And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 2, Marlins 0: Justin Upton went 4 for 4 including another homer. At this point it’s getting so ridiculous that I feel like any more grit/lazy jokes are just gratuitous and cruel to Diamondbacks fans who may soon begin wondering why, again, it was so necessary to trade a stud slugger, still only 25, and signed to a team-friendly contract. In other news, announced attendance for the Marlins’ home opener was 34,439. Many were disguised as empty seats. Many other were there because Marlins tickets are going for roughly the price of a Zimbabwean dollar in late 2009.

Rangers 5, Rays 4: The last strike of the game from Joe Nathan should have been ball four to Ben Zobrist, which would have put the tying run on second with Evan Longoria up at the plate. But it … wasn’t. Even if we do get replay and robot umps and everything else sometime soon, I’m guessing balls and strikes won’t be part of that for decades if ever, so there’s no sense screaming for robot umps. But boy howdy, Marty Foster made a lousy call on that one.

Reds 13, Cardinals 4: Tied in the ninth and then the Reds blitz the redbirds for nine runs. Gonna go out on a limb and say that Mitchell Boggs didn’t exactly solidify his role with this outing. Some of The Best Fans in Baseball didn’t much care for it either.

Brewers 7, Cubs 4: The wind was blowing out at about a gajillion miles per hour, but only one homer was hit all game and that came from the losing team. Beyond that Wellington Castillo shot, Marco Estrada kept the ball down and pitched seven effective innings. Edwin Jackson surrendered a four-spot in the first and after that it wasn’t too entertaining.  Norichika Aoki had four hits — dude is on fire right now — and Ryan Braun returned to the lineup and went 3 for 4 with two doubles.

Royals 3, Twins 1: Ervin Santana pitched eight strong, striking out seven, walking only one and scattering singles. Kevin Correia pitched seven great innings but, unfortunately, was sent out for the eighth.

Yankees 11, Indians 6: Travis Hafner made a triumphant return to Cleveland and Robinson Cano launched two homers, doubled walked and scored four runs. Nice way to shake off a season-opening slump.

Red Sox 3, Orioles 1: Clay Buchholz gives the Sox another great start and Daniel Nava builds his legend. And while the storylines have been nice, it’s been the pitching and defense getting it done.

Mets 7, Phillies 2: There’s no escaping it: the Phillies are in full-blown Roy Halladay crisis mode now, as he was roughed up again (4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER).  Matt Harvey, meanwhile, was dominant once again (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 9K). You gotta wonder if the Phils are gonna consider shutting Doc down.

Giants 4, Rockies 2: The Giants’ seventh straight win against the Rockies, helped by a Hunter Pence three-run bomb. This was the Giants first home game without some sort of pregame awards ceremony or celebration. ‘Spose we can get on with 2013 now?

Pirates 5, Diamondbacks 3: Pittsburgh ends its losing streak at five. Two RBI each for Andrew McCutchen and Travis Snider. The Cubs, Pirates and Brewers are all deadlocked at 2-5 in the race for the NL Central cellar. Exciting!

Mariners 3, Astros 0: It’s almost like all of those spring training home runs the Astros hit weren’t indicative of the team’s overall quality. Joe Saunders and three relievers combined for a seven-hit shutout.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.