Red Sox pitcher Lackey leaves the game in Toronto

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3: Who is hated more in Boston right now: John Lackey or Lebron James? Probably Lackey. Dude even hates himself. His quote after the game — and I am not making this up — “Everything in my life sucks right now, to be honest with you.”  Man, way to take all of the fun out of going after a guy.

Nationals 7, Braves 3: Bullpen go boom and any momentum Atlanta had coming off that Philly series is gone. I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that Craig Kimbrel had been used too much lately (Eric O’Flaherty and Johnny Venters even more so), and perhaps it is catching up with him. Kimbrel was unable to hold a 3-1 lead in the ninth and then Scott Linebrick imploded in the 11th. The latter was far less surprising than the former. Anyway, earlier in the season I said some nice things about Fredi Gonzalez not having too quick a hook with some guys and not having too late a hook with others and that he generally had a good feel for his pitching staff. Yeah, I may be coming off that a bit.

Royals 4, Yankees 3: Things could have been worse. Jeff Francoeur was almost the hero here with a 10th inning RBI double.  If that had held up, you would have found me locking my doors to keep Kent Hrbek, Jim Leyritz and zombie Eric Gregg from breaking down my front door and barging into my house to tackle me, to hit an ill-advised slider over my fence and to call me out on extremely wide strikes, respectively.  As it was, Curtis Granderson hit a clutch two-out RBI single to tie it up again in the 10th and then Eric Hosmer won it with a sac fly in the 11th (he also homered earlier). Way, way more comfortable with Hosmer as the hero.

Rays 8, Indians 2: Cleveland had won 14 straight at home, but Cleveland did not rock for them last night. Detroit is only four and a half back now.

Dodgers 2, Pirates 0: Hiroki Kuroda shut the Pirates out over seven and the bullpen continued the job (Note: Vicente Padilla now has as many saves as Fernando Rodney and Ryan Franklin combined).  May I ask anyone who saw this game: how does a 2-0 contest in which there were nine total hits last over three hours?

Phillies 5, Marlins 3: A day after his error helped cost them the game, Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run single in the ninth inning to complete the Phillies comeback from a 3-0 deficit.  Ah, Jimmy. I suppose we’ll keep you.

Orioles 4, Mariners 2: Felix Pie went 1 for 3 against Felix Hernandez (1 for 4 overall), dropping his career average against pitchers named Felix to .500.  As far as I can tell, this leaves Felix Escalona alone at the top of the all-time Felix-on-Felix leader board, with his cool 1.000 average (a double off Felix Heredia).  For those of you wondering, Neither Felix Mantilla, Felix Fermin nor Junior Felix ever faced a Felix pitcher.  If anyone wants to look up who leads the Octavios or Guillermos, be my guest. UPDATE: it’s done. Check the comments. My readers are the best.

Tigers 9, Twins 7: All Victor Martinez does is get three hits and three RBI. Every game! OK, just the last three, but that’s pretty impressive anyway. I don’t think it’s too early to declare declare the Twins the first team that a non-trivial number of people picked to go to the playoffs dead.

Astros 4, Reds 3: Hunter Pence hit a walkoff double, helping the Astros avoid the sweep. The Reds walked nine Astros hitters. Three of them scored. Walks are bad, mmmkay?  Pence has a 15-game hitting streak, by the way.

Padres 13, Brewers 6: Twenty-three hits and thirteen runs for San Diego is a good way to make the season’s offensive numbers look better.  Jason Bartlett and Cameron Maybin each had four hits.  Chris Denorfia and Ryan Ludwick each had three, including a homer.

White Sox 6, Angels 4: Jake Peavy returns and allows four runs in six innings. Not great, but having him back is a positive. Once he left the Sox bullpen held up nicely and the Angels’ pen didn’t, allowing Chicago to come back from a 4-1 hole, with Omar Vizquel of all people driving in runs in the eighth and ninth.

Cubs 11, Cardinals 4: Chicago opens up a can of whoop-ass on Jake Westbrook and the Cardinals, getting 11 runs on 17 hits. The struggling Starlin Castro was 4 for 4 with three RBI.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 3: Down 3-0, the Giants woke up and scored four unanswered runs. Miguel Tejada was 3 for 4.

Mets vs. Rockies: POSTPONED:  Coalescence occurs when water droplets in clouds fuse to create larger water droplets, which is known as the Bergeron process. Air resistance typically causes the water droplets in a cloud to remain stationary. When air turbulence occurs, water droplets collide, producing larger droplets. As these larger water droplets descend, coalescence continues, so that drops become heavy enough to overcome air resistance and fall as rain.

Athletics vs. Rangers: POSTPONED: Rain is an Edenian who bears witness to Shao Kahn’s invasion of his homeland Edenia as a youth. Many centuries later, he returns during the invasion of Earthrealm and is forced to join Kahn’s forces in order for him to betray his homeland. During the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Quan Chi informs Rain that he is a direct descendant of Argus, the protector god of Edenia, making him a half-god.

Mariners sign reliever Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
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Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.

He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.

White Sox sign Mat Latos

Mat Latos
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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.

Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year.  Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.

In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Jason Castro loses arbitration hearing against Astros

Jason Castro
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Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.

That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.

Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.

Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Eminent Domain and the history of the Rangers Ballpark

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Eminent Domain — the right of a government to take/buy private property for public use — and its implications has always been a controversial topic. It became far more controversial in the 1990s and early 2000s, however,  as the practice, which is intended for public projects like roads and stuff, was increasingly used in ways to help developers and businesses.

The controversy came to a head in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London in which the Supreme Court held that general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth — not just direct public works — qualified as a “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The upshot: if someone had a good argument that a shopping mall would benefit the community, Mr. Developer and the government can force you to sell them their house.

This led to a HUGE backlash, with property rights people freaking out about what seemed like a pretty clear abuse of governmental power serving the interests of developers. Some 44 states have since passed laws outlawing the use of Eminent Domain for purely economic development. Some of that backlash has gone too far in the other direction, with some laws getting passed which not only required compensation to landowners if land was taken, but merely if land was diminished in value.  Like, if the government passes an environmental regulation which makes your private, for-profit toxic waste dump less lucrative than it was, the government has to pay you. It’s crazy stuff, really. And all of those laws notwithstanding, the topic continues to be a controversial one, with battles over what, exactly, is “public” what is a “public good” and all of that raging on. It’s rather fascinating. At least for boring nerfherders like me.

In the recent GOP presidential debate Donald Trump and Jeb Bush got into it on the topic, with Trump — a real estate developer, or course — defending the use of Eminent Domain to take land for economic development and Bush — a really desperate dude who at this point will take ANY position he can if it’ll give him traction — opposing it. In the days since they’ve continued to fight about it, with Trump charging Bush with hypocrisy since his brother, George W., was an owner of the Texas Rangers when they built their new ballpark with the help of Eminent Domain.

Ahh, yes. We finally get to baseball.

Today Nathaniel Rakich of Baseballot digs into that project and looks at how it all played out against the Eminent Domain debate. It touches on stuff we talk about a lot around here: are ballparks engines of economic development or merely for the enrichment of ballclubs? If they are built by a municipality, are they public goods? Wait, how can they be public goods if you can’t just walk into them for free? And the arguments go on.

It’s fascinating stuff showing, once again, that the real world and baseball intersect all the dang time and it’s handy to have a handle on just how, exactly, it does so.