Ed Hickox, weather

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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White Sox 10, Blue Jays 6: “The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.” Carl Sandburg said that about fog. “It was worse than when it rains. With the lights, it made it really really bright. It was weird.” Adam Dunn said that about fog. Which may not be as good as what Sandburg said, but Dunn hit two homers so he has that going for him, which is nice.

Reds 6, Cubs 2: Fog on the north side too, but this time it didn’t inspire any poetry that we know of. It did feature Brandon Phillips driving in six runs, though, and the way some people love RBIs I’m sure they’re composing some epic verse about Phillips’ clutchiness or what have you. The Reds have beaten the Cubs 17 of the past 20 times they’ve faced them and ten straight times at Wrigley Field.

Red Sox 10, Rays 8: Fisticuffsmanship! Well, more like a violence-free, bench-clearing shuffle no one’s heart was really in after John Lackey drilled Matt Joyce in the back for flipping his bat after he thought he had hit a second home run off the Boston starter (it was foul). Boston won this one despite blowing a 6-0, an 8-7 lead and a 9-8 lead, the first of those it enjoyed in the first inning, the second and third of which it enjoyed in extras. This one was over in a crisp five hours, twenty-four minutes.

Brewers 6, Marlins 1: [CTRL-V]: [Pitcher] tossed [number] shutout innings against the Marlins. [highlight, CTRL-V: “Yovani Gallardo”] [highlight, CTRL-V: “eight”].

Orioles 4, Angels 3: The O’s got two runs in the sixth before the game was halted due to monsoons and such for two hours and change. That was all the scoring that would happen, though. I sorta feel like Mother Nature didn’t want a lot of baseball played last night. Maybe She had some TV to catch up on.

Rangers 6, Indians 3: Welp, those Indians sure are doing what they can to derail Terry Francona’s Manager of the Year campaign. Eight straight losses in a row for The Tribe, who are now tied with the Royals for second place in the AL Central. Eighteen days ago they were in first place.

Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 4: This was not one for fans of stellar bullpen work. Brandon League was handed a 3-1 lead in the ninth and surrendered four runs, all on singles, two of the infield variety. Heath Bell came in to close it out for Arizona, and ultimately did, but not before allowing a homer and allowing the Dodgers to get runners on the corner with nobody out. He still got the save, though, and someone will one day say that Bell knows what it takes to lock down games in the ninth inning or some such.

Padres 7, Braves 6: A late rally falls short for Atlanta. San Diego beat up Julio Teheran and Jason Marquis stymied his old mates. Well, not his old mates since he last played for Atlanta a decade ago, but you know what I mean. Jason Heyward was 13 then. He hit two homers last night. Will Venable drove in three.

Royals 3, Tigers 2: Break up the Royals. Kansas City wins its sixth in a row, as Tigers hitters not named Miguel Cabrera could do nothing against Jeremy Guthrie and four Royal relievers. Doug Fister pitched a complete game loss. You don’t see a ton of those these days.

Mariners 3, Astros 2: Hisashi Iwakuma continues to roll right along, upping his record to 7-1 lowering his ERA to 1.79 after seven innings in which he allowed only one unearned run. Indeed, he hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 26.

The deeper implications of the A.J. Ellis trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The trade of a light-hitting backup catcher is normally about as inconsequential as it gets. The trade of A.J. Ellis by the Dodgers to the Phillies, however, is anything but that. Indeed, it may be the public manifestation of long-simmering, well, maybe “feud” is too strong a word, but a definite butting of heads between the team’s front office and its best player.

While almost all of the clubhouse drama in Los Angeles has surrounded a talented but aggravating corner outfielder currently toiling in the minors, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote last night that the Ellis trade could very well be seen as the front office’s shot across Clayton Kershaw‘s bow:

Kershaw’s preference of Ellis was the subject of a longstanding tug-of-war between Kershaw and the front office, which wanted Yasmani Grandal behind the plate as much as possible . . . Some players interpreted the trade as a message from the front office.

This isn’t Kershaw’s team. It’s not Corey Seager’s team or Adrian Gonzalez’s, either.

It’s Friedman’s.

The notion that Kershaw likes to pitch to Ellis is pretty well-known, but the idea that it was so strong a preference that it created a dispute as to whether he has final say over a roster spot is news, at least to people who aren’t around the Dodgers all the time. Hernandez is a good columnist and is particularly well-plugged in to the Dodgers after many years of being their beat writer for the Times. He wouldn’t throw the notion of there being something of a power struggle in this regard out there all willy-nilly in order to stir the pot or something. I don’t doubt for a second that something bigger than most of us have seen is going on here.

As for the trade itself: yeah, it’s pretty debatable as to whether it makes any kind of sense. Carlos Ruiz is likely an upgrade over Ellis, but it’s a pretty marginal upgrade when you consider how few plate appearances the Dodgers backup catcher will make for the rest of the year. It’s especially marginal if you assume, as Hernandez and others assume, likely with reason, that the loss of Ellis is going to harm morale. At least in the short term before they get to know Ruiz well (worth noting, though, that he comes pretty highly recommended from Kershaw-caliber aces for all the same reasons Ellis does). I can see a lot of reasons not to make that deal even for an extra hit or two a week that Ruiz may give you over Ellis.

All of which speaks to what we don’t know. What we don’t know about the mind of Andrew Friedman and whether or not there is something more going on here than is immediately apparent. About the relationship between him and Kershaw and, for that matter, him and the rest of the team that would cause him to make a deal that plays as poorly with his own players as this one does. It could be something about Ellis. It could be something about Friedman’s relationship with Kershaw. It could be something totally unrelated to any of that, such as offseason plans and the roster in 2017 (Ruiz has a team option for next year, Ellis is a pending free agent). Unless or until Friedman speaks or a reporter gets someone to shed more light on this, there will continue to be questions.

In the meantime, I’ll grant that there are certainly different rules which apply to superstars than mere mortals, but veto power over a trade and/or playing time for other players isn’t typically one of them. If, as Hernandez suggests, there was a sense that Kershaw and Friedman didn’t see eye-to-eye on that and it wasn’t otherwise being resolved, it makes Friedman’s move somewhat more understandable.

World Baseball Classic pools, venues announced

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of Venezuela gets a hit and drives in a run against Spain during the first round of the World Baseball Classic at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on March 10, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Yesterday the folks who run the World Baseball Classic (i.e. the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission) announced the groupings and venues for next springs’s tournament. It breaks down thusly:

  • Pool A will play in Tokyo, featuring Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan;
  • Pool B will play in Seoul, featuring Chinese Taipei, Korea, the Netherlands, and either Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, or Pakistan (final participant to be determined at a qualifying tournament in New York next month);
  • Pool C will play in Miami, featuring Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the United States;
  • Pool D will play in Guadalajara, featuring Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

A winner and a runner-up will advance from each pool following a round-robin competition. That will result in a second round robin made up of Pool A and B — which will be called Pool E, because it HAS to be complicated — and which will be played in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Pool C and D’s representatives will make up Pool F, who will play in San Diego at Petco Park.

The winner of Pool F will then take on the runner-up of Pool E in a semifinal at Dodger Stadium, while the winner of Pool E will face Pool F’s runner-up there as well. The winners of those matches will play in the WBC final, also at Dodger Stadium.

Got it? Good.

Now we wait. And listen to people tell us how much we should care about the World Baseball Classic between now and March.