Craig Calcaterra

Roberto Kelly

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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source: AP

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Joe Panik hit a walkoff sacrifice fly which scored Gregor Blanco. But dudes, Blanco should’ve been called out just before that when he “stopped” at third base on Brandon Belt’s single. UPDATE: OK, I’ve re-read the rule a couple of times and watched the replay a couple of times, and my view of this now is that, despite the contact, Blanco should not have been called out because third base coach Roberto Kelly did not “physically assist” Blanco in getting back to the bag. Read the whole justification and watch the video of the play here. Anyway, this was a big cluster and people will be, quite understandably, arguing about it for a while.

Mets 3, Braves 2: The Mets will never lose again. Of this I am almost certain. That’s ten straight. Lucas Duda hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning. Wilmer Flores of all friggin’ people hit a homer and drove in another run on a single. He has three on the year, actually. As for the Braves, it’s amazing how fast a brief hot start is forgotten and the expectations everyone has for you takes hold. Personally I was spared this spectacle as I went to go see The Mountain Goats in concert last night. There wasn’t much about baseball there — a lot about wrestling — but they did play one song that all Braves fans should keep at the ready between now and the first week of October:

Pirates 4, Cubs 3: The most remarkable thing about this game other than the facts that (a) it snowed a bit; and (b) Addison Russell got his first big league hit was the fact that the Pirates used Tony Watson for a two-inning save. And that itself wasn’t the most remarkable part. Clint Hurdle’s quote about it was:

“It wasn’t the plan to use Tony that long but it was a gritty performance on his part”

Rich Gossage just rolled over in his grave. And you may say “hey, Craig, Gossage isn’t dead.” He wasn’t, but he was watching the post-game presser, heard Hurdle say that and immediately died, so now he is and he’s rolling over because he still can’t even. Dan Quisenberry is dead, but he’s not rolling. He got friggin’ sick of all of that rolling and this point he just lies there, disgusted at what passes for gritty these days.

Twins 3, Royals 0: Mike Pelfrey pitched seven scoreless innings to notch his first win since 2013. The Twins scored all three runs in the first inning. Which is a good argument against time machines, really. If we had them someone, somewhere would’ve zapped ahead a couple of hours to see the outcome here, they would’ve texted someone at the ballpark about it, word would’ve spread and then there’d be no one there buying beer and hot dogs and crap. And that’s the real thing about time travel no one ever talks about. Sure, we hear all about, like, going back in time and killing your enemy’s grandfather so your enemy is never born or going forward and getting all of the box scores for the next decade, coming back and growing rich on your gambling “skill,” but the economic dislocation would be the biggest impact. That and everyone losing their ambition and will to live life going forward under the delusion that we can make things happen and otherwise affect some sort of positive change on this doomed world. Time machines would sap us of this fiction. We’d all die in our beds, as unmotivated to carry on as a bunch of flops in some 19th century opium den.

White Sox 6, Indians 0: Jeff Samardzija tossed six shutout innings, the bullpen kept it up for three more and Jose Abreu homered, doubled and drove in three. That is pretty much the Platonic Ideal of a Chicago White Sox win in 2015. They have, like, animated video simulations of this playing on monitors and glossy brochures in this freely available in the lobby of the White Sox offices for everyone to see.

Cardinals 7, Nationals 5: St. Louis jumped out to a 5-0 lead, let the Nats jump back to 5-5 and then pulled away in the eighth on a Kolten Wong double and added some insurance in the ninth because the Nats just don’t have a very good bullpen. Wong’s two-run homer was part of that jumping out part earlier and he ended up 3-for-4 on the night.

Marlins 6, Phillies 1: The Fish end their five-game losing streak. The Phillies are gonna end a lot of losing streaks this year, I reckon. Five unearned runs charged to the Phillies because, woof.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 2: Homers from Devon Travis and Justin Smoak. Travis has four homers on the year and they’re gonna take the Rookie of the Year line off the board at whatever degenerate casinos allow degenerate gamblers to bet on stuff like “who will win Rookie of the Year.” Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez walked seven guys. If you, like the Orioles here, walk seven times and lose, man, I can’t help you.

