And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 7, Indians 6: Walkoff jack for Jimmy Rollins gives the Phillies a
come-from-behind victory.  Gentlemen, you may commence the “the
Phillies’ swoon was all about missing Jimmy Rollins” narrative . . .
now.

Rockies 8, Red Sox 6: We can’t be terribly surprised at ninth inning rallies off the Indians’ pen, but two homers off Johnathan Papelbon in the ninth inning? Oy!  And let’s put it this way: if you score six runs on ten hits off Ubaldo Jimenez you have no business losing that ballgame.

Yankees 6, Diamondbacks 5: Another rule: if you walk seven times in two and a third innings against the other team’s starter, you should score more than two runs off him and thus not be required to rely on a tenth inning home run from Curtis Granderson in order to win the game.

Royals 1, Nationals 0: They could barely touch him and they owe the game’s outcome to their own pitching staff and the Nats’ offensive ineptitude, but the Royals’ batters can say with 100% accuracy that they handed Stephen Strasburg his first major league loss.

Cardinals 1, Blue Jays 0: Damn shame both starters couldn’t have won this one. Chris Carpenter gets the W after flinging eight scoreless innings while allowing only three hits. Rickey Romero was just about as good with eight shutout innings of his own.  A ninth inning RBI single by Matt Holliday — who no longer stinks, by the way — was the difference in the ballgame.

Mets 5, Tigers 0: My displeasure with the Mets’ win is more than outweighed by the fact that it was occasioned by the continuing excellence of R.A. Dickey (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER). Viva knuckleballers.

Padres 5, Rays 4: The particular schedule I look at to track teams’ long term success lists “W”s in green and “Ls” in red.  For the Rays, as Lt. Al Giradello used to say on “Homicide,” there’s a lot of red up on that board! Well, he used to kind of mumble it, and he wasn’t talking about the Rays, but you know what I’m getting at. Wait, you don’t know, because you didn’t watch the show, which caused NBC to make the producers drop Jon Polito and Ned Beatty from the cast in order to try to make it appeal to a younger demographic, thus killing all that was great about it. Seriously, Michael Michele? Jon Seda? Who the hell ever would have bought them as murder police? Honestly! Uh, where was I?  Oh yeah, the Rays are 8-11 in June.

Marlins 7, Orioles 5: Edwin Rodriguez wins his debut as the Marlins’ manager. I wonder what bogus excuse Loria will use when they fire him in order to replace him with Bobby Valentine or whoever. Maybe “you know how I feel about wins! I really expected to win the rest of our ballgames and you lost one at the end of July!” Or how about “This has nothing to do with anything Hanley Ramirez said. In fact he communicated his displeasure and disrespect for you telepathically, so he never had to utter a single word!” Oh, and that’s 21 of 25 games denoted by little red “Ls” for the Orioles. Since both they and Giradello are from Baltimore, maybe I should have saved my “Homicide” rant for this one. Maybe not: a lot of those Ls are stone cold whodunnits, and no one gets worked up about those. The Rays’ losses are red balls.

Reds 3, Athletics 0: Speaking of red writing, the A’s are 6-16 in June. Speaking of the color red in general, the Reds have righted the ship quite nicely after that nightmare weekend in Seattle. Seven shutout innings for Johnny Cueto and a 3 for 3, 2 RBI night for Jay Bruce.

White Sox 4, Braves 2: The White Sox keep rolling and now the Braves are starting to skid. Two homers for Carlos Quentin.

Mariners 8, Cubs 1: That Cliff Lee fella is pretty good (CG 9 H, 1 ER, 9K, 0 BB). Maybe someone should think about trading for him.

Angels 2, Dodgers 1: This one ended on two base running screw ups: First Matt Kemp was picked off at second for out number two. Then, a couple batters later, Jamey Carroll hit a single that should have scored Reed Johnson easily from second. But Russell Martin was in his own world somewhere, rounded second too far and then got pegged at the bag trying to get back before Johnson could cross the plate. Martin out, no run, game over. I think I already used an “Oy” this morning, but extreme times call for additional “Oys” so Oy!

Rangers 13, Pirates 3: The Rangers refuse to lose — that’s ten straight for them — and the Pirates refuse to even approach the appearance of a major league team. Michael Young was 3 for 4 with a double, a homer and four RBI.

Brewers 5, Twins 3: I guess maybe I shouldn’t have assumed Ken Macha was so foolish as to install Trevor Hoffman as the closer after all. I mean, if he’s not going to use Hoffman to close a game the night after John Axford gets a six out save, he may never do it. Pfun Pfact: Manny Parra had four wild pitches.

Astros 6, Giants 3: Brett Myers has been one of the few bright spots for Houston this year. Last night he gave up three runs — only one earned — in seven innings and even went 2 for 3 with an RBI.

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.