And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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In the wake of Michael Jackson’s passing, all of the players in yesterday’s games wore one glove in his memory. . .

Yankees 11, Braves 7: Buster Olney went all Jerod Morris on A-Rod yesterday (query: does the fact that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids six years ago,
and a year before the institution of punitive testing give one license
to play the “one never knows” card all these years later? Geoff Baker
— can I get a consult here?). Less problematic than the steroids
speculation garbage was the quoting of scouts and wringing of hands to
the effect that Rodriguez has suddenly become a poor decrepit old man
who will likely not survive the length of his contract let alone
produce during its duration. Jesus. The guy rushed back from hip
surgery, played too much, and still isn’t 100% right. Is that really
the best time to declare someone’s career dead? Especially someone who
raked like hell just last season? I bet Buster liquidated his 401K in
March too. Anyway, reports of Rodriguez’s death are greatly exaggerated
(3-5 HR, 4 RBI).

Tigers 6, Cubs 5: Geovany Soto pinch hit and struck out. When he was not playing, he regaled Carlos Zambrano with tales about this one amazing killer bong he saw in Iowa City that one time.
He ought to straighten up that hophead attitude of his and fly right,
though. Look at Magglio Ordonez. That fine young man has shed those
hippie locks (and the stoner lifestyle that necessarily accompanies
long hair) and not surprisingly he’s back on track (1-4, HR, 2 RBI). If
only every player could emulate those clean cut and clean living stars of yesteryear!

Pirates 3, Indians 2:
Cliff Lee has to be looking around that locker room and feeling like
Michael did while looking around the Jacksons’ dressing room circa
1979. He’s better than these guys, they’re doing nothing to help him,
and they bring nothing to the party. In fact, I’m going to call Ben
Francisco “Tito” for the remainder of the season.

Reds 7, Blue Jays 5:
It felt so good to watch Joey Votto break out the whuppin’ stick (4-5,
2B, HR 3 RBI). By the way, as I did on Monday, I watched a good 45
minutes of this game on a treadmill at the gym. Unlike Monday, however,
I didn’t change the channel. Why? Because George Grande and Chris
Welsh, while certainly no luminaries, understand that there’s a
ballgame going on in front of them and actually talk about what’s
happening in it from time to time. Something else learned from this
game: Scott Rolen comes to the plate to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and
Roll.” I guess it’s a play on “Rolen,” but at bottom, isn’t that song
about a guitar chick lusting after a teenage boy?

Mets 3, Cardinals 2:
Good pitching matchup, as Santana beats Carpenter and the Mets take
three of four from the Cards. The crowd was the largest in Citi Field’s
young history. According to the article “New York had offered 50
percent discounts on some tickets.” With eight dollar beers and all of
the rest you’d think that any team with empty seats would cut prices
like Crazy Eddie, promote the crap out of it and be confident that
they’re making it all up in grub, suds and merch.

Marlins 11, Orioles 3:
There are some Baltimore Orioles truthers out there who insist that I
have decided to not say anything nice about their team. I’ll make you a
deal, guys: they do something worthy of praise, I’ll praise it. In the
meantime I will throw you a bone and note that Nick Markakis went 4 for
4 and drove in Z-game. Unfortunately it was 11-2 in the ninth inning at
the time. As for the Marlins, Hanley Ramirez went 3 for 5 and knocked
in five runs in what turned out to be a laugher.

White Sox 6, Dodgers 5:
Chad Billingsley let a 4-0 lead slip away and actually stood to be the
loser when he left the game after six. He got bailed out, but the Sox
pulled it out in 13. Weisman makes an excellent observation
regarding Torre’s bullpen use in extra innings: “Torre chose to save
Jonathan Broxton for a save situation rather than ensure he’d get an
inning out of him. It’s an old philosophical bug: the idea that your
best pitcher is more useful when you can afford to give up a run,
rather than when you can’t afford to.”

Mariners 9, Padres 3:
I’m not sure what surprised me more yesterday: the news that Michael
Jackson died or the news that Mike Sweeney was still alive. Good game
for him though (4-4, 2B, 2 RBI), as well as Ichiro and Beltre, who
combined to go 7-10 with four runs scored. The Mariners now set off on
a death march against the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox, all on the
road. We’ll certainly know what this team is made of in about nine or
ten days, won’t we?

Rays 10, Phillies 4:
It’s sort of not fair that the Rays can lose a guy like Evan Longoria
and then have his replacement — Willy Aybar — hit a homer and drive
in three runs. More evidence that the universe is unfair: the Marlins
beat the Phillies in this series, are playing much better baseball
overall, and have a lineup that could bash them across the country and
back, yet Philadelphia remains in first place and the Rays are in
fourth, six games back.

Nationals 9, Red Sox 3:
Smoltz got pounded (5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER), but he struck out 5 and walked
only one. Eh, dude’s allowed to warm up a bit. I’m sure someone will
analyze his start more closely than I have, but whatever that shows, my
gut tells me that he’s going to be alright pretty soon and will pitch
extremely well until the very moment his shoulder or elbow explodes
again.

Astros 5, Royals 4:
Lance Berkman launched two dingers and drove in four. The game wouldn’t
have been as close, though, if it weren’t for a bunch of Astros errors
leading to three Royals’ runs.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 8:
Chris Davis had four hits, including a two-run homer in the 12th to win
it. He wouldn’t have had a chance to hit that one if Miquel Montero had
held on to a two-strike foul tip the pitch before.

Twins 6, Brewers 4:
I live in a city that has a massive (and probably justified)
inferiority complex, and one of the funniest things about it is that
Columbus can’t ever seem to decide which other city it should feel
inferior to. Chicago? That’s just silly, but you hear it sometimes.
Charlotte? Austin? Nashville? Those all make sense for various reasons,
but none are perfect. Anyway, as I was staring at the box score of this
game and failing to find anything really interesting to say about it, I
wondered: does Milwaukee compare itself to Minneapolis? To Chicago? Or
is it a city that is comfortable in its own skin, never giving a
thought to other places (except when making fun of the elitists in
Madison)? The thought gripped me for a while so I decided to Google it
a few different ways and came up with this:

Is Milwaukee, with its rich industrial legacy, however small it is
compared to its heyday, headed toward a manufacturing heavy Detroit, a
financial services hub that Minneapolis is, or something altogether
different? Bill Bonifas, an executive vice president with The Polacheck
Co. Inc., says the answer to that question illustrates two points: Why
Milwaukee is different than Detroit and Minneapolis and where the
city’s headed.

“You can’t say Milwaukee is going in the direction Detroit is because
to begin with Detroit has a more spatial dynamic whereas the money is
located in Milwaukee.

“Though I think our momentum matches that of Minneapolis, I don’t think
we’ll end up like that city either because that’s such a regional
center for finance that Milwaukee is, and will have to be, a
combination of the two.”

Detroit never occurred to me, though I have to admit, there are some
basic similarities. An industrial past, Great Lakes access, a snobby
little overeducated town a short drive to the west. It works if you
squint a little.

I know there’s no purpose to this, but does anyone have any ideas
here? Lar? And if you don’t know a thing about Milwaukee, does your
town engage in this neurotic behavior, or is it just a Columbus thing?
Does every Springfield have its Shelbyville?

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.

 

Justin Turner talks “Easy D”

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:

No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!

Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:

It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:

I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.

And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.