Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Your fact of the day: There have only been three players in Major League Baseball history who were named Aurelio. Aurelio Lopez, Aurelio Rodriguez and Aurelio Monteagudo. All three were killed in car accidents.

I just thought you all needed to know that.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 6, Reds 3: Yesterday was a big day for Mets fans to find a tweet of mine from back in June in which I said that, whatever you think about the domestic violence stuff, people considering Jose Reyes had to contend with the fact that he kind of sucks now. I roll my eyes at their hindsight-fueled mocking of my tweet now — they can’t seem to find tweets of their own in which they correctly predicted he’d be putting up the best season he’s had in five years at the time — but it’s certainly the case that Reyes has not sucked for the Mets. Far from it. Here he hit a leadoff homer, scored twice and stole a base. On the season he’s hit .287/.341/.485 in 40 games and has been a big part of the Mets second half push for the Wild Card.

Rays 7, Orioles 6: This one was tied at six in the seventh inning when Corey Dickerson had a go-ahead RBI double. The O’s lose a game on the first place Red Sox and remain a game ahead of Detroit for the second Wild Card as they head to the Motor City for a pivotal seres with the Tigers who . . .

White Sox 7, Tigers 4: . . . lost to Chicago. Like the O’s, it was a late rally that did them in, albeit a bigger one. The Chisox scored four runs in the eighth inning thanks to Shane Greene and Justin Wilson being totally hittable. Avasail Garcia, Adam Eaton, Tyler Saladino and Justin Morneau did the hitting with three RBI singles and an RBI double, respectively.

Athletics 4, Angels 1: Jharel Cotton, who came to Oakland in the trade which sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to Los Angeles, made his major league debut. And it was impressive. He shut out the Angels through six and exited after allowing a solo homer to C.J. Cron in the seventh. That was only the second hit he gave up in the game, by the way. Nice pickup.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: The Pirates finally won a game. Their first since August 29, which covered eight games, their longest losing streak in five years. Jung Ho Kang eighth inning home run was the game winner. With the Cards’ loss and the Mets’ win the Mets and Cards are now tied for the second wild card in the National League. Though they might both make it to the playoffs given that . . .

Rockies 6, Giants 5: . . . The Giants continue to struggle. They took a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth but the Rockies rallied with a Nolan Arenado homer off of Santiago Casilla and a two run double by pinch hitter Cristhian Adames off of Joe Nathan for the walkoff win. Josh Osich contributed to that for the Giants too, by the way, hitting the only dude he faced with a pitch. The Giants used eight relievers in this game. Six in the final two innings. More is not better. And the Giants are not good, going 17-32 since the All-Star break.

Yankees 2, Blue Jays 0: The Yankees traded away the two best relief pitchers in the game, released a should-be future Hall of Famer and called up a bunch of rookies, all of which are things you do when you rebuild. Then the Yankees put on a pretty convincing push for the Wild Card because nothing makes sense in baseball. Here they beat the Jays thanks to a Starlin Castro homer and a Brian McCann RBI single in the third inning and a combined shutout from Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino and Tyler Clippard. New York is two and a half back from a playoff slot.

Red Sox 7, Padres 2: This win, combined with the Blue Jays loss gives the Sox sole possession of first place in the AL East. Which, given how this season has gone in that division won’t last long, but dang it, they have it today. Travis Shaw, Hanley Ramirez and Brock Holt homered and David Price allowed two runs over seven innings.

Nationals 5, Braves 4: Good news: the Nats win on a walkoff single from Wilson Ramos in the 11th. Bad news: mere hours after activating Stephen Strasburg, he leaves the game with a pinch in his elbow after throwing 42 pitches, grimacing in obvious discomfort following pitch 41. He’ll have an MRI today. It sounds pretty ominous. Seventeen pitchers were used in this game. Criminey!

Indians 6, Astros 5: A Joba Chamberlain-style midge attack at Progressive Field briefly felled Carlos Carrasco in the fourth inning but rallied from that and ended up pitching into the eighth. All the players had to fight the bugs, but Mike Napoli managed a two-run homer and Brandon Guyer added a two-run double, both in the fifth inning, to boost the Indians to victory.

Marlins 6, Phillies 0: Andrew Cashner and four Miami relievers combined for the shutout. Martin Prado drove in three via a sac fly, a fielder’s choice and a double.

Brewers 2, Cubs 1Jonathan Villar homered twice, once from the left side of the plate, once from the right, and Keon Broxton saved what would’ve been a tying homer with this play to preserve the win:

Twins 6, Royals 5: Minnesota avoids the sweep. Brian Dozier didn’t hit a homer, though, so I’m not sure how to get through this day. Everything seems different and weird.

Mariners 8, Rangers 3: A five-run first inning for Seattle ended this one before it really began. Adam Lind his a three-run homer in the first and added a second homer in the third.

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Yasiel Puig drove in two, one via a homer, one via a sac fly, as the Dodgers extend their lead in the West over the Giants to five games. When giving radio interviews recently I said that the last week of the season will be big given that the Giants and Dodgers will play each other a bunch of times. At this rate, however, the game could be virtually meaningless.

