And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Heyward Homer.jpgBraves 16, Cubs 5: Yeah, I saw
it
. Right before it happened I even berated Chipper Jones for
scoring from third because it screwed up Heyward’s inevitable debut
at-bat grand slam. A few seconds later: bammo.

By the way, everyone seems to want to go with “J-Hey” as a nickname. I
suppose there’s no stopping that train, but before it reaches full
speed, allow me to offer “Heymaker.” Someone
suggested that one to me yesterday
and I like it better than the
first-initial/beginning of last name construct that has become so very
tired. And besides, “J-Hey” is a Willie Mays reference, and while
hyperbole may be the order of the day with Jason Heyward, he’s never
going to have the glove or the speed to be a Willie Mays comp.  Let’s
push this more in a Dave Winfield/pre-coke Dave Parker direction. Just
seems more appropriate.

Cardinals 11, Reds 6: Keep an eye on this Pujols kid because he might be pretty good some day (4-5, 3 RBI, 2 HR).  And it’s cute how Pujols credited working with Mark McGwire in the postgame interviews too. That’s like Mozart thanking Salieri for helping him finish The Magic Flute.

Pirates 11, Dodgers 5: Garrett Jones may not have that Pujols kid’s promise, but he hit two bombs yesterday too. One of them was an absolute blast: 450+ feet out of the park and into the Allegheny River on a bounce. Not to take anything away from Jones, but it’s possible that Vicente Padilla didn’t have his best stuff yesterday: He gave up seven runs and six hits in 4.1 innings. According to a friend of mine who was at the game, at least one of his pitches was that crazy quasi-eephus pitch thing he throws. I’ve seen him do it on TV before, but only when he’s struggling and knows he doesn’t have anything.

White Sox 6, Indians 0: Mark Buehrle pitched fast (game time: 2:24), threw blanks (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and may have made the defensive play of the year already, kicking a batted ball to the first base line and flipping it back between his legs to Konerko who barehanded it at first to nail Lou Marson at first. You can read about it and watch video of it here. Just sick. Sick for different reasons: Indians’ starter Jake Westbrook had four wild pitches.

Phillies 11, Nationals 1: Nice day for the imports: Roy Halladay begins his march to what I’m betting is a Cy Young Award (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9K). Placido Polanco hit a grand slam and drove in six. Charlie Manuel was late meeting with reporters after the game because he had to take ten minutes out to explain to Halladay what run support was and that it does not make him any less of a pitcher that he did not have to win the game via a shutout.

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 4: Shaun Marcum had a no hitter into the seventh inning. Gleeman and I were chatting online and debating whether we should put a “Marcum has a no-hitter in progress” post up.  We decided against it. We figured, fine, if he made it through the seventh, do it, but 6.1 innings didn’t seem quite enough.  A second later Marcum walked Josh Hamilton, gave up a single to Vlad Guerrero and then a homer to Nelson Cruz that tied things up, so we’re glad we didn’t post anything. And for what it’s worth, Marcum remained the pitcher of record through the Jays’ half of the eighth and left the game with a lead, but Jason Frasor blew it in the ninth. Query: is it more depressing to lose like that on Opening Day or to get drilled 11-1, Phillies-Nats style?

Mets 7, Marlins 1: I wasn’t crazy about the Mets’ lineup, but they won so I should shut up.  Nah, just kidding. I’m not shutting up. Mike Jacobs went 0 for 4 in the cleanup spot with a couple of strikeouts. It worked out because Josh Johnson didn’t have spit and Gary Matthews, Jr. hit well down on the other side of Bay (2-3, BB), but this is going to bite them sooner or later.

