Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 6, Royals 3: Before the season began I said something to the effect of “if I had to bet the lives of my children on the outcome of any division, it would be the Tigers winning the AL Central.” I repeated that line on the radio a bunch of times.  I was sweating it until game 160, but Mookie and Carlo: you’re safe now. Daddy won’t have to give you to the evil gamblers.

White Sox 11, Indians 0: I imagine the beating that Chicago administered to Cleveland felt good for a while, but the Tigers win over the Royals sealed their fate. Hector Santiago shut out the tribe for seven and Dayan Viciedo drove in five, but it’s all over now, baby blue.

Pirates 2, Braves 1; Phillies 2, Nationals 0: That’s about as happy as you’ll ever see a team after they get shut out. The Nats don’t care, they still won the division. And they partied like rock stars too. In some way this is the best reasonable outcome for Atlanta too. Their chance at winning the East was tiny, and by losing on Monday instead of, say, Wednesday, they can be sure to rest the pen and whoever else needs it for the wild card game on Friday.

Athletics 4, Rangers 3: The A’s clinch a playoff spot and with that eliminate the Rays and Angels. Oh, and they move to within one game of the Rangers for the AL West. Because they’re already going to the playoffs no one seems to be talking about Texas woofing the division away. They’ve been in first place since April 9, and had a lead in the division as big as six games as late as August 23.

Yankees 10, Red Sox 2; Rays 5, Orioles 3: Baltimore falls a game back after they get beat by the surging yet, unfortunately for them, now-dead Rays. Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the walking dead Red Sox who possibly had two major leaguers in that lineup last night. In other news, Fernando Rodney was a bit shaky, but he got out of trouble to get his 47th save in 49 chances and lowered his ERA to 0.61. Which is nutzoid.

Cardinals 4, Reds 2: Dodgers 3, Giants 2: The Cardinals clinch at least a tie for the second wild card. They’re winners of 11 of their last 14. Meanwhile, the Dodgers do what they can to stay alive, winning their sixth straight. They need to make it eight, however, and hope for two straight Cardinals losses in order to force a tie for the wild card. Elian Herrera hit a walkoff single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Angels 8, Mariners 4: The A’s win eliminates the Angels, so Mike Trout’s 4 for 5, double, triple and three RBI apparently means nothing now. At least that’s what people tell me.

Marlins 3, Mets 2: The Mets went up 2-0, but Giancarlo Stanton started the comeback with a homer and his mates completed it. Easy to forget in the hot mess that is the end of the Marlins season, but a 22 year-old just hit his 37th homer.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 5: In May, extra innings between teams like this is referred to as “free baseball.” On October 1, it’s referred to as “excessive.” Anthony Gose singled home the winning run in the 10th inning in front of the smallest Rogers Centre crowd of the season.

Astros 3, Cubs 0: Welcome to the 100-loss club for the first time since 1966, Chicago!

Brewers 5, Padres 3: Ryan Braun doubled and went 2 for 4. A couple of big games and I think it’s still possible for him to finish with an OPS over 1.000. Which would be handy for those who want to argue about how boned get was in the MVP voting this year.

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 5: Even more free baseball. This one went to the 13th tied at three. Colorado scored four in the top of the 13th, Arizona scored two and that was that. The Rockies win ensures that they won’t lose 100. Which is something I guess.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.