No, we do not need to retire Roberto Clemente’s number across baseball

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Today Major League Baseball recognizes Roberto Clemente Day. As has become tradition, it is also the day when people stump for Major League Baseball to honor him in the same way that it honored Jackie Robinson in 1997: by permanently retiring Clemente’s number 21 across the game. Buster Olney of ESPN has a column up on it. His third this year on the topic if I’m counting correctly.

The surface appeal of such an honor is undeniable. When I first heard of the Clemente family’s desire to do such a thing, I thought it was a fantastic idea. But then I thought about it a bit more deeply. And, despite that appeal and despite the clear worthiness of Clemente to be honored in some higher fashion, I decided that it’s not an idea I can endorse and not one Major League Baseball should endorse.

As I’ve argued before, Clemente was a special player and the example of both his life and his death were inspiring ones, but Jackie Robinson’s honor — having his number retired throughout baseball — should remain singular. If you do it for Clemente, you open the door for good arguments for retiring the numbers of lots of special players/inspirational men, with “inspirational” being able to be defined in any way at any given time depending on one’s chosen criteria. I don’t think we’re at risk of forgetting Clemente if we don’t retire his number and I do think we risk diluting baseball’s single greatest defining moment — Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier while segregation was still reigning supreme in America at large — by bestowing that honor on someone else.

Indeed, if anything, I think the manner in which Major League Baseball has chosen to venerate Clemente has, in some ways, obscured his legacy rather than helped it.

For one thing, we don’t really talk too much about Clemente the baseball player as opposed to Clemente the inspiration. Obviously the latter is more important in a real world sense, but if you talk to baseball fans now it’s amazing how little of Clemente’s baseball legacy is known or understood. Some people put him on the same level as Aaron or Mays which, with all apologies to Clemente, is overrating him. Others, in contrast, know very little about his actual playing career, which serves to underrate him (he was going into the Hall of Fame even before his heroic death). That’s to say nothing of the manner in which he was treated by the press and the baseball establishment while he lived, which often reflected how a lot of Latin players today are, to put it kindly, misunderstood by the American media and American fans. It’s probably worth noting that baseball’s version of sainthood, for lack of a better term, has in some ways obscured Robinson’s legacy in this regard as well, actually — 42 is retired and we need not think too hard about it all anymore! — and doing it even more so with Clemente does not seem like the best idea.

And that’s before you talk about how Major League Baseball handles the Roberto Clemente Award. As I noted yesterday, MLB has given hashtags to every team’s nominee for the award and is using fan tweeting and voting as a means of helping determine who wins it. How does getting random people on Twitter to come up with new and creative ways to tweet out “#VoteGardy” or “#VoteGrandy,” honor or appreciate a player’s humanitarian efforts? What does it say about how MLB values such humanitarian efforts? All it says to me is that Major League Baseball wants to use Clemente as a means of ramping up social media engagement which is . . . something less than inspirational.

Maybe, rather than retire Clemente’s number 21, Major League Baseball could do less to make Clemente a symbol and do more to illuminate his life and career in real terms. And maybe it could be more serious about how it handles the Roberto Clemente Award, which might serve to elevate its stature beyond some Internet contest. Doing that, I believe, would be better than giving Clemente an identical honor to that of Jackie Robinson in the misguided name of honoring him in a singular fashion.

Jeff Francoeur: one of the least valuable players of all time

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Jeff Francoeur has been a part of my life for a long, long time. He was the great, young hope for my favorite baseball team and then quickly became its albatross. He was shipped out of town and began an odyssey around baseball. New York, Texas. Kansas City, where I finally interviewed him and realized how nice a guy he was, even if he wasn’t ever going to be the player people thought he might one day be. San Francisco. Wait, San Francisco? *checks Baseball-Reference.com* Yep, San Francisco. Then San Diego and Philly. By the time he got to Philly I was so at peace with Frenchy that I bought a dang Phillies shirsey with his name on it.

This season, in one of the more inevitable moves ever, he came back to Atlanta, where people still think, for some reason, that it’s 2005 again and if you look at Frenchy in just the right light, he could be a star. Well, nope, and the Braves just unloaded him to the Marlins. Maybe he’ll be back again — he and Kelly Johnson should probably just be given permanent lockers in Atlanta — maybe he won’t. His legend, however, will never be forgotten.

Jon Bois of SB Nation is also a Braves fan and his relationship with Jeff Francoeur is pretty similar to mine. Frenchy drove us crazy, but dang it, it’s hard to hate the guy. Jon takes it one step further, going so far to call Francoeur his “favorite worst baseball player.” Today Jon released a video about Francoeur, putting all of the glorious and maddening things about Frenchy in context. Like, insanely detailed context. For example, we learn that Francoeur (a) had the greatest start of any rookie slugger in baseball history; and (b) he had the least valuable career of any hitter to every be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated ever.

Like everything else Jon does, it’s brilliant. And hopefully it helps you appreciate — and be driven crazy by — Jeff Francoeur just as much as Jon and I do and are: