And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 6, Mets 1: Ben Sheets emerges from the restorative chemical waters of the Lazarus Pits to throw six shutout innings against the Mets. Too bad this series is over. I heard the Braves were going to run Rich Harden out there tonight and maybe Mark Prior on Tuesday to see if the Mets are just as prone to zombies then as they were yesterday afternoon.

Nationals 4, Marlins 0: Stephen Strasburg put up a Ben Sheetsian performance, throwing six shutout innings. Meanwhile, Ozzie Guillen becomes just the latest person who should know better trying to intimidate Bryce Harper. And once again, Harper refuses to take the idiot’s bait. At some point are people gonna just let the kid play instead of making themselves look stupid?

Angels 10, Yankees 8: A-Rod popped out with the bases loaded to end the game. I’m sure no one’s gonna talk about this in the papers or on the radio today. Or the fact that, in defending him, Brian Cashman called him “above average.” I mean, that’s a few ticks above Vance Law, right? Approaching Richie Hebner almost, yes? Ah, I’m just stirring poop. A-Rod did hit a homer and had another hit. And if the Yankees had figured out a way to keep the Angels from scoring a ten spot, he wouldn’t have had to be the hero in the ninth. Or if, you know, he hadn’t gotten thrown out at home earlier. Oh well. Moving right along …

Brewers 4, Pirates 1Yovani Gallardo struck out 14 while allowing one run over seven innings. People have been asking me if I think the Pirates are for real. I say that they’re not until they can prove that they have a big boy offense. Because as of now, they have the worst on base percentage in the National League.

Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 1: Matt Garza threw seven shutout innings a day after Ryan Dempster kept his scoreless streak alive. As far as trade deadline showcasing, Jed Hoyer could not be any happier if he tried.

Athletics 9, Twins 4: Yoenis Cespedes went 4 for 5 with a homer and three driven in. Don’t look now, but the A’s are three games over .500 and are only a half game out of a wild card spot. But the same caveat I applied to the Pirates applies to them: gotta get on base at a greater than .300 clip to truly stay in it, I reckon.

Phillies 5, Rockies 1: Cole Hamels pitched brilliantly, giving the Phillies their first series win since the last time they played the Rockies. Now, if they can just figure out how to play the Rockies all the time, they may be in business.

Rangers 4, Mariners 0: Matt Harrison threw a five hit shutout. He only struck out three and walked four, suggesting that the Mariners had no idea what they were doing at the plate.

White Sox 2, Royals 1: Chris Sale allowed ten hits, but he only gave up one run in eight innings. Since I was being pessimistic about the Pirates and A’s, let’s keep that up and note that Sale has now thrown 110 innings and is on pace to break 200. His annual innings pitched totals as a pro, majors and minors combined: 2010: 33.2; 2011: 71.0.  If he tires — and there is a lot of reason to think he might — the Sox may find themselves in some pitching trouble.

Red Sox 7, Rays 3: Remember back before James Shields died? Nah, me neither. Shields (5 IP, 11 H, 6 ER) was killed again, and the Rays weren’t able to take advantage of a pretty sick Josh Beckett. As in actually ill, not sick meaning impressive, as the cool children often say.

Tigers 4, Orioles 0: Apparently Justin Verlander took the blue pill, preferring not to stay in rabbit-hole filled Wonderland that he experienced during the All-Star Game. The Tigers’ ace struck out eight shutout innings.

Giants 3, Astros 2: Houston has lost 13 in a row on the road. And usually people are better off when they leave Houston. Huh.

Blue Jays 3, Indians 0: Carlos Villanueva walked five dudes, but he avoided danger by allowing only three hits and striking out eight.

Padres 7, Dodgers 2: Chris Capuano ran out of gas and the Padres beat up on him and the pen.

Reds 4, Cardinals 2: Does it make me a bad baseball fan to admit that I watched the “Breaking Bad” premiere and not this game? Nah, didn’t think so. In any event, Aroldis Chapman is the one who knocks.

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

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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”

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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.