The highlights from last night’s Cardinals-Brewers game are probably focusing on the Yadier Molina argument and ejection, but there was something far more interesting going on here.
Albert Pujols was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Runners were on first and third at the time, it was a close game and Pujols leads all of baseball in grounding into double plays. Clearly in that situation Takashi Saito is not trying to throw at Pujols, right? Hell, even Tony La Russa said after the game that he didn’t think it was intentional.
Nevertheless, in the bottom of the inning La Russa had Jason Motte hit Ryan Braun. He admitted it too, saying after the game that he was “sending a message.” He stood on the top step of the dugout and watched it happen. He did it via two inside pitches and then the plunking.
Setting aside the fact that someone could get hurt, what in the hell was Tony La Russa thinking? How do you, out of your silly sense of “sending a message” justice, put a leadoff hitter on base ahead of Prince Fielder in a tie game in a pennant race? How does one’s fealty to the unwritten rules or playing the game the right way or whatever the hell La Russa cares most about trump the clear strategic decision not to put a key game at risk like that?
It ended up working out. Braun didn’t score. The Cardinals ended up winning. But just because a good outcome was achieved doesn’t mean a good decision was made. And that was a monumentally stupid tactical decision by La Russa. A man purported to be the smartest guy in the room.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.