I’ve been asked before why I often suggest that Bud Selig is disingenuous about things like, say, the fans’ appetite for instant replay, the status of the committee working feverishly on solving the Athletics/San Jose problem and the state of baseball’s finances and stuff.
At bottom, it’s a general credibility problem. Caused by stuff like this:
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig insists he will retire after the 2014 season when his contract ends … He said “nobody believes it” but he’ll be done in 2 years, despite sentiment he’ll stay until 2016 to pass Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the game’s longest-serving boss.
It’s his right to keep the job as long as his employers will have him. And, despite our dissatisfaction with the way he handles some things, I would argue that he has been an excellent commissioner overall. At least when measured by his performance at the job he was hired to do as opposed to do the job that fans like to fantasize the commissioner has.*
But really, this marks the 3,405,265th time Selig has claimed he will retire. I wish him no ill will whatsoever when I say this — indeed, I intend it as a tribute to his effectiveness in the job, popularity within the game and his still-sharp skills and tenacity — but if I had to bet my 401K on any future development, “Bud Selig dying in office” would be high on the list of candidates.
*Really. It’s not the commissioner’s job to be some sage and noble George Washington figure. It’s his job to be a steward and promoter of the game who makes money for the owners (and indirectly the players) and keeps them from fighting with one another. But even with the job being that basic, so many have failed one way or another. Fay Vincent was well-intentioned but feckless. Peter Ueberroth hatched a criminal conspiracy. Bart Giamatti, sadly, didn’t get a chance to really do anything. Bowie Kuhn was a retrograde defender of the reserve clause and helped sow nearly 30 years of labor strife. It’s a low bar to hurdle when it comes to running baseball, but Selig has really cleared it by any measure.
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.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP