Dark Knight Rises

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Pardon me if I seem discombobulated, but I’m suffering from weekend movie whiplash. On Friday night I saw “The Dark Knight Rises.” Yesterday I saw “Safety Not Guaranteed.” If you can find me two movies out right now that are more dissimilar in terms of tone, themes, budget and every other single other relevant measure, I’d like to know what they are.

Verdicts: “Dark Knight Rises” was really good, though I have to say that it was not as good as “The Dark Knight” due to Heath Ledger deficit disorder, obviously, and because there just weren’t any of those “OMFG BATMAN!” moments. You know what I’m talking about. Fine flick, but just not quite as satisfying as the last one, which is not a terrible surprise given how damn good the last one was.

As for “Safety Not Guaranteed”: one of the cutest movies I’ve seen in a long time. And there was a minor, insignificant point in which a character talks about how she used to be married to a ballplayer who, after being traded to Marlins, began to cheat on her, leading to their divorce. The movie was set in a little town near Seattle. I’m going to assume that it was a Mariners player who was traded to Miami. Anyone with any ideas about who this dog was, please note it in the comments. If it helps, the female character is probably in her mid-to-late 30s, and the player would now be around that age, I reckon.

Anyway, two home runs here in my opinion. Which, given what went down yesterday in baseball, is quite appropriate:

Athletics 5, Yankees 4: New York travels to Oakland and gets swept, with all of the games being decided by one run. But this one has to hurt more than your normal one-run loss given that the Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Diamondbacks 8, Astros 2: Jason Kubel hit three homers on Saturday night and hit another one here. Overall he’s had six homers in five games. And boy howdy do the Astros stink. They’re 1-9 since the break.

Orioles 4, Indians 3: Just when I started writing off the O’s in every radio, TV and video outlet that would have me, they go and rip off five straight wins. The lesson, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

Tigers 6, White Sox 4: Just when I started talking up the Tigers as “a sleeping giant” in every radio, TV and video outlet that would have me, they go and rip off 13 of 15 and power their way into first place. The lesson, as always, is that I’m a genius. Oh, and let’s start the day’s theme here: Miguel Cabrera hit two homers to lead the Tigers past Chicago.

Twins 7, Royals 5: Ryan Doumit hit two homers to lead the Twins past Kansas City.

Nationals 9, Braves 2: Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers to lead the Nationals past Atlanta.

Phillies 4, Giants 3: John Mayberry Jr. hit two homers to lead the Phillies past San Francisco. Oh, and Nate Schierholtz hit two homers too, but they were not leadership quality, apparently, or else the Giants would have won, eh?

Thus endeth the two-homer hitters, by the way.

Cardinals 7, Cubs 0: A whuppin’ to be sure. But the Cubs still decided to have fun after the game. Jon Jay went 4 for 4 and drove in two and Lance Lynn tossed six shutout innings to win his 12th.

Pirates 3, Marlins 0: I did not write the Pirates off nearly as definitively as I wrote the Orioles off — I gave them a shot at least — but they have now won five in a row too. Pedro Alvarez his hit four homers in his last six games. Pittsburgh has won 21 of 25 at home.

Padres 3, Rockies 2: Carlos Quentin signed a contract extension and went out and put up an 0 for 4. It happens.

Mariners 2, Rays 1: Blake Beavan outdueld Matt Moore, allowing one run over eight without walking a soul. Idea: they should make pitchers in pitching duels actually duel. Like, Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton-style.

Blue Jays 15, Red Sox 7: The Jays beat up Jon Lester for 11 runs on nine hits — four of them homers — in four innings. I was gonna make some Bane/Batman analogy here, but not all of you have seen the movie yet because you’re just not real fans.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: The Pirates may be surging, but the Reds are holding them off just fine, winning eight of 10 on the home stand. Johnny Cueto struck out nine and allowed a run over seven innings, winning his 12th and lowering his ERA to 2.23.

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: Allowing, like, 3+ runs in a single extra inning is a special kind of demoralizing. Four wins in a row for LA, eight of nine dropped since the break for the Mets.

Angels 7, Rangers 4: Dan Haren came back and pitched the Angels to a series win. His return — and the stabilization of the rotation — will have an awful lot to do with the Angels’ prospects down the stretch.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.