And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Reds 4, Cubs 0: Justin Lehr? Really? The same Justin Lehr making his second career start at the age of 32? The same Justin Lehr who hadn’t previously pitched in the majors since 2006, and was really, really bad when he did that? The same Justin Lehr who the Reds signed in 2007, sold to the freakin’ Korean league, signed again with the Reds later in the year, was let go again and allowed to sign with the Phillies, then the Reds traded for AGAIN back in May? The same Justin Lehr who had someone updating his Wikipedia page with news of this shutout against the Cubs (CG SHO, 4 H, 4K, 1BB) mere minutes after the game went final? For Pete’s sake, you gotta love baseball.

Phillies 7, Rockies 0: I don’t think that anyone was truly serious about moving J.A. Happ out of the rotation in lieu of Pedro Martinez, but to the extent there was even a hint of chatter on this point, it needs to stop now (CG SHO 4 H, 10K 2 BB). Well, maybe. Damn, it’s gotta be good to be a Phillies fan right now.

Brewers 4, Dodgers 1: Game story: “The final meeting of the season between the teams was played with a heavier-than-usual presence of security personnel stationed between both clubhouses before and after the game. Usually there is one security guard in front of each door. This time, there were five on the Dodgers’ side and eight on the visitors’ side.” Prince Fielder behaved himself, but he was seen searching for a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak between innings, so there was genuine reason for concern.

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: Edwin Jackson gave up a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the ninth on his 117th pitch. Until then, however, it was cream cheese (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 8K).

Diamondbacks 4, Pirates 3: Ross Ohlendorf left with a lead, but the pen couldn’t hold it for him. From the game’s scoring summary in the 8th inning: “S Drew singled to center, C Tracy and A Romero scored, S Drew out stretching at second.” Drew probably should have stretched before the game or at the very least kept his foot on the bag while stretching in the 8th.

Indians 8, Twins 1: Minnesota threw five guys out there — Liriano, Dickey, Keppel, Mijares and Guerrier — with names that sound like they belong to partisans in some European civil war or something. In fact, I’m pretty sure those were the names of the five main characters from a Hemingway novella I read back in college. I’m blanking on the title right now and don’t have time to check, but trust me, those are the dudes. Keppel was a German defector — once a mid level Weimar bureaucrat — unhappy with the sinister influence that had come to his homeland and trying to find meaning in the world. Liriano had been close with Franco in their youth, but suffered a falling out over a woman, and now no man truly knows the reason why he fights. Dickey — the narrator — was a laconic American expatriate with a deep secret. Mijares and Guerrier, often mistaken for brothers, but unrelated, had met in France after the Great War and formed a life bond. At the risk of giving away the ending, I’ll say that it was sad to see those two die in each others arms, their chests pierced by the same Fascist bullet, even if we knew it was inevitable from the first chapter which foreshadowed their doom. Why yes, I was drinking a little last night as I wrote this. Why do you ask?

Rays 6, Red Sox 4: Bad night all around for the Sox as first Penny gets beat up (6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER) and then Jason Bay leaves the game with a hamstring injury. Sutcliffe made this one as unwatchable as usual. I didn’t click off, however, until the promos for the upcoming games were announced: we’re watching the Sox tonight, we’ll get the Sox on Sunday, and then the Sox on Monday. ESPN: Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is Red.


Yankees 8, Blue Jays 4: It was all chips and gravy for the Jays
until the seventh, but then Swisher homered, Cano doubled, Matsui
knocked him in, Molina walked, then Damon knocked in Matsui and Texeira
knocked in Molina. Now come the Red Sox. They get Smoltz first, so
there’s a good chance that the winning streak gets stretched to four.

Braves 6, Padres 2: Tommy Hanson is from San Berdoo (did the
mullet tip you off?), so this was kind of like homecoming for him.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was far more welcoming, however, as he hit into three
double plays, including one that got Hanson out of a tight spot in the
first. The Braves had 14 hits, every one of them singles, which is not
something you see every day.

Nationals 5, Marlins 4: Wow, four wins in a row for for the Nats. Back to back homers by Zimmerman and Dunn in the first set the tone.

Giants 10, Astros 6: You really aren’t living right if you give
up ten runs on 13 hits to the Giants. Joe Martinez wins his first ever
major league start. Eli Whiteside, filling in for Molina unit #3VH162,
which required some routine maintenance, hit a grand slam.

Mets 9, Cardinals 0: Jonathon Niese tore his hamstring — like
really tore it and needs it repaired with surgery — and is now done
for the year. Man, it’s tough to be a Met this season. His teammates
weren’t fazed, though, and put the hurt on the Cards. Angel Pagan did a
lot of the hurting, going 3-4 with four RBI.

Mariners 11, Royals 6: I still can’t fathom why Posnanski wants
to give up getting paid to watch this team play every night. I mean,
he’ll probably still watch them, but now he’ll do it for free.

Athletics 7, Rangers 5: Adam Kennedy, Scott Hairston, Kurt
Suzuki and Cliff Pennington all went yard for Oakland, with Kennedy’s
two-run blast serving as a difference maker in the sixth. Dallas Bradan
was supposed to start but didn’t because he “had a swollen left ankle,
which developed from a rash caused by a Neoprene guard used to protect
his big toe when pitching.” I hate it when that happens.

White Sox 6, Angels 2: HI MY NAME IS JI

JIM THOME
AND I HIT TWO HOME RUNS IN THIS GAME.

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.