And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 10, Nationals 2: Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton each hit two-run homers and Andrelton Simmons added a three-run shot of his own. The Nats have lost five times this season, all of the at the hands of the Braves. This continues the pattern from last season when the Braves took 13 of 19 from Washington.

Padres 5, Tigers 1: Max Scherzer has started three times this season. The Tigers have scored three runs for him. Contrast this with last season when he enjoyed some of the best run support in baseball. Not that he was all that sharp here. Jedd Gyorko and Xavier Nady homered and the Padres took two of three from the Tigers.

Giants 5, Rockies 4: A walkoff bomb into McCovey Cove for Brandon Crawford. Just like the Braves own the Nats, the Giants own the Rockies, at least at home. They have beaten Colorado 15 of the last 18 times these two have played in AT&T Park.

Athletics 3, Mariners 0: Scott Kazmir and four relievers combine for the shutout and Yoenis Cespedes broke a scoreless tie in the eighth with a two-run homer. And even though he got the no-decision, hats off to Chris Young. He started his first game since September 2012 and tossed six shutout innings. Not bad for a guy who battled shoulder trouble all last year and then was released just before the end of spring training.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 4:  And we should come up with a definition for an Edwin Jacksonian start. This one seemed pretty Jacksonian, as he threw 114 pitches, walked a lot of guys and gave up four runs on eight hits. Like, it’s not bad. Not good either, of course. Generally inefficient. Kind of frustrating. Certain points where you watch him and think “man, he should be doing better than this.” You know, the sort of pitching in which Jackson has specialized for his entire career. Anyway, Matt Carpenter drove in three. The Cubs drop their ninth straight series.

Angels 14, Mets 2: Bartolo Colon gave up three homers in the space of seven pitches in the first inning, to Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez, respectively. Hank Conger hit one off him later. In contrast to Max Scherzer, C.J. Wilson has had 23 runs of support in his last two starts. Of course he was excellent here anyway, allowing two runs over seven innings.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Brewers 4, Pirates 1: The Brewers have won nine straight and are now 10-2 on the season. It’s the best start the Brewers have had since they went 13-0 to begin the 1987 season. That was one of my favorite teams ever, by the way. Just so many cool dudes on that club and they were insanely fun to watch when you got the chance (which wasn’t often because, dudes, it was 1987 and there wasn’t nearly as much baseball on). Of course one of the things that made them fun was their wild unpredictability. After starting 13-0 they all but negated that with a 12-game losing streak in early May on the way to a 91-71 record. Which looks nice, but was only good enough for third place in the excellent AL East that season. Anyway, I’m sure they’re hoping for a little more consistence in the early going this year.

Rangers 1, Astros 0: Martin Perez tossed eight scoreless and had four double plays behind him. The Astros dropped two 1-0 games to the Rangers in this three game series.

Phillies 4, Marlins 3: Chase Utley had three hits including a homer and is now sporting a pretty spiffy line of .500/.565/.875 on the young season. He’s got six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. All this even though he missed three games with the flu. Makes you wonder how his past few seasons would’ve been with healthy knees. The Phillies sweep the Marlins. 

Twins 4, Royals 3: Kind of a crazy game. The Royals had a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the eighth. Minnesota took the lead when, with the bases loaded,  Chris Herrmann hit one back to pitcher Wade Davis. Instead of an easy home-first double play, Davis tossed it clear past the catcher, allowing two runs to score. And the game ended with Mike Moustakas being called out when he looked at a pop fly and got in the way of catcher Kurt Suzuki who was trying to field it. That’s interference and it was the last out of the game. Good effort, Royals.

Blue Jays 11, Orioles 3: The Jays rattled off 17 hits and Mark Buehrle won his third game of the season, lowering his ERA to 0.86. Also: a game in which a team scored 11 runs and had 21 base runners ended in two hours and forty five minutes. Last week there was a game that ended 1-0 that lasted nearly three and a half hours. God Bless Mark Buehrle. Would that more pitchers worked as quickly as he does.

Reds 12, Rays 4: Chris Heisey hit a grand slam and and Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in four. In other news, I went down to the Reds-Rays game on Saturday and spent the night at the same hotel at which the Rays were staying. When I was leaving to come home yesterday morning, all of the Rays’ suitcases were lined up by the valet waiting to be taken to the charter flight. David Price’s golf clubs were sitting there — his uniform number on a tag on the bag — with no one nearby. I feel like you all should congratulate me for my restraint in not stealing David Price’s golf clubs when I totally, totally could’ve.

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 6 : The sweep. Adrian Gonzalez homered for his fourth straight and drove in ten during this three-game series. The Dbacks have started the season out abysmally, and already find themselves six games back of the Dodgers.

