Eight Men Out

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


It was a light schedule and my Braves played a late game, so I watched “Eight Men Out” last night. For, like, the 5th or 6th time. And that just made me want to watch “Matewan” again for, um, the 20th time or thereabouts. Maybe tomorrow night. Anyway, damn you John Sayles, damn you.

As for “Eight Men Out,” I think the best part of it is not the actual narrative, which most hardcore baseball fans know pretty well. I think it’s the player interaction during Game 1 of the Series. You can just feel the tension each of them have, whether they’re in on the fix or not. It helps bring current the reason for baseball’s hard line stance on gambling when, in this day and age, it feels a bit like a historical curio. It’s not, though. When you undermine competition like that so blatantly, and when players betray their own teammates, god, that’s the worst thing you can do in a competitive sporting atmosphere.

Anyway, good stuff. Worth going back to again if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it. And if you haven’t seen it, jeez, what’s your problem?

Angels 14, Red Sox 13: This game should be taken out and shot. NESN and Fox Sports are gonna be fined for obscenity for broadcasting it. If pregnant women were watching it they’re gonna be charged with child endangerment. It was just the stupidest, ugliest oh-my-god-fans-of-these-teams-probably-want-to-jump-off-of-a-bridge game of the year.

Cardinals 13, Astros 5: The Astros took a 4-0 lead after four, but they are the Astros so you sorta knew that wouldn’t last. David Freese and Matt Holliday each drove in four. Allen Craig had three, and Jake Westbrook got a boatload of run support on a day when he didn’t have much of anything.

Rays 5, Athletics 0: Alex Cobb with a four-hit shutout. Can’t do much with that.

Tigers 3, Blue Jays 2: I wrote this one up yesterday. But suffice it to say, Justin Verlander just doesn’t know how to win.

Rockies 1, Mets 0: In his big league debut Collin McHugh pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, but the bats couldn’t do anything to help him out. Or the defense. The only Colorado run scored when  Jordany Valdespin misplayed Tyler Colvin’s fly to center in the eighth. He basically pulled a Calcaterra — the play I perfected in Babe Ruth ball and which got me moved out of the outfield — running in several steps on a ball and then having to run back when he realized he misjudged it, letting it fall for a triple. Except unlike Valdespin, I did it on every single ball hit my way. Colorado completes a four game sweep.

Giants 5, Braves 2: I still think the Braves will hold on to win the wild card this year, but I gotta tell ya, when you let Barry Zito shut you out through eight innings, you probably don’t deserve it. The Giants now have a three game lead in the west.

Rangers 10, Twins 6: Josh Hamilton drove in five and Adrian Beltre hit his fourth home run in two games. Texas broke it open with a six run eighth inning, five of which were unearned because of two Twins errors. And there was some chippy stuff too: Roy Oswalt hit Joe Mauer and Scott Diamond retaliated by throwing behind Josh Hamilton, causing him and Ron Gardenhire to get ejected. The win was Ron Washington’s 500th.

Phillies 4, Reds 3: Extra innings and John Mayberry hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to win it. The Phillies bullpen — maligned all year — threw five no-hit innings.

Billy Williams, Bill Murray and . . . Fall Out Boy!

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 08:  Former players Ferguson Jenkins (L) and Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Opening Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the Opening Day game at Wrigley Field on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball has announced the on-field ceremonial stuff for tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series. There are a couple of good things here! And one bit of evidence that, at some point when he was still commissioner, Bud Selig sold his mortal soul to a pop punk band and now the league can’t do a thing about it.

The ceremonial first pitch choice is fantastic: it’s Billy Williams, the Hall of Famer and six-time All-Star who starred for the Cubs from 1959 through 1974. Glad to see Williams here. I know he’s beloved in Chicago, but he has always seemed to be one of the more overlooked Hall of Famers of the 1960s-70s. I’m guessing not being in the World Series all that time has a lot to do with that, so it’s all the more appropriate that he’s getting the spotlight tonight. Here’s hoping Fox makes a big deal out of it and replays it after the game starts.

