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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Because I am a big fanboy I went and saw “Avengers: Infinity War” last night, at the earliest possible time. Because I am a super obsessive dork fanboy I spent a lot of time after I got home thinking about it, to the point where I had trouble getting to sleep. Because I am still having trouble shaking this stupid cold I’ve had since Saturday, I woke up at 4:30AM, having gotten like four hours of z’s. Because I am an old man and I don’t function well with little sleep, my recaps are probably dumber and more superficial than usual.

Because, shortly after these recaps go live this morning, I am going out of town for a three-day weekend and Bill is filling in during the day today, if you complain about them being dumber and more superficial than usual I won’t see your complaints . . . so complain away!

In the meantime, allow me to say — with no spoilers whatsoever — that I think “Infinity War” was really, really good. I was worried that it’d be overstuffed with too many characters and would get confusing, but it reined things in pretty well, didn’t try to build in dumb subplots and didn’t worry too much about giving each and every character too much too do, which would’ve brought things to a screeching halt. Above all else, it was a big event-style comic book crossover like comic book fans are used to — for better or for worse — but still delivered the character notes the Marvel movies have gotten us accustomed to. That’s 100% what this movie was supposed to do, and it did it well. If people slag on it it’s probably because they were expecting some next-level artwork like “The Godfather” or “Gone With The Wind” or something. It’s not Oscar material, and maybe some of the Marvel movies were good enough to make us expect too much at times, but this was really solid and I have no real complaints.

Anyway, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 1, Brewers 0: Kyle Schwarber homered in the sixth and that was all of the scoring in the game. Kyle Hendricks tossed seven shutout innings. The game took only 2:22. Or, about 14 minutes less than “Avengers: Infinity War.” That’s OK, though, because the movie really moves quickly. Feels shorter than some two hour movies do.

Pirates 1, Tigers 0: All zeroes until the bottom of the ninth when Corey Dickerson hit a walkoff homer. He rounded the bases and got the Gatorade shower, but then had to sit around and wait because the Tigers challenged it on replay due to a fan appearing to reach over the wall to grab it. It held up, but man, how dumb would everyone feel if the dinger were overturned and Dickerson had to go to second base soaked in Gatorade? This one was 2:36, by the way, which is exactly as long as “Avengers: Infinity War.” No one cried at the end of this one, though, except for maybe Alex Wilson, who gave up that homer. I’ll stop talking about the movie now.

Diamondbacks 8, Phillies 2: Jarrod DysonNick Ahmed and David Peralta all homered as the Dbacks leave town having taken two of three from the Phillies. The Dbacks were not a sexy pick in the NL like the Nats, Cubs or Dodgers were, but all they’ve done is win series after series to start the season. Eight, in fact, which is one short of the record of nine set by the 2001 Mariners and the first time an NL team has done it since the 1977 Dodgers. This method — just rolling along and winning series after series — is sort of how the Braves did it in the 90s. We look back at their Hall of Famers and all of those division titles and think of them as a dominant regular season team, but during the course of most of those years there was always another team that got more press or seemed more exciting at any given time. Bobby Cox just preached to his players that the season was long, so the goal should not be to go balls-to-the-wall for six months like everyone was Ken Caminiti or Lenny Dykstra or whoever. The mindset was just to win as many series as you could — maybe even punting a getaway day game here or there, even if they’d never say so out loud — and by the end of the year, I’ll be damned, they’d have 98 or 100 wins and a double digit division lead. The Dbacks sort of feel like that kind of team right now.

Yankees 4, Twins 3: Gary Sanchez took Fernando Rodney deep in walkoff fashion as Rodney coughed up three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, blowing a 3-1 lead and his third save in five opportunities. Fernando: what with this cold, I’ve had a lot of experience coughing stuff up over the past six days, so some advice: lots of water, long, steamy showers in which you breathe in as deeply as you can and, as long as you’re not driving anywhere, a mug with a double shot of bourbon with some honey whisked in, topped off with piping hot tea. Ultimately you just gotta wait it out, but that’ll make the waiting easier.

Rays 9, Orioles 5: Break up the Rays, winners of six in a row. It helps that a couple of them came against the Orioles, but don’t hold that against ’em. C.J. Cron and Wilson Ramos homered. Manny Machado had a couple of hits and drove in a run because he’s practically playing in different games right now than the rest of the Orioles, who have lost 11 of 12.

Mariners 5, Indians 4: James Paxton allowed two runs over six, striking out ten, but the Indians came back from being down 0-4 to tie it by the end of the seventh. Kyle Seager put an end to that threat, though, by hitting a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth. Day One of Andrew Miller being on the disabled list and the Tribe loses because they couldn’t hold off the other guys in the eighth inning? I sense a connection!

Braves 7, Reds 4: Ronald Acuña hit his first homer and then doubled in the go-ahead run for the Braves in the eighth in just his second game. Ozzie Albies homered too. Albies also doubled, giving him 19 extra base hits for the month. That’s a Braves record for April. Two more than Dale Murphy or Chipper Jones ever had by the end of the season’s first month. Acuña and Albies are the youngest guys in the majors, by the way. Have I mentioned that so far this year it has been far more fun to be a Braves fan than it has been over the past few seasons? Because it’s a lot more fun.

Cardinals 4, Mets 3: Yoenis Cespedes‘ double and sac fly put the Mets up 2-0 heading into the seventh but the Cards came back to tie it with a Tommy Pham RBI single. Jose Lobotan took a bases loaded walk in the tenth to put the Mets up 3-2, but the Cards came back to tie it with a Jose Martinez RBI double. Then things lasted until the 13th when Dexter Fowler singled in Martinez for the extra innings walkoff win. Pham had four hits and scored twice. A lot of Cardinals have gotten off to a slow start at the plate, but he’s hitting .343/.471/.514 and has scored 19 runs. Since starting the season 11-1, the Mets have lost eight of 12.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4: The Sox were down 3-2 in the fifth when J.D. Martinez walked up and hit a three-run homer. Andrew Benitendi had two hits and an RBI and Chris Sale picked up the win for the first time in three starts. Mookie Betts played center field for the first time in three years. The Jays have lost five of seven.

White Sox 6, Royals 3: Matt Davidson hit two homers and the White Sox smacked five in all. Davidson has seven home runs this year. Five have come against the Royals in the White Sox’ three games in Kansas City. Yoan Moncada led off the game with a dinger and Yolmer Sanchez and Trayce Thompson also went deep.

Have a nice weekend, y’all.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.