Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 10, Rockies 8: Mark Trumbo hit two three-run homers to help the Angels complete what was nothing short of an annihilation of the Rockies’ pitching staff. Trumbo is at .326/.380/.632. It would have been optimistic to predict those numbers from Pujols before the season started.

Nationals 4, Red Sox 3: Bryce Harper had the day off until the ninth inning when he was inserted as a pinch hitter. Drew a walk and then hauled it all the way home from first on a Roger Bernadina double that proved to be the game-winner. Washington swept Boston.

Yankees 5, Mets 4: Russell Martin hit two homers including the walkoff as the Yankees sweep the Mets after finding themselves down 3-0 in the seventh. All of the blown saves, bad defense and late-inning heroics obscured the fact that Andy Pettitte and Jon Niese both pitched really well. Especially good news for Niese after the rapid heartbeat stuff from last week.

Rangers 5, Giants 0: Tim Lincecum’s nightmare season continues. Five runs on nine hits in five and two-thirds. Bad game for the Rangers’ starter too: Alexi Ogando strained a groin running the bases. All the anti-DH people like me are sitting over in the corner, hat pulled low, trying to be inconspicuous.

Astros 11, White Sox 9: Four homers from Astros hitters. Apropos of nothing, I went to Huntington Park and watched the Columbus Clippers play the Charlotte Knights — Chicago’s Triple-A team — on Saturday night. Thing I did not know:  Pete Rose, Jr. is the first base coach of the Knights. He wears number 14, natch. Also, their manager is Joel Skinner and he got ejected in hilarious fashion. A really fun, arms waving in the air rant. Oh, and there’s a place in that park where there are paintings of all of the Columbus Clippers teams from the time they were a Yankees affiliate. This one is my favorite. My second favorite is the one with Hideki Irabu.

Dodgers 8, Mariners 2: A six-run second inning capped by an Andre Ethier grand slam. Remember when the M’s no-hit the Dodgers on Friday? Nah, me neither.

Brewers 6, Padres 5: Ryan Braun homered and drove in three. Martin Maldonado drove in three more with a homer as Milwaukee takes two of three from the lowly Padres.

Diamondbacks 4, Athletics 3: Five in a row for the Snakes and seven of eight overall. Paul Goldschmidt’s hitting streak is at 17 games.

Indians 4, Cardinals 1: Jason Kipnis — who most people don’t know but who is all kinds of awesome and you should get to know him a bit — hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the ninth. Chris Perez got the save despite basically barfing between pitches in the ninth. He blamed it on drinking warm water that “just didn’t settle well.” Maybe go with the cold next time, big guy.

Cubs 8, Twins 2: Ryan Dempster throws eight shutout innings. The other Cubs look at him like the inmates look at the inmate who’s gonna be released soon.

Pirates 3, Royals 2: Andrew McCutchen homered and drove in three runs. A.J. Burnett won his fifth straight. He’s 6-2 with a 3.61 ERA on the year and is really making it hard for those of us who think that “some guys just can’t pitch in New York” thing is baloney. Four in a row for Pittsburgh and eight of ten. Oh, and the Pirates are tied for first place now.

Blue Jays 12, Braves 4: Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus combined for six RBI at the top of the order. Atlanta had a 4-0 lead at one point in this one but nope. Braves relievers Livan Hernandez and Cristhian Martinez got whupped up on in particularly fierce fashion.

Orioles 5, Phillies 4: Baltimore beats Philly in extra innings. This is not a rerun from Saturday night. Instead of an Adam Jones homer it was a Matt Weiters double that drove home the game-winner.

Rays 4, Marlins 2: The Rays outscored the Marlins 22-7. At one point the bullpen phone didn’t work. Probably some new crazy phone technology for the new park. They should go old school like Commander Adama and insist on old school land lines.

Tigers 7, Reds 6: Aroldis Chapman came in with two men on in the eighth and the Reds up 6-3, allowed both runners to score and allowed two of his own to score in what was easily his worst appearance of the year. In other news, Angel Hernandez was behind the plate and decided that it was “mess with Ryan Ludwick” night. I’ve never seen a batter get messed with by an ump like Hernandez did with Ludwick. Everything was a strike. Like, Tigers pitchers could throw it to Newport, Kentucky and it would be a strike.

The Blue Jays will . . . not be blue some days next year

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The Toronto Blue Jays, like a lot of teams, will wear an alternate jersey next year. It’ll be for Sunday home games. They call it their “Canadiana,” uniforms. Which, hey, let’s hear it for national pride.

