Getty Images

Dodgers defeat Rockies 5-2 in tiebreaker to win NL West

2 Comments

Walker Buehler turned in a gem during Monday’s NL West tiebreaker game against the Rockies, helping the Dodgers win the division title for the sixth consecutive season. The offense provided him with five runs of support while he held the Rockies’ offense scoreless.

Buehler, who was part of a combined no-hitter earlier this season, brought a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, but it was broken up when Charlie Blackmon singled to right field with one out. Buehler issued a two-out walk in the seventh and manager Dave Roberts decided to pull him there. Pedro Báez entered and issued a walk of his own before getting Matt Holliday to pop out to the shallow outfield to end the inning. Buehler’s final line: 6 2/3 innings, no runs, one hit, three walks, one hit batter, three strikeouts on 93 pitches.

Cody Bellinger broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning against Germán Márquez with a two-run homer to right-center. Max Muncy added another two-run shot in the fifth off of Márquez. Buehler brought in a run in support of himself in the sixth, singling in Enrique Hernández. Hernández had what is arguably the most adorable slide in baseball history.

Báez began the eighth, inducing a line out from Chris Iannetta. Lefty Scott Alexander entered, gave up a single to Blackmon, and promptly exited. Roberts brought in Kenta Maeda this time, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground out and then struck out David Dahl.

The ninth was Kenley Jansen‘s, or at least that was the plan. Nolan Arenado greeted him by ripping a first-pitch cutter into the bleachers in left field to put the Rockies on the board. Arenado ends the regular season leading the NL with 38 home runs and ties for second in RBI with 110. Trevor Story made it back-to-back homers, working a nine-pitch at-bat before depositing a ball beyond the fence in right-center to make it 5-2. Jansen bounced back, inducing a ground out from Carlos González, striking out Ian Desmond looking, and striking out Gerardo Parra swinging to end the game.

After Monday’s win, the Dodgers advance to play the Braves in the NLDS. The Rockies will travel to Chicago to play the Cubs in the NL Wild Card game. The winner of that moves on to face the NL Central champion Brewers in the NLDS.

The Astros continue to refuse to take responsibility for the Taubman Affair

Getty Images
9 Comments

I’m calling it the “Taubman Affair” because writing “the incident in which a top front office executive — Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman — taunted a reporter for her past opposition to the team acquiring a domestic abuser, after which the team lied, aggressively about it, accusing another reporter of fabricating a story, then admitted that they lied but made no apology for smearing the reporter” is too unwieldy for a headline.

If you need catching up on it, though, you can read this, this or this.

The latest on it all: yesterday, after walking back their angry denial that the incident ever occurred and admitting that, yes, Taubman did in fact gleefully and profanely target a reporter for taunting, the team basically went silent and let Game 1 unfold.

Today General Manager Jeff Luhnow went on a team-friendly radio station (i.e. the station that broadcasts Astros games). In the entire segment he was asked only one question about it: “Your thoughts on the SI article, Jeff.” Luhnow said that he would withhold comment, but apologized to “everybody involved,” including the fans and the players, saying “this situation should have never happened.” You can listen to the entire segment here.

He did not, however, make any specific mention of what “this situation” was. Nor did he acknowledge that, actually, it’s at least two “situations:” (1) the initial behavior of Taubman; and (2) Monday night’s team-sanctioned attack of Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, who reported it. Indeed, at no time in the team’s now multiple comments has anyone acknowledged that, as an organization, the Houston Astros’s first impulse in all of this was to attempt to bully and discredit a reporter for what has now been established as a truthful report to which the Astros have admitted. And they certainly have not voiced any specific regret or offered any form of accountability for it.

Major League Baseball is apparently investigating Taubman’s conduct. But it is not, presumably, investigating the Astros’ disingenuous smear of Apstein. A smear that the Astros likely undertook because they figured they could intimidate Apstein and, what may even be worse, because they assumed that the rest of the press — many of whom were witnesses to Taubman’s act — would go along or remain silent. If they did not think that, of course, releasing the statement they did would’ve been nonsensical. It speaks of an organization that believes it can either bully or manipulate the media into doing its bidding or covering for the teams’ transgressions. That part of this has gone wholly uncommented on by the Astros and apparently will for the foreseeable future. No matter how this shakes out for Taubman, if the Astros do not talk about how and why they decided to baselessly attack Apstein on Monday night, nothing they ever say should be trusted again.

More broadly, everything the Astros are doing now is the same as when they traded for Roberto Osuna in the first place.

In 2018 they wanted to do an unpopular thing — arbitrage a player’s domestic violence suspension into the acquisition of cheap relief help — while wanting to appear as though they were good actors who had a “zero tolerance for domestic violence” policy. To solve that problem they shoveled a lot of malarkey about how “zero tolerance” actually includes a fair amount of tolerance and hoped that everyone would go along. When not everyone did — when fans brought signs of protest to the ballpark or expressed their displeasure with Osuna’s presence on the roster — they confiscated them then hoped it’d all blow over and, eventually, via Taubman’s rant on Saturday night, lashed out at their critics.

Here, again, they want to do something unpopular: retain a boorish and insensitive executive in Taubman without him or the team suffering any consequences for it, be they actual consequences or mere P.R. fallout. Again, it’s kind of hard to pull that off, so to do so they falsely accused a reporter of lying and then circled the wagons when they caught heat for it.

I have no idea how long they plan to keep this up. Maybe they are calculating that people will forget and that forgetting is the same as forgiveness. Maybe they simply don’t care. All I do know is that folks will be teaching the Astros’ response to all of this as a counterexample in crisis management courses for years.