And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1: I guess I owe Kevin Kernan an apology. Apparently the Yankees were waiting for A-Rod to get his 600th home run before the team would focus on winning baseball games again. He did it, they won, Kernan was right, Q.E.D.

Twins 2, Rays 1: And hey, the Yankees now own first place again thanks to the Rays loss. This one went 13 innings, though the Rays didn’t score their first run until Dan Johnson hit an RBI single off Matt Capps in the bottom of the ninth to send it into extras, blowing an excellent start for Scott Baker. But a win, as they say, is a win. Well, except for Scott Baker. That dude just doesn’t know how to win I guess.

Dodgers 9, Padres 0: Vicente Padilla with the two-hit shutout as the Dodgers take their second in a row from San Diego. This guy is turning into Livan Hernandez part deux: when he’s hit hard you totally understand it and when he’s hardly touched at all it almost drives you nuts.

Braves 8, Mets 3: The Mets throw the ball all over the field during what many Mets fans were saying on Twitter last night was the night they officially fell out of contention. I don’t know about that, but it certainly feels like it.  Not that (a) the Braves looked good either; or (b) the news was all good for them. But hey, Chipper hit another homer against the Mets, so a pretty strong sense of normalcy remains.

Phillies 7, Marlins 2:  Three RBI for Domonic Brown, though they came in less than glamorous fashion: a single, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice. But hey, they’re runs.

Cardinals 8, Astros 4: Single, double and a homer for Albert Pujols and seven and a third strong innings from Chris Carpenter. As for the Astros, J.A. Happ didn’t exactly make anyone forget about Roy Oswalt last night (1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 3 BB). On the bright side, the Houston bullpen allowed only one run in the next eight innings.

Indians 9, Red Sox 1: The Indians are 12-8 since the All-Star break. This is good. It will cause people to once again make them their “frisky pick” next spring, however. This is bad. For the sake of prognosticators and spring training optimists everywhere, Manny Acta, tank the rest of the season! Cleveland sports fans can’t afford to have their hopes — however irrational they may be — crushed again!

Orioles 9, Angels 7: Torii Hunter hit an RBI double in the ninth to bring the Angels to within two. Then, with no one out and the tying run at the plate, he tried to steal third and was thrown out.  On what planet does a guy try to steal third base with nobody out in the ninth inning, down by two?

Cubs 15, Brewers 3: I’ll stop saying that the NL Central is a rec softball league on a night when one of their teams doesn’t put up a couple of touchdowns on an in-division opponent. Jesus, this is ugly baseball.

Rockies 6, Giants 1: Even if I don’t think the Rockies have enough go-go to their game right now to get back into the race in the NL West, Ubaldo Jimenez’s season has at least given Rockies fans something worth following. He picked up his 17th win, striking out nine and allowing only one run over seven innings. He also scored all the way from first base on a Ryan Spilborghs double in the second innings, so the kid’s got stamina too. Must be all that good food his mama makes him.

White Sox 4, Tigers 1: Edwin Jackson was kind of the white elephant of the trade deadline. No matter what he says now, Kenny Williams did not intend to be stuck with him, but stuck he was after the Nationals decided that they only liked Jackson, not like-liked him. Having him paid off like crazy last night, though, as Jackson allowed only one run in seven innings. Only threw 95 pitches too, which is very un-Edwinlike.

Reds 9, Pirates 4: Heard this: Johnny Cueto owns a little shadowbox in which he stores and displays the Pirates’ butts, which he so thoroughly owns. He’s 3-0 against them this season, having allowed only four runs in 26 innings while striking out 27.

Athletics 4, Royals 3: Jose Guillen is 0 for his last 21. Which makes me
wonder why in the hell I listed him in my little “guys who could be
traded after clearing waivers” segment on HBT Daily yesterday. The
lesson, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

Nationals 7, Diamondbacks 2: Two homers and four RBI for Adam Dunn, who (a) is now the sole home run leader in the NL; and (b) is making himself a lot of money in this next contract.

Rangers 11, Mariners 6: A win on the field and an even bigger win in the courthouse. Grand slams for Michael Young and Chuck Greenberg.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.