Craig Calcaterra

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 01:  Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants grabs his right leg pullling up short running to first base on a ground out in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 1, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Hunter Pence is going to be out two months with a torn hamstring


When Hunter Pence was placed on the disabled list yesterday there was a sense that he may just miss a little time. Indeed, his manager, Bruce Bochy, said that Pence’s injury was similar to the one he suffered previously that led to a short DL stint. Nope: Pence is going to be sidelined for eight weeks.

It’s that bad. The hamstring tendon near the back of Pence’s right knee was — brace yourselves — torn completely off the bone. He’ll need surgery.

That had to hurt. And it hurts more than just Pence, as their outfielder is one of their key offensive contributors and a team leader. To bridge the gap the first place Giants will go with a combination of Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson, Kelby Tomlinson and possibly Brandon Belt in the outfield to replace Pence. You can’t rule out a trade either, though it should be noted that the outfield market is pretty darn thin at the moment.

Tough break. Or tear. Whatever.

What’s on tap: Previewing Friday Night’s Action

BOSTON, MA - MAY 24:  David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox reacts in the fifth inning after making the third out during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Fenway Park on May 24, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It’s not until tomorrow night, but I really can’t believe baseball hasn’t stepped in and stopped Clayton Kershaw from pitching against the Braves tomorrow. Kids watch this game. They don’t need to see carnage like that, Rob Manfred. Do something, will ya?

As for tonight, R.A. Dickey vs. David Price is a great matchup for people who haven’t watched baseball in, like, four years and still want to know the names of the pitchers. Same with Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright in St. Louis. Yu Darvish gets his second start of the year and will try to go beyond five innings this time out, even if the last outing was a good five innings.

On the less famous end of the spectrum we have the Rockies, who just got clobbered by the Reds of all teams, trotting out Chris Rusin to face the Padres, whose owner may decide to simply disband them and open up a taco stand given how things have been going for them lately. Drew Pomeranz: the fate of your franchise depends on you. No pressure.

Have a nice weekend, y’all.

Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velazquez), 7:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park

New York Yankees (Nate Eovaldi) @ Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman), 7:05 PM EDT, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon) @ Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann), 7:10 PM EDT, Comerica Park

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar), 7:10 PM EDT, Progressive Field

New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT, Marlins Park

Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey) @ Boston Red Sox (David Price), 7:10 PM EDT, Fenway Park

Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez) @ Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan), 7:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker) @ Texas Rangers (Yu Darvish), 8:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington

Oakland Athletics (Jesse Hahn) @ Houston Astros (Doug Fister), 8:10 PM EDT, Minute Maid Park

Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi) @ Minnesota Twins (Ricky Nolasco), 8:10 PM EDT, Target Field

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 8:15 PM EDT, Busch Stadium

Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Kenta Maeda), 10:10 PM EDT, Dodger Stadium

Colorado Rockies (Chris Rusin) @ San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz), 10:40 PM EDT, Petco Park

Sports are not real life, folks

Associated Press

This has nothing to do directly with baseball but (a) the subject of it is a Spink Award winner, baseball writing’s highest honor; and (b) the broader lesson applies to baseball just as it applies to any sport. So let’s talk about this dumb thing Dan Shaughnessy said.

He was on a radio show talking about the NBA Finals. He wants the Cavs to win for a couple of reasons. Primarily because he doesn’t like Golden State’s style of play — the outside shooting, mostly — and he doesn’t “want to see that rewarded.” Another reason he wants the Cavs to win:

. . .you got the 52-year thing with Cleveland, and I’m all for the Rust Belt cities that are downtrodden and need a reason to go on.

The thing about “downtrodden Rust Belt cities” is about as condescending as it gets, especially coming from a rich dude from a coastal city like Shaughnessy who, for whatever his roots were and whatever his family’s history is, has approximately zero insight into what life is like or what is important to people who live in Rust Belt cities in 2016. Will the basketball fans of Cleveland be happy if the Cavs win it? Sure. And citizens of Cleveland who aren’t basketball fans may even feel good about the Cavs winning too, at least momentarily. But a pro sports team single-handedly giving the downtrodden a “reason to go on?” Holy crap, what kind of perspective is that?

Well, it’s the perspective of a sports columnist. One who, in Shaughnessy’s case, has made “filtering an entire city’s identity through sports” his own personal brand. He’s not alone in that, of course. That’s the m.o. of all the old-style mutli-sport columnists from big city newspapers. They’re a dying breed to be sure, but in some ways the breed deserves to die, for many reasons both practical and aesthetic. But one of the big reasons they should be put out to pasture is that they have made it their life’s work to transform sports from a pleasant diversion into The Only Thing That Truly Matters, while simultaneously oversimplifying real life to a comical degree.

Our lack of perspective about sports in society owes a heaping helping of thanks to the boosters of the kinds of fictions Shaughnessy is peddling here. Fictions about how sports can lift up and inspire whole cities serves as cover for billionaire owners to ask for publicly funded stadiums and for needed social and public works to take a back seat to sports boosterism. Meanwhile, sports columnists’ habitual conflation of athletic prowess and personal character contributes to athletes not being held accountable when they commit bad acts. At the same time it gives cover for fans to fail to consider the very humanity of athletes. To think that guys who get hurt are “soft.” To think that those who merely make human mistakes are villains.

Sports columnists make the complicated business of living in the real world seem so easy. Winning = happiness. Losing = sorrow. Heroes will save us. Goats are to blame if we are not saved. Actually understanding cause and effect or how the economy, social dynamics, the business of sports and the business of life all interact and inform the human experience is hard to put into 800 words twice a week, angers the people they depend on for access and importance, is thus not in their bailiwick and is thus not their problem. Sticking to sports is pretty myopic. Sticking so hard to sports that one comes to believe they explain everything is obscene.

Meanwhile, sports columnists make the relatively straightforward business of actual sports complicated. As far as I can tell, the purpose of a team playing a basketball game is to win it. But no, Shaughnessy says you have to win it in a certain way for it to be legitimate (see, also, columns about “winning with class” and whose turn it is or is not to win it, among other sports championship narratives). Sometimes scoring more points than the other guys is good. Sometimes it is bad. The sports columnist will explain to you how and why this is.

I dunno. Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe I’m wrong to think real life is the complicated place where there are no easy answers and things truly matter and that sports is the simple place where things are more straightforward and the stakes are lower. I mean, Dan Shaughnessy says that’s not the case and I’m told he’s the expert.