And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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This edition of And That Happened is being written in a New York City hotel room, so if it takes on a tone of fright and confusion at the horrifying, dystopian cacophony that is New York, well, that’s why:

Blue Jays 1, Athletics 0: Luis Perez makes his first big league start and holds the A’s to one hit over six innings. “Hey, skip? Am I doin’ this right?”  “Sure, Luis. Just swell.”

Tigers 8, Indians 7: Austin Jackson = Gandalf. Kosuke Fukodome = Balrog. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!  So, Cleveland is dead now, right?

Nationals 5, Phillies 4: The walkoff HBP. After a weekend of late losses and hours upon hours of rain delays, I’m guessing that the Phillies are happy to get the hell out of Washington.

Rockies 5, Dodgers 3: I love how no one on the planet cared that the Rockies hadn’t won on a bunch of Sundays in a row until last week and then, the very next Sunday, they win.

Padres 4, Marlins 3: Will Venable hit a bases loaded single to win it and to gain the sweep in walkoff fashion.  Of course he wouldn’t have been able to do that if Heath Bell hadn’t blown a save. On the same day that Trevor Hoffman’s number was retired no less. Maybe Hoffman should have pitched.

Giants 6, Astros 4: Pablo Sandoval hits a two-run job in the 11th to salvage one against the Astros. The fact that they had to salvage one against the Astros is kind of sad, of course.

Angels 7, Orioles 1: Jerome Williams — Really, Jerome Williams — shut the O’s down. It was his first win in the bigs since September 2005. My son was two months old then. He’s starting first grade tomorrow.

Reds 5, Pirates 4: The Reds faced Joel Hanrahan three times over the weekend and they beat him twice.

Yankees 3, Twins 0: Curtis Granderson hit an inside the park homer which, given that the Twins’ right and centerfielders lined up poorly to play the carom off the wall, and given that the relay throw was candy-armed into home, wasn’t quite as impressive as one might think. I mean, great for Granderson, but like so many inside the parkers, it was built on a foundation of defense that was poor enough to allow the play but not poor enough to count for an error.

Red Sox 6, Royals 1: First sentence of the Associated Press recap: ” Jon Lester loves to face the Kansas City Royals.”  Well, duh. Who doesn’t?

Braves 1, Diamondbacks 0: The Braves sweep the Diamondbacks. Tim Hudson, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel combine for the five-hit shutout. Fredi Gonzalez called a silly squeeze play once that backfired, but since the Braves won I suppose we’re not supposed to care about such things. Can’t wait until he does it against the Brewers in the NLDS.

White Sox 10, Rangers 0: Gavin Floyd was stingy and the White Sox pounded the Rangers. Here is as good a place as any to mention that I stupidly left the umbrella I brought with me to New York in my hotel room when I left to go out yesterday afternoon. When I emerged from the building I was in, it was pouring, and the hotel was just as far from where I was as was the restaurant I was going to, so I had little choice but to buy one of those cheapo umbrellas from a street vendor. It lasted almost two blocks before getting soaked through.  In other news, you can count on me to do one really dumbass newbie out-of-his-depth thing on every trip to New York. Maybe next time I’ll take an $80 gypsy cab ride from the airport or something. If you have any suggestions of ways I can make my life harder for myself when I leave my safe little Midwestern basement, please, leave them in the comments.

Brewers 6, Mets 2: One of the more pointed sentences you’ll read in an AP recap:

“Milwaukee won three straight in Queens to send the Mets six games under .500 for the first time since May 4 with a thorough display of superior baseball this weekend.”

Rays 8, Mariners 7: Johnny Damon had what he thought was a grand slam taken off the board thanks to a video replay in the seventh inning, but then hit a no-doubt walkoff homer in the ninth. Joe Girardi protested both calls. It was really strange.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 2: Rodrigo Lopez was hit so hard his kids are gonna come out shakin’.

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.