Josh Hamilton lost a month and a half of the season thanks to an ugly head first slide into home plate. So, logic dictates, he’s going cut that sort of thing out, right?
Nah. I didn’t see it, but someone in the comments told me that he slid head first twice last night. And here he was on ESPN Radio in Dallas yesterday, courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews, making it clear that he has every intention of continuing the Pete Rose act.
Why? Instincts, baby, instincts:
Head first slides. Will you ever do that again?
“Yeah. Yeah I still will. It’s just a reaction when you’re playing the game and playing it how you were supposed to be playing it. You know certain situations call for you to go head first instead of feet first and if the situation comes up again obviously I’m going to go head first. That situation has come up whether it be a triple and diving into third or stealing a base. Obviously I get off first base I have to dive back head first. I never saw anyone dive feet first back in.”
There’s a healthy debate about whether sliding head first is an advantage. I don’t have any real knowledge here, but my gut tell me that it is. Obviously on tag plays it gives you more maneuverability and stuff. Even on the pure speed play, it just seems like you’re better off going head first due to factors like momentum and center of gravity and stuff.
But I bet it isn’t so big an advantage that it’s worth the risk to someone as valuable and injury prone as Josh Hamilton. If I was his manager I’d rather he be thrown out on close plays ten times rather than see him diving into a bag. And as for that get-back-to-first-base stuff: Hamilton’s career high in stolen bases is nine, and it’s likely only going to go down from there. How about this: shorten the leadoff and, in the event of a pickoff play, do that run-back-to-the-back-corner-of-the-bag thing they taught us in little league.
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.
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.