And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

63 Comments

Tigers 7, Yankees 2: Justin Verlander was amazing, striking out 14. I’m not sure why Jim Leyland kept him in there for 132 pitches given that the Tigers had a five run lead by the sixth inning, but I guess the fans liked it. And heck, he was still throwing 100 miles per hour, so I’m willing to allow for the fact that he’s basically a cyborg. Anyway, the Yankees have lost 11 of 17.

Braves 6, Phillies 1: That’s seven straight wins over Philly for Atlanta and eight of ten on the year. Ben Sheets allowed one run over seven and a third without striking out anyone. Which isn’t gonna last, but in the meantime the Braves will take it. Oh, and the Phillies sellout streak ended too. It was the third longest such streak of all time. But sadly the Phillies fans show themselves to be 198 sellouts short of the loyalty of fans of the Cleveland Indians.

Before we get to the other scores, I have a question: When the Braves game ended I popped in “The Dark Knight” because I feel like if I don’t watch it a half dozen times a year I’m slacking. Anyway, just as the Joker crashes the Harvey Dent fundraiser, I realized that Ra’s al Ghul crashed Bruce Wayne’s birthday party in “Batman Begins.” Which makes me wonder: why, given the high probability that they’ll be interrupted by marauding super villains, does anyone ever goes to Bruce Wayne’s dinner parties?  Anyway:

Cardinals 8, Giants 2: Jake Westbrook was solid, Carlos Beltran homered and Jon Jay went 4 for 4 while driving in two.

Brewers 6, Reds 3: Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart and Martin Maldonado all homered in the sixth inning. The Reds have lost two in a row. Crisis!

White Sox 4, Royals 2: Chris Sale is now 1-0 on nine days rest for his career.

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 0: Erik Bedard bounced back from a horrific outing and was both efficient and effective, allowing two hits and no runs over seven innings without walking a soul. And just for the yuks, go read this game story. It may be the most cliche thing ever. Bedard was “making pitches.” The Pirates won because of “pitching and defense.” The Diamondbacks were “out-executed.” It’s a classic.

Red Sox 9, Rangers 2: With the Red Sox win, the press frenzy to get Bobby Valentine fired has been paused for 24 hours. Let’s all meet back here tomorrow though and see where things are. Oh: Yu Darvish continues to be pretty crappy of late.

Twins 14, Indians 3: Justin Morneau hit two homers and the Indians continue to get their butts beat back to the stone age. Ben Revere has a 20-game hitting streak going.

Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Chris Tillman took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning, winning his fourth start. It continues a nice string of starting pitching performances for the O’s. The Orioles have won six of eight.

Nationals 5, Astros 4: Houston came back from a 4-1 deficit to force extra innings, but Washington wins in the 11th when first baseman Steve Pearce threw a Kurt Suzuki bunt out into right field, scoring Roger Bernadina. The Astros have lost every conceivable way this season.

Rockies 2, Dodgers 0: There was a reversed call in this one: Dexter Fowler trapped a Shane Victorino liner to center, and Victorino was initially called out. Don Mattingly argued, the umps huddled and they changed the call, saying it was trapped. Jim Tracy then came out and argued like crazy, got ejected and continued to argue for a long time. But we can’t have instant replay, you see, because it would mess up the pace of the game.

Padres 2, Cubs 0: Five Padres pitchers combine for a five-hit shutout. Chicago loses its sixth straight. At this point, though, I suppose the number of people who care about a Padres-Cubs matchup just barely exceeds the number of moms who watch their sons play in them.

Angels 4, Athletics 0: Jered Weaver is better than you: CG SHO, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K. This season he’s better than just about everyone.

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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”

32 Comments

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.