And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights


Giants 15, Brewers 2: Observations regarding this bloodbath: (1) Brian Sabean spent the first month of the season talking about how Buster Posey wasn’t ready for the bigs yet. Yeah: 4 for 4, 2 HR, 6 RBI; (2) Lost in the carnage is the fact that Tim Lincecum pitched a whale of a game: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10K; (3) As has become habit, I spent a third of my latest HBT Extra segment slamming something (i.e. the Giants’ lack of offense), only to have those criticisms contradicted by pesky fact in short order; and (4) it’s sad to see Trevor Hoffman used as a mopup man.

Reds 3, Mets 1: Bronson Arroyo — or, as I shall henceforth call him, Captain America — shuts down the Mets over eight innings. Brandon Phillips had a homer and an RBI double and flashed some nice leather for the Redlegs. He also was interviewed by NBC’s own Tiffany Simons the other day. In recent weeks she’s interviewed Evan Longoria, Jose Reyes, Kevin Youkilis and now Phillips. They all had really excellent games within 24 hours of the interview going down. Coincidence? Before you answer, know that she interviews me every week and I keep shuffling through life as though someone has cauterized my synapses and wrapped my hands in thick bandages, so maybe her powers only work on mega-athletes.

Marlins 4, Dodgers 0: Josh Johnson was, once again, spectacular, shutting out the Dodgers over eight innings and striking out eight. His ERA, by the way, is 1.70 — way lower than Ubaldo Jimenez’s — but he’s getting about a fraction of the press Jimenez continues to get.

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: You’re saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it?
I’m just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets
here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I’m probably just his
secretary. I’m just Montel Williams. You want to talk to Larry King.
I’ve been in murder police for ten years. If you’re going to lie to me,
you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my
haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don’t you ever lie to me like
I’m Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams!

Sorry. Once a year I crack at the sameness of Baltimore Orioles recaps and feel the need to go all Detective Munch on them. I wish you didn’t have to see that, but I can’t control it. There are days I wish I could be transported back to 1970 and I could write glowing praise about the latest Orioles victory, but that ain’t gonna happen.  As it is, the Orioles aren’t good enough for that and, sadly, they’re not interesting enough for me to even mock like I sometimes do to the Pirates or the Nats in recent years.  They’re just depressing team that makes me reach back 16 or 17 years for TV quotes to dull the pain.

Braves 7, Phillies 5: A couple of bombs from Martin Prado + a three-run double in the course of a six run inning for Brian McCann = the Phillies in a flat spin. Pfun Pfact, courtesy of Mac Thomason: Phillies starter Jamie Moyer made his major league debut when Braves starter Kris Medlen was nine months

Nationals 7, Padres 6: Adam Dunn slams three home runs. The Donkey is on pace for yet another damn spectacular season and yet the first thing out of most people’s mouths when they talk about him is how he strikes out all the time.

Rays 6, Red Sox 4: The Rays sweep the Bosox behind David Price, who picked up his 12th win. Weirdness alert: Joe Maddon had Matt Garza close the game. No real explanation in the game story I read other than he only threw three innings in his last outing. Of course, he threw 84 pitches in those three innings, so it’s not like he was totally fresh.  Whatever. If Casey Stengel could use Whitey Ford in relief I suppose Joe Maddon can use Matt Garza there once in a while.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 5: Jose Bautista hit an inside the park homer which (altogether now!) was the result of poor defense.  Delmon Young hit a homer in the losing effort. You know, between Garza being relegated to the bullpen in Tampa and Young hitting bombs and being talked about as an All-Star, can we now say that the Twins won that trade?

No, of course we can’t, but I did want to see who was paying attention.

Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3: This, from the game story, is a rather startling stat: Arizona had 10+ strikeouts for the
fifth straight game. The AP writer calls it Arizona’s “whiff-a-palooza,” which I rather like.

Royals 7, Mariners 3: Down by a run in the eighth, no outs, runners on first and second, Ned Yost ordered Alberto Callaspo to bunt. He couldn’t get the bunt down, however, so with the count 3-2 he swung away and hit a three-run homer. There’s a lesson in there that I’m guessing Ned Yost will never learn.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 7: It’s probably time to start worrying, Cardinals fans. For the second straight night St. Louis blows a lead late. This one wasn’t as dramatic — what could be? — but the Cards had a 5-0 lead in the fifth and a 7-4 lead in the seventh, but once again the pen couldn’t seal the deal.

