Tony La Russa defends the Dbacks’ plunking of Andrew McCutchen. And it’s ridiculous.

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Tony La Russa was asked about the Dbacks-McCutchen affair. Tony La Russa, it seems, wants to blame the victim. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports:

“I don’t see where the Diamondbacks should catch all this (expletive) they’re catching,” La Russa said . . . La Russa believes the Pirates were still responsible regardless of intent.

The crux of his argument lies in what he believes to be the Pirates’ pitching philosophy. They don’t just pitch inside, La Russa said. They pitch up and in. And by choosing to do so, they have to live with the consequences.

Which is idiotic baloney. Since when are there consequences for accidents? And indeed, the hitting of Paul Goldschmidt was clearly an accident and there is no one in their right mind who can say it wasn’t. To claim, then, that the Pirates were to blame for this is nonsensical.

If, however, his view is that the mere fact of pitching up and in is the offense — not hitting Goldschmidt – then congratulations, Tony, you have added yet another page to the overflowing Unwritten Rules Book you authored when you were manager of the Cardinals. Thou Shalt Not Pitch Up and In can go right next to Thou Shalt Not Be Angry With Oneself For Messing Up and It Is Perfectly Alright For Pitchers To Shout Expletives At Hitters When They Do Not Succeed. There are scores of others too. They make no sense and are often contradictory, but the common thread is that whatever team Tony La Russa happens to be working for at the time is correct and the other team is disrespectful and wrong.

This is pure bull and La Russa either knows it is or thinks we’re all idiots. Or maybe both. I have no idea. All I do know is that Major League Baseball’s failure to discipline Randall Delgado or Kirk GIbson over Saturday’s incident is a disgrace.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.