Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Today was supposed to be the first day that I posted ATH later than I used to. Really: I was going to restore life balance with this one. I watched the Braves game last night but rather than stay up another hour and a half or two hours getting most of the recaps done, I turned off the TV and computer, went upstairs, read some non-baseball related things for a bit and then went to bed at a decent hour.  I was then going to wake up at six or so, calmly and with rest write ATH, post it at eight or something, content with the knowledge that 95% of you wouldn’t mind.

Then I woke up at 4:15 AM for no damn reason.

Whatever. Maybe life balance will return tomorrow.  Anyway:

Braves 9, Phillies 2: You know, I’d take way more pleasure in the Braves pounding the Phillies if it didn’t happen against Roy Halladay, because I actually really love that guy and hate to see these struggles. Guess I’ll have to get over that too. In the meantime: Evan Gattis homered in his MLB debut, Justin Upton hit a lazy, grit-free homer — clearly not playing to the scoreboard — and Jason Heyward added one against Jonathan Papelbon, who probably would have pitched better if he had anyone to lead him.  As for Gattis: with his newly-grown beard, dude looks like Mad Dog Buzz Sawyer, I have decided. Which led me to spend a good hour during the game last night in a Georgia Championship Wrestling Wikipedia hole. Which, by the way, is one of the kinds of things that help one restore life balance.

Giants 5, Dodgers 3: Walking seven in five innings is no way to go through life, son, but I suppose if you only give up two runs and drive one in yourself on a fielder’s choice it’s OK. Homers from Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence help too. In other news, given that one of those two guys is famously zaftig and the other one is on a hardcore paleo diet, I just got about 30 seconds of giggles trying to picture them  going out after the game to celebrate their heroics and getting into a fight trying to settle on a restaurant. Are there any combination kale/areapa places near Dodger Stadium?

Rays 8, Orioles 7: Walkoff bomb for Matt Joyce, saving Fernando Rodney’s bacon after he uncharacteristically blew a lead in the top of the ninth. It was the first time he’d even allowed a run since last August 18. Joyce’s quote after the game:

“To get the first win out of the way, and to have it in dramatic fashion kind of seems to be the Rays way.”

Funny. I thought “The Rays Way” was to slam former teammates for not having winning attitudes and claim that “The Rays Way” magically sprung into being the moment you yourself made the roster. Huh.

Diamondbacks 10, Cardinals 9: Matthew did a recap here. I’ll note that the fact that the Dbacks played a 16 inning game but were still afraid to use Heath Bell again speaks volumes. In other news, the fact that this game lasted beyond 3 A.M. eastern is part of the reason I’m gonna try not to get too hung up on staying up late to get these recaps done so darn early. Unless NBC will finally honor that request I put in about transferring me to a company-paid condo in a desirable west coast location I can’t hope to keep up with the late games and do them justice. Waiting to hear back from my supervisor on this any day now.

Mets 8, Padres 4: Matt Harvey struck out ten in seven shutout innings and his teammates supplied him with three two-run homers and a couple more on top. Which, keeping in mind it’s only been a couple of games, leads one to ask startling questions. Maybe that’s why I woke up at 4:15 AM. The possibility of unexpected horrors and such.

Rockies 7, Brewers 3: Juan Nicasio got his first win in nearly a year. Wilin Rosario, Michael Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler all homered too, as the Rockies take two of three from the Brewers to start the year. Walt Weiss after the game:

“Get good starting pitching and it tends to fall into place for you.”

That should happen at least a couple dozen times for him this season.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 2: Mark Reynolds hit the go-ahead homer in the 11th. This after Chris Perez blew the save in the ninth by surrendering a homer to Jose Bautista. I like the Indians this year and think they’ll surprise a lot of people, but Mark Reynolds and Chris Perez in key situations is gonna give Indians fans a lot of heartburn. The Jays start 0-2, putting a serious damper on that offseason title they won.

Athletics 6, Mariners 2: Tommy Milone gave up a couple of homers in the first inning but then he chilled out and pitched six shutout innings on top of that one.  Jed Lowrie went 3-for-3 with a homer a walk and three RBIs. Nate Freiman had two hits and an RBI in his major league debut, which is pretty cool.

Red Sox 7, Yankees 4: Clay Buchholz allowed one run in seven innings. Hiroki Kuroda took an early shower thanks to a Shane Victorino liner off his pitching hand. Not gonna bury the Yankees like everyone else, but their best shot to weather this early season storm of injuries and self-inflicted roster deficiencies is to get solid work from the 1-2-3 in their rotation. So far they’re 0 for 2 in that department.

Twins 3, Tigers 2: The girlfriend records a Tigers podcast each week for the Bless You Boys website. They were set to record this week’s installment last night right after this game ended. It ended with Phil Coke and the Tigers’ new quasi closer-by-committee setup blowing the game. I couldn’t hear them in the other room recording the podcast, but it took way longer than usual, so I can only assume it was to edit out all the f-bombs and bitter asides and such. If it were me, this week’s podcast would consist of me beating up an effigy of Jim Leyland as I screamed “DO NOT LET PHIL COKE PITCH TO RIGHTIES EVER, SEE?”