Giants 5, Astros 2: Reports of Tim Lincecum’s rust have been greatly exaggerated. Dude didn’t do much except shut the Astros out over seven innings, striking out seven and walking no one. The bullpen made it slightly interesting with Brandon Medders allowing a couple of runs in the ninth, but maybe Brian Wilson will buy him a steak this weekend for giving him an unexpected save opportunity. The offense was a team effort with a homer from DeRosa, an RBI double Renteria, some assorted RBI singles and a sacrifice fly.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3: There was a period in the 1960s when stadium architects decided that the time when accidents of geography and ad-hoc additions to ballparks interfering with the game had to end. Just because the old man who founded the team back in 18-dickety-seven was too cheap to build his ballpark on property large enough so that it that didn’t require odd dimensions and overhanging seats didn’t mean those imperfections had to be maintained! No, they built nice symmetrical ballparks that ensured fairness and purity of competition!  But everyone hated those, so they tore them all down and built new parks with phony architectural quirks whose form does not follow any function accept nostalgia and the maintenance of an ignorance of history. Quirks like the overhang in right center at the Dbacks’ park, off of which caromed Stephen Drew’s fly ball, shooting it back towards the infield and giving him an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning.

Tigers 8, Royals 4: Zack Greinke pitched better than Justin Verlander in this much anticipated matchup, but Greinke has the inferior pen, which yesterday gave the Tigers six of their eight runs. Home run from Yuniesky Betancourt hit a home run for the Royals, which ain’t something you see every day.

Rockies 5, Brewers 3: Ubaldo Jiminez and a whole bunch of relievers who are not named Huston Street and are not as effective as Huston Street brought this one home. But not without some drama, as the Brewers threatened, ultimately emptily, in the ninth. Ryan Braun describing Jiminez’s stuff: “He’s throwing 99 and the ball is moving a foot and a half. He’s got great stuff. We won’t face anybody with better stuff — ever.
He has as good of stuff as you’ll see in the game.”

Angels 6, Twins 3: What did you think of Hideki Matsui’s performance? Would you like to have a player like Hideki Matsui in your lineup? Answers: not bad: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, including what would serve as the game-winner; and yes. Kendry Morales had an identical line. Except no game-winner, because you can’t have two of those in one game. It’s physics. At least I think it’s physics.

Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Casey Kotchman was 2-4 with 2 RBI. Milton Bradley was booed all evening by the Oakland crowd and then shattered his bat slamming it into the ground in frustration after striking out to end the ninth, right after Kotchman hit what would be the game-winning RBI, which is the sort of thing that pisses off your teammates way more than saying dumb things to the media.  Oh, and the Oakland juju has started the season out just dandy:

Four A’s-clad fans among the 30,686 in attendance carried two banners:
“Lew Wolff Hates Oakland” and “Keep Our A’s in Oakland” while two others
banged drums as they took their message about the team’s owner through
the stands.

And Bud hasn’t even announced that Oaktown is a lame duck city yet!

MRI reveals minor right ankle sprain for Cubs’ Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant warms up before Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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CHICAGO (AP) An MRI has confirmed that Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs has a minor right ankle sprain.

The 2015 NL Rookie of the Year wasn’t in the lineup Friday against the Atlanta Braves, but manager Joe Maddon said he might be available off the bench late in the game.

Bryant was injured running the bases in the third inning Thursday of Chicago’s 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. He was replaced in left field two innings later.

The Cubs avoided putting another starter on the disabled list. Catcher Miguel Montero was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday with a sore back. Chicago lost slugger Kyle Schwarber for the season when he tore two knee ligaments three weeks ago in Arizona.

Yasiel Puig welcomes Jared Goff to Los Angeles

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig smiles as he warms up throwing the baseball during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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Jared Goff, the University of California Quarterback, was selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the first overall pick of last night’s draft. Not a bad thing to happen, to the man. He’s going to be rich! He’s going to be even more famous! He’s going to be the face of the NFL’s move back into the nation’s second largest city!

The only problem is that he’s not always been a fan of all things Los Angeles. For example, three years ago he took issue with Yasiel Puig for reasons that I’m guessing everyone has forgotten:

But no worries. Puig has both forgotten and forgiven. He even sent out a warm welcome to the new Angelino this afternoon:

#PuigYourFriend has to the best hashtag in the history of Twitter.

