And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 12, Orioles 3: Five years ago last night Texas laid 30 runs on the Orioles. Not so bad last night, but still pretty ugly. Adrian Beltre smacked three dingers and drove in five. Sadly, Tommy Hunter was only allowed to give up a solo homer, two-run homer and a grand slam, falling just short of the cycle of homers allowed.

Braves 5, Nationals 1: Kris Medlen was once again fantastic, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out seven. All the Braves do when Medlen pitch is win. And Craig Kimbrel was actually used. In a non-save situation! See, it can be done!

Mariners 3, Indians 1: Seattle is on fire. Eight in a row for the M’s. A two-run double by Eric Thames broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth.

Diamondbacks 3, Marlins 2, Diamondbacks 3, Marlins 0: Young pitching was featured in both games. In the first, Jacob Turner made his first start for the Marlins. Meanwhile, Tyler Skaggs made his major league debut for Arizona. Skaggs got the win, allowing two runs in six and two-thirds, even while walking five. Turner: three runs on four hits over six. Although one was a two-run bomb. And Ozzie Guillen got ejected either arguing what he thought was a balk or throwing water on umpire Angel Campos. Depends on who you believe. In the nightcap rookie Wade Miley tossed eight shutout innings.

Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Ryan Braun hit his league-leading 34th homer. John Axford, newly re-installed as the Brewers closer, got the save.

Padres 4, Pirates 2: San Diego got three quick runs off James McDonald to start the game and that was all the really needed. McDonald as an ERA of 7.30 since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh has lost four of five.

Athletics 5, Twins 1: Coco Crisp homered, hit an RBI double and scored three times. I’m gonna assume that this was merely a case of the A’s rallying following Bartolo Colon’s positive drug test. Which someone will claim with a straight face today. Just you wait.

Rays 5, Royals 3: James Shields was strong and the Rays have are 16-5 in their last 21 games. The Royals scored five runs in the three-game series.

Reds 3, Phillies 2: Bronson Arroyo came out on fire, retiring the first 14 Phillies he faced before Domonic Brown hit a solo homer in the fifth. That’s all the Phillies would get until the ninth, though, when Aroldis Chapman allowed an inherited runner to score. But too little, too late.

Tigers 3, Blue Jays 2: The good Anibal Sanchez showed up. Helped that he faced the recently reeling Jays offense. Sanchez pitched six and two thirds, giving up one earned run.

Rockies 5, Mets 2: Matt Harvey pitched six strong and left with the game tied, but then the bullpen happened. Dexter Fowler left the game with a sprained ankle, though x-rays were negative. Like totally negative. HIS ANKLE IS COMPLETELY MISSING. Someone call Jim Rockford!

Angels 7, Red Sox 3: Jered Weaver rebounds from his shellacking by the Rays to tame the Sox (7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER). Clay Buchholz? Not so much (5.1 IP, 12 H, 7 ER). Bad news, though: Albert Pujols left the game early with tightness in his calf.

White Sox 2, Yankees 1: Chris Sale was a beast, striking out 13 in seven and two-thirds as the Sox sweep the Yankees, dropping New York’s division lead to three games.  The Yankees had best take advantage of their upcoming series against the Indians and Blue Jays, because then they have Tampa Bay in the now suddenly interesting AL East race.

Cardinals 4, Astros 2: Kyle Lohse outduels Bud Norris. That’s six losses in a row for Houston. So I guess that managerial change hasn’t helped much yet, huh?

Giants 8, Dodgers 4: The sweep. Clearly rallying around Melky or something. Matt Cain allowing one run over seven had a lot to do with it too. As did Joaquin Arias driving in five via a homer and two RBI doubles.

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.