White Sox 4, Indians 3: Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run homer off John Axford in the ninth to rally the Sox from one down.

Yankees 3, Red Sox 2: A two-run homer for Carlos Beltran and seven and a third solid innings from Ivan Nova. The Yankees’ third run came on a fielder’s choice which was originally ruled a double play. Joe Girardi challenged, however, and batter Francisco Cervelli was ruled safe at first on the replay. John Farrell came out and yelled at the umpiring crew about it and was immediately ejected because, well, you just can’t do that. But the day before baseball admitted it got a replay call wrong that went against Boston and Farrell was obviously still steamed. After the game he said it was “extremely difficult to have any faith in the process that’s being used” for replay. Expect more on this in the coming days.

Ranking the names of major league ballparks

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Now that the Hall of Fame election is over and a good number of the top free agents have signed, we’re about to enter the slowest period of the offseason news cycle. Let’s kill time by making a list, shall we?

This list is inspired by yesterday’s news about Miller Park changing its name to American Family Field next year. As I noted in that post, neither of those are terrible names for a park given by a corporation which means that, yeah, some corporate-named parks are better than others.

So I thought it’d be fun to rank the names of all the parks. Let’s go:

 

VIVA TRADITION!

1 (five-way tie) Angel Stadium; Dodger Stadium; Marlins Park; Nationals Park; Yankee Stadium

While some corporate name parks are better than others, none of them are as good as a straightforward “[Team] [Park/Stadium/Field].” With these what you see is what you get. At least for now, as I expect that the Marlins, Nationals and the Angels would go to corporate names if someone were to cut them a check.

Indeed, the Angels have done it before, calling their joint “Edison International Field” between 1998-2003. With their new real estate venture around the park don’t be surprised if they do it again. And given that the Nationals are going all-in on gambling, it would not be a shock to see some gambling-related enterprise put its name on the place to signal that, yeah, there’s a sports book on site.

In the meantime: “We have a team. This is its ballpark.” is hard to beat.

 

ALMOST PERFECT, BUT . . .

6. (tie) Wrigley Field and Fenway Park

They’re venerable parks with venerable names but a lot of people don’t realize that they were both originally advertising-related.

Wrigley Field was originally Weeghman Park, then Cubs Park. It was not until 1926 — 12 years after the place opened — that chewing gum magnate and team owner William Wrigley slapped “Wrigley” on it to honor himself and, I suspect more importantly, to sell some gum. Fenway, meanwhile, was named by Sox owner John Taylor. He claimed it was a location-based name — after the Fenway neighborhood —  but Taylor’s family also owned the Fenway Realty Company, and many think there was a promotional motive as well.

Not that it matters anymore. As the infamous Noah Cross said in Chinatown, “politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough!” Same goes for names of buildings. And honestly, could you imagine these parks being named anything else?

8. Oriole Park at Camden Yards

This is just a quibble — I almost put it up in the top category — but I’ve always been a bit cold on the split field/location names you’re seeing more and more of these days. On a basic level it’s indecisive. More broadly, I think the Orioles doing this opened the door for some of the double naming rights things we’ve seen, mostly with arenas.

I know the O’s didn’t set out to do that as Camden Yards is an actual place, but it set the stage for dumb things like the Ohio State Basketball team playing at “Value City Arena at Schottenstein Center.” It’s really just one arena — it’s not like it’s a grand complex beyond where the basketball/hockey/concerts happen — but they got two corporate names on that baby. Why? Why not!

9. Kauffman Stadium

There was a time when we named public buildings and installations after people in their honor as opposed to doing so for political points. We should probably do more of that. And big kudos to Ewing Kauffman for all he did for the Royals and to ensure that his ballpark — one of the finest in baseball — is what it is. The only reason this kind of name — or, rather, this kind of name — is not in the top tier is because you never know if you’re gonna open some old box of letters and discover that the ballpark’s namesake funded some reactionary rebel group in Central America or trafficked in blue whale carcasses or whatever. I feel like we’re safe with Ewing Kauffman on this, but ya never know. We Cancel Culture warriors must remain ever vigilant.

10. Busch Stadium

True story: when Anheuser-Busch owned the Cardinals owner August Busch Jr. wanted to rename Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis “Budweiser Stadium” to advertise the family business. Ford Frick told him he couldn’t because parks could not bear the name of an alcoholic beverage. So he named it “Busch Stadium.” Frick said OK, since it was named after the Busch family. Right after that the company introduced Busch Bavarian Beer — now just Busch Beer — which made the ballpark’s name a backdoor product promotion. Pretty clever, eh?

