And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mariners 12, Yankees 2: This one was over almost before it started, with Phil Hughes getting knocked around for seven runs in the first inning, which he did not escape. Raul Ibanez hit two homers and drove in six off his old team. Which, I imagine, will cause some columnist who has been lauding Brian Cashman for putting together a chemistry-laden scappy bunch of no-names this past offseason to change gears and talk about how much of a mistake it was for him not to re-sign Ibanez.

Cardinals 4, Mets 2: Shelby Miller didn’t get the decision and wasn’t particularly sharp, but he did pitch five and two-thirds shutout innings and left with a lead. Rick Ankiel, like Ibanez,  hit a homer against his former team. He said this after the game:

“It’s unfortunate we didn’t win but for me it’s a positive, so I’m happy about it,” Ankiel said. “For me it was just fun to do because it was against that team.”

Yeah, you really want to stick it to that team if you’re Ankiel. I mean, after all they did to him, sticking with him for years while he completely transformed himself in the minors and dealt with multiple career-threatening injuries when just about every other team would’ve released him. Yep, they really had it comin’.

Rangers 6, Athletics 2: Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer and made this diving catch off Brandon Moss. Not too shabby. Also not shabby: Texas has a seven game lead in the division despite the fact they’ve played 25 of their 40 games on the road.

Diamondbacks 5, Braves 3: Paul Goldschmidt hit three doubles and Eric Chavez drove in three as the Braves lose yet again. They probably need to win a few in a row sometime soon or else the thing I’m comforting myself with — that this team is gonna be streaky — is not going to be true. They’re just gonna be kinda blah.

White Sox 9, Twins 4: Who woke up Adam Dunn? He hit two homers and drove in five. But now he’s gonna be up all night and that’s no good.

Indians 10, Phillies 4: Cole Hamels is now 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA after being beat up by Cleveland. But at least Carlos Zambrano will be around soon to help out the pitching staff.

Astros 7, Tigers 5:  Carlos Corporan hit a tiebreaking double in the top of the ninth and Miguel Cabrera’s would-be game-winning three run home run fell just short of the wall in the bottom of the ninth to end the game. Houston finally wins one against a Tigers team which has abused them in two straight series.

Padres 8, Orioles 4: San Diego sweeps Baltimore in the two-game series behind a 17-hit attack. The Padres are now 13-6 in their last 19. A nice bounceback after dropping all three against Tampa Bay.

Reds 4, Marlins 0: Shin-Soo Choo with two homers. He’s hitting .322/.465/.589 with nine bombs on the season. Mercy.

Pirates 3, Brewers 1: Yovani Gallardo was 7-0 in his last eight starts against the Pirates, but Wandy Rodriguez outdueled him.

Cubs 6, Rockies 3: Jeff Samardzija pulls a Baseball Bugs, hitting a two-run homer and pitching eight strong innings.

Red Sox 9, Rays 2: A costly loss for the Rays as they drop not only the game but lose David Price to an injured triceps (or is it tricepts?). Meanwhile, Jon Lester improves to 6-0. Stephen Drew hit a grand slam.

Dodgers 3, Nationals 1: Zack Greinke was apparently ready to return. He allowed one run in five and a third and didn’t walk anyone while striking out four. He added an RBI single to boot.

Blue Jays 11, Giants 3: Shh! Four in a row for the Jays. If they keep this up and climb back into contention a lot of early-season memes will be obsolete, eh? Ryan Vogelsong gets rocked again. He may lose his slot in the rotation.

Royals 9, Angels 5: The Angels seem less into meme-busting, as they drop two of three to the Royals. Billy Butler came into Anaheim in a slump. Then went 8-for-13 with a homer and nine RBI in the series. They must serve some good country breakfast in Orange County.

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.