And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

63 Comments

Red Sox 20, Tigers 4: Well, that was something. Eight homers in all for the Red Sox. Two from David Ortiz, who picked up his 2,000th career hit as well. Injury added to insult: Jose Iglesias left the game with shin splints.

Cardinals 5, Reds 4: A sixteen inning affair in which Matt Adams homered twice in extra innings. Once in the 14th and once in the 16th. The latter, obviously provided the margin of victory. The Cards are two and a half up on Cincinnati for second place. They play their last head-to-head game today. That is, unless you count the wild card game for which they are on a collision course.

Athletics 11, Rangers 4: And the West is tied again. A’s bats knock Yu Darvish around like crazy and Jarrod Parker extends his unbeaten streak to 18 games. He hasn’t lost since May 22. Darvish walked six guys in five innings and change. He’s 1-5 against Oakland.

Indians 6, Orioles 4: With this the Indians move ahead of the Orioles and just behind the Yankees in the wild card race. Watch out for Cleveland. Yes, they have two teams ahead of them in that race now, but they also play 14 of their final 23 against the likes of the White Sox, Twins and Astros.

Nationals 3, Phillies 2: Roy Halladay is a shell of his former self, but he battled hard with the few weapons he has left after starting out the game with multiple walks and all kinds of other trouble. Of course the Phillies’ pen couldn’t hold a lead for him. They’re exactly like their former selves.

Mets 5, Braves 2: Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Kameron Loe is going to be in the Braves playoff rotation. Andrew Brown and Lucas Duda homered off of him and Dillon Gee didn’t give the Braves much of anything to work with.

Astros 6, Twins 5: Trevor Crowe knocked in Jonathan Villar in the ninth with the game-winning single. It was the first time in six tries the Astros beat the Twins.

Cubs 9, Marlins 7: The Cubs avoid getting swept, hitting four homers in the process and posting a four-run seventh inning. The Marlins pen blew 6-3 and 7-4 leads.

Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 3: The Diamondbacks walked off with a Willie Bloomquist single. Then they did what has become their little walkoff celebration: getting muddy. Like, literally adding water to some infield dirt and smearing the guy with mud. This is where the whole “the Diamondbacks are gritty” thing has led. It has also led to them still being 7 games out of a playoff spot, but hey, grit.

Giants 13, Padres 5: Pablo Sandoval has had a nightmare season but he hit three homers here, reminding everyone of his Game 1 performance in last year’s World Series. He only had 10 homers all season coming into this game.

Yankees 6, White Sox 5: CC Sabathia looked OK for a change, allowing three runs in seven and a third. A couple RBI a piece for Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. The Yanks sweep the mailing-it-in White Sox. The Yankees are 2.5 back of the wild card.

Mariners 6, Royals 4: Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning for the winning margin. The Royals used eight pitchers in nine innings because, I dunno, Ned Yost wanted some screen time.

Brewers 9, Pirates 3: I suppose it would be some story if the Pirates went on a 25-game losing streak to end the season and deprive themselves of a winning record. That’s not gonna happen, but it really would be something.

Rays 3, Angels 1: Two homers for Wil Myers, off Jered Weaver no less. In other news, when I was a kid parents knew how to spell their childrens’ names properly.

Rockies 7, Dodgers 5: Jorge De La Rosa ties for the NL wins lead with 16. Brian Kenny then dropped into the ballpark from his Kill-the-Win-a-Copter wearing a Bane mask, sprayed the crowd with gunfire and told them all that only when De La Rosa leads the league in FIP and WAR do they have his permission to cheer.

CC Sabathia won’t visit the White House if the Yankees win the World Series

Getty Images
7 Comments

Over the past couple of days the subject of athlete activism, always present to some degree in American sports, but recently revived by Colin Kaepernick and a few other football players in the form of silent protests during the National Anthem, exploded into a headline dominating news story. Lighting the fuse: President Trump directly inserting himself into the controversy.

He did so during a speech on Friday night and during a series of tweets Saturday and continuing into this morning in which he urged NFL owners to “fire” or suspend players who do not stand for the national anthem. He also attempted to disinvite the NBA champion Golden State Warriors from their traditional White House visit because of their star player Stephen Curry’s public opposition to him, though Curry had already said he wouldn’t go.

As Ashley wrote last night, the silent anthem protests have now come to baseball, with A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell becoming the fist player to kneel during the National Anthem. Before that, at least one baseball executive, Orioles Vice President John P. Angelos, came out strongly on the side of players and against Trump. Joe Maddon said some less-than-enlightened words on the matter. Major League Baseball issued a statement on the matter. It was, not surprisingly, somewhat empty, taking something of a both-sides-have-good-points tack. It’s understandable, I suppose. I suspect Major League Baseball and its owners would prefer to not have to comment on this at all. The league does not do this sort of controversy well.

Ballplayers, however, will likely continue to speak up. The latest: Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was asked yesterday whether he would visit the White House if the playoff-bound Yankees won the World Series. From the Daily News:

“Never. I just don’t believe in anything that is Trump. So there wouldn’t be any reason for me to go at all. I just think it’s stupid. I just think it’s dumb that he’s addressing players and stuff that he shouldn’t be. But it is what it is, and that’s the country we live in these days . . . I’m proud of the way that everybody has Steph’s back and just athletes in general these days, the way everybody has been stepping up has been great.”

Baseball players, as we’ve noted many times over the years, tend to be a more conservative bunch than football or basketball players. There are a lot more white players and a lot more players from southern, suburban and exurban areas. A significant number of racial-ethnic minority players were not born in the United States, so U.S. politics may not necessarily preoccupy them the way it may players from the United States. As such, political protest like we’ve seen in the NFL and NBA was never going to start in baseball in 2017.

But that does not mean that it was not going to come to baseball. Contrary to what so many fans seem to think, sports do not exist inside some bubble into which the real world does not intrude. Athletes are citizens just like you and me with social, political and personal concerns just like you and me. And, at the moment, a government official is demanding that they lose their jobs because he does not agree with their political views and the manner in which they are expressed. I suspect most of us would get upset by that if it happened to us. Certainly a lot of people I know on the conservative side of the political expression worried about government overreach and freedom of speech. At least before January of this year.

So I am not at all surprised that baseball players like Sabathia are beginning to speak out. He will not be the last. Others will join him. Others, as is their right, will push back and say they disagree with him. If and when people feel inspired to tell them to “stick to sports,” or “stay in their lane,” perhaps they should ask why the President of the United States decided not to do so himself. And ask why he thinks it’s appropriate for athletes to lose their jobs for their political views and why private entities like the NFL should be patriotic institutions rather than businesses which put on sporting events.

 

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

Getty Images
71 Comments

Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.