The name is now an official naming rights thing — the Busch family doesn’t own the team but, rather, pays the Cardinals for naming rights — but it’s clearly the most organic and historic of the paid-for ballpark names. Indeed, it’d be weird if the deal expired and the team just changed it to “Cardinals Park” or something, wouldn’t it?

 

PRETTY GOOD CORPORATE NAMES 

11. Great American Ballpark

I’m shocked at how many people don’t realize that Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is named after an insurance company. If you go there you realize it, though, as the office tower for the company — the city’s tallest building — looms over the third base line. People tend to think that it’s just a descriptor — “gee, what a great, American ballpark!” — and on some level that’s absolutely adorable. It certainly is a name that fills you with goodwill and doesn’t hit you over the head with its branding. Which, ironically, probably makes it a pretty bad naming rights deal for the insurance company who underwrote it. These things aren’t good for business unless the name takes you completely out of the mood for baseball and reminds you of some business that has nothing to do with baseball. And you wonder why I don’t like these things as a matter of principle.

12. Progressive Field

Back in 2007 the Indians were looking for a new name for what had been Jacobs Field since it opened 13 years earlier. I was but a lowly, solo blogger then, working full time at a law firm and wiring about baseball stuff on the side. When reading about the name search I wrote a long jokey post about what names the Indians could go with. Short version: I grabbed some reference book from our law library that listed the largest corporations in Cleveland and critiqued each name as a possible stadium name. Best part: I chose Progressive Field as the best name. And I’ll be damned, that’s what they went with later that year.

13. (tie) Coors Field, Miller Park

As I wrote yesterday, beer names — especially beer brands that have some local history, even if they’re no longer local brands — go pretty well with baseball. Hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet have nothin’ on beer for a good baseball association. Which makes me wonder why Chevrolet has never tried to name a ballpark. If it outbid Comerica in Detroit it could have Chevrolet Park right next to Ford Field. And, frankly, the ballpark has a better, more visible location than the football field. Lost chances, man.

15 (tie). Tropicana Field, Minute Maid Park, Target Field, Petco Park

If you’re going to have a corporate name for a baseball field — and if you can’t get beer — name it after a consumer product everyone can easily purchase on an impulse or a retail brand that is super accessible. Sell some o.j. at the park. Have a little mini store on-site. All the better if the product is not high-end so everyone can identify with it. We may not come together in the civic space like we once did, but dammit, all of us go to discount stores, pet stores or drink orange juice, so at least these evoke a common, even if corporate, experience.

These kinds of names also create some cool signage. I think commercial design can be art and it can be pretty attractive. Retail brands like these have to have eye-catching graphics in order to attract customers and to create a brand identity, and these lend themselves to some neat in-park graphics and signs.

 

BLAND AND UNINSPIRING CORPORATE NAMES

19. Rogers Centre

If the place had its old name — SkyDome — it’d probably be at or near the top. yes, “[Team] [Park/Stadium]” is the current classic, but there is a lost classic genre of ballpark names: the inspirational and aspirational name.

Did you know that there was once a park in Cincinnati called “Palace of the Fans?” My God, is that fantastic! Sportsman’s Park was kinda like that too. Descriptive beyond just saying who played there. They wanted to be places for something, dammit. “SkyDome” was in that broad category. “Our roof literally opens to the heavens! It is a dome that honors the sky!” Or something. Maybe that’s earnest and corny, but the older and less concerned I am with trying to be cool, the more I love earnest and corny.

Now it’s named after a giant telecommunications/cable company. Looking to the sky became far too ambitious. Now we look toward, I dunno, “mobile solutions” and “delivering real, sustainable value to our stakeholders” or whatever the P.R. department of companies like Rogers claim the company is doing in a given quarter.

20. T-Mobile Park

If the example of other ballparks which have had multiple corporate names over the years is any guide, people are gonna call the Mariners’ park “Safeco Field” for a long, long time. I have no idea why the people at T-mobile don’t realize this, but if you have a marketing budget and you don’t spend it all the guys up on 6 are gonna slash your marketing budget next year, so why not spend a few million to align your brand with that of a perpetually underachieving baseball team?

21. (tie) Chase Field, Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, Comerica Park, PNC Park, Globe Life Field

Branding is all about creating positive associations with your product so, on some level, I get that banks and insurance companies — which present neutral associations at best, but often negative associations for people who interact with then — wanna slap their names on a stadium. “Sure, we denied your claim and/or charged you $48.75 for not maintaining your minimum balance, but Let’s Go Mets, am I right?!”

