And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 5, Marlins 4: Ugly game, with each team trying valiantly to lose throughout, but third base ump Bob Davidson was the ugliest part of all. He blew the call on what would have been the game-winning hit by Gaby Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth, calling it foul when it most clearly was not. Not that he’d know, because he was out of position to make the call. Really, check the screen cap to the right: he’s looking up. The ball is down and to his left.

This crap is just inexcusable. You can institute replay to fix these mistakes or — and this is even more nutty — you can hire umpires who know their ass from their elbow. What you can’t do is let bad calls like this stand in an age when it’s possible to review and correct every single bad call almost immediately after it happens.

Twins 8, Rays 6: OK, this may have been an even bigger horsesh– reason to lose a game than a bad call: Jason Kubel’s pop to shallow left in the top of the ninth hit the
catwalk at Tropicana Field and dropped for an RBI single, giving the
Twins a 7-6 lead in a game they won 8-6. Joe Maddon freaked. As would I have. Then again, at least everyone knew this could happen beforehand because it’s part of the ground rules of the place. No one, in contrast, would have expected that an extra-base hit would be called a foul ball for no good reason in that Philly-Florida game.

Orioles 5, Angels 4: The power of Buck compels you. The Angels have now lost all three Dan Haren starts since the big trade.

Pirates 5, Rockies 1: James McDonald shut out the Rockies over six while striking out eight. I guess that means he’s still helping the Dodgers out, loosely speaking, but eventually they’re going to realize that it was probably a mistake getting rid of him.

Braves 3, Giants 2: Both teams had tons of scoring chances that went by the wayside so in the end the dingers decided it. Two off Tim Lincecum — one for Alex Gonzalez, one for Eric Hinske — which doesn’t happen very often. Jair Jurrjens wasn’t anything special, allowing seven hits, five of which were doubles, and walking three. The Giants should have scored more runs off that, but that’s where this recap started so we’re just going around in circles now.

Red Sox 6, Indians 2: An Adrian Beltre homer and the good version of Dice-K (more valuable because it’s rare!) take care of business.

White Sox 6, Tigers 4: Bobby Jenks did all he could do to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but a two-run triple by Mark Kotsay in the 11th sealed the deal for the Chisox. There are too many good relievers in that Sox pen for Ozzie Guillen to keep using Jenks when he obviously doesn’t trust him.

Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Five pitchers combine to blank L.A., and the Padres are now up two games up on the Giants. Starter Kevin Correia was rather lucky, actually, as he had no strikeouts and gave up a few warning track flies in his five and two-thirds innings.

Rangers 6, Mariners 0: Tommy Hunter bounces back from his first loss of the season to shut down the Mariners. Not that they were running at such a high velocity to begin with. The AP game story is the first time I’ve seen the word “embattled” applies to Don Wakamatsu’s name. I don’t expect it to be the last. And I presume by October it will change to “former.”

Diamondbaks 8, Nationals 4: Sticking with AP game stories, this one contained a classic passage that I think says it all: “The few who showed up got to see a sometimes-stinky game filled with
four errors, a botched squeeze and a strikeout that scored a run.”  “Sometimes Stinky” sounds like the name of an album from some twee, overly-studied British folk duo from the mid-90s.

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.