And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 5, Red Sox 1: David Price tossed a one-run, five hit complete game, with a solo homer by Mike Napoli the only real blemish. He needed a mere 97 pitches. That’s what happens when you throw 72 strikes. The Sox and Rays are once again tied in the loss column.

Dodgers 8, Blue Jays 3: For the second day in a row a team scores a boatload of runs in the tenth inning. We should probably come up with a name for that. I’m sure the Germans have a name for it with multiple syllables already because they’re so good at that. I’m thinking the word “shambles” has to be in it. Like “Exrasshambles” or something. Anyway, the Dodgers are apparently indestructible these days.

Pirates 4, Nationals 2: The “Kill the Win” alarm was buzzing loudly at Brian Kenny’s house last night as Stephen Strasburg tossed eight two-hit innings with 12 strikeouts and took the loss. That’s what happens, though, when one of those hits you allow is a solo homer and your opponent — Francisco Liranio — tosses shutout ball into the eighth. Drew Storen has been a hot mess for the Nats all year. The Nats haven’t won a game since the break and, my picking them as a team that could make a move in the second half notwithstanding, are now nine freakin’ games back.

Athletics 4, Astros 3: The A’s take their 11th of 12 games so far this year against Houston, this on a come from behind job powered by a Coco Crisp two-run homer. Someone asked Crisp after the game if the A’s offense relies too much on homers. The idea that a team hits too many homers always makes me chuckle. It’s like asking someone if they’re too rich or too thin.

Braves 8, Mets 2: A win, yes, but an awful loss in the form of Tim Hudson’s freak fractured ankle that will put him out for the season. Don’t seek out the video of this one, folks. It’s Tim Krumrie stuff.

Angels 1, Twins 0: Jered Weaver: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 9K. Pretty much says it all.

Brewers 3, Padres 1: Kyle Lohse with a strong outing. He’s quietly been pretty great for the Brewers lately, going 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA over his past 11 starts. The Brewers should probably try to flip him.

Indians 10, Mariners 1: Down goes the Mariners win streak. Scott Kazmir tossed one-hit ball for eight innings, allowing nothin’ but an unearned run. Michael Bourn hit a grand slam. Asdrubal Cabrera homered and drove in three. Eleven runs scored in this game and it lasted a mere six minutes more than the 1-0 Angels-Twins game.

Cardinals 11, Phillies 3: Another day Ruben Amaro is reported to still be a buyer at the deadline, another day the Phillies get thumped. Sixteen hits for the Cardinals.

Rockies 2, Marlins 1: Yet another nice pitching performance last night. This one from Jorge De La Rosa, who tossed six scoreless. Colorado can force a 2-2 tie in what I like to think of as the 1993 Expansion Series if they win today.

Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 6: Chicago had a 6-0 lead, blew it, but then Nate Schierholtz — who had five RBI overall — drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th. Basically any team could’ve had Schierholtz before the season began. No one wanted him but the Cubs. He’s hitting .277/.334/.521. How’s your team’s right fielder doin’?

Rangers 3, Yankees 1: Matt Garza makes his Texas debut and allowed only one unearned run in seven and a third. Homers from A.J. Pierzynski and David Murphy.

Reds 8, Giants 3: Mike Leake somehow survived six innings of one-run ball despite allowing 12 hits. He also went 3 for 4 and scored a run. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco each drove in two. The Reds finish their season series with the Giants having taken six of seven. I suppose that doesn’t totally make up for last year’s playoffs, but it’s something.

Tigers 6, White Sox 2: Anibal Sanchez joins the parade of great starting pitching performances last night, tossing six scoreless. Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter homered.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: Two homers for Eric Hosmer. More like Eric Homer, amirite?  God, I don’t know why I keep doing that. More coffee please.  Good morning everyone.

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.