And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 4, Athletics 3: Angel Hernandez said there was not enough evidence with which to overturn the original call of double on Adam Rosales’ would-be game-tying home run.  Of course, the replay clearly shows that it was a home run, with the ball hitting off the railing above the wall.  This is pretty simple: If Hernandez had the same view of the play that the Comcast Bay Area viewers had and still couldn’t reverse the call, he is incompetent. If he did not have that view available to him when reviewing the play, Major League Baseball’s home run review system is incompetent. Which is it?

Mariners 2, Pirates 1: Felix Hernandez was Felix Hernandez. He allowed one run over eight innings before making way for Tom Wilhelmsen. This despite only throwing 97 pitches. Maybe Eric Wedge and Ned Yost studied under the same sensei.

Braves 7, Reds 2: Three Braves homers including two from Dan Uggla. And for reasons that still aren’t clear to me, Dusty Baker had Mike Leake bat for himself with two men on and two men out in a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh. Guess that means Dusty figured Leake was going the distance or something. Nope: he allowed singles to his first two batters in the eighth, was pulled, and the game unravelled for Cincy. He shouldn’t have been at bat and he shouldn’t have been on the mound to begin that rally.

Orioles 5, Royals 3: The O’s are rolling. This one broke open in the fifth when Alcides Escobar tried to get an out at third instead of taking the easy out at first and made a throwing error, hitting the runner and opening up the floodgates. Ned Yost after the game:

“The key to that inning was if Escy just takes the out at first, they only get one run,” Yost said.

Yost was then fined $500 by the league office for calling a guy “Escy.” Yost has been Escobar’s manager for three frickin’ years. If he can be around this guy day-in, day-out for three years and still can’t come up with a better nickname than one of those lame name-shortening ones people use when they can’t remember someone’s full name, he’s simply not a fully-formed and plugged-in human being.

White Sox 6, Mets 3: Alejandro De Aza hit a leadoff homer and finished with three hits. Jake Peavy returned after missing two starts with a bum back and looked just fine. For this White Sox team, six runs is an outburst.

Nationals 3, Tigers 1: Bryce Harper hit his 10th home run and had a sac fly and Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run, breaking his 17-inning scoreless streak — but that’s all he allowed over seven innings as he notched his sixth win.

Giants 4, Phillies 3: Andres Torres with a 10th inning RBI single to help the Giants avoid the sweep. And while Barry Zito didn’t get the win, he pitched excellently. Zito in AT&T Park has become something of a lock for the Giants, who have won his last 11 starts at home.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 4: Jon Jay drove in two and finished the Cards’ road trip 10 for 20 with a homer and eight RBI. I’m gonna assume it was a performance borne of relief due to being able to leave town and thus escape the gangsters he double-crossed and the man whose woman he has swept off her feet as the found themselves thrown together in danger. But now he’s heading back with a new confidence and is ready for the final showdown with bad men and with his own conscience.  [note: I’m currently writing a book blurb for someone and I’m having trouble, so forgive me for trying to work it all out here].

Padres 1, Marlins 0: “In a world … where Jason Marquis can throw eight shutout innings …” I’m not working on movie trailers, but if I did I figure the Marlins season would be some sort of horror movie, so let’s feature it that way.

Astros 3, Angels 1: Bud Norris didn’t have to work too hard to pitch into the ninth inning. He only threw 84 pitches, in fact. Way to make ’em work, Anaheim. This is turning ugly fast for the Angels. They quittin’ in May?

Rays 10, Blues Jays 4: Matt Moore won his sixth straight decision to start the season and the Rays decided to take a new approach and not blow a lead. Evan Longoria drove in three.

Twins 15, Red Sox: 8: A 20-hit outburst for Minnesota, including Pedro Florimon’s homer and two-run double in the big second inning. Not liking that there is now a Pedro Floriman in baseball. That was the name I always used to check in anonymously at hotels.

Rangers 4, Brewers 1: Derek Holland gave up ten hits in seven innings yet only allowed one run. Not walking guys — and watching your opposition make multiple base running mistakes — is pretty cool.

Yankees 3, Rockies 2: Vernon Wells played third base in this game. But sure, the Yankees are better off without A-Rod. He also hit a two-run homer, though, so it’s not like the Yankees would be better off without him. Which is quite a statement.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2: It seems like Paul Goldschmidt does something big every damn day. He homered twice and, for the third straight game, his homer broke a tie. He is absolutely destroying the Dodgers, hitting .458 with four homers and 11 RBIs in six games.

