Victor Martinez

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 7, Dodgers 6: I went to see Captain America last night, got home and turned this one thinking that a Marvel movie-Vin Scull-called game would be an awesome double feature. At least the first half was good. What I was able to see of the second half involved Josh Beckett pitching as slowly and annoyingly as usual and Anibal Sanchez apparently thinking that emulating Beckett was somehow a good idea. Oh, and a rare Victor Martinez start behind the plate which reminded us why Victor Martinez doesn’t start much anymore. Since it was a late start I couldn’t stay up for much of it but what I saw was ugly. What came after I went to bed saved Martinez’s night, of course: he hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th. But the fact that it was necessitated by Joe Nathan blowing a three-run lead in the ninth probably means that Brad Ausmus is still lying awake in his hotel room, staring at the ceiling. Hail, Hyrdra.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 3: Paul Goldschmidt so thoroughly owns Tim Lincecum that he is strongly considering an offer to put out a series of instructional videos with Cesar Millan called “The Freak Whisperer.” Goldschmidt hit a three-run homer off Lincecum here and is now hitting .542 (13-for-24) with seven homers and 17 RBIs all-time against him.

Angels 2, Mariners 0: Garrett Richards was fantastic, tossing seven one-hit innings. Albert Pujols had his back with a two-run homer in the third. That was basically it.

Orioles 5, Yankees 4: The absence of David Robertson means Shawn Kelley was the closer which led to him giving up two runs on four hits in the ninth. I expect New York columnists to respond to this with a calm and sober realization that, hey, sometimes things don’t work out well when you’re trying to account for injuries to key players and th— hahaha. Just kidding. I expect “BRING BACK MARIANO!!!” headlines in a 72pt font.

Cubs 7, Pirates 5: Four hits for Anthony Rizzo and seven strong innings for Jason Hammel. He’s got two wins in two starts, both against Pittsburgh.

Blue Jays 7, Astros 3: Brandon Morrow won for the first time since May of last year, pitching six workmanlike innings. Seriously: he had on a Carhart jacket and ate a box lunch after the third. Playing against Houston makes guys do weird things.

Braves 4, Mets 3: Ervin Santana allowed only three hits over eight scoreless innings. His first 20 pitches were strikes. he threw one ball in the first three innings. That, my friends, is command. After the game he said it was better than the no-hitter he tossed in 2011. It wouldn’t have been, I suppose, if Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel had succeeded in what they seemed hellbent on doing in the ninth, and coughing the game away, but they fell just short of their goal in that regard. Jason Heyward homered and drove in a run with an RBI. B.J. Upton rode the pine and Andrelton Simmons had two hits taking his place batting second. Amazing what happens when you don’t punt the two-slot in the lineup.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 2: David Ortiz had a three-run homer in the eighth to bring the Sox back from behind. The homer, which went over the Pesky Pole, was reviewed on replay. I figure a lot of Pesky Pole homers will be reviewed this year. You can never really see those well given the angle and given that it being so close in means a lot of balls go over it rather than past it.

Brewers 9, Phillies 4: Everyone who had the Brewers starting out with a 6-2 record, please raise your hand. Yeah, if your hand is up you’re lying. Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds homered and Ryan Braun hit a two-run triple. The Phillies, who were put through a lot of extra infield practice by manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, have nine errors in eight games this year.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday’s evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Indians 2, Padres 0; Padres 2, Indians 1: Zach McAllister shut out the Padres on two hits over nearly eight innings in game one and was backed by a Jason Kipnis two-run homer. Trevor Bauer looked good striking out eight in the second game of the doubleheader, but the Padres’ Robbie Erlin was better, allowing one run over six. The total game time for the doubleheader was five hours and 21 minutes. The one Tigers-Dodgers game was four hours sixteen minutes.

Nationals 10, Marlins 7: Jayson Werth hit a grand slam with the Nats down by one in the eighth inning to win this one. It was his first homer and his second through fifth RBI of the season. Bryce Harper also hit his first homer — a three-run job — and in doing so collected his first three RBI of the year.

Royals 7, Rays 3: Speaking of first homers, Alex Gordon hit his first — and the entire Kansas City Royals team’s first — homer of the year, driving in four overall. The five-run fifth inning and seven overall was Kansas City’s first real offensive breakout all year.

Rockies 10, White Sox 4: Fourteen runs scored, none with a home run. I fully thus fully expect Frank Thomas to get on Twitter this morning to talk about how something is fishy with the baseball and that the league has somehow deadened it. Bonus points for a “Wake up, Sheeple!” in the tweet.

Athletics 7, Twins 4: A wacky ninth inning — which I’m sure Jim Johnson didn’t really feel was wacky given that he gave up two runs and walked two — led to extras. Derrick Norris’ three-run homer in the 11th won it for Oakland. And here’s the beauty of the save/blown save rules: Johnson came in with a two-run lead, loaded the bases with a single and a couple of walks, then allowed the Twins to single in a run, leaving the bases loaded. Dan Otero comes in and allows a sac fly and retires the rest of the guys he faces, and HE gets the blown save.

