And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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In addition to the box scores, I also watched Bill Clinton last night. No matter what your politics, I hope we can agree that Clinton makes everyone want to listen to their “Siamese Dream” cassette and drive around in their Chevy Cavalier, waiting for their pager to blow up.  Anyway:

Nationals 9, Cubs 1: Gio Gonzalez tossed seven three-hit shutout innings and the Nats smacked six home runs. Two for Bryce Harper and one for the incandescent Adam LaRoche. There hasn’t been scoring like this in Washington since Clinton left office.

Braves 1, Rockies 0: Mike Minor took a no hitter into the seventh, but gave up a hit on his first pitch of that innings. People on Twitter blamed me for jinxing it. Whatever. I want to gamble or play games of skill with these people who believe in such sorcery.

Brewers 8, Marlins 5: The season is starting to become a blur to me. As I sit here and type this right now, I am convinced that there has been a Brewers-Marlins game end in the score 8-5 every night for the past three weeks. I won’t check it. I’m just sure of it.

Yankees 6, Rays 4: Wait, I was convinced after reading all of the tabloids yesterday that the Yankees were never going to win again. What happened? Three RBI for Russell Martin and, while it wasn’t Hiroki Kuroda’s best start, he continues to be the defacto ace of the staff in the second half.

Pirates 6, Astros 3: Brock Holt — Brock Holt! — had two RBIs. The Pirates are now one and a half games back of the Cardinals for the wild card.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 4:  Rajai Davis homered and had three RBIs to help the Jays avoid the sweep. Now the Orioles go home for four against the Yankees and three against the Rays.

Rangers 7, Royals 6: Homers from Adrian Beltre and Michael Young and Ryan Dempster struck out eight over six innings.

Mets 6, Cardinals 2: R.A. Dickey won his 18th on his charge to 20 and the Cy Young award and Ike Davis had a three-run bomb. Adam Wainwright, in contrast, was a better hitter than pitcher yesterday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings, but hit a home run.

White Sox 6, Twins 2: Alex Rios hit two homers — one a grand slam — and drove in six. And a day after the Twins erupted for 18, Jake Peavy restored order.

Tigers 7, Indians 1: But Detroit keeps pace behind homers from Cabrera and Fielder. Now the Tigers have a ten game road trip which I do not think it is hyperbole to say will determine the outcome of the season for them.

Phillies 6, Reds 2Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run and Chase Utley hit a two-run bomb, which was more than enough for Roy Halladay, who allowed one run in seven and a third. Joey Votto returned and went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter drove in three and the Angels swept Oakland, helping put themselves back in the wild card race. The result, however, is way less important than the health of Brandon McCarthy who took a liner off his head. He appears to be doing OK, thankfully.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: Trevor Cahill took a no-hitter into the seventh. Chris Johnson doubled, tripled and drove in two. There was the threat of fisticuffsmanship in the eighth when John McDonald ran into Pablo Sandoval on a play at third without sliding, but cooler heads prevailed.

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. couldn’t take advantage of the San Francisco loss, thanks in part to a great Cameron Maybin play, robbing Matt Kemp of a home run.  Now the Dodgers face the Giants for three this weekend in San Francisco. Moving time, Dodgers.

Mariners 2, Red Sox 1: With this win, Seattle matches their win total from 2011 with 24 games left to play. Kevin Millwood allowed one run over six before Eric Wedge went expanded rosters bullpen crazy. Dustin Ackley hit a two run single.

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.