And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 6, Rangers 0: That, my friends, is B.J. Upton.  Three homers for big brother and a two-hit shutout for James Shields. This will make Rays fans feel really good until Texas bounces them easily in the division series again.

Marlins 8, Nationals 0: The Nats have not won a game since they shut down Stephen Strasburg!!!  OK, we’ll wait a couple of days to go all-in with that, but believe me, we’re ready.  Anyway, Ricky Nolasco with the four-hit shutout. It’s the second time he’s shut out the Nats in two weeks. And he also — everybody now! — helped his own cause by doubling in two runs.

Cubs 4, Pirates 2This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper. Been a nice season anyway, Pirates, but if you get swept by the all-but-dead Cubs, yeah, sorry.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 4:  Norichika Aoki hit a two out two run homer in the ninth to force extras, but the Cards avoid the sweep with an RBI single from Allen Craig in the 10th. Carlos Beltran hit a homer, ending an 0 for 14 slump. The Brewers are still surging overall, winners of 15 of 20.

Angels 3, Tigers 2: Six straight for the Angels, who are now within one game of a wild card slot. Detroit: 4.5 out, though still only two behind the White Sox in the division. Two days in a row with a leadoff homer for Mike Trout, who is going to be on the cover of every single baseball preview, fantasy review, etc. next winter and spring.

Athletics 4, Mariners 2: Tommy Milone struck out ten in six innings and Jonny Gomes hit a three run homer. Oakland continues to stay atop the wild card standings avec Baltimore. Speaking of Baltimore …

Yankees 13, Orioles 3: They got whupped. Curtis Granderson pulled a Dante — he wasn’t even supposed to be here today — but came off the bench to homer and drive in five. Only thing better would be if his number was 36. Wait, 37.

Braves 3, Mets 2: Chipper Jones pinch hit in the ninth, walked and was lifted for a pinch runner, and then the Mets fans cheered for him.  Very classy move. The man in the blue and gray pajamas, Dude.Worthy f*&%$8n’ adversary. A Brian McCann homer sac fly in the tenth secured the sweep. Atlanta has won five in a row.

Twins 8, Indians 7: A walkoff jack for Justin Morneau. It was his second homer of the game. Three hits for Joe Mauer. It’s almost like those two could form the core of a contender.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 2: Chase Headley hit a grand slam — his 27th homer of the season — and Andrew Werner gave up one run over six. Headley passes Ryan Braun for the NL RBI lead with 102. It’d really be somethin’ for a Padre to lead the league in RBI.

Astros 5, Reds 1: The Astros may be deadsville, but they beat up both Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto in this series, and not a lot of people can say they did that this year. Matt Dominguez hit a three-run homer. He has three home runs this year. All of them have come against the Reds.

Royals 2, White Sox 1: Chicago dropped two of three to Kansas City and now goes on to play the Tigers. It seems like neither of them want to win the AL Central this year.

Phillies 3, Rockies 2; Phillies 7, Rockies 4: John Mayberry hit the game winning single in the ninth, but he had to wait at first base before he knew it was official because Carlos Gonzalez dove for it, looked like he caught it, but then it squirted out of his glove. Took a minute to get the call right, but the umpires ruled that, yes, it was a hit. They also called Mark Teixeira out at first base. They take the nightcap too. Philly has won four in a row and are six back in the wild card race. I guess stranger things have happened.

Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3: I took the kids to see “Paranorman” on Saturday. There were fewer walking dead in that flick than there are on the Red Sox roster now. The Jays swept the Red Sox. The go-ahead run was on an Omar Vizquel sac fly. Omar Vizquel, by the way, is not getting gifts at every park he visits on his last go-around like Chipper Jones is.

Giants 4, Dodgers 0: Six and a third shutout innings for Barry Zito and the bullpen continued the job for the rest of the game. Buster Posey hit a homer, but really dude, you need to shave that thing you think is a beard. It’s all neck. It’s OK to have a baby face. No one thinks less of you.

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.