Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 1, Reds 0: Pittsburgh keeps rolling, as four pitchers combine to shut out the Redlegs for the second night in a row. This is all pretty trippy, but I’m curious to see what happens to the Buccos when they start a ten-game stretch against St. Louis, Atlanta and Philly beginning this Friday.

Rangers 7, Angels 0: Texas apparently does not lose baseball games anymore. Twelve straight for the Rangers, this one behind eight shutout innings from Alexi Ogando.

Mets 4, Cardinals 2: Jose Reyes comes back and gets two hits and scores a run, Carlos Beltran comes back and goes 3 for 3. In fact, every Mets starting position player got a hit and Dillon Gee pitched seven strong innings.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 2: Baltimore finally figures out how to beat Boston, besting them for the first time in seven meetings. Two runs in seven innings allowed for Jeremy Guthrie, who broke a personal seven-game losing streak against the Sox.

Tigers 8, Athletics 3: Things were going just fine until the bottom of the fifth, when Detroit decided that it was time to beat the living hell out of Guillermo Moscoso. Sometimes Tigers can just turn on you like that, which is why they make poor pets.

Padres 4, Marlins 0: It was bullpen trade chip audition night for the Padres, as Qualls, Adams, Gregerson and Bell all got into the game, each holding the Fish scoreless. Of course Tim Stauffer did most of the work, shutting out Florida for six. By the way, I think I have used some variation of the phrase “shutting out” more so far this year than I did the previous three years of this feature combined.

Rays 3, Yankees 2: Bartolo Colon returned to useful form, but the pen couldn’t hold it. Of course, it’s not like they had a big margin for error given how tied up Jeremy Hellickson had the Bombers’ lineup.

Twins 2, Indians 1: Minnesota entered the bottom of the ninth down 1-0, but loaded the bases and then Danny Valencia won it with a walk-off single. I wasn’t really paying attention to this game, but Gleeman was, and he said that Tribe starter Justin Masterson threw 104 pitches in the game and that 103 of them were fastballs. Heavens to Betsy. It obviously worked, given that he shut out the Twins for seven and two-thirds. Too bad for the Indians that he couldn’t keep pumping those speedballs in there for all nine.

Royals 4, White Sox 2: Duffy beats Peavy. That almost sounds kind of cute. Pretend they’re the names of cats or teddy bears or something.  Or that instead of nouns, their names are adjectives.

Phillies 4, Cubs 2: Another bullpen failure for the Cubs, with Sean Marshall playing the role of Carlos Marmol. Wait, that’s not fair. Marshall didn’t walk the whole ballpark or anything. He was just hit. Michael Martinez had the two-run double in the ninth that proved to be the game-winner.

Astros 7, Nationals 6: Clint Barmes drove in three to help J.A. Happ get his first win in two months.

Blue Jays 6, Mariners 5: It took fourteen innings, but we got to the same place we’ve gotten a lot lately: a Mariners loss. That’s ten straight for Seattle.  Rajai Davis reached on a single in the 14th, stole second and third, and then came in to end it on a John McDonald sacrifice fly.

Rockies 12, Braves 3: Brandon Beachy got shelled for six runs in the first three innings and then the less-impressive end of the Braves bullpen performed pretty substandard mopup duty. This gave Ubaldo Jimenez way more run support than he needed on a night when he struck out nine while pitching into the seventh inning. Three RBI a piece for Troy Tulowitzki, Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler.

Brewers 11, Diamondbacks 3: Five homers for the Brewers — two of them by Yuniesky Betancourt of all people– as Barry Enright decided that last night was a good one to work on his batting practice pitches.

Giants 5, Dodgers 3: Brandon Belt returned and in his first game back homered in the second to kick off the scoring and doubled in two in the seventh to put the Giants up to stay. That sound you hear is Aubrey Huff getting comfortable on the bench.

Blame Baseball’s copycat behavior for its lack of diversity in the executive ranks

Rob Manfred
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Following on yesterday’s stuff about baseball’s marked lack of diversity in the executive ranks comes a Ken Rosenthal column which digs into it a bit.

I might observe that, while, Rosenthal is right on all of the facts, there is a whiff of pushback in the story. As if MLB folks were hearing the criticisms Murray Chass and others have leveled in recent days about the lack of women, minorities and other candidates who don’t fit the “30-something MBA from an Ivy League school” mold of so many of today’s top execs and wanted to get some points out there. The league’s search firm is examined and there is a bit of “well, here is an exception; and here are a few more . . .” to it. Which, hey, that’s fair. Like I said, Rosenthal has his facts right and treats the issue seriously.