(question to Canada: my grandmother and my three of my four maternal great-grandparents were Canadian. Does that give me any rights to emigrate? You know, just in case? No reason for asking that today. Just curious!).

Anyway, these are the uniforms:

More like RED Jays, am I right?

OK, I am not going to leave this country. I’m going to stay here and fight for what’s right: a Major League Baseball-wide ban on all red alternate jerseys for anyone except the Cincinnati Reds, who make theirs work somehow. All of the rest of them look terrible.

Oh, Canada indeed.

Sports and politics share some of their worst excesses

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 19:  Montana alternative delegate Susan Reneau shouts "guilty" as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes a column today — likely part of the Post’s overall Inauguration coverage — about how the world of sports and sports fandom is a refreshing change from the world of politics. It’s a place where “facts are still facts,” he says. Where  “debates, though sometimes loud, are surrounded by oceans of substantiated facts and often informed by respected experts who depend on rational analysis to make their points.” Contrasted with politics, of course, where objective fact has turned into opinion and vice-versa.

I get what he’s trying to say and I think he’s well-intentioned. But I also think he badly misreads both sports discourse and political discourse, each of which have borrowed the worst excesses from the other. And by this I do not mean the extent to which the substance of sports and politics overlap, which we have often argued about in this space. This is not a “stick to sports” point. I’m talking about the way in which sports fans interact with sports and political people interact with politics, even in a relative vacuum.

Politics has coopted sports discourse in the most toxic and wrongheaded of ways. The idea that “scoreboard!” is all that matters. The belief that winning is the only objective as opposed to a means to an end. Notions of rooting and tribalism, and that “our team” and “the opposing team” is the proper way to view the parties to the contest. All of those things — each of which make sense to varying degrees in a sports context — have been imported into politics and have served to degrade them.

Likewise, contrary to what Boswell says, sports fans and commentators have eagerly begun to traffic in political-style reality creation, distortion and spin. He takes an oblique swipe at the “hot takers” like Skip Bayless and talk radio shouters, but he’s deluded if he thinks that they do not have more influence over sports fans than do than “the respected experts who depend on rational analysis to make their points” which he describes. Bayless and his crowd are a direct aping of “Crossfire”-style political shows.

Likewise, the concept of fan loyalty is increasingly discussed and routinely encouraged by sports leagues and teams in terms that were once reserved for party politics. The notion that those who have succeeded have done so because they are worthy and all of those who are worthy have succeeded is likewise fully believed by both sports fans and political actors. The idea that validation of one sort — electoral or competitive — justifies overlooking the political or athletic actor’s real life transgressions likewise crosses political and athletic lines. How much do sports fans and citizens overlook crimes and misdemeanors if there is a sufficient redemption or comeback narrative to cloak them?

Yet Boswell believes there to be a fundamental gap between how sports and politics are practiced and consumed. To explain it, he says this:

One partial explanation for the gap between the way we talk about sports and the way we talk about some other subjects may be the distorting force field of ideology. When we have a deep attachment to unprovable beliefs, ideas and emotions get intertwined. The psychological cost of disentangling them can be profound.

Tell me that you have not witnessed that dynamic among people whose identities have become far too wound up in the sports teams for which they root. There is ideology among sports fans just as much as there is among political partisans, even if the stakes aren’t as high.

He also says this:

For example, Clemson and Alabama have split the past two college football titles. Yet both coaches, in both years, deferred respectfully to the results, didn’t seek scapegoats, didn’t claim the results were invalid and, by their example, encouraged their fans to take pride in the battle — won or lost — and analyze it with enthusiasm but without distortion.

As if sports fans haven’t spent years re-litigating the Tuck Rule, Don Denkinger or Maradona’s Hand of God. As if notions of good sportsmanship and proper perspective are satisfied by merely accepting results. As if cheating scandals, real, imagined or inflated beyond all perspective, have not caused people to question the very legitimacy of the players in question.

As I said at the outset, I get what Boswell is trying to get at. And I find it admirable that he’s looking to sports to find some grace in an increasingly graceless world. Moreover, none of this is to say that sports don’t provide some refuge from raging political storms. They do.

But the world of sports is every bit as susceptible to the reality-denying, magical thinking storms which have increasingly come to characterize politics. And those raging political storms are very much fueled by a type and mode of passion that was first cultivated in sports and repurposed for a larger stage.

I mean, are these things really all that different?

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