Craig Calcaterra

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

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

White Sox 7, Blue Jays 5: The Chisox were down 5-1 after six innings. Luckily, they play more than six innings. They scored five in the seventh, capped off with Todd Frazier‘s RBI double which plated the go-ahead run. Not only did the Jays blow a big lead, but the game ended when Troy Tulowitzki was hit by a grounder while running from first to second. A play I sort of love because (a) watching baserunners avoid such things is usually a hilarious dance of flailing arms and skittering feet, not unlike when a woman in an old cartoon from the 1940s sees a mouse; and (b) it reminds be that there was a time when a fielder could make a putout by literally throwing a ball at and hitting a runner. They were just way tougher back in the 19th century, man.

Tigers 7, Athletics 3: I decided to take the night off from baseball and watch one of my top-5 all-time favorite movies for, like, the 100th time last night: “Zero Effect.” I paused it just before the Nick Cave “Into My Arms” scene, partially to just check in and see what I was was missing baseball wise, but also because that scene gives me ALL THE FEELS and I needed another drink first. Anyway, during this time I saw the thing in which Tyler Collins flipped everyone the bird. I didn’t know what the score was as I had just seen someone tweet about it. I assumed the Tigers were down by five runs and things were getting ugly. Nope: up by six and, well, sometimes you just gotta flip everyone the bird. Look, I know how it goes: there will be more apologies today and maybe some official statement and a handful of sanctimonious “think of the children”-style offerings from media folks. I realize that dance is unavoidable, but at some point I wish we could all just accept that everyone, at one time or another, wants to just tell people at work to eff off. I’m literally flipping the bird to my screen RIGHT NOW because a thunderstorm woke me up today and I’m cranky. See? It’s really OK. Cut Collins some slack.

Yankees 3, Rangers 1: Nate Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the seventh. He was pitching in his home state. Lame story: my parents were RVing in Texas last year and the handyman at their RV park in Schulenburg, Texas was, like, Eovaldi’s cousin or brother or high school friend or something and made a big point to tell everyone that. My dad called me and asked if I knew who Eovaldi was. I said yes. He said “I’ve never heard of the guy. What do I know about baseball?” But also, because he’s my dad, he still asks me sometimes “how’s that, that . . . that baseball player? The Texas guy? With the brother or cousin? How’s he doing?” Finally I have something to tell him later today.

Twins 4, Indians 3: It was tied 3-3 in the ninth when Oswaldo Arcia hit a walkoff homer. It’s been a very Prince-ful week in both Minneapolis and the nation, and at times like these it’s easy to go overboard with tributes and things, but if the PA people at Target Field aren’t playing “Baby I’m a Star” when dudes hit walkoff homers they need to examine what they’re doing in this business.

Red Sox 1, Braves 0: When you score one run against the 2016 Braves it’s, by definition, an “insurance run.” These dudes couldn’t get a hit off their mothers on the hittingest day of their lives if they had an electrified hitting machine.

Mets 5, Reds 3: Four in a row for the Mets. It’s almost like the first week of the season didn’t totally destroy their chances at success in 2016. Huh.

Rays 2, Orioles 0: Chris Archer shows his early season struggles were just that and nothing more. Six and two-thirds innings, ten strikeouts and no walks against one of the better lineups around.

Pirates 6, Rockies 1: Six scoreless innings for Jeff Locke. The Rockies complained and even Locke acknowledged that he was getting some super generous low strikes. Guys: we squeezed the zone right and left when Pitch/FX and Ques-Tec and all of that came online and that made sense to some degree, but compensating with that super low, often below-the-knees strike has given pitchers a ridiculous advantage and is a LOT of the reason offense is so dumb right now and strikeout rates are so high. We’re not gonna get rid of guys throwing 99 m.p.h. and we’re not going to get rid of hyper-specialized relievers going max effort for an inning. But we could totally chop a few inches off the zone at the bottom. As the 1960s showed us, messing with the zone in various ways, even subtly, can make significant changes in offense. Maybe we need to explore that, eh?

Diamondbacks 12, Cardinals 7: Jean Segura had four hits including a go-ahead three-run home run. Arizona had a nine-run sixth inning. Zack Greinke got the win despite giving up seven runs. They should call outings like that “a stinky Greinke.” Feel free to use that. It’s my gift to you.

Angels 6, Royals 1: Albert Pujols hit two homers. Three in two games. He’s hitting below .200 and not getting on base, but he’s on a pace for 40 homers. He reminds me of Stallone in “Rocky Balboa.” He can’t really do what he used to do, but he has “Old Man Strength” and “Hurtin’ Bombs.” That may be hard to watch over the course of six months, but pitchers still need to be careful not to walk into a punch.

Mariners 3, Astros 2: Taijuan Walker struck out 11 in seven innings. For your first place Seattle Mariners who have won eight of 11.

Marlins 3, Dodgers 2: Giancarlo Stanton homered, doubled and drove in two to make Don Mattingly’s return to Los Angeles nice for him.

Giants 5, Padres 4: Madison Bumgarners struck out nine in six and two-thirds and got his first win since Opening Day with some help from Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. Three plays were subject to replay challenges over the final two innings. All of the original calls were upheld. The game pushed four hours, which is ridiculous. There’s no reason reviews can’t be done in near-real time by impartial officials.

Must-Click Link: The story behind Rick Monday rescuing the American Flag

Associated Press
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A lot of baseball fans know the basics of the story. Rick Monday, then the center fielder for the Chicago Cubs, was playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles on April 25, 1976. Forty years ago today. Two fans rushed out from the stands, knelt down in the outfield and attempted to set fire to an American flag they had with them. Monday, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve and a patriot, rushed over and snatched the flag away, saving it from destruction.

That alone makes for a pretty cool story. Monday may be just as famous for that as he is for his fine playing career and years as a Dodgers broadcaster. But as is so often the case, there is more to the story than just its most famous angle.

Over at Vice Sports, David Davis digs deeper into the Rick Monday flag rescue. He talks to Monday, who explains what was motivating him and why, to this day, the incident still irks him. He researched and explored the story of the man who took the iconic photograph of the incident and talks about his strange and tragic life. He attempted to interview the man who, along with this 11-year-old son, tried to burn the flag, but they weren’t talking. He did, however, find out more about their life, also sad in some ways, than we’ve previously known.

America in the mid-1970s was a country entering a midlife crisis. And when someone is having a midlife crisis, strange things can happen. Many years later, however, you can look back and see it all a bit more clearly. This is a very good look in that regard.

Rays owner loves that Tampa is putting money in the Yankees spring training complex

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Ever hear about some good news happening to someone else and experience mixed feelings? That “wow, I am truly happy for them,” sentiment mingling with “Gah, why don’t good things happen to me?!” No? Just me and other shallow people? Well, be happy then. It happens to a lot of us, even if we’re trying to be bigger, better people.

It even happens to baseball teams. Like the Rays, who are hellbent on getting someone in the Tampa Bay area to build them a new ballpark in a few years. Here is their owner’s reaction to Hillsborough County, Florida plunking $40 million into the Yankees spring training facility:

“Any money going toward baseball in Florida is fine by me,” he said. “It’s about the sport. It’s good for the spot. It shows that Hillsborough is committed to and sees the value of baseball in their midst.”

He was then asked if that money could have been used toward a new stadium for the Rays and he was diplomatic about it. But he sure sounded like people sound when that person they sort of know and respect professionally gets that job they were up for themselves. They are so very, very happy and it is a good thing in general . . . but . . . nothing. No, it’s OK. I’m really, really happy for you.