 

Someone stole a 14-foot tall Kansas City Royals Player

royals logo
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Not a real one. If there was a real 14-foot tall baseball player we would’ve heard more about him, I presume. Also, since he’s 14-feet tall and only weighs 150 pounds, he’d probably be in the hospital hooked up to IVs and things because that’s just not healthy.

This is a fake one — a 3D figure — for use on a billboard in Kansas City off of I-435. Thieves came in the night and took him off the sign on Wednesday night. This morning, however, he was found:

And he is home:

Kansas City’s long, little-over-a-day nightmare is over.

(h/t to SB Nation who has a lot more on this)

People are getting hysterical over Dee Gordon’s positive test

FILE - This April 3, 1972 file photo shows Marvin Miller, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, talking to reporters in New York. Miller, the union leader who created free agency for baseball players and revolutionized professional sports with multimillion dollar contracts, died Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 in New York. He was 95. (AP Photo/File)
Associated Press
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A dude testing positive for PEDs and getting suspended for 80 games should, actually, be taken as a sign that the system, however imperfect, still largely works. But the world of baseball can’t stop to acknowledge that. No, this is apparently a crisis. A crisis so dire that decades of labor developments apparently need to be scuttled.

That’s the message I’m getting from some folks in baseball media, anyway. Take this for example:

There’s a LOT going on there. For one thing, a casual dismissal of just how massively significant the concept of the guaranteed contract is in baseball. Marvin Miller is always cited as the man who brought the players free agency, but free agency would not have been valuable at all if teams could just void contracts. Just look at how the NFL and its phony salary numbers work. Miller and the MLBPA worked insanely hard to put that system in place and it’s insanely valuable to union membership. It’s not hyperbole to say that any movement on the part of the union to compromise the notion of guaranteed contracts would represent a complete and total repudiation of decades of its own work, and suggesting that it do so because we still get 5-7 PED suspensions a year is preposterous.

Then look at the word “option” there. Abraham wouldn’t have contracts be automatically voided. He’d only have them be voided at the option of an owner. This would give teams tremendous power to get out of bad deals and would give them no risk with respect to PED guys who happen to be on team friendly deals. If contracts were automatically void, underpaid players like Madison Bumgarner would have MASSIVE incentives to use PEDs. If they were merely voidable at the whim of the owner, the owners would have incentives with respect to drug testing other than making the game a clean one.

Finally, note how Abraham puts this all on the MLBPA. He’s not alone in this, as Buster Olney has been tweeting and writing all morning about what the union should and should not be doing to solve this problem. Obviously the union has a huge role as its players are the ones taking drugs, but to suggest that the union be the police force here and that it’s wholly incumbent upon it to solve this problem is silly.

For one thing, as I noted earlier today, a union’s purpose is to protect its members, not police them. To demand that they police them, to the point of undercutting some of their most important protections due to a disciplinary matter, is to turn the concept of a union on its head.

For another thing, as we learned throughout the height of the PED Era, ownership is not totally innocent when it comes to the permeation of PEDs in the game. The people who run baseball play a huge role in shaping the incentive structure of the game which causes some players to cheat. They are thus just as invested in and in just as good a position to help solve the problem at hand as the players are. They cannot, as these reporters would have them, sit back and demand that the MLBPA disembowel itself in order to eliminate PEDs from the game. It has to be a joint effort. Indeed, the drug rules in baseball have the word “JOINT” in the very title. It ain’t a Cheech and Chong reference, I can tell you that.

All of this reveals a certain hysteria that has always permeated the PED discussion in baseball coming to the fore once again. While they once ruled the game, PEDs are a relatively small problem now, comparatively speaking (note: neither Abraham nor Olney bother to establish that they’re actually a big problem or that things are getting worse; they merely assert it and assume it). A problem which, like drugs and cheating in every other walk of life, cannot be wholly eliminated and should not be ignored, but which can be and generally is effectively managed.

Yet here we are with two of the more influential voices in the game — and many others I’ve seen already today but didn’t bother to link here — pushing the panic button and demanding the ridiculous with no basis whatsoever. What is it about this subject, in this sport only, of course, that makes people lose their frickin’ minds?