I think Rosenthal’s best bit, however, is the point he hits on at the end, when he says “homogeneity is dangerous in any industry, particularly when bright people are excluded.” That’s probably the key word to think about when you think about baseball’s hiring practices. “Homegeneity.” Baseball has a distinct lack of women and minorities in key positions, but I don’t think it’s because baseball is maliciously racist or sexist. Rather, it’s because baseball is acutely prone to copycat behavior that breeds homogeneity.

Everything about baseball culture, from the first day of a player’s minor league career-on and from the first day an intern is hired to get coffee for an assistant general manager is about not being different. About not sticking out. About emulating successes. You may mess up or you may fail, but if you do it while going about your business the way other, successful people went about theirs, you’ll be way better off than if you did things differently or stuck out.

This is true of all industries to some degree, but it seems far more prevalent in baseball. It’s a smaller world with fewer opportunities than business at large. It’s a more conservative world in terms of temperament. It’s one where you’re far more likely to have a reporter ask you about why you did something than, say, the accounting industry. It makes people afraid to take chances and makes people far more likely to do what that last successful guy did than to go out on even the shortest of limbs.

Not that things don’t change. Indeed, today’s preference for 30-something MBAs is radically different than the old model of hiring some old “baseball man” to run baseball operations. But it only came to the fore after the sabermetric and analytical model forced its way into the conversation with success and/or efficiencies that were impossible for even the crustiest old baseball man to ignore. That said, it was a transformation that was so difficult and radical that it was literally turned into a book and a movie and led to a decade and a half of arguing. A philosophical change which may have been casually noted in another business and then quickly emulated played out like some sort of cultural civil war in baseball circles. Change came, yes, but it wasn’t easy.

But here we are again, with the old baseball men replaced by the “Moneyball” disciples, who have become the new normal. A normal which one deviates from at great risk in baseball’s conservative world. I don’t believe that baseball’s homogeneity in the executive ranks is a function of bad people who believe bad things making bad decisions. I think it’s about fear and conformity more than anything else. Now there is a fear that not hiring that Ivy League MBA is the radical and perilous move. And if that Ivy League MBA was one who worked under another Ivy League MBA with another, all the better. And the easier we can sell him to fans as “the next Theo Epstein,” well, the better. And it sure would be easier to do that if he looked like Theo Epstein! Comps are the lingua franca of old baseball scouts. They’re the lingua franca of baseball decision makers too.

Whatever the causes, the net effect of all of this is no different than if there were virulent racism and sexism in the hearts and minds of baseball’s decision makers. It’s the same rich white boys club that maliciousness and bigotry could’ve created, even if it was created via more benign means. If baseball’s leaders truly believe that diversity in their leadership ranks is important — and I believe them when they say they do — they need to attack the problem of its homogeneity in the same manner they would if there was something malicious afoot. They need to stop throwing up their hands and saying “well, that’s what clubs do” or “that’s what our search firm gave us” and make achieving diversity a goal with an action plan, not just a goal which is merely stated.

Chris Archer could lose his 20th game tonight

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the mound after surrendering a home run in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 10, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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That’s a pretty negative way to put a headline, but the fact is, a starting pitcher losing 20 games is a rare and notable feat these days. But Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer could pull it off against the White Sox this evening. He’s 8-19 with a 4.02 ERA in 194.2 innings across 32 starts in 2016.

That’s a big fall from 2015, when he was considered one of the rising aces in the game. Archer was an All-Star last year, and finished fifth in the Cy Young voting, finishing fifth in pitcher WAR, sixth in ERA, second in strikeouts, second in strikeouts per nine innings, fourth in fielding independent pitching and allowing the fourth lowest number of hits per nine innings pitched among AL starters.

To be fair, he still should be considered one of the best pitchers in the game. Yes, it has been a bad year for Archer, but he still strikes out a lot of guys. Overall, it takes a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games in the big leagues. You don’t get the opportunities to do such a dubious thing unless you’re healthy and you have the confidence of your manager to take the ball every fifth day. And to be fair to Archer, he’s had bad defense and awful run support this year. Make no mistake, he has pitched worse than he did a year ago, but not so much worse that he deserves to reach a milestone no one has reached since 2003.

The guy who did that in 2003: Mike Maroth of a 119-loss Tigers team. Maroth won nine games that year and now gets referenced every time someone approaches 20 losses. If Archer avoids his 20th loss, he might match Maroth’s 2003 win total himself tonight. If not, well, everyone will cite Archer’s name, and not Maroth’s, whenever someone get to 19 losses in a season.