And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 11, Tigers 8: The Royals win their eighth in a row and pull to within a half game of the Tigers for first place. They did so here by beating the tar out of Justin Verlander, who gave up seven runs on 12 hits in six innings. Of 99 qualifying pitchers, Verlander’s ERA — 4.98 — is 91st. In other news, the five-year, $140 million extension he signed doesn’t kick in until next year.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: There was a time — oh, from about 2004 through a week or two ago — when if the Braves were down late, you knew it was over. They just had no catchup gear and their fate was pretty much sealed. The late great Mac Thomason used to call it “hibernation mode,” and while it was annoying, it was rather handy if you wanted to get to bed early or go walk the dog. Twice in the past week the Braves have found that gear and avoided hibernating, tying things up late. Both times they the gave up a crap-ton of runs in extra innings. Well, David Hale did, but he speaks for all Braves when he’s on the mound. Anyway guys, I love this newfound catchup ability, but that late collapse thing is way worse than hibernation mode ever was. Cut it out.

Red Sox 1, Twins 0:  Rubby De La Rosa one-hit the Twins through seven innings. When I first saw this guy in Dodgers camp a few years ago I was super impressed. Glad to see him doin’ thangs at the big league level like this.

Indians 4, Angels 3:  Carlos Santana snoozed for April and May, but he’s 13 for 39 with three homers and nine RBI in June, including a bomb last night. In other news, when I mentally say “Angels and Indians” as I write up the recap to these matchups, I always think “Angels and Indians” would be the name of a halfway decent indie film.

Mariners 5, Padres 1: Walking seven guys in five and two-thirds is no way to go through life, Tyson Ross. Shutting out the opposition for six innings is much better, Chris Young.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: Dee Gordon goes 4 for 4 with three singles and a triple, and he came all the way home on the triple thanks to Charlie Blackmon kicking the ball around in the left field corner. Gordon never stopped running so, even though the scoring wasn’t as such, it looked like an inside-the-park homer. The second highlight here has it. He just flies.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 14, Athletic 8: Four homers — two by Donnie Murphy — and 16 his in all as the Rangers romp. This is Texas’ fourth straight win in Oakland. At least someone likes playing in that ballpark.

Brewers 9, Diamondbacks 3: It was all tied up heading into the eighth but then Milwaukee put up three-spots in each of the last two innings, spoiling a solid Brandon McCarthy start.

Rays 5, Orioles 4: For the second straight game Jerry Sands came off the bench and delivered a big pinch hit. Here a tie-breaking pinch-hit homer in the eighth. Also: periodic reminder that “Jerry Sands” is the first name every writer in need of a fictitious standup comedian and/or nightclub singer for their novel set in the 1960s and 1970s uses for their character. Most change it during revisions because it’s too obvious. Sort of like naming the lead character of your fantasy novel “Valiant Goodknight.”

Cardinals 6, Mets 2: The Cards are hot, winning their seventh of eight. Allen Craig and Matt Adams each had two RBI and four pitchers, led by Carlos Martinez, subbed for the skipped Adam Wainwright to subdue the Mets’ bats. Not that they weren’t already subdued.

Cubs 5, Marlins 4: When you play 13 innings and basically empty your bench, you have to do things like use a starting pitcher as a pinch-hitter. Travis Wood got the call for the Cubbies n the 13th and all he did was double in a run to put the Cubs ahead. Of course, he does have a line of .276/.323/.552 on the year, so he’s no slouch. Indeed, by OPS he’s the Cubs’ second best hitter.

 

 

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.