Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Cleveland Indians

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 3, Indians 1: The no hitter for Ervin Santana.  We told the story as it happened yesterday, broke out some analysis of it a bit thereafter and threw on some perspective a bit after that.  Most notable: man, I had no idea that the game started at noon, so it was the sixth inning before I even knew it was going on yesterday. Made for a very quick ramp-up to the no-no.

Braves 2, Pirates 1: Because what these two teams needed after an emotional 19-inning affair was extra innings.  At least it wasn’t a ton of extra innings. David Ross mercifully ended it with an RBI single in the tenth. There were, to my knowledge anyway, no calls in this game which could be described as “criminal” or “the worst call I’ve ever seen in baseball history.” Although, the fact that Clint Hurdle just managed two nail-biter extra-inning games in a row without once calling on his All-Star reliever Joel Hanrahan is some sort of offense against God and Nature.

Mariners 9, Yankees 2: We hit this one up yesterday as well. The losing streak, she is over. Which is kind of sad for me because (a) I’m not a Mariners fan; and (b) there is a certain beauty to be found in life’s extremes. Mere mediocrity, which the Mariners now hope to embody for a while, is rather dull.

White Sox 2, Tigers 1: Even though I do this for a living, I never portray myself as some kind of baseball expert. I know a good deal about baseball, but many of you know far more. I fancy myself a pretty good writer when I bother to be careful about it. I think I’m a credible observer of human behavior. I’ve been told that I have a somewhat above average wit. By themselves, those traits don’t count for much, but put them together and you have yourself a damn good blogger if I may say so. But no, I’m not going to claim that I’m some baseball savant.  Which is why I have no problem admitting that I had never once heard the name Alejandro De Aza before he hit the two-run homer that proved to be all the runs the Sox would need yesterday.

Mets 8, Reds 2: Who needs Carlos Beltran? Lucas Duda played right and he hit a homer. More useful: David Wright’s three-run homer and four runs batted in overall. A complete game for Mike Pelfrey.

Giants 2, Phillies 1: Pitcher’s duel. Well, every game is technically a pitcher’s duel, only in most games the pitchers really suck at dueling. Here Matt Cain and Cole Hamels each had a handle on things, but Cain had a bit of a tighter grip. Only struck out one dude, though, which is always weird.

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 0: Ricky Romero didn’t get the shutout, but he did pitch eight and a third shutout innings to grab the win.  You don’t get to finish when you uncork a wild one on strike three and then hit a dude in the ninth inning of a close game.

Red Sox 12, Royals 5:  After scoring only once in that 14-inning game on Monday, the Sox hung a quarter-hundred on the Royals over the course of the next two nights.  Bruce Chen was absolutely muderlized: 4 IP, 10 H, 10 ER.

Marlins 7, Nationals 5: Steve Cishek did his best to make it interesting by allowing four runs in the ninth, but the Feesh held on. In other news, I have a friend in Washington — a non-baseball fan — who is going on an office outing to see the Nats-Marlins matinee this afternoon.  She asked me who to watch for. I told her to bring a book.

Brewers 2, Cubs 0: Zack Greinke shut ’em out for six and two-thirds and the pen took them the rest of the way. Rickie Weeks’ ankle injury was a big downer, though.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 1: The Rockies avoid the sweep thanks to a nice outing by Aaron Cook. Hiroki Kuroda pitched for L.A. Maybe for the last time if the trade rumors are to be believed.

Diamondbacks 4, Padres 3: Justin Upton hit two homers. One of them was fueled by anger because Corey Luebke quick pitched him, which my unwritten rule book clearly states is frowned upon. Look, it’s clearly unwritten right here in white and white on invisible page 38: “pitchers shall wait until hitters are ready for the pitch before delivering said pitch.”

Athletics 13, Rays 4: Two teams heading in very different directions. Hideki Matsui and Ryan Sweeney hit homers in the fourth inning — part of a nine-run fourth inning — for the offensive juggernaut Oakland Athletics. Seventeen hits in all, with every starter having at least one. Five runs batted in for Matsui.

Twins 7, Rangers 2: Brian Duensing allowed only one run is six and two-thirds. Bigger news: Joe Mauer hit a homer. An actual home run. First one since last September.

Astros 4, Cardinals 2: And the curse of Colby Rasmus begins.

A-Rod will be back on Fox for the playoffs

Alex Rodriguez
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Alex Rodriguez made for a shockingly good analyst during last year’s playoffs. He’s clear and concise and is able to criticize players without being a jackass. That’s key, as so many current and former players who spend time doing analysis seem loathe to call out a player despite the fact that that’s what they’re there for.

Fox obviously liked what they got out of A-Rod, because he’s coming back:

Now, if they can refrain from hiring Pete Rose and if TBS brings back A.J. Pierzynski, tuning in to the pregame and postgame shows may actually be worth your time this October.

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.