Former outfielder Anthony Gose is throwing 99 m.p.h. fastballs in the minors

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Anthony Gose played for five seasons as an outfielder in the big leagues. He never hit well enough to be a regular, and a series of altercations with his minor league managers and coaches didn’t do too much for his future either.

His fastball, however, may eventually make up for all of that.

Toward the end of spring training it was reported that Gose would begin work as a pitcher. Given that he was a highly regarded high school pitching prospect with a plus fastball, it wasn’t a crazy notion. When Tigers camp broke, Gose stayed in Lakeland in extended spring training, throwing bullpen sessions and stuff.

Now he’s seeing game action. As the Detroit Free Press reports, Gose threw an inning for the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers against the Palm Beach Cardinals last night. He allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout and one walk, lighting up the radar gun at 99 m.p.h. This is the tweet from Lakeland’s assistant general manager:

The Free Press says that the Tigers’ vice president of player development, Dave Littlefield, is “very optimistic” about Gose’s progress.

Given that he’s still only 26 and he’s a lefty it wouldn’t shock me at all if he makes his way back to the bigs someday soon.

There is no need to lament the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie”

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Today in the New York Times Jay Caspian Kang writes about what he calls the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie.” About how there are few if any big baseball movies anymore. Movies which traffic in baseball-as-metaphor-for-America with Jimmy Stewart (or Kevin Costner)-types playing characters which seem to transcend time, elevate our emotions and rack up the dollars at the box office.

It’s a bit of meandering column, with just as much time spent on Kang’s seeming dissatisfaction with modern baseball and baseball telecasts as his dissatisfaction with baseball cinema, but he winds it up with this, which sums his argument up well enough:

Baseball’s cinematic vision of Middle America no longer means what it once did. The failing family enterprise and the old, forbearing white — or Negro Leagues — ballplayer now remind us of an extinct vision of the country and the growing distance between Middle America and the coasts. The attempts to update the archival, sun-kissed, Midwestern vision — whether on last year’s “Pitch,” the Fox TV show about a woman pitching in the majors, or “Million Dollar Arm,” the 2014 Disney movie in which Jon Hamm goes to India to convert cricket bowlers into pitchers — are canceled or bomb at the box office.

You won’t be surprised that I take a great deal of issue with all of this.

Mostly because it only talks about one specific kind of baseball movie being AWOL from cinemas: the broad works which appeal to the masses and which speak to both the past, present and future, often with a hazy nostalgia in which love of baseball and love of America are portrayed as one and the same.

It’s worth noting, though, that such films are extraordinarily rare. There was a brief time when such things existed and did well at the box office — the 1980s had “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” and “Major League” in a relatively short period of time — but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Baseball movies are almost always niche flicks. Biopics made of recently deceased stars like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Weird slices of life like “The Bad News Bears” or “The Sandlot.” Quirky comedies that are baseball offshoots of larger cinematic trends like “Little Big League,” which was just the latest in a series of “kids doing adult things” movies popular at the time. Or “Rookie of the Year” which is essentially baseball’s version of one of those body-switch movies that come and go. Or “Mr. Baseball” which was just a fish-out-of-water comedy like any other.

We still get those kinds of smaller baseball movies fairly often. They’re still pretty decent and still do pretty decently at the box office, even if they’re no one’s idea of a blockbuster.

“Moneyball” was done well and did well, not as a mass appeal movie, but as one of many business/Silicon Valley flicks that have popped over the past few years. “Sugar” was a great movie, but a small movie, exploring a culture about which most people aren’t aware and basically serving as a character study. “42” is just an updated (and much better) version of those old biopics of baseball stars. “Everybody Wants Some” may be the quintessential niche baseball movie in that it’s a story about characters which just happen to have a lot of baseball in their lives. “Bull Durham” was like that too, but it just came along at the right time to become a massive hit. As many have noted, baseball was more background than plot in that movie, even if the background was amazingly well done. I’d argue that most good baseball movies use baseball like that rather than put it squarely in the foreground.

There will likely always be baseball movies, but they will almost always be smaller ones, not large blockbusters or Oscar bait with an epic sweep. Most baseball movies are like baseball itself in that they lack a grand consensus. Baseball is not The National Pastime anymore — it’s just one of many forms of sports and entertainment available to the masses — so it follows that the movies which deal with it will likewise not have that massive cross-market appeal.

I think that’s a good thing. Smaller baseball movies more accurately reflect the sport’s place in the culture. To portray baseball as something larger than what it actually is opens the door to a lot of artistic and cultural dishonesty and runs the risk of creating some really bad art.

I mean, have you seen “Field of Dreams?” Bleech.