June 30, 2022

Manfred Talks To ESPN, Blames Everyone Else For His Comments & Actions

Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN has a long feature-interview with Rob Manfred. This is how it begins:

"Do you hate baseball?"

I pose this question to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred deep into an interview at Citi Field in New York.

"It is the most ridiculous thing, among some fairly ridiculous things that get said about me," he says. "The assertion that I hate the game – that one does rub me the wrong way, I have to tell you the truth."

Manfred's 38 words in response avoid and deflect. They do not answer the simple four-word question: Do you hate baseball?

I'll be honest. I skimmed the rest of the article because I don't much care what Manfred has to say. He's certainly not going to provide any wisdom; he's only going to annoy me. If he happens to say something truly idiotic, I'm sure I'll find out some other way. So I trust Craig Calcaterra is providing an accurate summary when he notes:

a good bit of the article contends that Manfred is the sort of guy who admits when he's wrong. In actuality, he admits to absolutely nothing substantive while deflecting blame for basically everything.

The list of "basically everything" is long: the ousting of Bud Selig in 1990, the 1994 strike and cancellation of the World Series, doing nothing during the years-long steroids scandal, doing nothing amid several sign-stealing scandals, okaying various quasi-legal actions (like buying stolen evidence) during the Biogenesis investigation, lying about negotiations with the union prior to the shortened 2020 season, the mismanagement of MLB's pandemic response, going ahead with the unnecessary 2021-22 lockout and then refusing to negotiate for six weeks, cancelling games and delaying the start of the 2022 season, lying about MLB using two types of baseballs (including an intentionally-deadened version), and his numerous rule changes which have done nothing but alter the foundations of the game that stood for 140+ years and turn the game into a gimmick-ridden joke . . .

All of that shit having to do with Manfred's direct actions and statements is . . . not Manfred's fault. Manfred is simply an innocent bystander. Like Trump (after whom Manfred seemed to be modeling himself at several points during the pandemic), nothing is Manfred's fault. Who is really to blame? Why, it's Vincent, the players, the owners, the union, social media, the print and TV media, the fans, the companies that manufacture baseballs . . . and everyone else in the world . . . but not Rob Manfred.


Everyone hates Manfred, but it's not Manfred's fault. There are a couple of token nods to things Manfred wishes he had done differently, but it's just superficial PR stuff like a poor choice of words here or there as opposed to any of his actions. Even then, those acknowledgments are used as a means of attacking others for focusing on unimportant things. It's completely clear that Manfred saw the series of interviews he sat for as a means of defending himself, not taking any sort of responsibility for anything. It's also clear that Van Natta has no real interest in pushing back against Manfred's defensive and, at times, false statements.

Atlanta Chairman Terry McGuirk praises Manfred for doing the owners' bidding:

Rob is a relentless guy focused on success. There are very few down days looking at the business of baseball with Rob at the helm. If we had to sign up for him again, we'd do it in spades 10 times over.


That is the argument for Rob Manfred's commissionership. No matter how many thousands of words are spent trying to position Manfred as some sage leader of men, the money he makes for the owners is the alpha and omega of his status and his paycheck.

For the many followers of baseball who do not own a baseball team (or a portion thereof), there is only the many down days looking at baseball with Manfred at the helm, a situation we did not sign up for. It's a shit sandwich – and the bread is made of shit, too.

June 28, 2022

January 6 Committee, Public Hearing #6: Eyewitness Ties Trump Directly To Sedition; He Knew The Mob He Called To DC And Incited Was Heavily Armed & He Demanded They Be Allowed To Keep Deadly Weapons (Including AR-15s) For Armed Attack On Lawmakers In Capitol

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, was a day unlike any other in the 246 years of United States history.

The Select Committee investigating January 6 attack on the US Capitol heard nearly an hour of in-person, jaw-dropping testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, the 26-year-old aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. It was unlike anything we have ever heard about the actions of a US president.

Numerous reports here.

June 26, 2022

Red Sox Sweep Guardians With Seventh Straight Win, Improve To 19-4 In June

The Red Sox won their seventh straight game on Sunday, sweeping a three-game series from the Guardians. 

Boston has a 19-4 record this month – and yet they have gained only 0.5 games in the standings. Which is, frankly, astounding, that a team can play at a 134-win pace for nearly one month and do no better than tread water in the standings.

