And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Braves 4, Giants 2: “Ladies and gentlemen: the part of Tim Lincecum will be performed tonight by Jair Jurrjens.” (7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 9K).

A’s 16, Twins 1: The A’s scored so much so early that starter
Trevor Cahill had to run down to the bullpen to warm up again while his
teammates were up to bat. Or maybe the fact that they were actually
scoring like this just blew his effing mind and he needed some alone
time to get it together. This is like a fortnight’s worth of offense
for this team. Yeah, forsooth I said fortnight.

Nationals 3, Mets 1: Bad: the Mets losing two of three to the
Nats. Worse: rumor has it that, after the game, V.P. of player
development Tony Bernazard drove a Cadillac into the hotel swimming
pool, blew up a toilet with cherry bombs, and challenged the security
staff to an “I quit” match, Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A.-style.
Bernazard is expected to be fired later this week, and replaced by
either former Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones or by Lex Luger.

Dodgers 6, Reds 2: Pinch hit grand slam for Manny in the sixth
to break a 2-2 tie! Wow! Oh, wait, I forgot: We’re not supposed to be
enjoying this. Bad Manny. Bad, bad, bad. You have ruined baseball.

Yankees 6, Orioles 4: The Bombers are rolling. If you don’t
believe it, just read the game stories which talk about how they’ve won
six in a row, 16 of their last 19, 19 of their last 26, LVII of their
last XCIV, etc. I’m sure there are other ways that could be expressed,
but I don’t know how to do exponents and quadratic equations and all of
that stuff.

Blue Jays 10, Indians 6: I’m glad I didn’t stick with that
“Major League”-quote-until-a-three-game-winning-streak gag from a few
weeks ago, because I’d be out of material and moving on to the Tony
Danza version of “Angels in the Outfield” by now. And man, between the
Indians putridity and the sense of foreboding surrounding the Jays at
the deadline, this series is more depressing than watching “Requiem for
a Dream” while listening to a Morrissey box set.

Rangers 3, Red Sox 1: Don’t worry, Red Sox Nation. Chris Duncan
will be there in time for Friday’s game against the Orioles and make
all the hurtin’ go away. And how is it that Buchholz was so dominating
in Pawtucket but can’t avoid throwing 90 pitches in four innings in the
bigs? Do they just offer up at any weak, nibbling crap down in the
International League, or is he pitching scared?

Astros 4, Cardinals 3: If Chris Carpenter thinks he was betrayed by his bullpen, just wait until he has Julio Lugo playing behind him in five days.

Mariners 2, Tigers 1: Felix Hernandez bottles up the Tigers (7
IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8K) and Russell Branyan hits a two-run homer in the
eighth to take a close one. Also, as my CTB homey Matt Casey noted yesterday,
David Aardsma is pretty Aawesome. On the year he has converted 23 of 25
saves, has an ERA of 1.79 and has struck out 55 in 45.1 IP.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 3: From the “fast facts” section of ESPN’s version of the game story:
“Todd Helton’s 11th homer of the season and 500th double of his career
carried the Rockies. Helton joined Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth
and Ted Williams as the only players with 500 doubles, 320 homers and a
.325 batting average since 1900.” Talk about trying to make a good
player seem better than he is via selective endpoints. I haven’t seen
that much gerrymandering since Patrick Henry and the Anti-Federalists
drew the boundaries of Virginia’s 5th Congressional district in such a
way as to keep James Madison out of the House of Representatives in
1788!

White Sox 4, Rays 3: Chad Bradford had a line that you don’t see
every day: 0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0K, 0 pitches. Unfortunately it was
because he hurt himself after he was announced but before he completed
throwing his warm-up pitches. An Alexi Ramirez triple followed by a
Jermaine Dye RBI single in the seventh was the difference maker for the
Sox.

