Craig Calcaterra

Empty Camden Yards

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


source: AP

Orioles 8, White Sox 2: I talked about this as I was watching it yesterday, but the key takeaways for me were how (a) an empty ballpark actually makes Hawk Harrelson’s commentary . . . sort of OK; and (b) the blistering pace. As a fan it was easy to get used to watching this one pretty quickly because, really, a game on TV is in some ways like watching a game filmed at a studio. It’s all pitcher-batter-play-in-the-filed focused in ways that watching a ballgame at the park isn’t. The lack of crowd noise made a big difference initially, but it was easy to ignore after an inning or two. As for the pace, commenter 2131andbeyond hit the nail on the head, I think:

As someone who has attended ~400 games at Oriole Park over the last decade, what I noticed during today’s action was simply the heavy focus on the game itself. Lack of distraction, so to say. There are so many interactions throughout the game involving fans, from tossing balls and even checking out foul balls, that add up over time. Also, no sound effects or music between pitches and at bats, which generally guys will let play out before pitches are thrown. In this case, after a home run, the celebration generally would have gone on 20-30 seconds longer, but didn’t occur. Those small bits of entertainment value, while also keeping the players fully focused on the game and nothing else, easily adds up to a good chunk of time over nine innings.

There was a lot of getaway day first-pitch swinging too, but I agree that the players just got on with it a lot more than usual. I’m sure the atmosphere, or lack thereof, had a lot to do with it.

Angels 6, Athletics 3: Mike Trout homered and hit a bases-loaded double. Albert Pujols left the game with a leg injury. It doesn’t seem terribly serious, but the Angels are going to err on the side of caution by exiling him to another state, removing all evidence of his existence from the ballpark, initiating legal proceedings in an effort to claw back tens of millions of dollars for his betrayal and offering pissy little statements about how he has yet to apologize.

Nationals 13, Braves 4: I guess Tuesday night’s game opened the floodgates for the Nats’ offense. Here they rattled out 15 hits, including a three-run single for Jordan Zimmermann. The Braves have lost seven of nine. We’re seeing a lot fewer stories about their grit and play-the-game-the-right-way attitude these days, huh? I guess that stuff doesn’t matter too much when you, you know, suck.

Marlins 7, Mets 3: Ichiro hit a three-run homer, giving the Marlins some insurance runs and giving hope to all of us old S.O.B.s over 40. Giancarlo Stanton also homered, reminding us that this is a young man’s world. Dee Gordon added two more hits, raising his average to a four-speed dual-quad posi-traction .409. The old S.O.Bs out there will get that reference.

Brewers 8, Reds 3: Ryan Braun hit a grand slam and a solo shot. There were seven homers total in this game, accounting for 10 of the 11 total runs scored. Reds starter Michael Lorenzen — no relation to Moose; unsure about Jared — gave up three of them in his big league debut.

Rays 3, Yankees 2: A-Rod had a bad game — 0-for-6 with four whiffs — and has been hitting poorly, but I question whether he is really worth the first 11 paragraphs of a 20-paragraph AP game story. Especially in a game where one of the teams’ bullpens combined for seven scoreless innings, following up a starter in Drew Smyly who struck out ten in the six. The Yankees’ pen allowed one run in seven and a third, but that one run — a James Loney RBI single in the 13th — was the difference.

Tigers 10, Twins 7: Two homers for Miguel Cabrera brings his line to .370/.453/.630 with five bombs and 17 RBI. Yawn. Neither of his homers was as unconventional as James McCann’s, whose first career homer was an inside-the-park number. McCann is a catcher of course. Check it out (and try to ignore the fact that Jordan Schafer went to his right several steps before going back on the ball):


Astros 7, Padres 2: Six straight wins for Houston, including this three-game sweep in which they outscored the Padres 30-9. Dallas Keuchel allowed only three hits in eight innings and raised his record to 3-0, but saw his ERA rise from 0.62 to 0.73. I guess that just shows that he’s been pitching to the score. The Padres have dropped seven of eight.

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1: Rick Porcello turned in a performance that the Sox really needed from their staff, allowing one run on two hits over seven innings. Hanley Ramirez homered once again. He has 10 in the month of April.

Indians 7, Royals 5: Jason Kipnis homered and drove in four. Scary moment in the fifth when Danny Salazar beaned Alcides Escobar. Escobar seems OK and it did not seem intentional, so there was no retaliation from the Bad Boys of Baseball. That’s saying something since Yordano Ventura was on the mound. Of course, since he has a suspension pending, him hitting an Indians batter here would be like a guy knocking over a liquor store while out on bail and awaiting sentencing for grand theft auto.

Cardinals 5, Phillies 2: Peter Bourjos showed off his legs. He hit a game-tying RBI triple, scored on a fielder’s choice that a lot of dudes wouldn’t have scored on and robbed Chase Utley of extra bases with a nice catch. He got caught stealing once, though, so I suppose his legs have their limits. Ryan Howard homered, but he also grounded out into the shift three times. After the game:

“No, I don’t like it at all,” Howard said. “That’s four hits. I’m hitting the ball hard, it’s just that guys are playing shifts.”

Well, sorry.

Mariners 5, Rangers 2: Logan Morrison was 4-for-5 and doubled in a couple of runs. Felix Hernandez improved his record to 4-0. Used to be he’d allow two runs while pitching into the seventh and come away with a no decision or worse. Four errors for the Rangers.

Pirates 8, Cubs 1: Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-5 with a two-run triple and notched his 1,000th career hit. Which seems kind of crazy, but that’s how time works for you when you’re an old S.O.B. You think things like “wait, McCutchen is only playing in his fourth or fifth season, right?” Then you look up and realize you’ve forgotten years. Sometimes decades. Because the 1990s were just a few — wait, holy crap! Gerrit Cole struck out eight and allowed only an unearned run in six innings.

Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 1: When Josh Collmenter is on, he’s on. And here he was on, tossing eight innings, striking out six, not walking anyone and allowing an unearned run. Jordan Pacheco hit a three-run homer and Yasmany Tomas drove in three.

Dodgers 7, Giants 3: Homers from Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Jimmy Rollins. The game story talks about how it’s hard to do that at night in L.A. because of the marine layer. My San Diego-living brother talks about the marine layer all the time. Kind of bitching about it because he’s been in California for 20 years now and gets all complainy when it isn’t 75 degrees or more with sun beating down on him directly. Personally, I think the term “marine layer” is a beautiful term, just as far as language goes, and like to say it a lot. Marine layer, marine layer, marine layer. Besides, to have it, it means you have an ocean next you, so stop whining, Curtis.

Wait, sorry. That got a bit personal. I’ll just text him next time.

Buck Showalter had some wise words about what’s happening in Baltimore

Buck Showalter

One of the worst things that comes out of civil unrest like we’ve seen in Baltimore are the armchair civic leaders, lecturing people from the comfort of their homes and lives which have absolutely no connection to the unrest in question about what they should or should not be doing.

You’ve seen them on your Facebook feed. Quoting Martin Luther King under the delusion that they have more to say about being, for example, a black person or a poor person in a place where black and poor people are being repressed. Not realizing, even for a moment, that maybe they don’t know what in the hell they’re talking about and that their rosy abstractions have zero relation to what is actually going on. Maybe they mean well and maybe the impulse to be disapproving of violence is a good one, but really, there are some things — a lot of things — people don’t know and shouldn’t presume to know better than the people who are living it.

After today’s Orioles game, a reporter asked Buck Showalter about his advice to young black people in Baltimore. As if the manager of a baseball team is automatically an authority on that. But, to Showalter’s great credit, he was wise enough to know what he did not and could not know and said it directly:

The wisest man is one who knows what he does not know. Would that more people proceed that way.

The White Sox-Orioles game took two hours and three minutes

Camden Yards empty

One way to reduce average game-times: don’t let anyone in the park.

The White Sox-O’s game just ended. The Orioles won 8-2. There were 15 hits, a couple of errors and sixteen total strikeouts, but only two walks and three double plays. The grand totals:


I’m guessing that the “1” for attendance was some glitchy default, but whatever. The time of game is the interesting thing. There was a lot of first-pitch swinging and it is getaway day for these teams, but it’s rare to see such a short game time for a game in which ten runs were scored.

Shorter between-inning breaks due to the lack of the kiss-cam and other such nonsense? Just dumb luck? Hard to say, but one of baseball’s weirdest games ever was also one of the quicker games this season.

Major League Baseball concludes that there was no tampering in Joe Maddon’s hire

Joe Maddon

They had top men on this one — Top. Men. — but after a several-months-long investigation, Major League Baseball just announced that the investigation produced no finding of a violation of Major League Rule 3(k) on Tampering.

Maddon, hired by the Cubs in November, had opted out of his contract with the Rays following the departure of general manager Andrew Friedman. The Rays had alleged that Maddon opted out knowing that the Cubs wanted him. The Cubs and Maddon both denied that there was any tampering.

Now it’s all over.

So far, so weird in Baltimore

Empty Camden Yards

source: AP

I’ve been watching the empty-park White Sox-Orioles game. As a game it’s not so competitive, with the O’s putting up a six-spot in the bottom of the first. We’re now in the third inning. But people don’t really care as much about the game as the environment of this one.

As far as that goes: it’s kind of weird, but it’s getting more normal as it goes on. It’s not entirely quiet, actually. A good number of Orioles fans have lined up outside the gates and they are cheering when the Orioles do good things. A moment ago they had some sort of chant working.

From a broadcast perspective we’re in bizarro world. I started watching the MASN broadcast, featuring Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer. They’re one of the better broadcast crews around, but they talk. A lot. More than you realize when a normal game is going in. Maybe they’re talking more here to cover for the lack of crowd noise, but it became annoying after half an inning and I switched to Hawk Harrellson and Steve Stone over on WGN. They’re . . . not one of the best crews around, but they’re more quiet. Especially given that the Sox are getting shellacked, which tends to shut Harrellson up.

With that quiet we’re getting the sounds of clicks from the cameras in the photo well. At times you can hear the pitcher’s cleat grinding on the mound as he pivots. Once I heard an iPhone text message tone, presumably from the Sox’ booth. You can actually hear Thorne — whose voice carries — talking in the next booth over, even on the WGN broadcast. There’s a helicopter circling the ballpark now, presumably for a news broadcast. That’s odd.

Beyond that, the bat crack is a bit louder. The pop of the mitt is a bit more pronounced. But it’s baseball on TV. And as I watch this game, I’m realizing just how little of the crowd you actually notice while watching TV. Foul balls and homers and some occasional oohs and ahs, but that’s about it.