And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

44 Comments

There were only 14 games yesterday. On a Sunday. Because the A’s and Mariners didn’t play thanks to the Japan Series. Look, I don’t care if you want to start the season in Japan, but there should be a federal law against anything less than a full slate of games on a Sunday.  Anyway:

Tigers 13, Red Sox 12: How about the back end of that Red Sox bullpen? Alfredo Aceves blew a 10-7 lead in the ninth thanks to a Miguel Cabrera three-run homer and Mark Melancon blew a two-run lead in the eleventh thanks to a walkoff job by Alex Avila. Anyone want to see Vicente Padilla closing? He threw 50 m.p.h. heat to Prince Fielder and lived to tell the tale. Anyway, so far Miguel Cabrera has begun the season 5 for his first 11 with three homers and eight RBI. Both Fielder and Avila are 5 for 12 with two bombs. Mercy.

Pirates 5, Phillies 4: That’s two walkoff wins in a row for Pittsburgh, this one courtesy of Andrew McCutchen. Phillies starters gave up only two runs in twenty innings this series, yet they dropped two of the three games.

Rays 3, Yankees 0: Jeremy Hellickson allowed three hits while shutting out the Yankees for eight and two-thirds. He just couldn’t get the shutout, however, as he walked Nick Swisher, pushing his pitch count up to 118. Four Fernando Rodney pitches later and it was over. The Rays sweep the Yankees. This never would have happened if The Boss were still alive!  Oh, wait, it very well might have.

Orioles 3, Twins 1: Jason Hammel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and the Twins mustered just two hits in the whole ballgame.  The Twins scored just five runs in the entire series. Against Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles.

Mets 7, Braves 5: Jon Niese took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggests (the Mets had a 7-0 lead until that seventh inning). The Braves scored seven runs on fourteen hits in three games.

Indians 4, Blues Jays 3: Carlos Santana hit two home runs. It was also his birthday so, hey, free dessert at Applebee’s too. According to the AP recap, Santana is 10 for 17 with five homers and 13 RBIs on his last four birthdays.

Cubs 4, Nationals 3: Man, I’ve gone several years now without having any compelling reason to learn how to spell Jeff Samardzija’s name, but now it looks like I gotta. Samardzija nearly went the distance — and had what should have been the last out except Starlin Castro committed an error — before giving up a homer to Adam LaRoche.  Still, eight and two-thirds innings, allowing only one earned run on four hits while striking out eight is not bad. Not bad at all.

Cardinals 9, Brewers 3: Lance Lynn wasn’t even supposed to be here today, man. Indeed, but for the Chris Carpenter injury, Lynn would be working from the pen. But he did just swell starting, giving up one run in six and two-thirds while punching out eight. The Cards take two of three from the Brew Crew. Corey Hart went yard for the third time in two days. Which is kind of nuts considering the dude had surgery and was on crutches about a month ago.

Padres 8, Dodgers 4: Clayton Richard gave up two runs on two hits but neither of the runs were earned. Chase Heddy — wait, that’s Headley — had a grand slam.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 6: San Francisco had a 6-0 lead after they finished batting in the fourth, but Matt Cain and Jeremy Affeldt couldn’t hold the Dbacks down.

Royals 7, Angels 3: Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler homered and drove in three runs apiece as the Royals take two of three from Anaheim. Albert Pujols went two for three with a double and his first RBI as a Halo.

Astros 3, Rockies 2:  Juan Nicasio put forth a fine effort (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) in his first regular season action since taking that nasty comebacker last year. It didn’t hold up, however, as the Rockies’ defense failed on a ball back to the mound in the eighth, allowing Houston to score the tying run while extending the inning for the go-ahead single by Brian Bogusevic. Pfun Pfact: This is the first time the Astros have been over .500 since July 29, 2009. They shouldn’t get used to it, but good for them.

Rangers 5, White Sox 0: Matt Harrison and three relievers combine for the shutout. Homers from Murphy, Beltre and Hamilton. And yeah, I watched “Mad Men” instead of the last few innings of this game. I’m still in spring training form I guess. Anyway: WTF with Don’s fever dream? Crazy!

Reds 6, Marlins 5: Heath Bell couldn’t hold a one-run lead, giving up a homer to Jay Bruce and then a hot-shot infield single by Scott Rolen.  Ozzie Guillen has now gone two whole days without expressing his admiration and affection for brutal socialist dictators.

