‘They Just Get It’: How Women in M.L.B. Found Support in a Group Text

“The barrier has opened up for women in the U.S.,” Nuñez said. “Now we’ve got to keep fighting because so many other barriers have to be brought down. I’ve met plenty of Latino coaches on the minor league side, but I haven’t met many Black coaches. I definitely haven’t seen many women of color, so for me, we’re just getting started.”

A watershed moment for the text group, and women in the sport, came a year ago. During a celebration following the Houston Astros clinching a trip to the World Series, Brandon Taubman, the team’s assistant general manager, yelled at a group of female reporters in the clubhouse, “Thank God we got Osuna,” along with an expletive.

Taubman was referring to Roberto Osuna, a relief pitcher acquired by the Astros in 2018 while he was serving a 75-game suspension because of accusations of domestic violence. Three days after a Sports Illustrated article brought the Taubman outburst to light, the Astros fired Taubman. The group text lit up.

“We kind of used it to talk more about what women face in general, instead of that specific incident, so that way nobody who may or may not have been involved felt like they had to talk on that specifically,” said Wolf, who knew some women in the group might have known or worked with Taubman.

Over all, Wolf — echoing the sentiments of Nakken and Nuñez — said her experience working in baseball had been overwhelmingly positive.

“If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be here,” she added. “That said, it’s not perfect. It can definitely improve.”

At a basic level, Wolf said, more teams need to be aware of their team work gear (“Making sure you have clothes that fit women and you’re not just giving them men’s stuff,” she said) and facilities, like appropriate bathrooms and locker rooms for women. Wolf had to use an empty umpires’ locker room at the Mets’ minor league facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., because there wasn’t a dedicated space for women.

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After severe MLB penalties, Atlanta has become a model franchise

Just three years ago, after yet another losing season, Atlanta was in a state of scandal-induced, MLB-enforced chaos.

Their general manager, John Coppolella, resigned amid the league’s investigation into the team’s conduct on the international amateur player market. Upon completing the probe, MLB gave Coppolella — then just 38 years old — a lifetime ban, suspended one of his top lieutenants for a year, declared 13 prospects free agents and placed severe, suffocating restrictions on Atlanta’s international spending in the coming years.

The international market for young players, especially in Latin America, was and is considered baseball’s wild west. Corruption is common. MLB wanted to make an example of Atlanta and its former GM.

And then a funny thing happened: Under the pressure of penalties, Atlanta became a diamond. Led by president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, it has turned into one of the sport’s model franchises and has found nothing but success, including taking a 3-2 series lead into Saturday’s Game 6 of the NLCS against the Dodgers.

Atlanta’s success starts at the top with Anthopoulos, who wasn’t the kind of Ivy League-educated, analytics-groomed baseball operations boss so many teams seek these days. He had a scouting background, had already run a team — the Blue Jays from 2009-15, getting the club to the ALCS in his last season — and had been working for the Dodgers. He recently characterized that experience as “like going to grad school.”

“Alex is a man of integrity and he will operate in a way that will make all of our fans proud,” Atlanta team chairman Terry McGuirk said upon hiring Anthopoulos, adding that the preceding months were “the toughest in the storied history” of the franchise.

In the context of Coppolella and the scandal, the juxtaposition McGuirk sought was obvious. But beyond morals and virtues, Anthopoulos has given fans another reason to be proud: The team is a winner.

Three consecutive NL East titles. A .578 winning percentage — good for more than 93 wins in a 162-game season. A player development machine, started during the Coppolella era, churning out significant contributors every year. And a bulked-up analytics department that aids in most every aspect of the operation.

Atlanta seems not to be going anywhere, either. That could mean trouble for the rest of the division — including Steve Cohen’s Mets and the rebuilding Marlins who surprisingly made it to the playoffs this year — and league.

Freddie Freeman, the likeable face of the franchise, is Atlanta’s longest-tenured player. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies are young, electric, homegrown stars who already have signed long-term, team-friendly deals. Then there are the young starters, Cy Young candidate Max Fried and Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright — not to mention Mike Soroka, who missed most of this season due to an Achillies injury but in 2019 was one of the best pitchers not named Jacob deGrom and best rookies

2020 MLB Playoffs: Dodgers vs. Braves odds, picks, NLCS Game 4 predictions from proven model

The Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers square off in Game 4 of the 2020 National League Championship Series on Thursday evening. The Dodgers bludgeoned the Braves by a 15-3 margin in Game 2, though Los Angeles still trails 2-1 in the series. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to start for the Dodgers, with Bryse Wilson on the bump for Atlanta.

First pitch is at 8:08 p.m. ET in Arlington. William Hill lists Los Angeles as the -216 favorite, up from the opener. The over-under, or total number of runs expected, is nine in the latest Braves vs. Dodgers odds. Before making any Dodgers vs. Braves picks, check out the latest MLB predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

This model, which simulates every pitch 10,000 times, returned more than $1,400 on its top-rated MLB money-line and run-line picks in 2019, and anyone who followed it saw huge rewards. It’s off to a profitable start in the 2020 MLB Playoffs, including hitting all three top-rated money-line MLB picks during the first week of the postseason.

Now, the model has dialed in on Dodgers vs. Braves. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the MLB odds from William Hill and trends for Braves vs. Dodgers:

  • Braves vs. Dodgers money line: Dodgers -216, Braves +196
  • Braves vs. Dodgers over-under: 9 runs
  • Braves vs. Dodgers spread: Dodgers -1.5
  • ATL: The Braves are 7-1 in the playoffs
  • LAD: The Dodgers are 10-2 in the last 12 games

Why you should back the Braves

The pitching matchup isn’t ideal for Atlanta in this matchup, with the 22-year-old Wilson making his first career playoff start. However, Wilson was at his best late in the 2020 regular season, allowing only one run in his final two starts. From there, Atlanta has one of the best bullpens in baseball, finishing fourth in bullpen ERA at 3.50 during the regular season. 

The Braves were also able to save their big arms out of the bullpen because of the lopsided nature of Game 3, leaving Brian Snitker with myriad options to attempt to slow the Dodgers. Offensively, Atlanta is tremendous, leading MLB in on-base percentage (.349), doubles (130) and slugging percentage (.483) during the regular season. The Braves were also a top-two team, trailing only the Dodgers, in home runs (103) and runs scored (348), and Atlanta is fully capable of putting up crooked numbers at any moment.

Why you should back the Dodgers

Though Kershaw has well-chronicled struggles in the playoffs when compared to the regular season, those issues haven’t migrated to 2020. Kershaw’s back problems forced the Dodgers to move him back to Game 4 but, before the NLCS, the future Hall of Fame left-hander made two starts and posted a 1.93 ERA with 19 strikeouts and only one walk. The Braves are a great offensive team, but there is every reason to be optimistic about Kershaw. 

On the offensive side, the Dodgers led MLB in runs scored (349) during the regular season and that