And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 5, Cubs 0: A rejuvenated A.J. Burnett came into a Wrigley Field with the wind blowing in from center against a Cubs team hours off of a significant selloff and tossed a one-hitter. Oh, and Neil Walker drove in all five Pirates runs.

Rays 8, Athletics 0: James Shields pitched a very relieved “oh man I wasn’t traded at the deadline” kind of game (CG SHO, 3 H, 11K).

Phillies 8, Nationals 0: Cliff Lee pitched a very relieved “oh man I wasn’t traded at the deadline” kind of game too (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7K).  I guess you could say the same about Juan Pierre too, who went 3 for 5. Stephen Strasburg was roughed up (4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER).

Angels 6, Rangers 2: Albert Pujols hit two homers and Mike Trout added one of his own. The Rangers are 7-9 since the break and the Angels are in the process of sending them a message.

Braves 7, Marlins 1: Meanwhile, the Braves have won seventh straight, are 13-5 since the break and move to within two and a half of Washington. This despite weird stuff like starting Kris Medlen for the first time in two years and using Jair Jurrjens out of the pen. Brian McCann continues the hot streak he kicked off just before the break.

Royals 8, Indians 3: I had this game on as background noise in the living room and the kids started watching it. When Derek Lowe was pitching, my daughter Mookie said “he looks older than the other players.” I said “Well, he is. He’s 39. In fact, he’s a month and a half older than I am.” She thought about this for a minute and said “wow, then he is really old.” So of course when she said that I hoped Lowe would reach down for a great performance and teach my rude little girl a lesson. Nope. Got shelled. This after I explained to her that the Royals were no good. The lesson she took away was that 39 is old as dust and one becomes feeble against even the most minor challenges at that age. Can’t decide if I’m more mad at my daughter, Lowe or the state of the universe for all of this.

Giants 4, Mets 1: News Flash: Tim Lincecum did not suck for once. One run allowed over seven innings. His last out: striking out David Wright with the bases loaded in the seventh. Tough loss for rookie Matt Harvey who pitched well but was victimized by some bad defense.

Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 2: Arizona is making noise, beat the Dodgers again, and is turning what looked like a two-team race may become a three-team race in the NL West. Wade Miley was sharp and he was backed by homers from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero.

Mariners 7, Blue Jays 2: Nobody say anything, but the Mariners have won six in a row. And this is fun:

While Wedge explained his pleasure with Jason Vargas’ strong start, shortstop Brendan Ryan was being doused with ketchup and beer in the shower by his teammates. The team was celebrating Ryan’s three-hit night that pushed his batting average over .200 for the first time since April 21 …

Ketchup?

Cardinals 11, Rockies 6: Matt Holliday drove in four. And continues to be a superstar no one really talks about that much. Just the most ho-hum .320/.404/.543 season I can remember in a while. He’s gonna hit 30 home runs and drive in 110 and most people won’t bat an eye.

Brewers 10, Astros 1: If you’re a Brewers fan, a ten-run explosion is nice. The fact that, after the bullpen came in it didn’t end up 10-8 with runners on the corners with no one out at some point is probably even better.

White Sox 4, Twins 3: Odd to see Francisco Liriano facing the Twins. He didn’t seem to mind, though (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8K).

Reds 7, Padres 6: Homer Bailey blew a 6-0 lead to which he was staked, but the bullpen restored order and Brandon Phillips hit a homer in the seventh to break it.

Red Sox 4, Tigers 1: The Tigers loaded the bases with the go-ahead run at the plate in the sixth inning, but then the rains came and action was never resumed. Mother Nature gets the save. Josh Beckett left early with back spasms and was booed by his home fans, so that was classy.  The Tigers have dropped five of six.

Orioles 11, Yankees 5: New York jumped out to a five-run lead in the first and then watched the Orioles score seven runs in the second and 11 unanswered overall. Chris Davis had the go-ahead grand slam. Ugly night for the Bombers.

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.

The Yankees set up “The Judge’s Chambers” cheering section for Aaron Judge

New York Yankees
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The Yankees aren’t well-known for going all-in on goofy, fan-friendly fun. While some organizations are happy to jump on new and even silly or ephemeral trends for the yuks of it, the Yankees have tended to keep things rather businesslike when it comes to promotions and things. They’ve always played the long game, assuming — not always unreasonably — that their brand is best defined by the club’s history and greatness and quiet dignity and stuff.

Aaron Judge and his breakout rookie season is changing things. His fast start has caused fans to dress up in judge’s robes and stuff, so the team is having fun with it. They’ve set up a special section called “The Judge’s Chambers,” complete with a jury box vibe:

 

Fans will be selected to sit in the special section, which is in section 104 in right field, right behind where Judge plays, and will be handed foam gavels with “All Rise” written on them. To be selected at the moment it’d help if you wear one of those judicial robes with Judge’s number 99 on the back or his jersey or an English judge-style powdered wig. Going forward, the Yankees will also use the section for groups and charity events and stuff.

Judge is on a 58-homer pace right now. It’s unlikely he’ll keep that up, but he certainly looks like the real deal. And, for the Yankees and their fans, he’s giving them the chance for some real fun.