Reds 4, Cardinals 0: The Billy Hamilton show: two steals, three hits and that crazy play where he scored on a shallow fly ball behind second base to score. If he keeps that kind of stuff up, the Reds can turn things around.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.

Bud Selig is still, laughably, pleading ignorance about the Steroid Era

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27:  Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig speaks at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Yesterday I raked Bud Selig and the Hall of Fame over the coals. Selig for his considerable responsibility for the prevalence of performing enhancing drugs in baseball during his tenure and his failure to take responsibility for it, the Hall of Fame for inducting Selig while continuing to bar the door to players who used PEDs.

Later in the day yesterday a remarkable story was written by Jayson Stark of ESPN. It was based on a one-on-one with Selig in which his legacy with respect to steroids was discussed. It was framed by Selig talking about how the students in the baseball in history seminar he teaches at The University of Wisconsin recently grilled him about what he knew and when he knew it with respect to PEDs and what could have been done to stop the proliferation of the stuff in the game.

What makes it remarkable is that, until yesterday’s interview, Selig believed that he had done everything he possibly could have done to deal with PEDs. It took Jayson Stark telling him that, maybe, he could’ve done more:

“Now let me ask you a question,” he said. “And I’m being serious. If you had been me then, what would you have done?”

Frankly, I was amazed that he asked . . . So that, I told him, was what I thought he could have done. He was the commissioner. So the one thing he could have done, without needing a bargaining table to do it, was raise this issue, speak about it more, admit to it earlier and bring it to the forefront.

And Selig, as if he had never considered the notion, agreed:

“That’s fair,” Selig replied. “That’s very fair.”

A moment later, he looked me right in the eye again. “Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Maybe I should have said more.”

It’s incredible that a man as honored and lauded as Selig has been — a man who has been praised for his savvy and effectiveness as a leader and, eventually, a negotiator — had never considered using the bully pulpit to deal with what he has claimed to be his most vexing problem as commissioner before yesterday. And when I say “incredible” I do not mean “amazing.” I mean “literally not credible.” As in, I believe he is simply lying when he implies that the thought never occurred to him.

Rather, I believe that he had little if any interest in speaking out about steroids until, years later, he had no choice but to thanks to Jose Canseco and BALCO and all of the rest. Steroids served baseball admirably. They increased offense and made big stars out of marketable men and helped everyone forget that, just a few years before, Selig and his fellow owners drove baseball off a cliff and cancelled a World Series because of it. The men who employed Bud Selig, baseball’s owners, made a lot of money off of that juice and, as such, Bud Selig standing up in, say, 1998 and saying that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were cheaters and that PEDs were a scourge that must be addressed was simply never going to happen. Not because Selig was in the dark or at a loss, but because, as it was with the players who used the drugs, it was in Bud Selig’s own self-interest not to speak.

Selig’s mendacity in that interview yesterday was even more remarkable than that, actually. Indeed, in addition to claiming he had no idea how to act back then, he claimed that, back in 1998, he was totally in the dark about why Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were shattering Roger Maris’ home run record:

“I talked to the Cubs about Sammy,” Selig recalled. “The Cardinals were thrilled with McGwire. It was a big civic celebration.”

And no one on either team mentioned a word, he said, about what was really driving those two men toward the threshold of history. So Selig said he turned to his “baseball people” in the commissioner’s office.

He says he asked, “What’s causing this?” And they reeled off what we would now describe as the usual, everything-but-the-elephant-in-the-room, theories: Expansion. The dilution of pitching. Questions about whether there was something different about the baseball.

“They gave me a whole bunch of reasons,” Selig said. “And I kept asking about steroids.”

Why Selig was asking people about steroid use in 1998 is a mystery, because Selig knew damn well that Mark McGwire was using PEDS as early as 1993, several months after he took over from Fay Vincent and became acting commissioner.

We know this thanks to an interview with former FBI agent Greg Stejskal, who was extensively quoted about his investigations into steroids in the early 1990s. Investigations which revealed Mark McGwire’s drug use dating back to 1989, which Stejskal told Major League Baseball about:

Stejskal said federal authorities, through their undercover operation, learned of McGwire’s steroid usage by 1993. A year later, Stejskal recalled that he shared information from the investigation related to baseball players with Major League Baseball’s then security boss, Kevin Hallinan, though the sport had no drug testing program at the time.

That story was written nearly seven years ago, by the way. No one associated with Major League Baseball has ever explained how the league did not know that McGwire was using PEDs in 1998 as a result. They clearly knew for five years by then. Unless you think that an MLB security chief, when informed of player being caught up in an FBI drug probe, wasn’t going to tell anyone about it.

Despite all of this, Bud Selig is walking around the Winter Meetings this week, getting his attaboys for his Hall of Fame induction and spinning unadulterated bull crap about what he knew and when he knew it with respect to PEDs in baseball. He’s gotten away with doing so for so long, so why should he change course now?