Japanese female knuckleballer makes debut against men

Will a woman ever play in the majors? Don’t ask major league executives about it.


There’s a story up by Pat Borzi of espnW about the possibility of a woman making the major leagues.  The most interesting passage in the whole piece, however, has little to do with the chances of that actually occurring on the merits but which is quite telling about it happening in reality. After reviewing the views of Justine Siegal, Bill Mike Veeck and Dan Duquette, all of whom feel/felt that we will see a woman in the majors one day, Borzi notes:

It’s difficult to find anyone in MLB who agrees with Siegal, Veeck or Duquette. Of the nine MLB executives, scouts and players contacted by espnW, only three agreed to talk about the subject. None was willing to be quoted. One considered a woman playing in the majors unlikely, and the other two rejected it out of hand.

If people in front offices are so weirded out about the concept that they won’t even offer a speculative quote, how likely is it that anyone will go to the mat for a putative woman prospect if and when it comes time to consider advancing her in the system? Assuming someone would even go out on a limb to draft her? Bunch of cowards.

Anyway, this topic comes up every couple of years, and my take each time has remained more or less the same:

  • I’d love to see it, because you know that ballplayers would say all kinds of stupid things if it happened, and ballplayers saying stupid things makes for great blogging;
  • If we do see it, I agree with Duquette that it will most likely take the form of a knuckleballer with a deceptive motion like Eri Yoshida (though it should be noted that Yoshida didn’t fare well in Independent ball); but
  • We probably won’t see it outside of the independent leagues any time soon, if ever, because baseball is a really damn conservative institution that, at least in this day and age, isn’t all that willing to take chances.

None of this, it should be noted, represents my opinion on whether a woman could be successful in professional baseball. I don’t know nearly enough about scouting and player development and physiology to say with any kind of certainty if a woman could do it.

On a purely biological level there is no getting around the fact that human beings exhibit at least some degree of sexual dimorphism. At the same time, there are outliers, as any guy who has been totally killed during a pickup basketball game against a backup point guard from their high school girl’s team can attest.  Um, not that that happened to me. Repeatedly.

When I think about the subject, part of me looks at out-of-shape major leaguers and thinks “man, there HAS to be a dozen women who could do what that slob can do.” Then part of me looks at any given knuckleballer and thinks that, well, yeah, they still have to have a serviceable get-me-over pitch, and even most men can’t dial it up enough to get that done.

Maybe it happens someday. I hope it does because it would be an absolutely astounding achievement (and not just for dumb bloggy reasons as mentioned above).

But really, executives: you can’t even talk about it?

(thanks to Paperlions for the heads up)

Clayton Kershaw can win in the postseason! Who knew?

Clayton Kershaw
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Sometime after their Game 2 loss to the Rangers last week, the Blue Jays decided they trusted Marcus Stroman more than Cy Young candidate David Price in a potential Game 5 start. Such is the power of a postseason slump.

It can lead to one of the best hitters in the world being dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup. It can lead to quality regulars sitting at highly irregular times. In the postseason, what you did yesterday matters 10 times as much as what you did last month, usually not for the better.

Fortunately, Clayton Kershaw never had to worry about being skipped because of his postseason struggles. Even calling them struggles overstate the reality. In his previous three postseason starts, Kershaw had:

  • Allowed two runs over six innings in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS against the Cardinals before being left in to give up a whopping six runs in the seventh
  • Pitched six scoreless innings on three days’ rest in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS before giving up a three-run homer in the seventh
  • Allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in Game 1 against the Mets before his two inherited runners came around to score off the pen
So, yes, Kershaw entered Tuesday’s outing against the Mets with a 4.99 postseason ERA, but he had turned in six quality starts in nine tries, allowing one earned run or fewer three times. It wasn’t nearly regular-season Kershaw, but it also wasn’t as bad as the ERA suggests, not when he’d been the victim of slow hooks and lousy bullpen support.

And, really, Tuesday’s win over the Mets didn’t seem much different at all than Kershaw previous couple of postseason starts, at least through six innings. Maybe the fastball was amped a bit. The real difference this time was that he made it through the seventh. Best of all, since he was on three days’ rest, Don Mattingly wasn’t tempted to send him back out for the eighth at 94 pitches, as he probably would have done had Kershaw been on normal rest. The bullpen took over and turned in two hitless innings in the 3-1 win, sending the NLDS back to Los Angeles for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday.

It’s completely unnecessary redemption for Kershaw, who had nothing in need of redeeming. But it’ll keep the trolls quiet for now and also all winter if Kershaw doesn’t get the chance to pitch again. He’d surely prefer to risk the chance of failure again next week in the NLCS.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers top Mets in Game 4 of NLDS to force a Game 5

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

There will be a decisive NLDS Game 5 on Thursday evening in Los Angeles.

Clayton Kershaw yielded just three hits and struck out eight batters over seven innings of one-run ball and Justin Turner hit his fourth double of the series — a two-run poke down the left field line in the top of the third inning — as the Dodgers defeated the Mets 3-1 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

Kershaw’s past postseason demons peaked their head out when Yoenis Cespedes reached on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but there was no Matt Adams or Matt Carpenter to make him pay this time around. Kershaw retired the next three batters in order and then gave way to reliever Chris Hatcher for the eighth inning having thrown 94 pitches on short rest.

The only run Kershaw allowed was on a Daniel Murphy solo shot in the fourth inning. The other two hits he surrendered were singles.

Los Angeles’ bullpen answered the call after Kershaw’s departure, with Hatcher and closer Kenley Jansen combining to post two big zeroes on the scoreboard in Queens. Jansen secured the final four outs, earning his fifth career postseason save and second this October.

Jacob deGrom is lined up for the Mets and Zack Greinke will be on the hill for Los Angeles in the loser-goes-home tilt Thursday at Dodger Stadium. This series is shaping up to be a classic.

The winner Thursday will face the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.