At least the ones Buster Olney has spoken to. He reports that he has spoken with dozens and dozens of ballplayers off the record in the past week, and that as many as 80-90% of them are upset at the Braun decision. They don’t like that he challenged procedure as opposed to substance, and they think it’s bad for the testing program overall, which they sincerely want to work.
I understand that. And I think it’s a good thing for drug testing in baseball overall that there are people who are upset at it. Like I said yesterday, systems are improved over time when blips and inefficiencies occur. The Braun decision may seem unjust on some level, but its lasting legacy will not be about what it means for Braun, it will be about how, when faced with a problem in the system, the league and the union can work together to address it. Which I am certain they will here, either by clarifying the collection procedures to their people in the field or by changing the Joint Drug Agreement to conform to the practices those in the field have employed and to apply them going forward.
All of that said, complaints that the Braun decision somehow puts testing at risk is silly. Braun walking on this charge is no more of a threat to the drug testing system than a guy getting off on a burglary charge because the cops didn’t get a proper search warrant is a threat to the criminal justice system. You may hate the result, but the remedy is easy: get it right next time or change the rules to make what happened in that instance acceptable. It is not something that puts the entire regime in peril.
Finally, I’ll observe that these complaints all seem a little self-righteous to me. No one who ever wins on a procedural argument themselves ever seems to have a problem with it. And I suspect that the 80-90% of the players Olney spoke with here were under the gun themselves, they would not hesitate to make the same arguments Braun did if they or their legal advisors thought to do so.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.