Morning of June  1: Red Sox: 23-27, 11.5 GB
Morning of June 27: Red Sox: 42-31, 11.0 GB


On The Morning Of May 9

MFY 19- 8   ----
TBR 18-11    2.0
TOR 17-13    3.5
BAL 11-17    8.5
BOS 10-19   10.0

From May 9 To June 26

MFY 34-12    ----
BOS 32-12     1.0
TOR 23-19     9.0
TBR 22-21    10.5
BAL 23-23    11.0

The Yankees and Red Sox have the two best records in MLB since May 9, easily. The Red Sox have, importantly, moved up from fifth to second place in the AL East. As far as catching the Yankees, though, they are actually worse off despite going 32-12, because they are only 0.5 games closer but have 44 fewer games remaining. It's a great example of how a bad start can screw a team up for the entire year, at least as far as winning its division. 

From May 9 To June 26, Teams Playing .600+ 

MFY 34-12   .739
BOS 32-12   .727
ATL 28-16   .636
HOU 27-16   .628
NYM 27-17   .614

I'd love for the Yankees to hit a three-week rough patch, so the Red Sox could make up a bit of ground, especially since the two teams will play each other seven times before the All-Star Break. But I also don't expect Boston to keep winning at a .727 clip all summer.

Alex Cora knows the most important thing is to simply get his team into the postseason.

If we keep doing what we're doing, we'll be fine at the end of the year. Your record doesn't matter once you get to the playoffs. . . . I've said all along, we got ourselves in a deep hole. Now we're in a better position. But we still have to keep fighting.

Of course, your record does matter as far as where you sit in the postseason hierarchy. Under the new arrangement, the two division winners with the best winning percentages get a bye into the Division Series. The remaining division winner hosts the third wild card team in a best-of-three series and the first wild card team will host the second wild card team in another best-of-three.

But Cora's overall point stands. You can't win a pennant or A Piece Of Metal™ without making the postseason cut. Right now, the Red Sox hold the first wild card spot, 1.5 GA of the Rays and Blue Jays.

The Red Sox are in Toronto for three games starting Monday before playing three games against the Cubs in Chicago. 

One week from today, they will play 14 consecutive games against only the Rays and Yankees, over a two-week stretch with no days off

July  4- 6: Rays at Red Sox (3 games)
July  7-10: MFY at Red Sox  (4 games)
July 11-14: Red Sox at Rays (4 games)
July 15-17: Red Sox at MFY  (3 games)

Ohtani Knocks In A Career-High Eight Runs, Then Strikes Out A Career-High 13 The Next Day

Shohei Ohtani is the first player in major league history to have an 8-RBI game and a 13-strikeout game in his career.

Ohtani accomplished the two feats on consecutive days.

June 21, 2022: Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run homers and drove in a career-high eight runs. Ohtani is the eighth player in Angels history to have eight RBIs in a game. It was also the most RBIs in a game by a Japanese-born player. His two dongs were hit 423 and 438 feet.

June 22, 2022: Shohei Ohtani pitched eight scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 13 batters. After a pregame ceremony delayed the start of the game, Ohtani gave up back-to-back singles. Then he retired 16 batters in a row, including 10 by strikeout, before issuing a walk. Ohtani retired 23 of the last 24 batters he faced. In the seventh inning on a humid night, his fastball was still hitting 100 mph.

Only one other player in history has had a 10+-strikeout game as a pitcher and an 8+-RBI game as a hitter in his entire career. Atlanta's Tony Cloninger struck out 12 on April 12, 1966 (Opening Day), but lost a complete game in 13 innings. On July 3, 1966, he knocked in nine runs (he also hit two grand slams) against the Giants. He pitched a complete game that day, too: 9-7-3-2-5.

Oh, there's more Ohtani:

June 15, 2022: The Angels were only two outs away from being no-hit for the first time since 1999, when Ohtani tripled down the right-field line off Tyler Anderson of the Dodgers.

June 25, 2022: Ohtani hit another home run on Saturday night, estimated at 462 feet. It was the hardest hit ball of his career, 118 mph off the bat! It was also the hardest hit home run by any Angels player since 2015 (when Statcast was born).


June 23

Dodgers   – 012 211 111 – 10 16  1
Reds      – 000 100 400 –  5 13  0

June 24 (five games with binary linescores: only 0s and 1s):

Orioles   – 110 100 010 – 4  5  0
White Sox – 010 000 000 – 1  1  0

Athletics – 000 100 000 – 1 6 0
Royals – 001 011 00x – 3 8 0

Phillies – 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
Padres – 000 001 00x – 1 7 0

Nationals – 000 001 010 – 2 9 0
Texas – 000 001 000 – 1  8  0

Rockies – 000 001 000 – 1  5  1
Twins – 000 000 000 – 0 3 0

June 25

Astros    – 000 000 111 – 3  8  1
Yankees   – 000 000 000 – 0  0  0

June 20, 2022

Manny Returns To Fenway!

(Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) Manny joined Kevin Millar and Dennis Eckersley in the NESN booth for the bottom of the fourth inning! It's fantastic to hear Millar and Manny cracking each other up.

Millar told a story about how Manny (in 2003) struck out looking on three fastballs against Toronto's Roy Halladay, mystifying Millar, but the next time up Manny sat on a breaking ball and crushed it into Skydome's fourth deck. "That's not normal, Manny!"

One slight problem:

Manny did not homer off Hallday in 2003. In fact, he hit only one home run off Halladay in Toronto as a Red Sock. It came on May 26, 2006. Millar was playing for the Orioles that season.

Manny hit three dongs in his career off Halladay. The other two: May 5, 2000 (with Cleveland) and April 19, 2005 (at Fenway). If you're wondering if perhaps Millar confused the ball parks and it actually happened in Boston, Manny's homer that day came in his first at-bat.  

Joy of Sox, May 14, 2008:
Manny turned in the Play Of The Season: With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Nick Markakis was on second and Aubrey Huff was on first. Boston led 1-0. Kevin Millar crushed Lester's first pitch to deep left. Manny sprinted back, reached up and caught the ball over his shoulder, took two steps to the wall and leapt up against it to brace himself, high-fived a fan in the first row, then came down, turned and threw the ball in to Pedroia, who fired to Youkilis to double off Huff and end the inning.

NESN later showed several of Manny's teammates -- Lowell and Ellsbury among them -- gathered around one of the cameras by the dugout, crouching down to look very carefully at the replay and laughing. I can't wait to read (or hear) Manny's post-game comments on this play. Also, I hope at least one writer headed out to find that fan.
In the game thread, the Manny play happens at 1:06.

I recall at the time not being exactly sure I really saw what I thought I saw. Sure enough, I posted at 1:11: "i thought i saw a high five when it happened live. . . . man, we are gonna miss that guy one day."

After the game, I posted "The Ultimate Manny Moment":
Manny Ramirez -- the only player in baseball history to high-five a fan while in the middle of turning a double play!!!

And then he celebrates with his teammate in center field -- who is making his major league debut! . . .

The catch itself was stunning -- what happened afterwards is the stuff of legend.
My comment there:
When it happened, I swore I saw Manny high-five or whack the arm of a fan, but after the catch, I had to calm one of our dogs down -- as L and I were whooping and clapping. She got scared.

But I was thinking -- did what I think just happen actually happen? ... Yep.
And I totally forgot this: the guy Manny high-fived left a comment!

June 8, 2022

The Red Sox Have Played At A 114-Win Pace For The Last Month (19-8), But Are Actually Further Behind In The AL East

The Red Sox have won their last six games and 15 of their last 20. Despite four weeks of success, Boston has actually lost ground in the AL East because the Yankees will not cool off.

On the morning of May 9, the Red Sox were in the AL East basement, covered in shame at actually playing worse than the Orioles.

MFY  19- 8   ---
TBR  18-11   2.0
TOR  17-13   3.5
BAL  11-17   8.5
BOS  10-19  10.0

Since then, the Red Sox have caught fire, going 19-8 and matching the MFY's fast start to the season. Winning 19 of 27 works out to 114-48 record over a full season; it's the second-best record in MLB over that period. Which is great, except for the fact that the Yankees are the one team that has played better than Boston; they have won 21 of 28, a blistering 122-win pace.

May 9 through June 7

MFY  21- 7   ---
BOS  19- 8   1.5
TOR  16- 9   3.5
TBR  14-12   6.0
BAL  13-16   8.5

So . . . despite a .704 winning percentage over the last month, the now-in-fourth-place Red Sox have dropped 1.5 games further behind in the division.

Morning of June 8

MFY  40-15   ---
TOR  33-22   7.0
TBR  32-23   8.0
BOS  29-27  11.5
BAL  24-33  17.0

Obviously, it's very frustrating. However, I have no doubt there are a few Schandenfreude posts on the horizon. Meanwhile, there is some comfort in the fact that if the season had ended yesterday, the Red Sox would have qualified as the third wild card team.

Also: In the six games before last night's extra-inning win over the Angels, Red Sox starting pitchers had a 0.23 ERA (1 earned run in 39.2 innings, 4 walks, 29 strikeouts) and a .148 opponent average. It was the lowest ERA by Boston's starters over a six-game span since (at least) 1913, when earned runs became an official stat. The previous lowest ERA was 0.37 from August 21-26, 1916 (Babe Ruth had a win and a save).

