And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights


There were only three freakin’ games last night. Three!  How is this fair? Bah! Bah, I say.  So, to make up for the lack of games to talk about, I go into some random Bob Dylan stuff below the scores. My feature. Do what I wanna do.

Tigers 7, Red Sox 3: Max Scherzer continues to be non-disastrous, which is what the Tigers really need from him. Delmon Young and Quintin Berry each had three hits for Detroit. Alex Avila had one hit in the box score and one hit to the face while catching — foul ball — which left him bloody and forced him out of the game.

Rockies 11, Astros 5: Carlos Gonzalez’ reign of terror continues (3 for 4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI). Michael Cuddyer drove in three as well.  Astros starter Bud Norris probably needs a hug. He gave up nine runs on seven hits in less than two innings. It’s OK, Bud. The bad men in the white pinstriped jerseys aren’t there to hurt you anymore.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 2:  Milwaukee sweeps the Dodgers in the four game series. Zack Greinke allowed one run over six.  The Matt Kempless-era, Part II, of the 2012 Dodgers has not gotten off to a rousing start. Gloom and doom is afoot, people. Gloom and doom.

OK, now — because there is no more baseball to talk about from last night — a giant digression …

I’ve probably made about a thousand Bob Dylan references on this blog over the years, so it’s probably no secret that I’m a big Dylan fan. Probably bigger than you think, though. I don’t talk about it THAT much but I’m fairly obsessive. I got almost all of it, even the crazy evangelical Christian albums he put out in the late 70s and early 80s. Even awful stuff like “Empire Burlesque” and “Self Portrait.”  All of the “official” bootlegs and a fairly decent number of unofficial ones. If Dylan has done it, I have it. Or at least have heard it.

There was a time when I’d corner you and act all jerky if you said you didn’t like Dylan. I’m way more mature about such things these days, realizing that the bulk of Bob Dylan is not for everyone and even the essential stuff can be an acquired taste. Yes, I think you’re missing the entire point if you say his voice is hard to listen to, but I’m past the point in my life where I’ll argue with you about it. I probably don’t like stuff you like and think is important and that’s OK.

But I can’t help myself here but to recommend The Onion A.V. Club’s Dylan primer that went up yesterday.  It’s shorter than extended overviews elsewhere but also detailed enough to let you know what it is you’re missing if you care. And it’s not overly fanboyish. It tells you what’s good and what sucks, which is the only way to be honest about the famously uneven Mr. Zimmerman. And it’s the most I can muster as far as Dylan proselytizing goes.

Anyway, since there are only three games to talk about, I figure I’d give you my personal Dylan top Albums list and maybe kick off some Dylan talk today. This is in no particular order — which of these is my favorites changes depending on my mood — but these five usually cycle through the top five:

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: The one that introduced me to Bob when I was a kid, because my dad owned it. Of course my dad was also one of those guys who turned his back on Dylan when he went electric, so it’s not like my dad was cool or anything. When I swiped this from him sometime in the 80s he was all “Oh, yeah. You can have it.” “Girl From the North Country” may be the most beautiful song in his catalog and it makes me misty sometimes. It’s hard to believe that something so personal and affecting sounding can result from the same ancient folk song that served as the basis for something as sterile as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair.” Really kids, it’s the same song. Listen to them if you don’t believe me.

Highway 61 Revisted: I could easily put “Bringing it All Back Home” here. Or “Blonde on Blonde.” With a nod to the Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt. Peppers Beatles and the Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers/Exile Stones, they constitute what is perhaps the greatest three-album stretch of anyone ever. I tend to favor Highway 61, however, because I heard it first — on cassette! — when all I had known of Dylan before that was his early folk output. It hit me like a lightning bolt. I think it hits everyone like a lightning bolt. With “Desolation Row” serving like some post-storm rolling thunder after the worst of the storm is over.

Blood on the Tracks: Some call it “the Divorce Album.” It may be that. I certainly got reacquainted with it in major fashion when my marriage was disintegrating last year, because boy howdy does it resonate. But the fact is that it is much more than that. Just a beautiful song cycle that, for the first time, really sounded like it came from a truly mature Bob Dylan as opposed to a young man trying so hard to sound worldly.

Good as I Been to You: This doesn’t make many top Dylan lists. Don’t care. Wore it out when I got it in late 1992. Dylan was at something of a critical nadir when it came out but to me it sounded like a logical continuation or an echo or something of “Freewheelin,” which was still relatively new to me then. And it had the added bonus of refueling Dylan’s creative juices, even if he didn’t write a single song on the disc. Bonus: I defy anyone to show me a 60s-era classic rocker who does a better sea shanty than Dylan.

Time Out of Mind: After one more non-originals record in “World Gone Wrong,” Dylan unleashed this bad boy. If “Blood on the Tracks” represented a new maturity in Dylan, this one represented yet another, higher plateau in that regard. While Dylan in the 80s sounded like a man out of time — really, apart from “Brownsville Girl,” most of the “Oh Mercy” album and stuff that showed up on bootlegs later it was a wasted decade — here Dylan sounded like a man who knew he was entering his twilight years and decided that he could wear that very well (and as his next three albums showed, he is wearing it extremely well). Most of the album consists of Dylan staring death in the face and … being just fine with it. Indeed, since 1997 it’s been like Dylan and Death meet twice a week to sip whiskey and shoot the breeze.

Anyway. Thanks for indulging me. When there aren’t any ballgames sometimes my gravity fails and I need something besides negativity to pull me through. More often than not, Dylan has served that purpose in my life, so I can be forgiven for all of this blather, I hope.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Leave a comment

Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.


MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.