Craig Calcaterra

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

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Giants 3, Rockies 2: Kelby Tomlinson, which is somehow not the name of an SEC quarterback, hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the ninth to lift San Francisco. “Just hoping to get a pitch that I could handle and get it in play there,” Tomlinson said after the game, showing that his promotion from Sacramento last week was due to his finally mastering his cliches.

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 6: Two outs in the ninth. Bases loaded. The Yankees clinging to a one-run lead in a wild, back and forth game. Justin Smoak drives one to deep left field! It’s to the wall! It’s . . .


Hey, nice grab Brett Gardner. Let’s watch that one:

The Jays have lost four of five and are now tied with Boston atop the AL East. The Yankees, while still four and a half back in the East and three and a half back in the Wild Card, are seven games over .500.

Nationals 9, Braves 7: Braves rookie Dansby Swanson hit his first big league homer — an inside the park job — but you gotta pitch too and the Braves didn’t do enough of that. No one did, really, as these two teams combined to use 14 pitchers in this three hour thirty eight minute game. It was tied at six until the eighth inning when Nats scored three. They also had a five run third inning.

Cardinals 9, Pirates 7: Also a 9-7 game but this one took exactly two minutes less time, maybe because only 12 pitchers were used instead of 14. This one ended with the Cards knocking the Pirates over the head with a sledgehammer, man, hitting three homers in the top of the ninth, turning a one-run deficit into a three-run lead. Matt Carpenter was one of the homer hitters. His was of the pinch hit variety. It was St. Louis’ 15th pinch hit homer this season, which is a major league record. Pittsburgh has now lost eight straight.

Astros 4, Indians 3: Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run homer off of Corey Kluber, who had been pitching lights out for the last two months. Gonzalez hit two doubles as well. The Astros have won 13 of their last 17.

Mets 5, Reds 3: The Mets hit four homers, including a two-run shot for Yoenis Cespedes in the seventh which gave the Mets the lead. Cespedes also nailed Brandon Phillips with a great throw from the left field wall to end the eighth inning:

Royals 10, Twins 3: Brian Dozier homered again — he has 39 on the year now and has homered in five straight games — but Kendrys Morales hit two homers and drove in five. Things were tied heading into the ninth but the Royals scored seven that frame on four RBI singles and a Morales three-run shot. Sal Perez had to leave the game in the sixth after being hit by a pitch in the wrist.

Phillies 4, Marlins 3: Giancarlo Stanton was activated and had a pinch hit but the Marlins are still free falling, losing their tenth in the last eleven games. Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis each drove in two runs for the Phillies. Adam Morgan had been 0-9 with a 6.72 ERA in his last 15 appearances but the Marlins made him look like pretty darn good.

Orioles 11, Rays 2: Manny Machado hit a grand slam in the O’s six-run fourth inning. He added an RBI single in the eighth. Chris Davis and Adam Jones homered too, as the O’s pull to within one of Boston and Toronto and add a game lead to their position as the second Wild Card team because . . .

White Sox 2, Tigers 0: . . . Detroit couldn’t do anything against Miguel Gonzalez and three White Sox relievers. Jose Abreu homered. He was hitting just .242/.304/.382 through the end of May. Since then he’s put up insane numbers to bring his overall line to a pretty nice .294/.347/.480 with 23 homers and 87 RBI.

Brewers 12, Cubs 5: The Cubs have been on fire of late (with “of late” being defined as “the entire 2016 season, save a week or two when people pretended that something was wrong with them”) but a five-run first inning from Milwaukee cooled them off a bit. Jason Hammel didn’t fool anyone in that first inning, as Jonathan Villar homered to lead things off, Ryan Braun had an RBI single, Domingo Santana singled in two and Martin Maldonado added a sacrifice fly. After that it was all bratwurst and High Life.

Athletics 3, Angels 2: The A’s were down 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth when Ryon Healey hit an RBI single and Joey Wendle drove two in with a single of his own. Your job today: poll ten baseball fans you know and ask them if they know what team Ryon Healy and Joey Wendle play for. God, I love September.

Rangers 10, Mariners 7: Elvis Andrus homered and hit three doubles, driving in a couple. He also had two errors in a game that, based on the box score anyway, looked like a sloppy mess. Texas has won eight of ten.

Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 2: Shelby Miller continues to be lost in the desert, allowing five runs — four earned — on 11 hits in four and a third innings. Ross Stripling wasn’t all that sharp, but he hit an RBI single in the second which have the Dodgers a lead they’d never relinquish and the bullpen was strong for L.A. The Dodgers remain four games ahead of the Giants, which is their biggest lead of the year.

Red Sox 5, Padres 1: Clay Buchholz, making his first start in a couple of weeks, allowed one run while pitching into the seventh inning as Jackie Bradley Jr., and Chris Young homered. The Sox are now tied for first with Toronto in the East.

Is Cal Ripken’s consecutive games record a big deal?

Associated Press

At the risk of sounding trite, allow me to observe that sports records . . . are what they are. No more, no less.

As I once wrote, a record is merely the fact that a thing occurred. A record does not, by itself, constitute a value judgment or even a particularly great comparison in a lot of cases. It is not cognitive dissonance, therefore, to say that Tony Gwynn was a better hitter than Pete Rose, even if one holds the record for hits and the other doesn’t. It’s likewise not inaccurate to say “Barry Bonds is the all-time home run leader” while nonetheless believing that steroids are bad or Bonds was somehow illegitimate or that Hank Arron was a more impressive player or man. The former is merely noting, factually, who holds the record for home runs. The latter is how you feel about it.

