Star Trek into Darkness

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 3, Marlins 0: Cliff Lee shuts out the Marlins on three hits. Granted, it doesn’t take anyone as good as Lee to shut out the Marlins, but that’s nothing that Lee could help. He was dominant. Just like Benedict Cumberbatch in that scene when he killed all those [alien race redacted to avoid spoilers] in the Star Trek movie, which I went to go see last night rather than watch baseball.

Braves 8, Twins 3: Evan Gattis broke it open with a grand slam but the Braves were on their way to tattooing the Twins as it was. Starter Vance Worley was demoted to Triple-A after this one. Know who else should be demoted? Whichever screenwriter or script supervisor didn’t notice that within the space of about three minutes of the Star Trek movie that they (a) had someone get transported with the shields up; and then (b) had a plot point where no one could be transported because the shields are up. Look, the bar for tech continuity in Star Trek is really, really low after all of these years. But I would hope they could keep it internally consistent for more than five minutes. Too much to ask?

Rangers 3, Athletics 1: David Murphy and Adrian Beltre homered in the three-run first inning, giving Texas everything it needed early. Know what else all got taken care of early? The plot to the new Star Trek, which was essentially written in [year redacted to avoid spoilers] for the [earlier Star Trek movie to avoid spoilers]. That’s OK, I suppose, because it was still solid, well done and it was territory worth revisiting again. But wow, it was a little on the nose, I think, and makes me feel like it was phoned in.

Dodgers 9, Brewers 2: Don Mattingly spent his time before the game saying things which seemed like they were calculated to get him fired. But Hyun-Jin Ryu had a nice game and the bats built up a seven-run lead early which allowed them to cruise safely. Apparently, based on what I saw in Star Trek last night, a ship can totally cruise safely if they’re in warp, given how surprised Kirk was when the Enterprise was overtaken in a chase/fight scene. So apparently the decades of scenes filmed for the TV shows in which ships chased each other and were overtaken while in warp never occurred.

Reds 7, Mets 4: Matt Harvey proves mortal. Zack Cozart is apparently his kryptonite, as he got four hits off the Mets’ ace. Speaking of kryptonite, I saw the last Superman trailer last night. Not gonna lie: kinda stoked. I mean, it’s Superman, not Batman, so it’s gonna have inherent limitations. But it does look pretty good. Of course, like Trek, it’s going back to an old well — General Zod is in this one, which I can reveal because it’s in the trailers — but also like Trek it’s a pretty deep well, so I think I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Blue Jays 4, Rays 3: Two homers and four RBI for Jose Bautista. Who began the first inning showing bunt just to mess with us, apparently. I feel like J.J. Abrams is messing with the Star Trek franchise a bit too. The movies are good, don’t get me wrong. Better and more entertaining than anything which came out of the franchise from Star Trek VI-on. But you just feel like he’s throwing out scenes and touchstones for fans like red meat without truly taking the universe seriously. Which is mildly concerning given that he has just been handed the keys to the Star Wars franchise. He can’t be worse than George Lucas — who took all of our red meat away in the prequels and demanded that we eat this new weird tofu dish he created — but I sort of hope Abrams feels more invested in the Star Wars universe than he does in the Trek universe and doesn’t feel like it’s just something to play with.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 1: The Rockies finish their latest homestand 5-2 and find themselves tied with Arizona and San Francisco for the NL West lead. Which is somewhat surprising as I figured they were playing way over their heads and would swoon come May. I guess there’s still time for that swoon, but in the meantime they’re having fun.  OK, I think I’ve exhausted the Star Trek thoughts which don’t discuss plot points which will spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet. Please: if you go all Trekkie in the comments, try to give spoiler warnings.

Angels 7, Mariners 1: Four in a row for the Angels as C.J. Wilson strikes out 10. The Angels’ next 14 games come against the reeling Royals, the underachieving Dodgers, the awful Astros and the nearly as bad Cubs. This could be where the season turns around for them. Or the part of the season where they can be officially written off. But they have to make their move now.

Nationals 2, Giants 1: Bryce Harper hit a home run. No word if Rafael Soriano’s four year-old could do it better.

Orioles 6, Yankees 3: Chris Davis went 4 for 4 with his 14th homer. Homers from Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis too. Baltimore takes two of three from the Yanks.

Pirates 1, Cubs 0: Francisco Liriano has liked his change of scenery. After this gem — two hits and no runs over seven — he’s now 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 18 innings. All of the scoring in this game came on an RBI single in the first. Somehow still took 2:45 to play.

Tigers 11, Indians 7: 62 and 48 minute rain delays in this one, but they got it in. Justin Verlander actually came back after the longer delay to get two more outs and qualify for the W. Miguel Cabrera hit a home that bounced off Michael Bourn’s glove and into the stands. So I guess that’s an assist for him. We should totally keep track of offensive assists in baseball.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 2: Sox lose.

Astros 3, Royals 1: Jordan Lyles pitched six solid innings and J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer. James Shields pitched well but didn’t get the run support. In other news, don’t eat the snow cones at Minute Maid Park.

Cardinals 5, Padres 3: Tyler Lyons won his major league debut. Got a hit too. Guess he can do everything. Know who else can apparently do everything? Ensign Chekov, who was promoted from ops to acting Chief Engineer in the movie last night because the plot needed him to. How many ensigns are getting that promotion? There is probably some Lt. Commander down in engineering who has spent a decade busting his butt since leaving the academy, only to see him passed over for the Chief’s job because some wet-behind-the-ears ensign happens to be the captain’s friend. Every Trek movie is like this though. Hundreds of crew members who apparently only exist to get tossed around when the ship is hit by enemy fire, or to die in spectacular set pieces with nary a thought given about them. Meanwhile, every law of Man, Nature and the United Federation of Planets is broken in order to save the life of one of the handful of superstar golden boys. Typical. Know what I’d like to see? A movie made in the vein of the “Lower Decks” episode of “Next Generation” in which we see what it’s like to be canon fodder for Starfleet.

OK, sorry. Just kinda preoccupied this morning. Promise tomorrow’s ATH will not be about Star Trek. I think.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.