And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 5, Reds 1: Jose Contreras had to leave the game in the
third inning with angina or dropsy or consumption or whatever the hell
it is that 86 year-old people get all the time. Didn’t matter though,
because at this point the Rockies could probably put the 1985
Hackensack Bulls in the lineup — including both Richard Pryor and John
Candy in their current conditions — and still keep winning. Case in
point: Jason Giambi, your starting first baseman yesterday. He hasn’t
played much since coming to Colorado, but against all odds he’s done
well when given the chance (1-3, 2B 2 RBI yesterday). When Giambi
started hitting home runs with those mid-90s A’s teams I used to get
him confused with Matt Stairs. Now that his career is winding down and
he’s providing some fat guy pop off the bench, I’m starting to get him
confused with Matt Stairs again.

Nationals 8, Phillies 7: The Phillies almost came back in the
ninth inning, scoring five runs but falling just short. How much you
wanna bet that Charlie Manuel is secretly happy that they didn’t score
seven that inning, thereby forcing him to figure out what to do with a
one-run lead in the ninth?

Royals 7, Tigers 4: Four straight wins for the Royals. Four
straight games in which Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk. Coincidence?
Well, yeah, probably, but that doesn’t make either of those things any
less amazing.

Marlins 13, Mets 4: Yesterday Bud Selig,
in response to a question about competitive balance, said “By the way,
there have been teams with high payrolls and have drawn a lot of people
who have been stunning disappointments.” I wonder who he was talking
about? The game story described the Mets as “listless.” That’s fine,
but how are they fixed for hap?

Blue Jays 3, Twins 2: Another painfully small crowd in Toronto
last night. No hockey to report. Hmmm, why might they not have drawn
well . . . I’m going with Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo,
which was playing at the Grand Chapiteau at Port Lands. It is, after
all, a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where
insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a
non-stop riot of energy and movement, and that sounds way better than a
late season Jays’ game, doesn’t it?

Braves 9, Astros 7: ESPN’s little teaser feature had this game
on the sidebar yesterday, saying “another solid pitching duel tonight,
with Derek Lowe towing the mound for ATL.” How the hell does one “tow a
mound?” Toe a rubber maybe? And screw it, they were wrong about the
pitching duel anyway: Roy Oswalt got bombarded for six runs on ten hits
in two innings. Derek Lowe’s tow truck must have broken down too,
because he wasn’t a ton better (5.2 IP, 9 H. 5 ER).

Angels 3, Mariners 0: John Lackey pitched a five hit shutout,
striking out seven — he got Ichiro twice, which is kind of amazing —
and walking one. Branch Rickey Award winner Torii Hunter hit a two run
homer. Probably worth noting that this west coast game ended before the
eastern time Steelers-Titans game did. Even better, it didn’t end with
the losing team not having a chance to play offense. I’d list all the
other reasons why it was superior to football, but I’m going on a trip
next week and therefore won’t have the time to get to them all.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.