“Take me out to the ballgame” will be sung by the guy who, I assume, holds the title of Cubs First Fan, Bill Murray. It’ll be wacky, I’m sure.

The National Anthem will be sung by Chicago native Patrick Stump. Who, many of you may know, is the lead singer for Fall Out Boy. This continues Major League Baseball’s strangely strong association with Fall Out Boy over the years. They, or some subset of them, seem to perform at every MLB jewel event. They have featured in MLB’s Opening Day musical montages. They played at the All-Star Game this summer. Twice. And, of course, they are the creative minds behind “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” (a/k/a “light ’em MUPMUPMUPMUP“) which Major League Baseball and Fox used as incessant playoff bumper music several years ago. I don’t ask for much in life, but one thing I do want is someone to love me as much as Major League Baseball loves Fall Out Boy. We all do, really.

Wayne Messmer, the former public address announcer for the Cubs and a regular performer of the National Anthem at Wrigley Field will sing “God Bless America.”

Between that and Bill Murray, I think we’ve found out the Cubs strategy for dealing with Andrew Miller: icing him if he tries to straddle the 6th and 7th innings.

Imagining a daytime World Series game at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  A overall shot of the scoreboard showing the postponement of the game in Baltimore because of riots before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 27, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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Night baseball first came to the World Series in 1971, when the Pirates played the Orioles in Game 4. The last World Series game played under natural light came in 1984, when the Tigers played the Padres in Detroit in Game 5 of that year’s Fall Classic. The last World Series game played during daytime hours was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, but that came in Minneapolis, in the Metrodome, so it was still played under artificial light. All games since then have been played in the evening hours.

Ever since, there have been periodic calls for the World Series to include day games. These appeals are often grounded in tradition and nostalgia for bright sunshine making way for long shadows. For memories of sneaking transistor radios into classrooms. For the symbolism of the sun setting on both the day at hand and the baseball season as a whole.

It’s an appealing idea. Baseball in the daytime is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And while day baseball may be occasionally miserable for fans and players in the heat of August, October afternoons are often the loveliest weather there is. There is nothing better than fall sunshine. A baseball game in that fall sunshine seems like the closest one can get to heaven on Earth.

Unfortunately, it’s a wholly unrealistic idea in this day and age. Far fewer people would actually get to watch the World Series if it were played during the day. We complain about late games lasting into the wee hours, preventing kids from watching, but how many kids are going to be able to watch a World Series game when they’re in school? Or at after school extracurricular activities? And how many people can ditch work to watch a baseball game? Some say to put one of the day games on the weekend, but that clashes with other activities and, of course, with football, which is going to win the battle for the remote in more households than baseball would.

Yes, the networks and Major League Baseball are in it for the money and the TV ratings, but the fact is that the money and the ratings are a function of more people watching baseball games in the evening, kids and grownups alike. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. More people watching baseball is better for the people and for baseball, full stop, aesthetics and commercial motivations notwithstanding. For this reason the World Series will almost certainly be played at night for the foreseeable future. And it should be.

Still . . . it’s Wrigley Field, the last bastion of day-only baseball for decades. A place where, even if they now play most games at night, still features more day baseball than anyplace else. And it’s a sunny Friday afternoon on which the temperatures will creep into the 60s. I know it would never happen and certainly won’t happen today, but the idea of an afternoon World Series game in Wrigley Field makes even a hard-headed, bottom-line-appreciating anti-nostalgist like me sorta wish today was a day game. If I close my eyes I can imagine it. I can feel the warm breeze and smell the fall afternoon air. I’m sure many of you can too.

And even if you can’t, can we agree that maybe today should be a day game simply for public health purposes? I mean, get a load of this:

These people will have been drinking for at least 11 hours come game time. Many of them for much longer. You’re probably looking at some dead men walking, here. For the sake of their livers and personal safety, this game should start at 1pm, dang it. If even that is early enough to save them.