Yankees 13, Tigers 4: Six runs off David Price in the first inning ended this one before it began. Which is a shame given how cold it was — snowed here too — but the rules say you gotta play nine unless it rains. And Price sat in the dugout for all nine, even after he got pulled:

Price said he stayed in the dugout after being pulled, instead of retreating to the warmth of the Detroit clubhouse.

“You throw the ball as bad as I did and you give up more runs than you get outs, you don’t deserve to come up here,” Price said. “That’s why I stayed out there.”

Your sacrifice is bold and brave, good sir knight. Coffee is for closers, etc.

Rays 7, Red Sox 5: Tampa Bay was down 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth when Jake Elmore — who just got called up before the game — homered and Brandon Guyer hit a two-run, pinch-hit single in a four-run sixth inning. The Rays break a four-game losing streak. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz homered in winning efforts in a losing cause.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: Billy Hamilton came home from third on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth, sending the Brewers to their seventh straight loss. Maybe they need to listed to that Mountain Goats song. And make sure time machines aren’t invented. As for the Reds, that’s three straight wins since Bryan Price’s F-bomb dropping rant. One or two more of these and some jerk is gonna write the “Price’s rant motivated the Reds” column. I mean, there’s a non-zero chance I’m that jerk, but that won’t make such a column any less dumb.

Rockies 5, Padres 4: Corey Dickerson had two homers, with his second one serving to tie the game in the eighth inning. Then, in the ninth, pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso smacked an RBI single for the walkoff. Both Dickerson and Nolan Arenado were out of the game on Tuesday due to various ailments. Both came back last night and came up big. Dickerson for his bombs, Arenado for some of his patented stellar defense, an RBI double and his run scoring on Descalso’s walkoff single.

Diamondbacks 8, Rangers 5: Archie Bradley walked five in the first three innings of work, including one walk with the bases loaded. That normally doesn’t bode well for your evening, but he gutted it out, lasted six innings allowing that lone runs and got the win. Four double plays by the Dbacks’ D helped, as did Chris Owings homering and hitting an RBI single.

Athletics 9, Angels 2: A pitcher’s duel until the seventh when the A’s scored five. They added three more in the eighth. As for the duel part, Sonny Gray allowed one run over seven innings, besting Jered Weaver who allowed one run in six before handing it over to the Angels bullpen to poo all over.

Mariners 3, Astros 2: Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth and put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, both times coming away with zero runs. That’s how you lose games, folks. J.A. Happ allowed two runs in seven and a third in a much-needed strong start for the Mariners.

Barry Bonds’ obstruction of justice conviction reversed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Barry Bonds Glass
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source: AP

It’s almost as if it was a weak case from the start. A prosecution that should not have been brought, a conviction that should not have been reached and in no way should have stood. If only someone had said something about all of that. Hmm:

The court’s decision can be read here if you’d like, but the logic the court followed was pretty easy. We’ve been over this here at HBT many, many times. There simply was no evidence to support an obstruction of justice conviction.

At specific issue is whether it’s OK for prosecutors to get an obstruction of justice conviction based on statements that were not held to be perjury. Which is what happened in this case. You may recall that Bonds, under oath gave a long, rambling answer about whether he had ever been injected with drugs, famously going on about how he was “a celebrity child” before finally answering in the negative. The prosecution basically double-charged Bonds for that statement, first with perjury and then with obstruction. The jury decided that was not perjury and acquitted him on that count. They did, however, hold that it was obstruction. The 9th Circuit has apparently decided that that’s not kosher.

As we noted at length at the time of the conviction, the idea that Bonds’ answer, however rambling it was, constituted obstruction of justice, is a joke. Bonds may have riffed for a few moments, but soon after he directly answered a yes-or-no question with a “no.” A “no” that the jury decided was not a lie.

There aren’t many criminal cases in the history of Anglo-American jurisprudence in which a testifying target of a grand jury investigation did not, at least for a moment, try to fudge his way out answering a question. One of the first things you’re taught in law school is that it’s your job as the lawyer to rein the witness in and get him to answer. The prosecutor eventually did that here. And then the prosecutor decided to literally make a federal case out of the fact that a witness rambled for a minute, calling it obstruction of justice. The jury, it’s worth noting, thought it was a joke too, but they felt their hands were tied.

And now, it appears, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed.

So, call Bonds a liar, if you must. Call him a cheater. Call him the Home Run King. All of those are more or less accurate. But you can’t call him a convicted felon anymore.

