New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 7, Yankees 2: Justin Verlander was amazing, striking out 14. I’m not sure why Jim Leyland kept him in there for 132 pitches given that the Tigers had a five run lead by the sixth inning, but I guess the fans liked it. And heck, he was still throwing 100 miles per hour, so I’m willing to allow for the fact that he’s basically a cyborg. Anyway, the Yankees have lost 11 of 17.

Braves 6, Phillies 1: That’s seven straight wins over Philly for Atlanta and eight of ten on the year. Ben Sheets allowed one run over seven and a third without striking out anyone. Which isn’t gonna last, but in the meantime the Braves will take it. Oh, and the Phillies sellout streak ended too. It was the third longest such streak of all time. But sadly the Phillies fans show themselves to be 198 sellouts short of the loyalty of fans of the Cleveland Indians.

Before we get to the other scores, I have a question: When the Braves game ended I popped in “The Dark Knight” because I feel like if I don’t watch it a half dozen times a year I’m slacking. Anyway, just as the Joker crashes the Harvey Dent fundraiser, I realized that Ra’s al Ghul crashed Bruce Wayne’s birthday party in “Batman Begins.” Which makes me wonder: why, given the high probability that they’ll be interrupted by marauding super villains, does anyone ever goes to Bruce Wayne’s dinner parties?  Anyway:

Cardinals 8, Giants 2: Jake Westbrook was solid, Carlos Beltran homered and Jon Jay went 4 for 4 while driving in two.

Brewers 6, Reds 3: Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart and Martin Maldonado all homered in the sixth inning. The Reds have lost two in a row. Crisis!

White Sox 4, Royals 2: Chris Sale is now 1-0 on nine days rest for his career.

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 0: Erik Bedard bounced back from a horrific outing and was both efficient and effective, allowing two hits and no runs over seven innings without walking a soul. And just for the yuks, go read this game story. It may be the most cliche thing ever. Bedard was “making pitches.” The Pirates won because of “pitching and defense.” The Diamondbacks were “out-executed.” It’s a classic.

Red Sox 9, Rangers 2: With the Red Sox win, the press frenzy to get Bobby Valentine fired has been paused for 24 hours. Let’s all meet back here tomorrow though and see where things are. Oh: Yu Darvish continues to be pretty crappy of late.

Twins 14, Indians 3: Justin Morneau hit two homers and the Indians continue to get their butts beat back to the stone age. Ben Revere has a 20-game hitting streak going.

Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Chris Tillman took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning, winning his fourth start. It continues a nice string of starting pitching performances for the O’s. The Orioles have won six of eight.

Nationals 5, Astros 4: Houston came back from a 4-1 deficit to force extra innings, but Washington wins in the 11th when first baseman Steve Pearce threw a Kurt Suzuki bunt out into right field, scoring Roger Bernadina. The Astros have lost every conceivable way this season.

Rockies 2, Dodgers 0: There was a reversed call in this one: Dexter Fowler trapped a Shane Victorino liner to center, and Victorino was initially called out. Don Mattingly argued, the umps huddled and they changed the call, saying it was trapped. Jim Tracy then came out and argued like crazy, got ejected and continued to argue for a long time. But we can’t have instant replay, you see, because it would mess up the pace of the game.

Padres 2, Cubs 0: Five Padres pitchers combine for a five-hit shutout. Chicago loses its sixth straight. At this point, though, I suppose the number of people who care about a Padres-Cubs matchup just barely exceeds the number of moms who watch their sons play in them.

Angels 4, Athletics 0: Jered Weaver is better than you: CG SHO, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K. This season he’s better than just about everyone.

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.

Chris Archer could lose his 20th game tonight

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the mound after surrendering a home run in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 10, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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That’s a pretty negative way to put a headline, but the fact is, a starting pitcher losing 20 games is a rare and notable feat these days. But Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer could pull it off against the White Sox this evening. He’s 8-19 with a 4.02 ERA in 194.2 innings across 32 starts in 2016.

That’s a big fall from 2015, when he was considered one of the rising aces in the game. Archer was an All-Star last year, and finished fifth in the Cy Young voting, finishing fifth in pitcher WAR, sixth in ERA, second in strikeouts, second in strikeouts per nine innings, fourth in fielding independent pitching and allowing the fourth lowest number of hits per nine innings pitched among AL starters.

To be fair, he still should be considered one of the best pitchers in the game. Yes, it has been a bad year for Archer, but he still strikes out a lot of guys. Overall, it takes a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games in the big leagues. You don’t get the opportunities to do such a dubious thing unless you’re healthy and you have the confidence of your manager to take the ball every fifth day. And to be fair to Archer, he’s had bad defense and awful run support this year. Make no mistake, he has pitched worse than he did a year ago, but not so much worse that he deserves to reach a milestone no one has reached since 2003.

The guy who did that in 2003: Mike Maroth of a 119-loss Tigers team. Maroth won nine games that year and now gets referenced every time someone approaches 20 losses. If Archer avoids his 20th loss, he might match Maroth’s 2003 win total himself tonight. If not, well, everyone will cite Archer’s name, and not Maroth’s, whenever someone get to 19 losses in a season.