Yankees 6, Athletics 2: The A’s simply didn’t show up for this series. They even made A.J. Burnett look good last night (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER).

White Sox 5, Angels 2: The Sox have now passed Minnesota and sit in second place, a mere game behind the Tigers.

Astros 6, Pirates 3: Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman hit homers. This is not a repeat from Tuesday night. Astros’ starter Brian Moehler had to leave the game with a groin injury. No matter how many times I write the words “groin injury” — which I estimate has been 1,952 times since I began blogging — it still makes me wince.

Rangers 4, Indians 3: Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick! Would the AP writer stop obsessing on Josh Hamilton’s “home hitting streak?”  Quick — how many of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games were home games? If you can’t answer that without looking it up, this little statoid is meaningless drivel.  In other news, Michael Young is one of the guys in the “final vote” thing for the All-Star Game. According to the game writeup “the Rangers have enlisted Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten” in the effort “with Witten encouraging
fans to vote online for Young.” Does this really motivate anyone? I mean, I know people get Cowboys crazy down there, but if a Cowboy asked you to jump off a bridge would the Metroplex do it?  Wait, don’t answer that.

The Days of Chief Wahoo are numbered

Fox Entertainment

One of the more common responses to what I’ve posted about Chief Wahoo lately is “it’s just a cartoon character! Nobody cares!”

Well, looking at that guy in the photo above and many others dressed like him at Progressive Field the past two days is evidence that it is not just a cartoon character. A certain swath of Indians fans think that, because of their team’s name and mascot, it’s totally acceptable to show up in public looking like this. Wahoo as an official trademark of a Major League Baseball club gives people license to dress up in redface — or in this case, red and blackface — with headdresses on, turning a real people and a real culture into a degrading caricature. It’s not just a cartoon character by a long shot. To many it’s a get-out-being-called-a-racist-free card.

As for “nobody cares,” well, yes, someone does. Go read this from Sterling HolyWhiteMountain over at ESPN, talking about both Chief Wahoo as a symbol and America’s treatment and conception of Native Americans as a whole. It’s moving stuff that puts lie to the idea that “nobody cares.” It likewise puts lie to the false choice so many Chief Wahoo defenders reference in which they argue that people should care more about actual injustices visited upon Native Americans and not mascots. One can and should care about those injustices. And one can do that while simultaneously finding Chief Wahoo to be an odious symbol that serves to dehumanize people. Once people are dehumanized, it’s far easier to treat them as something less-than-human, of course.

But it’s not just Native Americans or anti-Wahoo folks like me who care. While I have been critical of Major League Baseball for not taking its own stand against Wahoo publicly, it seems pretty clear at this point that the league is weary of Wahoo and is looking to pressure the Indians to eliminate it. Last night, at the Hank Aaron Award ceremony, Manfred spoke more expansively about Wahoo than he did the day before. Manfred is a lawyer and he does not choose his words carelessly. Read this and parse it carefully:

“I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why. Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.

“I’ve talked to Mr. [Indians owner and CEO Paul] Dolan about this issue. We’ve agreed away from the World Series at an appropriate time we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is, and we’ll go from there. At this point in this context, I’m just not prepared to say more.”

Yes, he’s still trying to be diplomatic, but note how he (a) acknowledges that Wahoo is offensive to some people; (b) that “all of us at Major League Baseball understand why” and (c) does not validate the views of those who do not find it offensive. He acknowledges that they feel that way due to history, but he does not say, as I inferred from his previous comments the day before, that both sides have merit. Indeed, he says he’d like to hear Paul Dolan’s side, suggesting that while he’ll listen to argument, he doesn’t buy the argument as it has yet to be put.

I still wish that MLB would come out hard and strong against Wahoo publicly, but the more I listen to Manfred on this and read between the lines, the more I suspect that Major League Baseball is finally fed up with Wahoo and that it wants to do something to get rid of it. That it’s not just the hobby horse of pinko liberals like me. I believe Manfred realizes that, in 2016, Chief Wahoo is an embarrassment to an organization like Major League Baseball. Maybe, because of p.r. and political considerations, he doesn’t want to stand on a soapbox about it at the World Series, but I believe he wants to put an end to it all the same.

You can call me names for being against Wahoo all you want. But you can’t say it’s a non-issue. You can’t say that it’s just a cartoon character and you can’t say that nobody cares. To do that is an exercise in denial. I have come to believe that Major League Baseball cares and that it’s going to push hard to make the 2016 World Series the last time it is embarrassed by anachronistic racism on its biggest stage ever again.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.