And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Twins 3, Tigers 2; Tigers 6, Twins 5: Porcello and Blackburn were each tough in game one, but Verlander wasn’t matched by Duensing in Game 2, putting his team in a 5-0 hole. A seriously long day for these two teams, and despite all of the drama, now they’re back (back) where they started, here they go ’round again. Day after day they get up and they’ll say, they have to do it again. Two more times.

Marlins 5, Braves 4: A three run homer from Matt Diaz to tie it up in the 6th had me dancing the dance of joy, but the Braves just couldn’t get over. When Chipper hit into that double play in the ninth all the air came out of the room. They can’t win every damn game, even if it seems like they can lately. The Rockies have to lose once in a while.

Rockies 7, Brewers 5: Crap, they didn’t lose. At first I was all prepared to write this one up as a 5-2 Rockies win last night when all of a sudden Kendall hit that three-run homer off Street. Jason effin’ Kendall. WATFO? But then Chris Iannetta does it his own self? Mercy. Oh well, I still have that NL East pipe dream I was harboring for a couple of hours yesterday . . .

Phillies 7, Astros 4: Double crap. I suppose it was too much to ask the Astros to lay the smackdown on the defending champs. The Phillies’ magic number is now one.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: Jay Bruce hit two home runs. Homer Bailey pitched well. Joey Votto blasted one. This is sort of how Cincinnati drew it up in 2008 or so. Better late than never, I suppose. And the hot finish is likely enough to keep Reds’ fans warm over the winter.

Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 7: Take that, Jay Bruce: Adam Lind hit three home runs. Take that Adam Lind: Papelbon plunked Lind on the elbow his last time up. Classy as ever, Jonathan. The Red Sox clinched the wild card when the Rangers lost later in the evening (see below), but they really can’t be happy with this last week. Five straight losses. A circa late-July, early-August Clay Buchholz performance. Anaheim won’t lose to Boston in the first round forever, you know, and this year is looking pretty ripe for a change of pace.

Cubs 6, Pirates 0: I know he had the shutout going, but I’d like to think that at least a small part of the reason Lou Piniella left Dempster in there to finish the game was to show John Russell that the home crowd will give a pitcher a standing ovation even after the ballgame is over.

Rays 3, Orioles 1: Twelve straight losses for the O’s. There hasn’t been this much carnage in Baltimore since Junior Bunk opened fire in the squad room at the end of season six.

Nationals 4, Mets 3: Break up the Nats, who have won two in a row. They count as wins, even if they come at the expense of the Mets.

Yankees 4, Royals 3: The Cardinals clinched and have gone on a big slide. The Yankees clinched and haven’t lost since. This has to be a good sign, right? Let us consult some teams who entered the playoffs on a hot streak: 2005, 2006 and 2007 Yankees, what say you? Hmmm, they’re not answering. Maybe we should talk to some teams who stumbled to the end of the regular season: 2005 White Sox, 2006 Cardinals and 2007 Red Sox, wasn’t it a nightmare entering the playoffs with no momentum?

Angels 5, Rangers 2: Good night Rangers. All the more depressing for Rangers fans to have it happen against a second string Angels lineup and a spot starter. At the beginning of the season I picked the Rangers to win the west. Based on everyone else’s picks, I was pretty much alone in thinking they’d do anything. Well, they did a lot, and they have nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a good foundation here and a good future. They will be back.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1: I suppose they’ll clinch eventually, but in the meantime, losing a lot of games to the Padres and Pirates of the world can’t feel too nice. And really, between St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Philly, is there any NL team that wants to at least act like they have a shot in the postseason? Poor effort down the stretch, division leaders, really poor effort.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 4: Those two home runs by Bengie Molina probably bought him another million in contract negotiations with Brian Sabean (but not any sane GM the Giants could hire or who works for another team). Probably bought Buster Posey another month in AAA or on the pine, too. Bruce Bochy: “We don’t know what’s going to happen and Bengie doesn’t know what’s going to happen. I do know he’s done a great job here. We wouldn’t be in this position … without Bengie.” What position is that, Bruce? Outside of the playoffs looking in despite a superior pitching staff by virtue of you having black holes every where you look on offense?

Mariners 6, Athletics 4: Did we see our last ever Ken Griffey, Jr. home run in this one? If so, the circumstances — a three-run job against a kid who was a year old when Junior debuted, at home, that essentially put the game away — is a fine way to go out. 628.

White Sox vs. Indians: Postponed: They could cancel it outright, but then they’d deprive the Indians of the dozens of dollars they stand to make in beer and hot dog sales during the makeup game later today.

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”