Tim Lincecum narrowly defeats Cardinals duo for second straight NL Cy Young

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Showing more than ever before that they’re smartly willing to look beyond win-loss records to determine the league’s best pitcher, the Baseball Writers Association of America followed up their selection of 16-game winner Zack Greinke as AL Cy Young by giving 15-game winner Tim Lincecum the NL award.
Lincecum received just 11 of 32 first-place votes, which is actually one fewer than Adam Wainwright, but was second on 12 ballots and third on nine ballots to narrowly defeat runner-up Chris Carpenter. Wainwright finished third, because while a dozen voters were still swayed by his league-leading win total 15 of 32 ballots placed him third.
Javier Jazquez and Dan Haren were the only other pitchers to receive votes on the three-line ballots, both at the expense of Carpenter being absent. Vazquez received a second-place vote and Haren got a third-place nod. Cardinals fans will no doubt be upset about the NL balloting, but Lincecum and Greinke are the rightful choices as the best pitchers in each league and the fact that the BBWAA awarded two guys who combined for just 31 wins is a big step in the right direction.
Lincecum joins Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Denny McLain, and Jim Palmer as back-to-back Cy Young winners, which is pretty amazing company for the 25-year-old Giants ace. Perhaps just as amazing is the BBWAA producing the exact same order, one through five, as my ballot. Actually, so far three of the four major awards have matched my picks, and I’m hopeful that the BBWAA can continue their logical voting next week with Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols as the MVPs.

Max Muncy and Matt Beaty step on Rhys Hoskins’ ankle on consecutive plays

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In the 10th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS last year, infielder Manny Machado — then with the Dodgers — stepped on the foot of Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar, understandably, wasn’t happy about that and both teams’ benches spilled onto the field. It was a continuation of a tumultuous series for Machado, who was also vilified for not hustling and sliding hard into Orlando Arcia twice. The Machado-Aguilar dust-up served as a referendum on Machado’s character until he finally signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres.

Recently, Machado criticized the analysts on MLB Network for holding double standards. Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes argued with Greg Amsinger about the Jake Marisnick collision at home plate with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Amsinger felt Marisnick was in the wrong; Plesac and Byrnes defended Marisnick. On Instagram, Machado said if he had been the one who bulldozed Lucroy, Plesac and Byrnes wouldn’t have defended him, in part because he is Latino. Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones said earlier this year that Machado would “one hundred percent” be treated differently if he were white.

With that context in mind, something interesting happened in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s game between the Dodgers and Phillies. Leading off the top of the fourth inning against Aaron Nola, Max Muncy grounded out to shortstop Jean Segura. As Muncy crossed the first base bag, he stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle. On the next play, Matt Beaty beat out an infield single hit to third baseman Maikel Franco, shifted up the middle. As Beaty crossed the first base bag ahead of the throw, he tripped over Hoskins’ ankle. MLB.com hasn’t posted video of the incidents yet, but here’s a look at both plays from @jomboy_ on Twitter:

We rarely see runners tripping over the feet of first basemen, but here we have it happening on back-to-back plays. Hoskins’ footwork around the bag was textbook given the situations. The commentators on the exclusive YouTube broadcast gave the runners the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, there has surprisingly been little discussion of these plays. A July 18 game isn’t exactly Game 4 of the NLCS, but look at how much conversation the Marisnick-Lucroy play generated and that was less than two weeks ago. These plays deserve a “Was it dirty?” conversation.

One wonders what the conversation would have looked like if it had been black or Latino runners stepping on Hoskins’ ankle on back-to-back plays. Would they have gotten the immediate benefit of the doubt like Muncy and Beaty? Would malicious intent have been ascribed to them instead? That, really, is Machado’s point about the double-standard applied to non-white players. It doesn’t excuse any of his obviously terrible behavior, but if we’re going to criticize players for bad behavior, we should do so evenly and fairly. Muncy and Beaty deserve criticism for their poor, sloppy, dangerous base running. Frankly, Major League Baseball should consider fines and/or suspensions. Machado was fined for stepping on Aguilar.