And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Brewers 8, Cubs 0: Zack Greinke mowed ’em down (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 12K). That young man is gonna make a lot of money when he hits free agency this fall.

Blue Jays 4, White Sox 0: Brandon Morrow tosses a two-hit shutout. Dude has really put it all together this year.

Braves 2, Marlins 1: Randall Delgado and the holy trinity of Venters, O’Flaherty and Kimbrel two-hit the Fish. Freddie Freeman left the game with a hand injury sustained while sliding into second and Jose Reyes’ relay throw hit him in the hand. Total b.s.: second base umpire Adrian Johnson called Freeman out for interference even though there was obviously zero intent on his part to mess with the throw. He was just in a normal sliding motion. Between this and the Santana no-hitter call it has not been a great week for Adrian Johnson.

Reds 5, Pirates 4: Lovin’ a meaningful battle between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, guys. It’s like the 70s all over again. Except the Reds are no longer in the NL West, which never made a lick of sense to me, but whatever. Ryan Ludwick drives in three.

Nationals 5, Mets 3: Adam LaRoche hit a three-run homer and drove in four overall as the Nats keep their two-game lead in the East. I think the phrase I’ve uttered on radio broadcasts more than any other in the past two weeks is “the Nats are for real.”

Orioles 2, Red Sox 1: Baltimore really needs to find some way to make their games against the Sox in Fenway more challenging. Maybe they can spot Boston a run or make the pitcher bat or something.  It’s the seventh straight win by the O’s in Boston and 12th of 15.

Indians 9, Tigers 6: Michael Brantley hit a three-run homer in the first that would not have happened if it wasn’t for Brendan Boesch misplaying one in right to extend the inning. Just the prettiest bunch of baseball we’ve seen played by the Tigers this year.

Giants 6, Padres 5: The Giants have won eight of 10 overall, beating up once again on the lowly Padres. I know I’ve mentioned it a lot, but I can’t wait to take my kids to their first big league game in San Diego a week from Monday. Knowing them, they’ll instantly become Padres fans. Which I suppose is nice because it means that they’ll never have that complacent, not-satisfied-with-anything-but-first-place fan attitude.

Yankees 4, Rays 1: Ivan Nova gave up one run over eight innings. Homers from Teixeira and Cano, RBI doubles from Swisher and Chavez.

Dodgers 6, Phillies 5: Chris Capuano can give up four runs in five innings and get his eighth win. Cliff Lee looks longingly from the opposing dugout. Freddy Galvis left the game with back pain. Because the Phillies need an injury to an infielder.

Twins 4, Royals 2: Results schmesults. The thing that mattered the most here was Felipe Paulino leaving the game due to a strained groin after throwing 13 pitches.

Cardinals 4, Astros 3: St. Louis jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three and then held on. Allen Craig with a homer and an RBI single.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 1: Paul Goldschmidt homered and drove in three. He has a 14 game hitting streak.

Athletics 2, Rangers 0: Bartolo Colon allowed five hits while shutting out the Rangers over eight. Yoenis Cespedes singled, doubled, tripled, drove in a run and scored. Cespedes is batting .375 (9-for-24) with a home run and five RBIs in six games since coming off the DL.

Mariners 8, Angels 6: Michael Saunders had another great game and finishes up the M’s road trip having gone 19-for-39 with two homers and five driven in.

Free agents who sign with new teams are not disloyal

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Most mornings my local newspaper is pretty predictable.

I know, when I navigate to its home page, that I’ll find about eleventeen stories about Ohio State football, even if it is not football season (especially if it’s not football season, actually), part 6 of an amazingly detailed 8-part investigation into a thing that is super important but which no one reads because it has nothing to do with Ohio State football and, perhaps, a handful of write-ups of stories that went viral online six days previously and have nothing to do with anything that matters.

Local print news is doing great, everyone.

I did, however, get a surprise this morning. A story about baseball! A baseball story that was not buried seven clicks into the sports section, but one that was surfaced onto the front page of the website!  The story was about Michael Brantley signing with the Astros.

Normally I’d be dead chuffed! But then I saw something which kinda irked me. Check out the headline:

Is Michael Brantley “leaving” the Indians? I don’t think so. He’s a free agent signing with a baseball team. He’s no more “leaving” the Indians than you are “leaving” an employer who laid you off to take a job at one of its competitors. This is especially true given that the Indians made no effort whatsoever to sign him. Indeed, they didn’t even give him a qualifying offer, making it very clear as of November 2 that they had no intention of bringing him back. Yet, there’s the headline: “Michael Brantley leaves Indians.”

To be clear, apart from the headline, the article is unobjectionable in any way. It merely recounts Ken Rosenthal’s report about Brantley signing with the Astros and does not make any claim or implication that Brantley was somehow disloyal or that Indians fans should be upset at him.

I do wish, though, that editors would not use this kind of construction, even in headlines, because even in today’s far more savvy and enlightened age, it encourages some bad and outmoded views of how players are expected to interact with teams.

Since the advent of free agency players have often been criticized as greedy or self-centered for signing contracts with new teams. Indeed, they are often cast as disloyal in some way for leaving the team which drafted or developed them. It’s less the case now than it used to be, but there are still a lot of fans who view a player leaving via free agency as some kind of a slap in the face, especially if he joins a rival. Meanwhile, when a team decides to move on from a player, either releasing him or, as was the case with the Indians and Brantley, making no effort to bring him back, it’s viewed as a perfectly defensible business decision. There was no comparable headline, back in early November, that said “Indians dump Brantley.”

Make no mistake: it may very well turn out to be a quite reasonable business decision for Cleveland to move on from Brantley. Maybe they know things about him we don’t. Maybe they simply know better about how he’ll do over the next year than the Astros do. I in no way intend for this little rant to imply that the Indians owed Brantley any more than he owed the Indians once their business arrangement came to an end. They don’t.

But I do suspect that there are still a decent number fans out there who view a free agent leaving his former team as some sort of betrayal. Maybe not Brantley, but what if Bryce Harper signs with the Phillies? What if Kris Bryant walks and joins the Cardinals when he reaches free agency? Fans may, in general, be more enlightened now than they used to be, but even a little time on talk radio or in comments sections reveals that a number of them view ballplayers exercising their bargained-for rights as “traitors.” Or, as it’s often written, “traders.” I don’t care for that whole dynamic.

Maybe this little Michael Brantley headline in a local paper that doesn’t cover all that much baseball is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an example of how pervasive that unfortunate dynamic is. It gives fans, however tacitly, license to continue to think of players as bad people for exercising their rights. I don’t think that belief will ever completely disappear — sports and irrationality go hand-in-hand — but I’d prefer it if, like teams, athletes are likewise given an understanding nod when they make a business decision. The best way to ensure that is to make sure that such decisions are not misrepresented.