The records are numbers and objective feats. The value judgments we apply later are subjective judgments. Each are equally legitimate as long as we don’t think one takes the place of the other. Records are interesting and good to know, but they do not constitute the end-all, be-all of our consideration of sports. If they did, I wouldn’t like Ryan Klesko or Pedro Guerrero like I do. They don’t hold any notable records. If they did, I wouldn’t feel rather “meh” about Francisco Rodriguez and his 62 saves in 2008. There’s a hell of a lot more to baseball than the numbers and there are a hell of a lot to the numbers more than the fact that they constitute a record.

Which leads us to a pretty notable baseball record. On this date in 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record, appearing in his 2,131st straight game. He would continue to play every day for the next few seasons too, electing to end his record consecutive games played streak at 2,632 in 1998.

Ripken was already a generational talent at shortstop and was destined for a first-ballot induction to the Hall of Fame with or without that record, but the Iron Man label and the consecutive games streak is what he is best known for. It likewise became a signature moment in the era following the 1994-95 strike, with many claiming that Ripken’s streak rekindled a love for the game in the masses that had been all but extinguished due to the labor strife. My above headline notwithstanding, at the time, there is no question that Ripken breaking Gehrig’s record was A Big Deal.

But how big a deal was it? Or, rather, how big a deal should be think of it now, 21 years later?

Make no mistake: I am not trying to hate on Ripken’s record. It’s insanely impressive, especially if you have any idea about the kinds of wear and tear ballplayers deal with. And that’s before you realize that Ripken played one of the most physically demanding positions on the field and that he did it in an era where the equipment, training and luxuries were not quite as good then as they are now. Your son’s little league cleats are probably higher tech than what Ripken wore in 1983, your boss probably has a soaking tub better than the Orioles clubhouse had that year as well and astroturf is almost extinct these days.

It was also, in and of itself, really cool for it’s own sake. There are records where a lot of people are bunched up at the top and new guys break it every few years. This, however, was a record thought to be unbreakable. It lasted for nearly 60 years. The third place guy — Everett Scott — is over 800 games in the rear-view mirror of Gehrig. In the 70s and 80s people gave props to Steve Garvey for being something of an Iron Man but Ripken more than doubled up on him. There are records and then there are RECORDS. Ripken housed everyone in this regard, with only Gehrig being anywhere close to him. I don’t care if it’s the record for catchers interference or all-time strikeouts: if you’re THAT friggin’ dominant in your category, it’s pretty neat. I think Ripken’s record is one of the coolest ones there is.

What I find myself asking more and more as the years go on, however, is whether the feat is as meaningful as people like to say it is, even if it is still cool. I take that “value judgements and records are distinct things” approach and wonder what the record is about at its essence. If we give it vague value, and say it’s about “determination” or “discipline” or something, I tend to feel like it’s truly meaningful and impressive. If, however, we’re more direct about it, and say it’s about “playing through pain or injuries” or simply showing up for work each and every day I am less impressed.

In the abstract I wonder what kind of message a record like that sent or continues to send to players and coaches at any level in any sport. I wonder whether if, in celebrating it, we’re celebrating the kind of “suck it up and play through it” attitude that, when it doesn’t involve a freak of nature like Cal Ripken, can be destructive or, at the very least, counterproductive. Most of us could use a day off now and again. Most athletes need a rest. Any athlete needs to listen to his body and not play when it is hurt or injured, and it’s hard enough to do that as it is given the tough-guy culture of sports. That’s probably harder to do when being an “Iron Man” is among the game’s most venerated feats. What’s the opposite of iron? I dunno, but it’s probably not a great adjective in a sports context.

Some have suggested over the years that Ripken could’ve been a better player if he had taken some days off. He probably could’ve — who isn’t better with some rest now and then? — though we can’t know for sure.  My friend Mike Bates of SB Nation tweeted this afternoon that Ripken not taking a day off here and there could’ve cost the Orioles a shot or two at the playoffs. That’s completely unknowable, though it is kind of fun to talk about. Indeed, it’s the stuff you sort of have to talk about when you accept that a record is just a record and that the number does not end the conversation about the feat.

For my part, I still think Ripken’s record is cool. After 21 years I don’t think it meant as much as a lot of people wanted it to mean back in 1995 — it didn’t “save” baseball, for example — but it’s a neat thing. There is more to a feat, though, than it simply being a record. There is more to Ripken’s streak than 2,131 or 2,632. What it means to you will vary depending on who you are, who you root for and what you value and we probably won’t all agree about that. But that’s why God invented baseball arguments.

The Rays fire their hitting coach

Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays just announced that they have fired hitting coach Derek Shelton. They have promoted minor league hitting coordinator Chad Mottola to take the job. No word if that’s an interim promotion or if the job is Mottola’s for good.

Shelton was in his seventh season as Rays hitting coach. The Rays enter today’s action ranked last in the AL in batting average (.243) and 12th in runs scored. They were 14th in runs scored last year, 15th in 2014, 13th in 2013 and 12th in 2012, though it was only a 14-team league that year and in years prior.

Hitting coaches likely have less impact on their charges than any other kind of coach — talent is what dictates offense — but when your charges are at or near the bottom in runs scored every year, eventually you’re gonna take the fall.