June 7, 2022

Depressing: Rays Management Is Quite Tolerant Of Their Players' Homophobia

Five members of the Tampa Bay Rays refused to wear a Gay Pride logo on their jerseys and caps last weekend.

Jason Adam said that for "faith-based" reasons, the five pichers -- himself, along with Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson -- could not wear the logos. The pitchers were not judging gay people, oh, of course not, why would you even think such an awful thing, they simply did not want to "encourage" that "lifestyle" and "behaviour".

Adam mantained, despite basically saying the exact opposite: "We love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here."

But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it's just a lifestyle that maybe -- not that they look down on anybody or think differently -- it's just that maybe we don't want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who's encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like [Jesus] encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. . . . It's not judgmental. It's not looking down.

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty called the players' excuse an "absolute joke".

(Also on Twitter, I read some moron: "So it follows you would have no problem with a bunch of players choosing not to wear the camo-shit they had everyone in a week ago?  If a bunch of Venezuelan players decided not to because they oppose the US military industrial complex, everyone would be cool with that, right?" I replied: "Hell yes. I would LOVE that!!!!" With four exclamation marks, you know I really mean it.)

Flaherty's scoffing was far more of an appropriate comment than Rays president Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash bothered to offer. Both of them were quite tolerant of the players' intolerance. Cash had Raley and Beeks pitch in the game that day. Beeks blew the save and took the loss.

Cash said he "heard a lot of conversation" inside the clubhouse "appreciating the community that we're trying to support here". Silverman's comments were similar. The issue had sparked dialogue and he was "proud of the fact . . . so many of our players chose to wear the logo. I'm also proud of the conversations we had during the run-up to this night and in the aftermath."

The Rays' promotion came the day after the Los Angeles Dodgers honored the memory of Glenn Burke, who was treated like a piece of garbage by the team when it was rumoured he was gay. Andrew Maraniss , author of "Singled Out", a biography of Burke:

When people use their interpretation of religion to justify discrimination against people for the way they were born, it's really an indictment of them and their faith. Acknowledging that people are people and all fans are welcome, that’s not something you should be able to opt out of.

The Rays and Yankees used their social media accounts one day last month (after the slaughter of  19 young children in Texas) to highlight facts about rampant gun violence in the United States. In response, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis (now there's a true piece of garbage), vetoed $35 million in state funds to help the Rays build a new training center. A spokesman for DeSantis: "Corporations do not have the right to get corporate welfare, turn around and 'donate' taxpayer dollars to communist progressive causes." (Reminder to Self: Not wanting the bodies of nine-year-old girls and boys ripped into bloody shreds by dozens of high-powered bullets = communism.)

Meanwhile, Adam pitched on Sunday despite the fact that the Christian God he claims to worship clearly forbids any work to be done on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10). Not that I needed that factoid to know Adam's brand is religion is "buffet style", where he picks and chooses which beliefs (both real and imagined (Jesus actually said nothing one way or the other about homosexuality) he wants to follow.

Red Sox Record Only Second 1-0 Win Ever Against Angels (61 Seasons)
In Both Games, The Left Fielder Scored On A Hit By The Catcher

Since the July 31, 1977 game was on a Sunday afternoon, I probably listened to it (and watched it if it was on TV).

As noted above, Wacha's shutout is Boston's second 1-0 win against the Angels ever (61 years). In both games:

Boston's catcher drove in the run: Carlton Fisk and Christian Vazquez
Boston's left fielder scored the run: Jim Rice and Alex Verdugo
Boston's shortstop hit a double: Rick Burleson and Xander Bogaerts

The pitching lines are also nearly identical:

Aase:  9-3-0-1-7, 31 BF (allowed 2 singles, 1 double)
Wacha: 9-3-0-1-6, 29 BF (allowed 2 singles, 1 double)

And the times of the two games is only three minutes apart: 2:29 in 1977 and 2:32 in 2022.

One big difference: the 1977 win pushed the Red Sox into first place, .001 ahead of the Orioles. 

It was only the second game of Aase's career (he grew up in Anaheim and dreamed of playing for the Angels). His debut came on July 26 at Fenway, a 4-3 win over the Brewers. He pitched a complete game in that one, too: 9-9-3-2-11. Aase is only one of eight Red Sox pitchers age 22 or younger to pitch a complete game with 11+ strikeouts (and it came in his debut!); three of those eight pitchers did it more than once, with Smoky Joe Wood doing it five times.