Former outfielder Anthony Gose is throwing 99 m.p.h. fastballs in the minors

Getty Images
2 Comments

Anthony Gose played for five seasons as an outfielder in the big leagues. He never hit well enough to be a regular, and a series of altercations with his minor league managers and coaches didn’t do too much for his future either.

His fastball, however, may eventually make up for all of that.

Toward the end of spring training it was reported that Gose would begin work as a pitcher. Given that he was a highly regarded high school pitching prospect with a plus fastball, it wasn’t a crazy notion. When Tigers camp broke, Gose stayed in Lakeland in extended spring training, throwing bullpen sessions and stuff.

Now he’s seeing game action. As the Detroit Free Press reports, Gose threw an inning for the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers against the Palm Beach Cardinals last night. He allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout and one walk, lighting up the radar gun at 99 m.p.h. This is the tweet from Lakeland’s assistant general manager:

The Free Press says that the Tigers’ vice president of player development, Dave Littlefield, is “very optimistic” about Gose’s progress.

Given that he’s still only 26 and he’s a lefty it wouldn’t shock me at all if he makes his way back to the bigs someday soon.

There is no need to lament the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie”

31 Comments

Today in the New York Times Jay Caspian Kang writes about what he calls the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie.” About how there are few if any big baseball movies anymore. Movies which traffic in baseball-as-metaphor-for-America with Jimmy Stewart (or Kevin Costner)-types playing characters which seem to transcend time, elevate our emotions and rack up the dollars at the box office.

It’s a bit of meandering column, with just as much time spent on Kang’s seeming dissatisfaction with modern baseball and baseball telecasts as his dissatisfaction with baseball cinema, but he winds it up with this, which sums his argument up well enough:

Baseball’s cinematic vision of Middle America no longer means what it once did. The failing family enterprise and the old, forbearing white — or Negro Leagues — ballplayer now remind us of an extinct vision of the country and the growing distance between Middle America and the coasts. The attempts to update the archival, sun-kissed, Midwestern vision — whether on last year’s “Pitch,” the Fox TV show about a woman pitching in the majors, or “Million Dollar Arm,” the 2014 Disney movie in which Jon Hamm goes to India to convert cricket bowlers into pitchers — are canceled or bomb at the box office.

You won’t be surprised that I take a great deal of issue with all of this.

Mostly because it only talks about one specific kind of baseball movie being AWOL from cinemas: the broad works which appeal to the masses and which speak to both the past, present and future, often with a hazy nostalgia in which love of baseball and love of America are portrayed as one and the same.

It’s worth noting, though, that such films are extraordinarily rare. There was a brief time when such things existed and did well at the box office — the 1980s had “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” and “Major League” in a relatively short period of time — but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Baseball movies are almost always niche flicks. Biopics made of recently deceased stars like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Weird slices of life like “The Bad News Bears” or “The Sandlot.” Quirky comedies that are baseball offshoots of larger cinematic trends like “Little Big League,” which was just the latest in a series of “kids doing adult things” movies popular at the time. Or “Rookie of the Year” which is essentially baseball’s version of one of those body-switch movies that come and go. Or “Mr. Baseball” which was just a fish-out-of-water comedy like any other.

We still get those kinds of smaller baseball movies fairly often. They’re still pretty decent and still do pretty decently at the box office, even if they’re no one’s idea of a blockbuster.

“Moneyball” was done well and did well, not as a mass appeal movie, but as one of many business/Silicon Valley flicks that have popped over the past few years. “Sugar” was a great movie, but a small movie, exploring a culture about which most people aren’t aware and basically serving as a character study. “42” is just an updated (and much better) version of those old biopics of baseball stars. “Everybody Wants Some” may be the quintessential niche baseball movie in that it’s a story about characters which just happen to have a lot of baseball in their lives. “Bull Durham” was like that too, but it just came along at the right time to become a massive hit. As many have noted, baseball was more background than plot in that movie, even if the background was amazingly well done. I’d argue that most good baseball movies use baseball like that rather than put it squarely in the foreground.

There will likely always be baseball movies, but they will almost always be smaller ones, not large blockbusters or Oscar bait with an epic sweep. Most baseball movies are like baseball itself in that they lack a grand consensus. Baseball is not The National Pastime anymore — it’s just one of many forms of sports and entertainment available to the masses — so it follows that the movies which deal with it will likewise not have that massive cross-market appeal.

I think that’s a good thing. Smaller baseball movies more accurately reflect the sport’s place in the culture. To portray baseball as something larger than what it actually is opens the door to a lot of artistic and cultural dishonesty and runs the risk of creating some really bad art.

I mean, have you seen “Field of Dreams?” Bleech.