Pirates 3, Cubs 0: Wandy Rodriguez shut the Cubs out into the seventh inning, ending his night by getting out of a bases loaded jam with a strikeout to Brent Lillibridge with the count full. Just froze his butt. That bases loaded situation notwithstanding, the Cubs only managed two hits and that was the only time they got someone as far as third base.

Rangers 4, Astros 0: Houston was shut out for the second straight game, this time by Alexi Ogando — who struck out ten in six and a third — and four relievers who were mostly around to get some work in after not exactly needing it the past couple of games. The Astros have struck out 43 times in three games.

Nationals 3, Marlins 0: Gio Gonzalez did it all, throwing six shutout innings and hitting a homer. He was like that elephant in the old “Gone Batty” cartoon. Or maybe Bugs Bunny in “Baseball Bugs.” Hey, wait a minute. Warner Brothers was recycling cartoon plots!

White Sox 5, Royals 2: Jake Peavy threw a solid six and four Sox hit homers. The White Sox lost 12 of 18 to the Royals last year. If they had gone .500 against Kansas City they would’ve tied the Tigers for the AL Central title. So taking the first two games of the season from them probably feels pretty good.

Reds 5, Angels 4: Joey Votto drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with a hot shot off Albert Pujols’ glove. Brandon Phillips hit a three-run homer. He’s the Reds’ cleanup hitter now, which is weird. But life is weird sometimes. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are a combined 0 for 15 with five strikeouts in the first two games of the season. The Angels might survive yet another slow start from Pujols and early struggles from Hamilton. One wonders if Mike Scioscia will, though. I know it’s impossibly early, but I sorta feel like he’s gonna be the first manager to get the axe this year. You don’t sign the biggest free agents in the game two years running, get bad results and avoid someone being made a scapegoat.

OK, this time I mean it: tomorrow ATH is gonna be up later. Totally seriously.

The Days of Chief Wahoo are numbered

Fox Entertainment

One of the more common responses to what I’ve posted about Chief Wahoo lately is “it’s just a cartoon character! Nobody cares!”

Well, looking at that guy in the photo above and many others dressed like him at Progressive Field the past two days is evidence that it is not just a cartoon character. A certain swath of Indians fans think that, because of their team’s name and mascot, it’s totally acceptable to show up in public looking like this. Wahoo as an official trademark of a Major League Baseball club gives people license to dress up in redface — or in this case, red and blackface — with headdresses on, turning a real people and a real culture into a degrading caricature. It’s not just a cartoon character by a long shot. To many it’s a get-out-being-called-a-racist-free card.

As for “nobody cares,” well, yes, someone does. Go read this from Sterling HolyWhiteMountain over at ESPN, talking about both Chief Wahoo as a symbol and America’s treatment and conception of Native Americans as a whole. It’s moving stuff that puts lie to the idea that “nobody cares.” It likewise puts lie to the false choice so many Chief Wahoo defenders reference in which they argue that people should care more about actual injustices visited upon Native Americans and not mascots. One can and should care about those injustices. And one can do that while simultaneously finding Chief Wahoo to be an odious symbol that serves to dehumanize people. Once people are dehumanized, it’s far easier to treat them as something less-than-human, of course.

But it’s not just Native Americans or anti-Wahoo folks like me who care. While I have been critical of Major League Baseball for not taking its own stand against Wahoo publicly, it seems pretty clear at this point that the league is weary of Wahoo and is looking to pressure the Indians to eliminate it. Last night, at the Hank Aaron Award ceremony, Manfred spoke more expansively about Wahoo than he did the day before. Manfred is a lawyer and he does not choose his words carelessly. Read this and parse it carefully:

“I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why. Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.

“I’ve talked to Mr. [Indians owner and CEO Paul] Dolan about this issue. We’ve agreed away from the World Series at an appropriate time we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is, and we’ll go from there. At this point in this context, I’m just not prepared to say more.”

Yes, he’s still trying to be diplomatic, but note how he (a) acknowledges that Wahoo is offensive to some people; (b) that “all of us at Major League Baseball understand why” and (c) does not validate the views of those who do not find it offensive. He acknowledges that they feel that way due to history, but he does not say, as I inferred from his previous comments the day before, that both sides have merit. Indeed, he says he’d like to hear Paul Dolan’s side, suggesting that while he’ll listen to argument, he doesn’t buy the argument as it has yet to be put.

I still wish that MLB would come out hard and strong against Wahoo publicly, but the more I listen to Manfred on this and read between the lines, the more I suspect that Major League Baseball is finally fed up with Wahoo and that it wants to do something to get rid of it. That it’s not just the hobby horse of pinko liberals like me. I believe Manfred realizes that, in 2016, Chief Wahoo is an embarrassment to an organization like Major League Baseball. Maybe, because of p.r. and political considerations, he doesn’t want to stand on a soapbox about it at the World Series, but I believe he wants to put an end to it all the same.

You can call me names for being against Wahoo all you want. But you can’t say it’s a non-issue. You can’t say that it’s just a cartoon character and you can’t say that nobody cares. To do that is an exercise in denial. I have come to believe that Major League Baseball cares and that it’s going to push hard to make the 2016 World Series the last time it is embarrassed by anachronistic racism on its biggest stage ever again.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.