And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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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.

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.