And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

47 Comments

Indians 14, White Sox 3: Ryan Raburn went 3 for 3 with a homer and five RBI. The Tribe put up a seven spot in the fifth inning in which the first nine batters who came to the plate reached. They keep pace with the Rays, who also won, and remain one and a half games back.

Rays 4, Red Sox 3: See, told you the Rays won. They avoid the sweep with the help of Wil Myers, who hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth. The Rays continue to lead the Yankees, who also won, by a single game.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: See, told you the Yankees won, though it wasn’t a laugher. They blew a 5-1 lead in the seventh and then came back and won on a wild pitch. They also lost Brett Gardner to a strained oblique. Still, they’re 12 games over .500 for the first time since May. Interesting: for the second time in a couple of weeks an essentially split Phil Hughes/David Huff “start” worked out. Perhaps the Yankees should continue having Huff caddy for Hughes. Or maybe they can get some mad scientist to forge a HughesHuff Golem/Cyborg or something and let them both pitch at once. Could be cool?

Braves 6, Marlins 1: Freddy Garcia made a spot start and pitched a wonderful game. Or, as Freddie Freeman put it afterwards, “Freddy wore the MVP pants today.” I wish I had some MVP pants. All I have are a pair of Detroit Tigers Zubaz. I call those my MVP pants. The girlfriend and kids call them my “don’t you dare put those on pants.” Philistines.

Athletics 8, Twins 2: Josh Reddick homered and had three RBI and A.J. Griffin was solid. Now: a three-game series against the Rangers. If the A’s take care of business in this one, they could, practically speaking, lock up the West.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: No one showed up for Aaron Harang’s Mets debut. No crowd, no offense, no nothing. He did strike out ten, though. Not that it mattered as Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos all homered and Tanner Roark and the Nats pen was stingy.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Now the Angels are playing well. Better late then never, I suppose. The Blue Jays have the never, with the exception of that one blip in mid-season where, for about two weeks, they got all frisky. Anyway, arguably the most disappointing team in 2013 swept the other most disappointing team in 2013.

Pirates 3, Cubs 1: They needed that from Jeff Locke. He’s looked like garbage so often lately, but yesterday gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. The Pirates move into a tie for first place because …

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3: … The Cardinals’ five-game winning streak came to an end. Tyler Thronburg was solid for six innings. Sean Halton homered. I suppose some people in Milwaukee and their moms know who they are.

Phillies 10, Padres 5: Roy Halladay was not good at all, walking five and giving up five runs (four earned) in four and a third innings, but his lineup had no problems with the Padres. Carlos Ruiz drove in three.

Dodgers 3, Giants 2: Adrian Gonzalez with the game winning single in the 10th. The Dodgers could clinch the division against the Giants this weekend if everything breaks just right.

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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”

30 Comments

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.