The Nationals extend their winning streak to 10 games with another walk-off victory

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Here’s hoping Nationals manager Matt Williams has been practicing his Babe Ruth home run trot, because he has a promise to fulfill.

The Nationals extended their winning streak to 10 games this evening with a 1-0 walk-off victory over the Diamondbacks in Nationals Park. Amazingly, it was their fifth walk-off victory in their last six games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Nationals are the first team to have five walk-offs wins in six games since the 1986 Astros.

This one ended in odd fashion. Behind strong outings from Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley, the game went into the bottom of the ninth inning scoreless before Denard Span singled off Oliver Perez with one out. Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson then turned to Evan Marshall to face Anthony Rendon. Span stole second base during the at-bat before Rendon hit a grounder to third baseman Jordan Pacheco, who made a wild throw to first base which skipped out of play and allowed the winning run to score. It seems like everything is bouncing the Nationals’ way right now.

The 10-game winning streak matches the franchise record, which was set in the team’s first season in D.C. in 2005. The Nationals now sit 20 games over .500 at 73-53, 7 1/2 games in front of the second-place Braves in the National League East.

Williams recently said that he would do his famous Babe Ruth impersonation if the Nationals won 10 straight and he told reporters after today’s game that he’s prepared to deliver.

Please let there be video. The internet needs this.

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.