Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 7, Red Sox 5: Guess that visit from Ric Flair didn’t pay off, eh?  It’s possible, I suppose, that the visit wasn’t from the man in his awesome Nature Boy persona, but rather, was the real life Ric Flair, who is pretty damn pathetic. Anyway, sure, Tampa Bay lost too and if these teams keep pace with one another for the next week Boston wins. On the other hand, yuuuuuck.  If Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon can’t combine in the eighth inning to shut down Baltimore, how much confidence do you have for the playoffs?

Yankees 5, Rays 0: Look, Tampa Bay: Boston isn’t gonna do all of the collapsing for you. You have to do your part too.

Braves 4, Marlins 0: Randall Delgado tossed five shutout innings for his first MLB win and Fredi Gonzalez was finally introduced to a couple of relievers who aren’t Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters to close things out. True fact: I actually own and still wear a sweatshirt that is older than Delgado. It’s a black I.O.U. number with purple lettering on it and the words “styled for the 90s” written across the bottom. I got it from an aunt in November 1989 (Delgado was born in February 1990). I have no idea why I’ve kept it so long, but I still sleep in it when it’s really cold. I could probably match it up with a pair of baggy acid wash jeans and some British Knights and really make the scene in some Eastern European village someplace.

Cardinals 11, Mets 6: Of course you can’t depend on the Mets to do anything for you. They had a 4-0 lead and blew it and then were back to a 6-5 lead in the seventh before giving up a bases-loaded Ryan Theriot double and six runs in all that inning. Albert Pujols was 4 for 5.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: While St. Louis kept pace the same can’t be said of San Francisco. Clayton Kershaw pretty much owns the Giants and he flummoxed them again, winning his 20th. A James Loney single and a Jerry Sands homer gave him two runs to work with early and two runs tends to be all he needs.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3; Nationals 3, Phillies 0: Yeah, I know they’ve clinched their division and are a lock for the best record and that September records mean little for playoff teams and yadda, yadda yadda. But that said: aren’t you at least a bit worried about this offense?

Brewers 5, Cubs 1: I have no idea why the postal service is considering cutting off Saturday delivery to cut costs. The Cubs are so thoroughly mailing it in that the USPS budget should be balanced by next Wednesday.

Royals 10, Tigers 2: Eric Hosmer went 5 for 5 and drove in three. Brad Penny got lit up. The Royals have won eight of their last nine. If they pick up a pitcher or two this winter, they are gonna be everyone’s trendy pick next spring.

Mariners 5, Twins 4: Mike Carp was 5 for 5 but didn’t score once. I wonder how often that happens.

Reds 6, Astros 4: Homer Bailey scattered six hits while pitching and had three of his own while hitting. We always couch this as an individual sentiment, but really, there’s no “I” in “helped his own cause.”  Oh, wait. There is one “i” in there. It’s not capitalized though, so maybe we can let this one pass?

Angels 10, Blue Jays 6: Toronto fails to play spoiler on this night.  Know what would be really cool, though? If someone played The Spoiler. Anyone remember that guy? You, over there, in the I.O.U. sweater. You’re old enough, right?  Yeah, he kind of sucked actually, but the world needs high-level jobbers to get guys over, OK? Those superstars don’t sell themselves.

Padres 2. Rockies 1: Mat Latos struck out nine in eight and two-thirds but ran out of gas as the pitch count crossed the 120 mark. Heath Bell got a one out save.

Indians 4, White Sox 3White Sox 5, Indians 4: The only thing more meaningless than a White Sox-Indians game this time of the year is the White Sox and Indians splitting a double header. At least in a single game something perceptible happens in the standings. The split twin bill was about as eventful as making an angel in the gypsum at White Sands National Monument. Tomorrow, it’s as if it never happened.

Pirates 5, Diamondbacks 3: Charlie Morton threw six scoreless innings. The Dbacks magic number is down to three thanks to the Giants’ loss.

Rangers 7, Athletics 2: Michael Young got his 200th hit and Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer. Texas has won eight of ten and is gonna cruise into the playoffs at this rate. The magic number is four.

Columnist calls for Sammy Sosa to “come clean.” He probably shouldn’t.

15 Sep 1998:  A silhouette portrait of Sammy Sosa #21of the Chicago Cubs taken in the dug-out as he looks across the field during the game against the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Park in San Diego, California. The Cubs defeated the Padres 4-2
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Yesterday Sammy Sosa — quite ridiculously — compared himself to Jesus Christ. The idea: he has suffered greatly since retirement, having been shunned by the Cubs and disparaged by the baseball establishment and . . . well, I don’t know how that makes him Jesus, but forget it, he’s rolling.

Today, predictably, a Chicago columnist does what columnists have been doing for years with respect to guys suspected of PED use: argues that Sosa should “come clean” if he wants to come in from the cold. Here’s David Haugh of the Tribune:

The game welcomed back Barry Bonds and McGwire from steroid exile after both separately acknowledged their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Fox Sports employs Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to PED use during his career. The door back to baseball is open for Sosa, but only if he follows the same path his contemporaries from the steroid era did. The Cubs have made this clear to Sosa, in no uncertain terms, yet he continues to paint himself as the victim.

This is not accurate. Bonds has never “come clean” about his PED use. He was in litigation over it until 2015 and wasn’t giving any confessionals about it. When the Marlins hired him he said nothing. He made allusions to being “an idiot” in an interview last summer, but that was clearly focused on his cagey attitude, not his drug use. There was no deal with the Marlins that his job was prefaced on his “coming clean,” and he never did.

The same can be said for McGwire. Big Mac was hired by the Cardinals as a hitting coach on October 26, 2009. His acknowledgment of PED use came months later, just before spring training in January 2010. While it may be plausible that the Cardinals told McGwire that they would not hire him absent a confession of PED use, that’s not how it tracked in real time. At his hiring, John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt each said there was no set blueprint for how McGwire would proceed as far as his public statements went and they allowed him to control the timeline. His confession seemed to be very much a function of heading off spring training distractions and questions from the press which would have access to him everyday, not some precondition of his employment.

But even if we grant the apparently erroneous premise that Bonds and McGwire “came clean” to return to baseball’s good graces, such a road map is of no use to Sosa. He’s not looking to coach or, as far as we know, even be employed by a club. If the study we talked about four years ago remains accurate, coming clean about PED use makes an athlete look worse in the eyes of the public than those who deny. Ask David Ortiz how that works. It likewise will do nothing for his Hall of Fame vote totals. Ask McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro how that works.

Sosa may be engaging in some unfortunate hyperbole, but as far as can be determined, he’s not asking for a whole hell of a lot. He’s not asking for a coaching job or to have his number retired or for them to rename Wrigley Field after him. He’s asking to be acknowledged as a part of Cubs history. He’s asking for the same kind of treatment other retired greats receive from time to time. A first pitch? A public appearance or two? Some minor role as a team ambassador? The bar for that isn’t very high.

The Cubs, who benefited greatly from Sosa’s production — and, necessarily, by whatever juicing Sosa did to achieve it — aren’t being asked to do much. Just to be decent to a person who is an important part of their history. That should not require that Sosa give a weepy interview about steroids which will serve no one’s purpose but the tut-tutting media. A media which, if McGwire’s example is any guide, will still slam Sosa if he comes clean and claim that his confession wasn’t good enough and his contrition wasn’t genuine. If he does confess, bank on that reaction. Bet the mortgage on it.

All of which makes me wonder if it’s the media, and not the Cubs who are the ones who really want to see such a thing.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.