And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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There were only three freakin’ games last night. Three!  How is this fair? Bah! Bah, I say.  So, to make up for the lack of games to talk about, I go into some random Bob Dylan stuff below the scores. My feature. Do what I wanna do.

Tigers 7, Red Sox 3: Max Scherzer continues to be non-disastrous, which is what the Tigers really need from him. Delmon Young and Quintin Berry each had three hits for Detroit. Alex Avila had one hit in the box score and one hit to the face while catching — foul ball — which left him bloody and forced him out of the game.

Rockies 11, Astros 5: Carlos Gonzalez’ reign of terror continues (3 for 4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI). Michael Cuddyer drove in three as well.  Astros starter Bud Norris probably needs a hug. He gave up nine runs on seven hits in less than two innings. It’s OK, Bud. The bad men in the white pinstriped jerseys aren’t there to hurt you anymore.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 2:  Milwaukee sweeps the Dodgers in the four game series. Zack Greinke allowed one run over six.  The Matt Kempless-era, Part II, of the 2012 Dodgers has not gotten off to a rousing start. Gloom and doom is afoot, people. Gloom and doom.

OK, now — because there is no more baseball to talk about from last night — a giant digression …

I’ve probably made about a thousand Bob Dylan references on this blog over the years, so it’s probably no secret that I’m a big Dylan fan. Probably bigger than you think, though. I don’t talk about it THAT much but I’m fairly obsessive. I got almost all of it, even the crazy evangelical Christian albums he put out in the late 70s and early 80s. Even awful stuff like “Empire Burlesque” and “Self Portrait.”  All of the “official” bootlegs and a fairly decent number of unofficial ones. If Dylan has done it, I have it. Or at least have heard it.

There was a time when I’d corner you and act all jerky if you said you didn’t like Dylan. I’m way more mature about such things these days, realizing that the bulk of Bob Dylan is not for everyone and even the essential stuff can be an acquired taste. Yes, I think you’re missing the entire point if you say his voice is hard to listen to, but I’m past the point in my life where I’ll argue with you about it. I probably don’t like stuff you like and think is important and that’s OK.

But I can’t help myself here but to recommend The Onion A.V. Club’s Dylan primer that went up yesterday.  It’s shorter than extended overviews elsewhere but also detailed enough to let you know what it is you’re missing if you care. And it’s not overly fanboyish. It tells you what’s good and what sucks, which is the only way to be honest about the famously uneven Mr. Zimmerman. And it’s the most I can muster as far as Dylan proselytizing goes.

Anyway, since there are only three games to talk about, I figure I’d give you my personal Dylan top Albums list and maybe kick off some Dylan talk today. This is in no particular order — which of these is my favorites changes depending on my mood — but these five usually cycle through the top five:

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: The one that introduced me to Bob when I was a kid, because my dad owned it. Of course my dad was also one of those guys who turned his back on Dylan when he went electric, so it’s not like my dad was cool or anything. When I swiped this from him sometime in the 80s he was all “Oh, yeah. You can have it.” “Girl From the North Country” may be the most beautiful song in his catalog and it makes me misty sometimes. It’s hard to believe that something so personal and affecting sounding can result from the same ancient folk song that served as the basis for something as sterile as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair.” Really kids, it’s the same song. Listen to them if you don’t believe me.

Highway 61 Revisted: I could easily put “Bringing it All Back Home” here. Or “Blonde on Blonde.” With a nod to the Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt. Peppers Beatles and the Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers/Exile Stones, they constitute what is perhaps the greatest three-album stretch of anyone ever. I tend to favor Highway 61, however, because I heard it first — on cassette! — when all I had known of Dylan before that was his early folk output. It hit me like a lightning bolt. I think it hits everyone like a lightning bolt. With “Desolation Row” serving like some post-storm rolling thunder after the worst of the storm is over.

Blood on the Tracks: Some call it “the Divorce Album.” It may be that. I certainly got reacquainted with it in major fashion when my marriage was disintegrating last year, because boy howdy does it resonate. But the fact is that it is much more than that. Just a beautiful song cycle that, for the first time, really sounded like it came from a truly mature Bob Dylan as opposed to a young man trying so hard to sound worldly.

Good as I Been to You: This doesn’t make many top Dylan lists. Don’t care. Wore it out when I got it in late 1992. Dylan was at something of a critical nadir when it came out but to me it sounded like a logical continuation or an echo or something of “Freewheelin,” which was still relatively new to me then. And it had the added bonus of refueling Dylan’s creative juices, even if he didn’t write a single song on the disc. Bonus: I defy anyone to show me a 60s-era classic rocker who does a better sea shanty than Dylan.

Time Out of Mind: After one more non-originals record in “World Gone Wrong,” Dylan unleashed this bad boy. If “Blood on the Tracks” represented a new maturity in Dylan, this one represented yet another, higher plateau in that regard. While Dylan in the 80s sounded like a man out of time — really, apart from “Brownsville Girl,” most of the “Oh Mercy” album and stuff that showed up on bootlegs later it was a wasted decade — here Dylan sounded like a man who knew he was entering his twilight years and decided that he could wear that very well (and as his next three albums showed, he is wearing it extremely well). Most of the album consists of Dylan staring death in the face and … being just fine with it. Indeed, since 1997 it’s been like Dylan and Death meet twice a week to sip whiskey and shoot the breeze.

Anyway. Thanks for indulging me. When there aren’t any ballgames sometimes my gravity fails and I need something besides negativity to pull me through. More often than not, Dylan has served that purpose in my life, so I can be forgiven for all of this blather, I hope.

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.