For me though these all just underline how much of a business baseball is. Yes, I know it is a business, but at least for a couple of hours I’d like to pretend that I’m at the park to enjoy a baseball game rather than to help further enrich the very rich men who own this team and their business partners. And unlike the consumer products above, it’s not like this can be very useful advertising anyway. People don’t switch banks on a whim and when they do switch banks it’s not because they like how the brand has positioned itself or that it associated itself with something else I like. It’s because the rates are lower or the fees are lower or because, unlike all the other banks, this or that one was dumb enough to extend my over-extended ass credit. In no case does someone leave a Phillies game and say “Man, that Aaron Nola was dealin’ today. Ya know what? I’m withdrawing my money from Chase and puttin’ it in an interest-bearing checking account at Citizens Bank!” At least I hope not.

 

THE TRULY TERRIBLY NAMED BALLPARKS 

27. (tie) Oracle Park, RingCentral Coliseum (maybe?)

For all of the prominent and well known brands in the Bay Area, it’s amazing how lame the Giants and A’s ballpark names have been. And just how damn many of them there have been. Once Opening Day hits, the Giants will have played in their current park under four different names in the past 20 years. The A’s, meanwhile, are on their sixth different name since 2004. Although I may be losing count in there somehow, because it has reverted back to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum multiple times over the years. All of that sign-changing despite the fact that people just call it “the Coliseum” anyway.

Which, actually, may be the real name now. I put the “maybe” on Oakland’s joint because I think it was finally rescinded due to a kickback scheme and crap. I honestly do not know what the park will be called on Opening Day. I do know that the field is called “Rickey Henderson Field” at [whatever the park is called] and maybe they should just go with that?

Apart from the constant name changes, these are probably the dumbest named parks on a commercial level because it’s not like people simply go buy Oracle products or, pending litigation or whatever is happening, Ring Central products. Oracle is generally an enterprise-level company. The database you use at work is an Oracle thing. You’re not going to Best Buy or wherever to get some Oracle product. RingCentral is a cloud-based communications company. It has no obvious connection to anyone who doesn’t deal specifically with whatever it is they do.

Which is to say that these companies slapping their names on the ballparks are primarily ego plays by the people paying and money grabs by the teams accepting. If I was a shareholder of one of these companies and I heard they spent millions on naming rights, I’d probably consider a lawsuit. If I ran Major League Baseball and one of my teams wanted to put some detached from humanity name on a park I’d step in and — hahaha, just kidding. if I ran Major League Baseball I’d be too busy cashing Doosan’s checks to care about such things. Baseball fans LOVE Doosan. It’s easily their favorite infrastructure support and/or construction machinery concern.

29. Guaranteed Rate Field

This was probably the most mocked name for a ballpark in recent memory, but in light of what’s been going on in Oakland and the new name in Atlanta, it’s almost quaint. You know how you look up one day and realize, “my god, Craig Counsell is one of the longest-tenured managers in baseball?! How did that happen?” It’ll be like that with Guaranteed Rate Field someday. At least after all the banks realize they’re throwing money away on naming rights deals and teams scramble to get a few cents from to rename their parks “Howie’s Gently-Used Swimsuits and Industrial Blowtorches Field at Eastland Mall Park” or whatever.

Either way, given that the White Sox have improved their team a lot this past offseason a lot of us may be seeing more White Sox games than we’re used to so we had better come up with a nickname for this place fast. “The Rate?” “New New Comiskey?” I have so many questions.

30. Truist Park

Words cannot describe how dumb this is. It has all the problems with the bank names above, combined with the problem of “Truist” not being a word. I mean, “Comerica” is not a real word either, but at least it passes the Noah Cross test. Some guys in a boardroom just invented this word after a merger last year and the Braves — stuck with whatever those guys in the boardroom decided because they had already cashed the checks — were stuck.

“Truist” is even worse than the other made up words though, because it sounds . . . sinister. It’s a word Orwell might’ve used in 1984 to describe a person who tells nothing but lies. It’s like something some first-term congressman from Missouri might say during a guest spot on Fox News: “Well, Sean, as you know, the Democrat Party elites might have figures which say that the President’s plan to give tax breaks to companies which plan to blow up the moon will both bankrupt the country and destroy human civilization, but a Truist reading of the bill says it will help small business. The real question here is: why do the Democrats hate the truth?”

If I were an insane billionaire I’d buy a controlling interest in Truist, change the name of the bank to “I’m a stupid moron with an ugly face and a big butt and my butt smells and I like to kiss my own butt National Bank” and then giggle like crazy knowing that Chip Caray was obligated to say that before every game.

Or, maybe, I’d just change it to Henry Aaron Field like it should’ve been in the first place. Either way.