Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Roger Clemens’ team takes a loss at the National Baseball Congress World Series

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You’ll recall that Rogers Clemens and a team of retired major leaguers came together to compete at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas. That’s going on right now and Clemens’ team, the Kansas Stars, got beat for the first time yesterday.

The reason? Age, mostly. Two of the players — Ryan Langerhans and J.D. Drew (naturally) left with injuries. And starting pitcher Roger Clemens ran out of gas early. From the Wichita Eagle:

Nine years after retirement, Clemens didn’t possess anything like the fastball velocity he used to strike out 4,672 batters – third all-time – over 24 seasons . . . He couldn’t survive a third inning in which he allowed two hits and hit two batters. Ware’s single came on Clemens’ 45th pitch, and he was removed by Stars pitching coach Dave LaRoche, a former major-league pitcher.

Clemens was described as “wily,” though, and he obviously has forgotten more about pitching in the past couple of days than anyone in that tournament will ever know. He’s 54, though, and according to LaRoche it was Clemens’ call to come out of the game, saying he didn’t have anything left.

Clemens’ team is still advancing to the quarterfinals — it’s not a single elimination tournament — but Clemens’ work is probably over. The lede of the story is a happy one, in which a young man named Brylie Ware talked about how mind-bending and insane it was that he got a hit off of Roger Clemens of all people. But even if you’re not a Roger Clemens fan, this little bit still makes you stop for a moment:

Ware, a former Sedgwick High player who was an All-American for Neosho this spring while leading the nation in batting average, home runs and RBIs, may be the last hitter Clemens ever faces in a competitive environment.

Clemens left to a standing ovation.

“A face full of nachos and cheese . . . salsa . . . beer went flying”

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This past Saturday I was at Comerica Park watching a Tigers game, sharing a Mucho Nachos plate with my brother, complete with the pulled pork and the jalapenos and everything. We were sitting in a place where a foul ball could’ve easily come by, destroyed our nachos and changed our lives forever. But we were spared.

This man in Pittsburgh? Not so lucky.

It’s a sobering and sometimes paralyzing experience to see tragedy befall someone else and realize that it could just as easily have befallen you. When your time is up it’s up and God plays no favorites, but it’s easier to not think about the horrors which could visit us all, without a moment’s notice.

Hug your kids tighter today, my friends. Make every moment and every nacho count.

 

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Giants 1, Marlins 0: A Brandon Crawford Solo shot was all of the offense needed as Jeff Samardzija and four relievers combined to shut out the Fish. The Marlins had a scoring chance with two on and two out in the 6th when Chris Johnson struck out looking at a pitch which hitting coach Barry Bonds of all people thought was a ball and, lo and behold, turned out to be a ball. Bonds was ejected because you can’t argue balls and strikes, but I wonder if the umpire knew, deep in his heart, as the argument unfolded, that he was arguing balls and strikes with Barry Freakin’ Bonds and that, almost by definition given the subject matter, he was almost certainly wrong.

Phillies 6, Dodgers 2: Jeremy Hellickson continues his perversely-incentivized second half in which he (a) wants to pitch well enough to make a splash on the thin starting pitcher free agent market this winter; while (b) not pitching SO well that the Phillies give him a qualifying offer, thereby diminishing his value on the free agent market. Five one-run innings with seven strikeouts is pretty good but not as good as, say, eight innings, so maybe he’s threading the needle on this one.

Nationals 7, Indians 4: Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer, doubled and walked, extending his on-base streak to 40 games. He’s walked 30 times in those 40 games. Since the first of June he’s raised his OBP from .278 to .345.

Yankees 9, Red Sox 4: A second night of chants of “WE WANT A-ROD!” This time Joe Girardi obliged the Boston crowd and had Rodriguez pinch hit. He got booed like crazy of course. Then he flew out. Things looked dire for New York early as starter Nate Eovaldi left after one inning because of elbow discomfort. A committee of seven relief pitchers got the Yankees through, however, and the offense came back from a 4-1 deficit to win going away. Rookie Gary Sanchez had four hits, including his first major league home run. David Ortiz limped off the field in the ninth inning after fouling a ball off his shin, but he was feeling better after the game and X-Rays came back negative.

Padres 4, Pirates 0: Travis Jankowski was 2 for 4 with a double and straight up stole home. And it wasn’t some candy-ass double steal. It was a straight steal:

 

That’s the fourth straight steal of home by the Padres this year, the second by Jankowski. They should give their third base coach or whoever instructs base running a nice gift at the team banquet this fall. Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson took a no-hitter into the sixth and allowed only two hits over seven innings. In other news: Edwin Jackson is still alive. 

Blue Jays 7, Rays 0: J.A. Happ and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout. Happ became the first 16-game winner in the majors. He’s also fifth in ERA. He’s only 17th in innings, 17th in strikeouts and ninth in WAR among starting pitchers, but I still expect some Jays fans around here to push hard on him as the Cy Young favorite. We haven’t had a good “pitcher wins are overrated” argument around here for a year or two, so I’m game if you are.

Diamondbacks 3, Mets 2Kelly Johnson forced extra innings with a two-run homer in the ninth off Dbacks closer Jake Barrett but former Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez hit his first big league homer in the 12th inning to give Arizona the win.

Cardinals 3, Reds 2Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta homered as Jaime Garcia went eight innings allowing only two runs on six hits. The Cardinals last nine games have come against the two worst teams in the NL — the Reds and Braves — and they went 4-5 against them.

Rangers 5, Rockies 4: The Rockies took a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth and then gave back two runs, the lead and the game as Texas scored twice in the bottom half of the inning. Adrian Beltre‘s two-run single was the game-winner. Ian Desmond drove in two. Jonathan Lucroy homered. The Rangers have come from behind to win with a late rally against the Rockies in three straight matchups between these two.

Cubs 3, Angels 1: Nine in a row for the Cubs. Jason Hammel tossed seven shutout innings. Columnists are probably getting a bit bored with Chicago. They’ll start rolling out the “have the Cubs peaked too soon?!” concern-troll columns shortly.

Brewers 4, Braves 3: Milwaukee’s four-run third innings, anchored by a Chris Carter three-run blast, held up. Freddie Freeman hit two out in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Royals 3, White Sox 2: Lorenzo Cain was 0-for-6 with three strikeouts when he came to the plate in the 14th inning. One of the underrated keys to being a good baseball player, however, is having a short memory and not letting those 0-for-6s turn into 0-for-15s or 2-for-20s. Cain didn’t even let it turn into an 0-for-7, as he served up a walkoff RBI single to center field. Dillion Gee, who was supposed to be Saturday’s starter, came in as the emergency pitcher in the 13th and hung around for the win.

Athletics 1, Orioles 0: Yonder Alonso hit an RBI double in the third for the game’s only scoring. Ross Detwiler tossed eight shutout innings in this brisk game.

Mariners 3, Tigers 1: Quite a pitcher’s duel between two of the best pitchers of the past decade, with Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez each allowing one run over seven innings. Neither figured in the decision, however, as the Tigers bullpen once again failed to come through, giving up a homer to Nelson Cruz and then an RBI single to Leonys Martin in the eighth.

Astros vs. Twins: POSTPONED: The rain falls hard on a humdrum town
this town has dragged you down
oh the rain falls hard on a humdrum town
this town has dragged you down

And everybody’s got to live their life
and God knows I’ve got to live mine
God knows I’ve got to live mine

William, William it was really nothing
William, William it was really nothing
it was your life