And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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Cardinals 6, Marlins 5:
Cody Ross let one get through the wickets in the eighth and it rolled
all the way back to the 434′ sign in center, allowing the tying runs to
score and putting the eventual winning run, in the person of Ryan
Ludwick, on third. It happens. Trever Miller on the home run he gave up
to Pujols: “That wasn’t a situation where I was going to nibble on
[Pujols] at 3-1. He’s too good of a hitter, he’s not going to chase a
bad pitch. He’s going to get his pitch and hit it. Unfortunately, he
did.” Wait, why exactly don’t you nibble on Pujols there? He’s only
going to get his pitch to hit if you give it to him, and once you’ve
gone 3-1 on the guy, you really have no business giving it to him
unless the bases are juiced, and maybe even then you don’t. Wait . . .
unless Pujols has finally developed telekinetic powers which enable him
to will fat pitches into his wheelhous (as many of us have long
expected he might some day). Crap. That’s it. We’re all doomed. All
hail our Pujolsian overlord.

White Sox 4, Tigers 3:
The White Sox almost frittered this one away, but then Joel Zumaya
slipped on some wet grass while fielding a bunt in the ninth and then
Scott Podsednik singled in Brian Anderson to eke out the win. Anderson
after the game: “Had that gone the other way, it definitely would not
have been as fun a bus ride.” It’s 97.4 miles from U.S. Cellular Field
to Miller Park so a bus makes sense, but I haven’t thought too much
about this before and now I’m wondering what the cutoff is. Do the
Tigers take a bus to Cleveland (167 miles)? How about L.A. to San Diego
(124)? Sure, you and I always drive those, but these are rich, pampered
baseball players here. How about Philly-Queens? It’s 111 miles, but
there’s lots of traffic. But back to the White Sox: do you think they
considered carpools for the Milwaukee trip? I bet Ozzie Guillen never
drives. And he probably calls shotgun even when the car isn’t within
eyeshot yet. I get the feeling Jim Thome’s music collection is just
awful. Probably a lot of modern female pop country artists. On
cassette. I’d probably want to ride with Buehrle. I bet he hauls ass.

Astros 2, Cubs 1:
Game story: “Geoff Blum is the first Houston player with winning hits
in back-to-back games since Derek Bell did it on July 20-21, 1996,
against Atlanta.” I call B.S. on that. I watched virtually every Braves
game there was while Bell played in the National League, and I never
once recall Derek Bell getting a big hit. Ever. He was a total bust
against Atlanta, at least in my memories. In fact, I can’t think of a
supposedly decent opposing hitter that I, as a Braves fan, feared less
than Derek Bell. OK, fine, I’ll look: Hmmm . . . .270/.322/.405
lifetime against the Braves. That’s only slightly below his career
averages. I hate to say this, Forman, because you usually do such a great job, but you seem to have somehow screwed up Derek Bell’s page.

Phillies 6, Mets 3:
Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning to
win the game. I wonder what could make him do that. I mean, he’s old,
it was late in the game and it was past dinner time, so he was probably
tired too. Maybe a little something to help a ballplayer gain an extra
step when he might otherwise be flagging? Some sort of unnatural
fountain of youth, hmmm? Yeah, I’m just gonna come out and say it, and
I don’t care what anyone says: Ibanez is clearly doin’ the Dew.

Rockies 5, Brewers 4:
The problem with the Rockies’ winning streak is that if it goes on much
longer, it’s going to fool someone in the front office into taking the
“interim” tag off of Jim Tracy. Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in
awhile.

Pirates 3, Braves 1:
Javier Vazquez was brilliant (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 12K) but got the no
decision because the Pittsburgh staff was, on the whole, brillianter.
Odd things: Francoeur led the Braves’ offensive onslaught, getting two
hits and even walking once. See above note about blind hogs. Also,
Bobby Cox was ejected. That’s not news — he’s the record holder after
all — but this was very un-Bobbylike. I’m pretty sure Cox premeditates
most of his ejections, because they’re usually quick (i.e. he goes
straight to the magic word — God, he’s so romantic . . .) and because
they usually happen early in the game to ensure plenty of couch time in
the clubhouse. This one came in the ninth inning, so he really got no
leisure/beer time out of it to speak of. Just not like him, ya know? I
hope he’s alright.

Indians 4, Royals 3:
Greinke rebounded from his previous shelling, but he needed to be
better than good on a night when his offense didn’t really show up.
Shin Soo Choo hit a single off a freakin’ seagull in the 10th, driving
in the winning run. Learning to play the seagull carom in Progressive
Field is one of those things visiting defenders just don’t have time to
master in a short series. Oh, and now that the memories of the Royals’
early-season friskiness have long since passed, can we just get to the
end game on Trey Hillman and save everyone a lot of hassle?

Athletics 4, Twins 3:
It’s a shame about that lead Blackburn lost. It was. That was really a
shame. To go so suddenly. Ah, he was tiring for innings. But the very
end, when he actually gave it up . . . was extremely sudden.

Nationals 3, Reds 2:
The eighth inning throwing error by Brandon Phillips that allowed
Christian Guzman to score the winning run wasn’t as ugly as the second
inning throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman that allowed Alex Gonzales to
score the Reds’ first run. Phillips had a dude bearing down on him and
just misfired. Zimmerman’s was an air mail job that, at last report,
was entering Canadian airspace.

Mariners 6, Orioles 3: 3 RBI for Russell “how in the hell is he still at .317/.413/.614” Branyan.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1:
Max Scherzer gave up only three hits while shutting out the Giants over
seven and two thirds. Mark Reynolds struck out three times to raise his
total to 87. In 1948, Hank Sauer led the NL with 85 for the whole
season. The year before, Chris Nicholson led the league with 83. In
fact, since the end of the deadball era, guys have led the league in
strikeouts with 87 Ks or fewer on 21 occasions. Just thought you’d like
to know that.

Rays 11, Angels 1:
The Angels have given up 33 runs in their last four games. David Price
left in the fourth because he had already thrown 105 pitches. Dude’s
gonna have to figure out how to reign that in, because hanging around
long enough to take advantage of offensive outbursts like this is the
stuff that 18-win (and better) seasons are made of.

Rangers 1, Blue Jays 0:
Two good offenses collide in one of the most offense-friendly parks in
baseball. It’s 80 degrees at game time, so sit back, babies, and watch
the horsehide fly! Or, if that’s not your speed, all of the scoring in
the game can happen on a second inning sacrifice fly.

Red Sox 4, Yankees 3:
What a miserable night for the Yankees. Getting beat by the Red Sox for
the eighth time in a row is bad enough, but having it happen in a cold
rain via a blown lead has to add some extra pain. I guess someone has
to win a game in the Mets-Yankees series this weekend, but the way
things are going, I can’t feature either team doing it.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

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Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.