New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 4, Braves 3: Good news: two solo homers for David Wright and five scoreless innings from the bullpen. Bad news: The reason the pen was needed for five innings is that Jon Neise had to leave the game with shoulder problems. Braves news: ugh, you guys have looked positively crappy of late.

Tigers 4, Red Sox 3: Down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Jhonny Peralta hit a walkoff homer. Tigers players were then dispatched to the Red Sox clubhouse to teach Boston players how to cope with their bullpen failing them, seeing as they have so much experience in that area. It’s kind of like an Alanon mentor thing.

Nationals 5, Rockies 1: Roy Oswalt returns. Roy Oswalt strikes out 11 batters in five innings. Roy Oswalt also gives up four runs on nine hits, including an Ian Desmond homer and a two-run triple to Adam LaRoche. Which I have to go and see video of now, because Adam LaRoche is the slowest dude in baseball. I’m assuming the center fielder was eaten by a lion or a bear or something as he was going to field the ball and the other two outfielders stopped to render assistance, followed by a mourning period. When that was over and they had distributed the center fielder’s belongings to his friends and family and had taken a long road trip to clear their own heads and reflect on the loss of their teammate, one of them probably picked up the ball and threw it to third where they still probably just missed nailing LaRoche.

Pirates 5, Reds 3: A homer, double and single for Pedro Alvarez, who drove in all five Pirates runs. And there was a HBP in this game — Andrew McCutchen hit by Homer Bailey. A batter has been plunked in each of the ten games Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have played.

Twins 8, White Sox 4: The sweep. John Danks gave up four homers as part of a 12-hit, six run outing. Sheesh.

Rangers 4, Athletics 3: The Rangers take three of four from the A’s and pull to within a game in the west. This one ended with Josh Donaldson getting nailed at the plate on what would have been the game-tying run.

Astros 7, Brewers 4: Carlos Pena has been veteran presence, a good mentor and, given his poor .223/.332/.383 line, not much else for the Astros. Last night he provided something else, however, smacking a three-run walkoff homer in the tenth.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 1: Lance Lynn wins his tenth game of the year, allowing one run over six innings. Matt Holliday homered and had an RBI single.

Rays 8, Yankees 3: Two homers for Evan Longoria and three driven in overall to put him above 500 RBI for his career. The Yankees have lost seven of nine.

Padres 6, Dodgers 3: Pedro Ciriaco homered, tripled and drove in three. Yasiel Puig homered again, but at this point I presume he’s always gonna get his and that was more or less the only bright spot for L.A.

Marlins 2, Giants 1: Marcell Ozuna came in as a pinch hitter and smacked a two-run single to bring the Fish back from behind. Tom Koehler got his first career win and was given a beer shower after the game. He said “I smell like a bar … Other than the day I met my wife, this is probably the happiest moment of my life.” So … wedding was third?

Angels 10, Mariners 9: The Mariners jumped out to a 7-0 lead and had Felix Hernandez on the hill. I guess Hernandez doesn’t know what to do with that kind of run support because he ended up surrendering seven runs of his own on 12 hits in five innings as the Angels bullpen allowed only two runs in seven innings of their own after Tommy Hanson got knocked out of the box. Three RBI for Mark Trumbo.

First American League All-Star voting totals are in, Sal Perez leads in the voting

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez jokes during batting practice before Game 2 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets  Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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It seems early, but this is when it happens: Major League Baseball announcing the early results for All-Star Game voting. Voting started in April which makes it kind of hard to weigh-in with any sort of certainty about how anyone is doing, but it probably doesn’t matter much. It doesn’t matter much for a lot of reason. Among them:

  • There are different schools of thoughts about who should be an All-Star. Some people think the biggest stars should always make it. Others think it’s a reward for a good first half of the season. I really don’t care either way, but if you’re a “biggest stars” person, April is fine for voting. Famous stars are no less famous because they’ve had a bad couple of months.
  • Despite the fact that the All-Star Game “counts” for home field advantage, the way it is played ensures that who starts is not super critical. Starters will be gone after a couple of innings. No matter the vote totals, the same general bunch of players will decided the game one way or the other, early or late. It’s the All-Star Game. It’s kind of a circus regardless.
  • Major League Baseball does not really care about the integrity of voting. They encourage you to vote a gabillion times, and it’s all very clearly aimed at getting people to visit lucratively-sponsored web pages in order to do it. Which, hey, good for them for making money, but that’s not how you run a tight voting operation.

That last bit is sort of key. I don’t want to overstate how important this is because, again, it’s just the All-Star Game, but there is laughably obvious fraud going on with the votes. Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten emails from MLB.com and Royals.com thanking me for my maximum five votes that day. Stuff like this:

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That was from a while back. Last I checked it thinks I’ve voted, like, 60 times or something. I haven’t voted once and, obviously, I haven’t listed the Royals as my favorite team. Someone is using my email address or ID or whatever. In my case it’s for Royals players. Maybe people from 29 other teams are hacking other people in their team’s favor too, but the point of this isn’t the specific votes. It’s that this isn’t exactly a high-integrity operation.

Because it’s just All-Star votes I sort of don’t care too much, but it’s at least smart to take the vote totals, especially the early ones, with a grain of salt, sit back and wait for the Home Run Derby and just remember that the All-Star Game is kind of a crazy non-serious event, no matter what people say about home field advantage. For now, here are the voting leaders:

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Cubs fan gets a tattoo that assumes a World Series win in the next four seasons

cubs logo
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This isn’t quite as risky as that (phony) story about the guy betting his life savings on the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. But it’s still a gamble, both in objective, statistical terms and in terms of the Cubs and their overall karma and luck and stuff. But you gotta have hope, man. Hope is the best thing. Or at least that’s what an escaped ex-con once said.

This got tweeted out in March, but WGN and other media outlets are just picking it up now. I most appreciate the comma after the indeterminate 201_ year, which assumes they may win more than one.

Tattoo experts: what’s the easiest fix here assuming nothing happens for the Cubbies by 2020?

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.