Trout and Harper

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, Nationals 2: All day I read stuff about “Trout vs. Harper!” I was really excited until I remember that baseball is not the NBA and at no time was it really likely that the two would actually compete against one another directly. I mean, I suppose one could try to throw out the other as the one tried to take an extra base, but the odds were against that. On a granular level baseball is technically about one-on-one matchups. Only those matchups are between a hitter and a pitcher. More broadly, baseball is a team sport and Mike Trout’s team beat Bryce Harper’s. Trout was 2 for 5. Harper was 0 for 3. And Raul Ibanez’s three-run double mattered more than what either of them did.

Braves 4, Marlins 2: Evan Gattis with a walkoff homer in the 10th. Kudos to Fredi Gonzalez here. In the ninth, following a leadoff double, Gonzalez ordered Jason Heyward to bunt, despite the fact that he’s a lefty with power and the pitcher was a right hander. A right hander, by the way, named Carlos Marmol, who is not exactly good. in essence, he was more confident in Heyward — a guy who rarely if ever is asked to bunt — laying one down than being able to pull something off a crappy righty, which would have moved the runner over. And of course, had he done it, it means he’s depending on B.J. Upton to drive in the run. Now, you may think that’s deranged and I might think that’s deranged, but Fredi certainly knew that this unsuccessful sac bunt attempt would optimize the chances of Evan Gattis coming up to hit that walkoff homer. You mad genius, Freddi! You mad genius.

Phillies 7, Dodgers 0: Cliff Lee struck out double digits for the second straight start. This time he actually won. In his first five starts Lee has struck out 38 batters and has walked two.

Rockies 8, Giants 2: Five homers for the Rockies. And none of them were hit by Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki. Charlie Blackmon hit two. Ryan Vogelsong gave up three of them. Hard to see him lasting the year in the rotation. His ERA is now 7.71.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $55,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Brewers 4, Padres 3: Milwaukee keeps chugging along. Aramis Ramirez homered and Ryan Braun drove in two. K-Rod saved his fourth game in four days. If you had been wagering on Rodriguez being lights out to start the season you would’ve gotten pretty awesome odds. Same with the Brewers starting off 15-5.

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1: Travis Wood: wrecking ball. He drove in four runs, including a three-run homer, and allowed one run while striking out nine over seven innings.

Astros 7, Mariners 2: Seattle has lost seven in a row. Matt Dominguez homered and drove in three. And that was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Houston scored six off of him, though only two were earned. With teams this bad I’m afraid to go look at highlights before I eat breakfast, but I’m gonna assume some sloppy defense. [looks] ah, only one bad defensive play. Yep, the noodle-bat Astros actually beat King Felix around a bit. Go figure.

Mets 2, Cardinals 0: Jenrry Meija shut out the Cards for six and two-thirds while striking out seven. And he had some nifty defense behind him too. The only thing that looked bad for the Mets yesterday was their camouflage uniforms.

Rangers 4, Athletics 3: Yu Darvish was not at his best, but the Rangers gritted one out over the defending two-time division champs. Donnie Murphy lined a go-ahead single up the middle with one out in the eighth inning as Texas came from behind.

White Sox 3, Tigers 1: Anibal Sanchez was solid for six but the Sox broke through in the seventh. Of course, the words “broke through” imply a lot of kinetic energy. Here the seventh inning was like watching paint dry thanks to two replay reviews which stopped the game in its tracks.

Indians 4, Royals 3: Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley hit two-run homers and Zach McAllister overcame some shaky defense behind him. Oh, and there was a squirrel on the field at one point, which I thought you all should know about.

Pirates 6, Reds 5: Ike Davis is making himself right at home in Pittsburgh. He hit a grand slam. This not too long after hitting that big walkoff grand slam for the Mets. According to STATS, Inc., Davis is the first player to hit grand slams for different teams in the same April. Neat.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: These teams were likely dragging after a Sunday night game gave way to this 11AM start, but that’s Patriot’s Day for you. Baltimore jumped out to a 6-0 lead and then held on to win 7-6. The Red Sox had loads of chances — they left runners on base in each of the innings in which they scored — but they let them slip away.

Claire Smith becomes the first woman to win the BBWAA’s Spink Award

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ESPN
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The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.

Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.

Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Under Armour
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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.