And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Carlos Lee swing.jpgAstros 6, Rockies 2: Wow. Walkoff (why did I think the Astros were at home?) game-winning grand slam by Carlos Lee in the tenth inning. Someone isn’t happy about being called “untradeable” for the past two months.  Dude has been on fire in June.

Indians 11, Red Sox 0: Yesterday I observed that Tuesday night was a pretty epic night for pitchers (turns out it was only mildly epic).  Last night was a pretty big blowout night.  This one led the way, with Tribe unloading on Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson for eight runs in the eighth. Not that they needed all those runs with Justin Masterson shutting down the Boston bats with a two-hit shutout.

Rays 10, Blue Jays 1: I’m suddenly hearing nothing from that dude who keeps showing up in my Power Rankings threads beefing about me not showing any respect to the Blue Jays.  I know he’s out there — he has accurately monitored my torrid east coast bias for weeks now — but I have yet to hear him explain to me how this series with the Rays in which the Jays have so far been outscored 19-1 fits into the Toronto Master Plan.

White Sox 15, Tigers 3: The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last night. Ozzie Guillen was rooting for them, but after the game he was a bit sad too: “It took us three months to score 15 runs and now
nobody is going to know.”
Remember when Rick Porcello was the hot young pitching prospect we were
all talking about? Yeah, well, that seems like a long damn time ago,
kiddo (3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 6.09 ERA on the season).

Rangers 12, Mariners 2:  The blowouts just keep on coming. Remind me next winter when some team is signing and trading all kinds of dudes to not get too excited about all the “noise” they’re making in the offseason, OK?

Cubs 9, Brewers 2: Randy Wolf gives up five homers and, by his own admission, is living a “nightmare” season.  I think that goes for everyone in BrewersLand.

Twins 6, Royals 2: Carl Pavano gives up two over eight innings to shut down Kansas City. The Royals have a secret weapon though: they drafted the great-great nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson with their last pick yesterday. He’s a catcher. I have no idea if he’s any good, but maybe he’ll teach them how to put the fix in or something.

Reds 6, Giants 3: Buster Posey’s first major league homer was really the only highlight for the Giants. Orlando Cabrera messed around and got three doubles for Cincinnati.

Nationals 7, Pirates 5: After a sellout night for Strasburg, only 18,876 pay to see John Lannan pitch.  I guess I understand that, but Lannan had a pretty memorable debut himself a couple of years ago: he broke Chase Utley’s hand, plunked Ryan Howard and then got tossed.

Yankees 4, Orioles 2: The Yankees lead the season series 10-1. Mercy.

Diamondbacks 2, Braves 1: Ugh. The Dbacks win on an inside the park home run occasioned by Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward slamming into each other in the outfield. McLouth had to leave the game, but he seems OK. The video was scary. Losing a game on that kind of hit is frustrating.

Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Clayton Kershaw struck out 10 as the Dodgers sweep the Cardinals. The Cards could have scored the tying run in the 9th, but Yadier Molina’s long drive ended up bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double, causing Pujols to have to stop at third.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Joe Saunders goes the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing a lone run.  Dallas Braden, who surrendered five runs on 11 hits, hasn’t done much to write home about since the perfecto.

Padres vs. Mets: Postponed: I can show you that when it starts to rain, everything’s the same.

Marlins vs. Phillies: Postponed: This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must
fall . . . It’s just a little rain…

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.