And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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ortiz.jpgRed Sox 8, Athletics 5: Before the game Ortiz said this:

Today I was informed by a reporter that I was on the 2003 list of MLB players to test positive for performance-enhancing substances. This happened right before our game, and the news blindsided me. I said I had no comment because I wanted to get to the bottom of this.

The judges would have preferred the Costanza-esque “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?” but they will accept the O.J.-esque “I’m going to search for the real killers” response as well. Either way, he wasn’t so blindsided that it took him off his game, as his three run homer in the seventh put the Sox up for good.

Mets 7, Rockies 0; Rockies 4, Mets 2: Santana was fantastic in the first game (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER 8K). Omir Santos caught the second game despite the fact that his wife gave birth earlier in the day. When my wife gave birth the only place I was allowed to go was to the room across the hallway where they kept the ice. Good for Omir for having his priorities in order. Kids are born every day. Twin-bills are rare.

Cubs 12, Astros 3: That’s 30 runs in three games for the Cubbies. Kevin Hart got the win and then was traded to Pittsburgh as soon as it was over. I’m pretty sure that Pittsburgh has been involved in every trade that has been made for the past week. Query: if they have so much desirable talent, why they hell do they suck so bad?

Orioles 7, Royals 3: Brad Bergesen gave up one run on seven hits in seven innings and got the win, but not before being knocked out of the game when a liner off the bat of Billy Butler smacked him in the shin. “The pain was bad. I wanted to throw up,” Bergesen said. Tonight, as he elevates and ices the leg, he’ll be updating this seemingly dormant web page.

Brewers 7, Nats 3: The Brewers win back-to-back games for the first time in a month. Yovani Gallardo allowed five hits and three runs while striking out 11 and walking nary a Nat.

Padres 7, Reds 4: Remember in spring training when some folks were picking Cincy as their dark horse contender? Nah, me neither. The Reds have dropped six of seven the Padres this season, which is as close to pathetic as you can get. Game story: “Outfielder Wladimir Balentien, acquired Wednesday by the Reds from Seattle for right-hander Robert Manuel, arrived in Cincinnati early Thursday morning and was in uniform.” Early morning? Must have taken the Red eye. Get it? RED eye! Because he’s joining the REDS! Ha! Um, er. Yeah.



Rangers 7, Mariners 1: Newark, Ohio’s own Derek Holland had a
shutout into the ninth, striking out ten Mariners and giving up only
two hits. It may have been better, though, if he had given up a run
earlier, because maybe then Ron Washington wouldn’t have left the 22
year-old in for 118 pitches on a 90 degree night.

Braves 6, Marlins 3: Brian McCann with the three run dinger in
the 10th! (I can use exclamation points there, because he plays for my
favorite team; were it the Cubs or something, I would have used a
period or would have written some dependent clause set off by dashes —
like this — in order to tone it down a bit. But go Braves! Nice to
salvage one!!!

Giants 7, Phillies 2: Rodrigo Lopez gave up eight hits and seven
runs — only three earned — in four innings, mostly due to a Pedro
Feliz error. Feliz used to play for the Giants. According to the game
story, Ryan Garko was asked to provide information on Friday’s starter
— Cliff Lee — to the Giants, because Lee and Garko used to play for
the Indians. Basically, no one can trust anyone in this series, and
death and betrayal lie around every corner.

Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3: Guess what: Todd Wellemeyer doesn’t work
in relief either! To be fair, he didn’t cause the 10th inning jam —
that was Dennys Reyes’ doing — but he did come in and give up the
game-losing single, and I’m not sure why Tony La Russa decided that
runners on second and third in the 10th inning was the best spot in
which to launch Wellemeyer’s bullpen career.

White Sox 3, Yankees 2: If you lived in outer space and just
came to Earth to visit on Thursdays, you might come away with the
impression that DeWayne Wise was actually good, what with the big catch
in Buehrle’s perfecto last week and hit the walkoff RBI single last
night. Hmm, maybe I won’t go back to outer space. Mars ain’t the kind
of place to raise my kids. In fact it’s cold as hell.

CC Sabathia won’t visit the White House if the Yankees win the World Series

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Over the past couple of days the subject of athlete activism, always present to some degree in American sports, but recently revived by Colin Kaepernick and a few other football players in the form of silent protests during the National Anthem, exploded into a headline dominating news story. Lighting the fuse: President Trump directly inserting himself into the controversy.

He did so during a speech on Friday night and during a series of tweets Saturday and continuing into this morning in which he urged NFL owners to “fire” or suspend players who do not stand for the national anthem. He also attempted to disinvite the NBA champion Golden State Warriors from their traditional White House visit because of their star player Stephen Curry’s public opposition to him, though Curry had already said he wouldn’t go.

As Ashley wrote last night, the silent anthem protests have now come to baseball, with A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell becoming the fist player to kneel during the National Anthem. Before that, at least one baseball executive, Orioles Vice President John P. Angelos, came out strongly on the side of players and against Trump. Joe Maddon said some less-than-enlightened words on the matter. Major League Baseball issued a statement on the matter. It was, not surprisingly, somewhat empty, taking something of a both-sides-have-good-points tack. It’s understandable, I suppose. I suspect Major League Baseball and its owners would prefer to not have to comment on this at all. The league does not do this sort of controversy well.

Ballplayers, however, will likely continue to speak up. The latest: Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was asked yesterday whether he would visit the White House if the playoff-bound Yankees won the World Series. From the Daily News:

“Never. I just don’t believe in anything that is Trump. So there wouldn’t be any reason for me to go at all. I just think it’s stupid. I just think it’s dumb that he’s addressing players and stuff that he shouldn’t be. But it is what it is, and that’s the country we live in these days . . . I’m proud of the way that everybody has Steph’s back and just athletes in general these days, the way everybody has been stepping up has been great.”

Baseball players, as we’ve noted many times over the years, tend to be a more conservative bunch than football or basketball players. There are a lot more white players and a lot more players from southern, suburban and exurban areas. A significant number of racial-ethnic minority players were not born in the United States, so U.S. politics may not necessarily preoccupy them the way it may players from the United States. As such, political protest like we’ve seen in the NFL and NBA was never going to start in baseball in 2017.

But that does not mean that it was not going to come to baseball. Contrary to what so many fans seem to think, sports do not exist inside some bubble into which the real world does not intrude. Athletes are citizens just like you and me with social, political and personal concerns just like you and me. And, at the moment, a government official is demanding that they lose their jobs because he does not agree with their political views and the manner in which they are expressed. I suspect most of us would get upset by that if it happened to us. Certainly a lot of people I know on the conservative side of the political expression worried about government overreach and freedom of speech. At least before January of this year.

So I am not at all surprised that baseball players like Sabathia are beginning to speak out. He will not be the last. Others will join him. Others, as is their right, will push back and say they disagree with him. If and when people feel inspired to tell them to “stick to sports,” or “stay in their lane,” perhaps they should ask why the President of the United States decided not to do so himself. And ask why he thinks it’s appropriate for athletes to lose their jobs for their political views and why private entities like the NFL should be patriotic institutions rather than businesses which put on sporting events.

 

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.