And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Strasburg walks off.jpgNationals 5, Pirates 2: A star is born.

Giants 3, Reds 0: Not to be a killjoy or anything, but Matt Cain’s game score (76) was one better than Strasburg’s (75). Cain was dancin’ with the Devil, though, recording 16 fly ball outs in a park where you don’t want to be giving up a ton of fly balls.

Rays 9, Blue Jays 0:  And not to be a further killjoy, but Jeff Niemann was better than both Strasburg and Cain, shutting out the bashingest team in baseball on two measly hits.

Mets 2, Padres 1: And while we’re listing outstanding pitching performances, let’s not forget Mike Pelfrey, who went nine and gave up a single
run on five hits. Ike Davis hit a walkoff tater in the 11th too, which means that Strasburg wasn’t the only NL East rookie to have a nice night either.

Phillies 10, Marlins 8: Speaking of NL East rookies, how about Mike Stanton’s big league debut? It was a good one — 3 for 5, all singles and a run scored — but the Marlins’ pitchers and defensive game decided not to show up, basically gifting this game to the Phillies.

Brewers 3, Cubs 2: More great starts! Ted Lilly (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB,
8K, higher game score than Strasburg) and Yovani Gallardo (7 IP, 4 H, 0
ER, 2 BB, 7K). Of course neither of them figured in the decision.

Rangers 7, Mariners 1: King Felix decided that he wasn’t going to be one of those sheeple, mindlessly joining in last night’s pitching party. No, he was his own man: 6 IP, 8 H, 7 ER.  Colby Lewis was game, though (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).

Twins 7, Royals 3: Hey, yet another kickass pitching performance: Kevin Slowey, seven shutout innings in which he gave up only three hits.  Meanwhile, Zach Greinke joins Felix Hernandez in the non-conformists club (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER).  I guess those two are just the toast of 2009 compared to this Strasburg kid.

Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0: I’m struggling to recall a night with more great pitching lines. Let’s add Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Carpenter to the mix: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER 6K for Kuroda, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 5K for Carpenter.

Athletics 10, Angels 1: The A’s pitching was more of a group effort, with Vin Mazzaro going only five innings and four relievers joining him in collectively allowing one run on eight hits. The real star of the game was Kurt Suzuki, who went 4 for 5 with a homer and four RBI.

Red Sox 3, Indians 2: Tim Wakefield not only baffled the Tribe and got
the win, but he passed up Roger Clemens as the all-time Red Sox innings
pitched leader. Assuming Strasburg stays on regular rest, he gets the
Indians next. For those of you who think he only had a great night
because he faced a crappy lineup in the Pirates, well, you can just go
on thinking it, because there will be no evidence to the contrary
presented for a couple of weeks.

Tigers 7, White Sox 2: Armando Galarraga wasn’t perfect but he was good enough to win, scattering seven hits and two runs over five innings. Matt Thornton imploded for the Sox, giving up five runs on three hits and two walks in a mere third of an inning.

Yankees 12, Orioles 7: The Bombers bash the Orioles into submission, led by a Curtis Granderson grand slam and Nick Swisher’s five RBI night. Chad Gaudin coming in and giving up four runs in garbage time can’t be too comforting, though.

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 5: The Braves should have had a hell of a lot more runs than this, but they stranded 14 runners. Between that and Kris Medlen hurting his non-pitching shoulder while running the bases this could have been a disastrous night. Instead it was merely bad with a silver lining. Medlen should be fine. If he slides like that again, however, he’ll probably be fined until Hell won’t have it.

Astros 4, Rockies 3: Here’s the downside of following the draft: As a Braves fan I remember when they drafted Matt Belisle and I followed his career for a good while. Then he shows up and loses a game like this one and my first thought is “Matt Belisle? He’s got to be 42 years old now.”  He just turned 30.  I invested a lot of time in his development years and I’m not sure what I got out of it besides a misleading impression of the guy’s age.  Sometimes it’s just better to be surprised by some guy who shows up in the big leagues.  Now get off my lawn.

Jackie Robinson: ” I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag”

FILE - In this April 11, 1947 file photo, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses at Ebbets Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Robinson's widow said Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy. "There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 during a Q&A session with TV critics about "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.  (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)
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One more bit of baseball via which we may reflect on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.

In 1972 Jackie Robinson wrote his autobiography. In it he reflected on how he felt about his historical legacy as a baseball player, a businessman and as a political activist. A political activism, it should be noted, which favored both sides of the aisle at various times. He supported Nixon in 1960, supported the war in Vietnam and worked for Nelson Rockefeller. He did not support Goldwater and did support the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He supported Humphrey against Nixon in 1968. He was no blind partisan or ideologue. When you find someone like that you can usually rest assured it’s because they’re thinking hard and thinking critically in a world where things aren’t always cut-and-dried.

As such, this statement from his autobiography, describing his memory of the first game of the 1947 World Series, is worth thinking about. Because it came from someone who spent a lot of time thinking:

There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists.

As I said in the earlier post, the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.

(thanks to Kokujin for the heads up)

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is a sports owner once again

File photo of Frank McCourt leaving Stanley Mosk Courthouse after testifying during his divorce trial in Los Angeles
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There aren’t many major league ownership reigns which ended more ignominiously than Frank McCourt’s reign as Dodgers owner. He was granted access to one of business’ most exclusive clubs — one which being a convicted criminal or even a Nazi sympathizer cannot get you kicked out of — and somehow got kicked out. The clear lesson from his saga was that saddling your team with debt, using it as your own private piggy bank and exercising bad judgment at every possible turn will not get you drummed out of baseball but, by gum, having it all go public in a divorce case sure as heck will.

McCourt landed pretty safely, though. By sheer luck, his being kicked out of ownership coincided with the vast appreciation of major league franchise values and the expiration of the Dodgers cable television deal. He may have left in disgrace, but he also left with a couple of billion dollars thanks to the genius of capitalism. At the time it was assumed he’d ride off into the sunset, continuing to make a mint off of parking at Dodgers games (he retained a big piece of that pie) and not get his hands messy with sports ownership again.

Such assumptions were inoperative:

The soccer club has suffered from poor financial decisions in recent years. So I guess it was a match made in heaven.