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Joe Girardi takes the blame for missed ALDS challenge: “I screwed up”

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The Yankees dropped behind the Indians 2-0 in the American League Division Series last night, and the brunt of the 13-inning, 9-8 loss is falling on manager Joe Girardi’s shoulders — for good reason. Craig went over the incident and its aftermath in full detail earlier today, but here’s the short version: In the sixth inning, with the Yankees leading 8-3, runners at the corners and two outs, Chad Green grazed Lonnie Chisenhall‘s bat with a fastball. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called it a hit by pitch, but both catcher Gary Sanchez and slow-motion footage revealed the ball hit the bat and was likely a foul tip strikeout.

Girardi chose not to challenge the initial call and left Green in to face Francisco Lindor, who promptly belted a grand slam and enabled the Indians to mount a stunning five-run rally to force extra innings and, eventually, clinch the game. He addressed the decision on Saturday during a lengthy press conference (the full transcript is here):

Now, knowing that I had two challenges, in hindsight, yeah, I wish I would have challenged it. But [Brett Weber] never — he never got that video clip that — he never got that angle. He never got that super slow-mo. And, yeah, I should have challenged it, now that I think about it.

His decision not to challenge the play was in part motivated by coach and replay coordinator Brett Weber, who didn’t see any evidence that the ball hadn’t struck Chisenhall’s hand. That, more than Sanchez’s input on the play, mattered to Girardi. “Any time a player tells me to check something, I don’t automatically check it,” the skipper said. He later added: “And that’s the one thing that you have to be careful about is players telling — if you just challenge as soon as a player tells you to challenge, you might be wrong.”

In this case, however, Sanchez was in the right. Even if he hadn’t been, the Yankees had two challenges remaining and a five-run lead to protect. But the real reason, one Girardi reiterated on Saturday, was that he didn’t want to throw Chad Green off.

If it isn’t overturned and we’re wrong and then Chad struggles after that, do you feel like I screwed him up? You know, those are the things that you have to go through.

When asked if mound visits were as disruptive as time spent reviewing a pivotal call (and one that, had it gone the Yankees’ way, would have ended the inning), Girardi argued that the nature of mound visits was to get his pitchers back in rhythm. Challenging the call didn’t cross his mind; neither did replacing Green, who served up an 0-1 slider to Lindor that landed over the right field fence in the next at-bat.

Despite expressing some remorse over Friday’s missed opportunity, Girardi didn’t let it get to him too much. “Let’s just see what happens tomorrow and as we move forward,” he told reporters. “That will probably determine the severity of [the missed challenge].” Had the call been overturned, the Yankees would be heading into Game 3 tied 1-1 in the series. Now, down 2-0 with three wins needed and Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco set for the series winner on Sunday, it may be too late.

Brewers won’t punish Josh Hader for offensive tweets

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Some old tweets of Josh Hader‘s surfaced during the All-Star Game on Tuesday, containing offensive and hateful language. Major League Baseball responded by ordering Hader to attend sensitivity training and attend diversity initiatives.

The Brewers won’t punish Hader themselves, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. GM David Stearns says the club is taking its lead from MLB, which has already handed down its punishment to Hader. Additionally, the Brewers’ lack of punishment has to do with the tweets occurring when Hader was younger — 17 years old — and not involved with professional baseball.

Stearns also said of Hader’s tweets, “I don’t think they’re representative of who he is. I think they’re offensive. I think they’re ill-informed and ignorant but I don’t think they represent who he is as a person right now.” Stearns added, “I don’t know how he’s going to work through it. The truth is he has put himself in this situation. And he’s going to have to work very hard to get through it.”

Hader apologized on Wednesday, saying, “I was 17 years old, and as a child I was immature, and obviously I said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today.” Hader said, “I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said. I’m ready for any consequences that happen for what happened seven years ago.”

Lorenzo Cain, a black outfielder and teammate of Hader’s, said, “I know Hader; he’s a great guy. I know he’s a great teammate. I’m fine. Everybody will be O.K. We’ll move on.” Cain further defended Hader, saying, “We’ve all said crazy stuff growing up, even when we were 17, 18 years old. If we could follow each other around with a recorder every day, I’m sure we all said some dumb stuff. We’re going to move on from this.”

First baseman Jesús Aguilar also came to Hader’s defense:

However, Aguilar also retweeted a tweet from Scott Wheeler of The Athletic which had screencaps of Royals 2B/OF Whit Merrifield and Angels outfielder Mike Trout using the word “gay” pejoratively in tweets. Merrifield also used the word “retard” pejoratively.

The “he was 17” defense rings hollow. At 17 years old, one is able to join the military, get a full driver’s license (in many states), apply for student loans, and get married (in some states). Additionally, one is not far off from being able to legally buy cigarettes and guns. Given all of these other responsibilities we give to teenagers, asking them not to use racial and homophobic slurs is not unreasonable. Punishing them when they do so is also not unreasonable.

A study from several years ago found that black boys are viewed as older and less innocent than white boys. A similar study from last year found that black girls are viewed as less innocent than white girls. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Cameron Tillman, among many others, never got the benefit of the doubt that Hader and countless other white kids have gotten and continue to get in our society. When we start giving the same benefit of the doubt to members of marginalized groups, then we can break out the “but he was only 17” defense for Hader.

We also need to ask ourselves what our inaction regarding Hader’s words will say to members of those marginalized communities. Will it tell them that we value the comfort of those in power above everyone else? Will it tell members of marginalized groups that they are not welcome? In this case, it absolutely will. It communicates the message that, as long as you are white and can perform athletic feats, there’s no level of bigotry the league won’t tolerate. Furthermore, as the league and its 30 individual teams make more efforts towards inclusiveness with events like “Pride Night,” the inaction comes off as two-faced and hypocritical. This is why Major League Baseball — and the Brewers — should have done more to respond to Hader’s tweets.