Craig Calcaterra

Tim Lincecum is still out there, wandering the Earth

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There are a handful of well-known big leaguers still out there looking for work, but Tim Lincecum intrigues more than any of them. Probably because he was a back-to-back Cy Young Award winner who then fell off a cliff and that kind of dynamic is both hard to get one’s heard around but impossible to ignore.

Lincecum isn’t close to signing anyplace, though. Jon Heyman reported yesterday that he’s throwing on the San Francisco Giants’ practice fields in Scottsdale now, but that we shouldn’t look into that as it’s mostly just a courtesy to a longtime member of the club. In reality, Lincecum is just working out in Arizona, still, throwing simulated games — Heyman says he’s working on a rotation schedule, doing 70-pitch sim games — and that the long-teased “Tim Lincecum Showcase” is going to eventually happen. Heyman has been promoting it so long I think Bill Graham was originally involved. It was gonna be at the Fillmore West or the Cow Palace, maybe.

Anyway, he’s still out there, wandering the desert. I can’t help but hope he latches on someplace soon. He was one of my favorites when he was on his game. And the idea that someone can have it all and be on top of everything to suddenly just lose it and then wander like that is fascinating to me.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann delivers to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 3, Royals 2: Jordan Zimmermann won his third game, allowing no runs into the seventh inning. On the season as a whole he’s allowed no runs in his first nineteen and a third innings. So far he’s looking like the free agent pickup of the year.

Athletics 5, Yankees 2Kendall Graveman pitched strongly into the seventh. He also got to bat because the A’s gave up their DH when third baseman Danny Valencia got hurt. He hit cleanup, actually. Struck out on three pitches and after the game said it was the first time he had batted in eight years. The A’s will likely keep him for a while but think of how many pitchers who come up with an AL team and take the same path as Graveman, not hitting for close to a decade, and then get traded to the NL and are suddenly expected to bat because of the NL’s allegedly superior style of play. The Yankees, meanwhile, kind of stink in the early going.

Brewers 10, Twins 5Aaron Hill, Chris Carter and Domingo Santana all hit homers. Another Minnesota star was in the news yesterday. It may be someone you all know well:

 

Congratulations, dude.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: A walkoff passed ball in the 10th inning gives the O’s the game. It happened when a slider from Joe Biagini got past Toronto catcher Josh Thole, allowing Caleb Joseph to score from third. That’s one you don’t see every day. That’s one you might not see in 10,000 days.

Phillies 5, Mets 4: Yet another walkoff in extra innings, this one more conventional, as Peter Bourjos hit an infield single with two outs in the 11th. He was batting in the ninth slot, as batting pitchers eighth has become quite a trend these days, being used by the Phillies for the first time in 37 years. Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda hit back-to-back homers and Neil Walker had four hits for the Mets; winning efforts in a losing cause. Kind of like the Browncoats in “Firefly.” You can’t take the sky from them.

Red Sox 7, Rays 3: Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer and David Ortiz drove in three runs with a pair of doubles. Rick Porcello was key, though, allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking one. The Sox needed the innings more than anything given how taxed the bullpen was after Tuesday night’s all-hands-on-deck game following Joe Kelly‘s early exit.

Dodgers 5, Braves 3: Justin Turner drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th. He had help via a rookie mistake from Braves center fielder Mallex Smith, who tried to make a diving catch of Turner’s hit and ended up kicking it away. Chase Utley scored from second on the play, but he had been waiting to tag up if necessary. If Smith just lets it fall in front of him and the left fielder who was also converging, the old man doesn’t make it home. Maybe it doesn’t matter — the Dodgers scored one more time after that — but it was some help the Dodgers didn’t need. Help the Dodgers got from their own ranks: six  relievers combining to allow only one hit over six and a third.

Nationals 3, Marlins 1: Another great team bullpen performance here, where four Nationals relievers combined to pitch seven innings after starter Joe Ross left the game in the first inning with a blister. Yusmeiro Petit led the charge, allowing one run in four innings as the fist guy up after Ross went down.

Rangers 2, Astros 1: Cole Hamels hit the first two batters he faced in the game. It wasn’t a Dock Ellis “do the do” sort of thing, as Hamels was just off, but he settled down and won his tenth straight decision. Rougned Odor hit a two-run homer for all of the Texas offense.

Padres 8, Pirates 2Drew Pomeranz notched a career-high 10 strikeouts while Matt Kemp homered and both Melvin Upton Jr. and third baseman Adam Rosales made some great plays on defense. Two in a row for San Digeo off of Pittsburgh, guaranteeing them their first series win of the year.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1: THAT’S the Zack Greinke we’ve been expecting: one run on six hits in six and two-thirds as he outduels Madison Bumgarner. Both Dback runs came on a Wellington Castillo homer in the seventh. Indeed, all of the game’s scoring came in the seventh, truly making a pitcher’s duel until that moment the shots were fired.

Reds 6, Rockies 5: The Reds pen blew a three-run lead in the eighth but Tucker Barnhart hit a walkoff single to salvage the game. A long replay review of a missed bag/maybe missed bag by a Rockies baserunner in the seventh cost Colorado a run, however, and that loomed pretty large too.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 3: The Cardinals salvage one thanks to two two-run innings early on, seven strong innings from Carlos Martinez and Randal Grichuk robbing Anthony Rizzo of a home run with an over-the-wall catch in the first inning. The game was delayed 3 hours, 21 minutes by rain in the middle of the seventh. The time to actually play the game was 2 hours, 40 minutes. Quite a long day at the ballpark.

White Sox 2, Angels 1: Chris Sale allowed one run — unearned — on two hits over seven. Sale has four wins. The Chisox have ten. Sale has started off strong like this before but it’s the Sox’ best start in a decade.

Mariners 2, Indians 1: Taijuan Walker pitched a mini-Sale, allowing an unearned run over six innings. Walker has owned the Indians. Too bad for him he doesn’t pitch in the AL Central.

ESPN Fires Curt Schilling

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With the way he had been proceeding it was only a matter of time. And now his time is up. Curt Schilling has been fired by ESPN.

The final straw came yesterday when Schilling shared a disgusting anti-transgender meme on Facebook and followed it up with supportive comments which took a distinct, inflammatory side in the ongoing debate about access to public facilities for transgender people. He later doubled down in a combative blog post on the matter. The matter has become highly controversial and Schilling weighing in in the manner he did was both insensitive to transgender persons and flew in the face of ESPN’s mandate to its on-air talent — often broken by Schilling himself — to not wade into highly-charged political topics in an inflammatory manner.

Schilling has constantly defended his behavior in this regard as a matter of his personal beliefs, but when one’s personal beliefs are in direct contradiction of your employer’s values and when you cease to heed your employer’s warnings to cease making controversial public comments, you are eventually going to be fired. And if there is any doubt that Schilling’s beliefs conflicted with his employer’s, ESPN’s statement this evening regarding the firing put that to rest:

“ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

Schilling had already been demoted from his job on Sunday Night Baseball last year for a similar incident involving a social media meme which equated Muslims to Nazis. In the past he had also gotten into controversies regarding the teaching of evolution and, last month, was on a radio show when he said that Hillary Clinton should “be buried under a jail somewhere.” By some counts, Schilling has had no less than seven separate instances in which he came under scrutiny for his social media habits. And a guy with Schilling’s distinguished career on the mound knows that, by the time you get to seven strikes, you’re out.

A person hired to be a sports commentator can, with caution and care, wade into public matters. Many do. But the reckless and offensive way Schilling did and his repeated violation of his employer’s orders in this regard made his position untenable. And now one of the best pitchers of his generation is out of a job.