UPDATE: Barry Bonds has released a statement in the wake of his conviction being overturned:

Today’s news is something that I have long hoped for. I am humbled and truly thankful for the outcome as well as the opportunity our judicial system affords to all individuals to seek justice. I would like to thank my family, friends, and all of you who have supported me throughout my career and especially over the past several years. Your support has given me strength throughout this process and for that, I am beyond grateful. This has been a long and strenuous period in my life; I very much look forward to moving beyond it. I do so without ill will toward anyone. I am excited about what the future holds for me as I embark on the next chapter. Lastly and certainly not least, I would like to thank my legal team for their hard work and diligence on my behalf.

 

“Baseball is dying . . . LITERALLY!” — Chris Rock

Tombstone
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Warning: the video below contains a bit of strong language. Though not particularly strong for Chris Rock. Just an F-bomb or two. 

The latest entry in the Baseball is Dying, You Guys pantheon comes from Chris Rock, in the video below, from Bryant Gumbel’s HBO show. In it he actually says “Baseball is dying,” so it’s particularly spot-on!

The video is more of a mixed bag than you tend to see with these things. Normally baseball is dying stuff is just full of baloney. Rock’s thing contains a lot of good and accurate points in addition to some of the more well-worn, misguided ones we so often find in this genre of commentary.

On the good side, it comes from a guy who actually loves baseball and calls himself a fan. So many of these come from football writers or culture commentators who don’t feel invested in the game and seem to be more concerned with writing epitaphs than assessing the health of the sport. That aside, he also is spot-on about baseball’s waning appeal among youth, which is a problem we’ve talked about a lot around here. He also is correct — I suspect anyway and will defer to him on this — regarding its lack of cultural relevancy among people of color. At least compared to what it used to be. He also nails the no-fun-allowed, “respect the game” culture of Major League Baseball that makes it, quite frankly, a drag sometimes.

On the other hand there are some cliches here that are not made any better by virtue of their presence alongside the good points Rock happens to make. He cites World Series ratings which, as we’ve noted, aren’t a good barometer of baseball’s health. He’s a bit contradictory on the role of nostalgia in the game, opening with his love of the 1980s New York Mets but later lamenting that baseball would have people look backwards rather than forward. It’s a tricky balance, of course — one in which I wish baseball would err on the side of looking forward — but Rock himself demonstrates that positive vibes from the past are a big part of baseball’s appeal. At least to some. A part which can complicate baseball marketing efforts at times.

Anyway, I’ve spoken enough. Let’s let Chris Rock speak for himself:

 

The early leaders in MLB’s “Franchise Four” thing have been announced

Barry Bonds
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You’ll recall Major League Baseball’s “Franchise Four” thing, in which fans vote for “the most impactful players who best represent each Major League franchise” and some overall categories as well. It’s MLB.com clickbait and debate fodder, but what are we about here other than clicks and debates, so we’re all for it.

Anyway, interim results are out. The highlights include Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver currently leading in the “Greatest Living Players” category. Which is sad. I mean, it must mean Barry Bonds has died in a tragic cycling and/or Google Glass accident and no one thought to tell me.

Also interesting: Nolan Ryan (Angels, Astros and Rangers) and Randy Johnson (Mariners and Dbacks) are on multiple teams’ Franchise Four. Notably, Greg Maddux — who is probably one of the best four Braves and Cubs — likely doesn’t have as good an argument to be on either of those teams’ “Franchise Four” lists given how his career was divided, but has a better argument for being on the Greatest Living Players list than Koufax does. But that’s democracy for you. He is on the Braves’ list, but I think Dale Murphy should be there, given that Maddux was a hired gun.

Anyway, here are the results thus far:

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Bernie Williams to finally sign his retirement papers

bernie-williams-yankees
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Bernie Williams turns 47 in September. He last played in 2006. He was eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2011. He is now, finally, formally retiring:

I guess it’s good that it’s formal. It’ll make his number-retiring ceremony this summer less awkward, maybe, as he’ll be less-inclined to ask if he can play a couple of games in center in order to give Jacoby Ellsbury a blow.

Williams, of course, played 16 seasons with the Yankees and was the team’s starting center fielder during their incredible run of four World Series titles in five seasons from 1996-2000. The man is owed and allowed a ceremony, I figure.