And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Padres 3, Dodgers 1: The coolest thing about baseball is that all of us yakkers can spend two months talking about teams’ strengths and weaknesses and How It Will All Go, and then the games start and none of it matters one damn bit. Like the back end of the Dodgers’ bullpen, for example. Brian Wilson came in to protect a 1-0 lead, gave up a tying home run to pinch hitter Seth Smith and then a bunch of clownshoes play by Wilson and the other Dodgers allowed two more in and that was the game.

Yes, I do believe that over the course of 162 games the Dodgers bullpen — particularly Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen — will be a team strength. So this isn’t me reading too much into one game at the expense of those 162 and thus tossing out previous predictions and analysis. But we don’t consume baseball over 162 games. We consume them one game at a time, and in those individual games, anything can happen. Like Brian Wilson getting lit up for three runs in the eighth. We can never predict that, even if we can predict what may happen in six months worth of his appearances. When all you can really know with even a moderate degree of certainty is how things will play out over long periods of time, the short periods of time become that much more exciting. Unless you were a Dodgers fan last night of course.

Tough luck for Hyun-Jin Ryu, who hardly broke a sweat in keeping the padres scoreless on three hits thought seven innings, while tossing only 88 pitches. If it’s later in the season he probably comes out for the eighth here. But dude, Wilson and Jansen! That’s how it was all planned out!

Well, Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht. As do the makers of the 162-game schedule.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day’s games (March 31). It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.

 

Two great Mariano Rivera stories

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In addition to getting unanimous support from Hall of Fame voters, Mariano Rivera’s election is getting universal praise from fans and the baseball community. I mean, at least it seems so. If you see someone out there in the wild really mad that Rivera was elected, please, let me know. But don’t approach such people. They’re probably dangerously imbalanced and might cause harm to you.

From what we’ve seen, anyway, there is no one who doesn’t love Rivera and his election. That love has come out in the form of anecdotes people are sharing this morning. I’ve seen two that made me particularly happy. One “ha ha” happy, the other “aww” happy.

The “ha ha” comes from Michael Young, who shared the ballot with Rivera this year and whose Rangers actually beat Rivera’s Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Not that they had much success against Mo:

Now the “aww.” It comes from Danny Burawa, who had a few major league cups of coffee after coming up in the Yankees system. From his Instagram last night:

In 2012, in the middle of my first big league spring training, I tore my oblique during a game (I wound up missing the whole season). First cuts hadn’t been made and the Yankees let me stick around to rehab with the big leaguers for a few days. The next day, after finishing my rehab, I returned to the locker room which was totally empty. I’m sitting at my locker getting ready to go home when in walks Mariano Rivera. Considering I was a nobody A-baller, I kept my eyes down on my feet and minded my own business. Next thing I know, he’s in the chair next to me, telling me his story, about failing as a starter, about an injury he had when he was younger, about how the setbacks we think are fatal usually end up as speed bumps on a longer, grander road. This is the greatest of all time, taking the time to cheer up a nobody, for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do. Great pitcher, greater human, congratulations Mo!

People use that “great player, better person” construction a lot. I often roll my eyes when I hear it because it’s pretty subjective and, I suspect, the “better person” part can’t be vouched for outside the subject’s friend or peer group. Doesn’t sound that way with Rivera, though. He simply sounds like a prince of a guy.