And That Happened: All-Star Game Edition

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If you followed along with our liveblog last night
some of this may be redundant for you, but I kept a quasi-running diary
of the All-Star game and here are some of my random observations:

Pregame

— I really enjoyed all of the presidents talking during the
Everyday All-Stars thing. Obama looks like he’s growing a little
mustache, which is quite stylish. George W. Bush looks more relaxed
than he’s been since his days as the Rangers’ owner, which is totally
understandable. Maybe it’s because he’s living with his dad now. At
least I assume he is, because both him and H.W. Bush were speaking from
the same room. Nice callback by Bush Sr. to the “thousand points of
light” thing, by the way. That’s like a rapper sampling Young M.C. or
something. Jimmy Carter is looking pretty spry. I think he’s going to
break Hoover’s record for the most post-presidency years alive. Very
underrated record, by the way.

— Sheryl Crow did a good job on the anthem. Very businesslike.
Hopefully the message is finally starting to get around that “The Star
Spangled Banner” is not some soul ballad.

— I liked Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter and
Ozzie Smith in their red blazers, though as my wife pointed out, they
kind of looked like real estate agents.

— I also love me some Stan Musial, though seeing him come in via
the golf cart kind of reminded me of Ted Williams in the golf cart at
the All-Star game in Boston several years back. The next time we
thought of Williams after that was when he died and his son froze him
in carbonite or whatever the hell it was. Anyway, it was bittersweet
seeing Musial, knowing that we probably won’t see him in public again.

First Pitch:

— I LOVE that Obama came out in his White Sox jacket. Clinton would
have conducted focus groups before deciding what to wear. Bush would
have worn a bomber jacket or something. Obama is a fan, and no matter
what your politics are, you have to respect that. As for his pitch: Eh,
it was a lollipop job that made Tim Robbins in “Bull Durham” look like
Roger Clemens, but at least it made it to the plate on the fly. Unless
Greg Maddux ever becomes president, I think George W. is going to hold
the record for the sharpest Commander-in-Chief first pitch.

The Game:

— Lincecum plunked Jeter. Or at least so said Dana Demuth. I’ll
admit that my perception may have been a bit, um, impaired due to
pregame festivities at Chez Calcaterra, but from where I was sitting,
it looked like it hit the knob of the bat. Nice sales job by Jeter,
though. But some advice, Derek: next time don’t limp down to first base when the ball was supposed to have hit your wrist.

— Obama in the broadcast booth was pretty sweet. First he hated on the
Nationals, and then in response to a bail-out joke he said “we’re out
of money.” If nothing else you have to applaud him for his honesty. As
is always the case with a three man booth, however, we missed a lot of
action on the field while everyone was chatting. Roy Halladay was
roughed up and it might have been nice to hear someone talk about his
trade prospects and stuff.

— Third inning, and Ryan Franklin came in to pitch. Really, Charlie
Manuel? Ryan Franklin is the second guy out of the pen? Haven’t the
Cardinals fans had enough pandering over the past couple of days? Sure,
he sets the AL down 1-2-3 which makes me look like an idiot, but just
because something turned out OK doesn’t make it the right move in the
first instance.

(rest of the recap after the jump)

— I blinked twice and missed the entire half inning pitched by Mark
Buehrle. I really, really like that guy. I wish everyone pitched like
him.

— Based on the trailer, the “G.I. Joe” movie looks like the worst
piece of excrement ever committed to celluloid. They could have done
better by simply making a live-action version of that multi-part
episode of the cartoon where Shipwreck wakes up with amnesia and is
married with a family and everything. Don’t look at me that way. You know which one I’m talking about.

— Zack Greinke made David Wright and Shane Victorino look really,
really bad. Too bad his talents are being wasted in Kansas City.

— I’m really mad at Ichiro for fouling off the pitch on which Carl
Crawford was trying to steal, because I wanted to see a Molina vs.
Crawford showdown. Nice play by Chase Utley’s in the hole throwing out
Crawford at second, however.

— Jumping to the sixth inning, I feel it’s time to note, once
again, that Adam Jones is the spitting image of Eric Davis. By the way,
the game was humming right along at that point. Just think: if it
didn’t take 50 minutes to get through the pregame show, everyone on the
East Coast could have gone to bed at a decent hour.

— Pujols finished 0-3 with what proved to be a costly error, but he
had a couple of gems on defense as well. Albert: You’ve been a fabulous
host for two days, but the Cards need you healthy and rested for the
second half, so please do absolutely nothing today except sit in a
lounge chair and read magazines.

— Pujols being interviewed by Eric Karros:

Karros: So, does the best player in the game get butterflies?

Pujols: I don’t think I’m the best player in the game.

Karros: Albert, we are men of action. Lies do not become us.

OK, that’s not really what Karros said, but he should have.

— Carl Crawford’s snag of Brad Hawpe’s would-be homer was sweet,
and of course, ended up earning him the MVP. Lost in that was the fact
that Tejada nailed the next pitch off of Papelbon to the wall as well.
Buck called Papelbon “automatic” but he’s kind of scary if you ask me,
even if he is effective.

— Heath Bell is just a ridiculous oversized puppy dog of a human
being. He’s big and choppy and sloppy out there, like he’s with the
Gashouse Gorillas or something. Oh, and he gave up a triple to Curtis
Granderson. But let’s not blame Bell for that. Let’s blame Jayson
Werth, who failed to hit the cutoff man. If he had, Granderson possibly
stops at second or gets gunned down at third. Werth probably took the
roster slot that Matt Kemp should have had. One wonders if Kemp would
have missed the cutoff man.

— Granderson went on to score on the sac fly, making it 4-3 A.L.
with Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera waiting in the wings. It’s hindsight
now, but when I was watching last night I thought “uh-oh, game over.”

— And it was. Mariano Rivera entered the game in the ninth. The NL
knew what was coming and they couldn’t do anything about it:

— Upton grounded out . . .

— Hawpe struck out . . .

— Tejada popped out . . . ballgame.

The Upshot:

AL wins again, which is fairly depressing for an NL Fan like me.
Still, when you see Mariano Rivera closing it out, you have to
appreciate how the currents of history are flowing these days. In 50
years, people are going to think about the mid-90s to the late oughts
as a time when giants named Rivera and Jeter roamed the Earth, and
games like this one are going to help form the chronicle. To have
interlopers like Francisco Cordero and Brad Hawpe screw with that
narrative simply wouldn’t do, and NL fans have to accept that.

All in all a good game. Brisk. No silliness about everyone getting
playing time. Joe Maddon left three position players on the bench:
Carlos Pena, Nelson Cruz and Chone Figgins. Manuel left Hunter Pence
and Freddy Sanchez. Each had multiple pitchers left. At no point did it
feel like a Little League game, which is more than I can say for some
of the past few years. It felt like real baseball and looked like real
baseball. I don’t have any complaints.

Now, if we can manage through one more day without baseball, we’ll all be OK.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.