really driving those two men toward the threshold of history. So Selig said he turned to his “baseball people” in the commissioner’s office.

He says he asked, “What’s causing this?” And they reeled off what we would now describe as the usual, everything-but-the-elephant-in-the-room, theories: Expansion. The dilution of pitching. Questions about whether there was something different about the baseball.

“They gave me a whole bunch of reasons,” Selig said. “And I kept asking about steroids.”

Why Selig was asking people about steroid use in 1998 is a mystery, because Selig knew damn well that Mark McGwire was using PEDS as early as 1993, several months after he took over from Fay Vincent and became acting commissioner.

We know this thanks to an interview with former FBI agent Greg Stejskal, who was extensively quoted about his investigations into steroids in the early 1990s. Investigations which revealed Mark McGwire’s drug use dating back to 1989, which Stejskal told Major League Baseball about:

Stejskal said federal authorities, through their undercover operation, learned of McGwire’s steroid usage by 1993. A year later, Stejskal recalled that he shared information from the investigation related to baseball players with Major League Baseball’s then security boss, Kevin Hallinan, though the sport had no drug testing program at the time.

That story was written nearly seven years ago, by the way. No one associated with Major League Baseball has ever explained how the league did not know that McGwire was using PEDs in 1998 as a result. They clearly knew for five years by then. Unless you think that an MLB security chief, when informed of player being caught up in an FBI drug probe, wasn’t going to tell anyone about it.

Despite all of this, Bud Selig is walking around the Winter Meetings this week, getting his attaboys for his Hall of Fame induction and spinning unadulterated bull crap about what he knew and when he knew it with respect to PEDs in baseball. He’s gotten away with doing so for so long, so why should he change course now?