The game was ugly, but what Cubs catcher John Baker did was pretty sweet.
Pressed into service in a 16-inning marathon, Baker threw 11 pitches, six for strikes, walked a batter but saw him erased on a double play. The other out was a foul out, showing that the Rockies couldn’t touch his wicked stuff. In the bottom of the sixteenth he drew a walk, took second on a sacrifice, took third on a single and then lumbered home on a Starlin Castro fly to left, scoring the winning run as the throw home skipped to the backstop.
That Baker was pitching was something less than an accident, actually. Cubs manager Rick Renteria actually used pitcher Jake Arrieta as a pinch hitter in the 13th with two men on and one out, rather than use Baker, his lone remaining position player. Renteria was saving Baker, he said, to pitch. That’s the sort of decision that you can almost laugh at after a win. If things had turned out differently, however, you’d have to really scratch your head. Well, I’ll scratch my head anyway. We live in an era of 13-man pitching staffs. You gotta feel like managers can manage their resources better.
But as it was, Baker pitched for the first time since he played in the Cape Cod League. And he became the first Cubs position player to get a win in more than 100 years.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.