Marlins 5, Padres 0: I think they scheduled this one as a
matinee simply so I wouldn’t mail in the recap as I so often do with
the late games. Probably should have kept it a night game, San Diego,
because now that I have more time and alertness to comment on this
tilt, I can truly focus on just how wretched a club you have become.
Three hits. All singles. Ten strikeouts. Barf. Yet they were still in
the game until the late innings. At least until the bullpen coughed up
three more runs. Man, if only they had a moderately effective reliever
to help out. Oops.
Well, trades mean tradeoffs, right? Oops, the guy they got for Meredith
didn’t even play. The Padres are 12-33 since the first of June, which
is the worst in baseball. I repeat: for nearly half of the season, the
Padres have been worse than the Nats and the Royals.

Cubs 10, Phillies 6: The Phillies Phinally lose. “Zambrano
pitched well. He had good stuff,” Piniella said after the game. OK,
Lou, whatever you say (6.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 BB). I guess if you win you
had “good stuff” by definition?

Pirates 8, Brewers 7: Who the hell is Adam LaRoche? Garrett
Jones: 3-4, HR; Andy LaRoche: 1-3, 2B, RBI. The fans are happy. His
brother kept it together. They’ll all soldier on somehow.

Angels 9, Royals 6: Do you get full credit for a big rally when
it comes against the Royals? I mean, first you have to fall behind this
pathetic team, and that’s kind of embarrassing, and knocking around
this bullpen to erase the deficit is easier than knocking around any
other bullpen. I guess what I’m saying is that we need some kind of
handicapping system here.

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams homered in the 16th inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night for St. Louis’ season-best fifth straight victory.

It was the second consecutive game that the Cardinals won in their final at-bat. They beat the Padres on Thursday after scoring a run in the ninth inning.

Adams homer came with one out off Bud Norris (5-9), who gave up six runs as a starter in an 8-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

Seth Maness (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for St. Louis, which was playing its longest game of the season.

Jedd Gyorko hit a two-out homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to tie the game 3-3.

Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick homered for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has lost four of six. The red-hot Turner has seven homers and 17 RBI this month. He hit two homers in a 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday.

Turner blasted his career-high 18th homer of the season off Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Corey Seager had four hits and drove in the first run of the game. He had hit in seven successive at-bats before flying out in the ninth.

Kendrick’s solo shot in the sixth tied the game 2-2. He has hit in 14 successive games trying Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the longest current streak in the majors.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy allowed one hit and two runs over 6 1-3 innings, the longest of his four starts this season. He left with leg cramps. McCarthy struck out four and walked three.

St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore recorded his 28th successive scoreless outing by retiring two of four batters in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 41 of 42 appearances this season.

Minor League Players’ Wage Suit against Major League Baseball suffers a huge setback

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East
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A judge handed minor leaguers looking to hold Major League Baseball liable for underpaying and exploiting them a huge setback today, ruling that the case cannot go forward as a class action. Minor leaguers who want to sue over their pay and treatment still can, but they’ll have to do it individually. The ruling saps the minor leaguers of their leverage, as Major League Baseball would likely be able to fend off individual cases which, by themselves, might only amount to several thousand dollars per claim.

The background: in 2014, former Miami Marlins player Aaron Senne sued Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three major league clubs claiming that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was later joined by former Royals minor leaguer Michael Liberto and Giants farmhand Oliver Odle. Eventually others joined and the suit had been expanded to 22 teams as defendants.

The upshot of the case is that, while the minor league season lasts only part of the year, players are required to do all sorts of things outside of merely playing games for which they are not compensated. Training, meetings, appearances and the like. When all of that time is added up, the players claim, their already low salaries are effectively far below minimum wage in violation of the law. Major League Baseball has countered this by claiming that minor leaguers are basically part time seasonal workers — like landscapers and pool boys — who are not subject to federal labor laws.

Last year the judge gave the case conditional certification, allowing the players to try to establish that it should go forward as a class action. This would streamline the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective and give them the power of collective action by asserting hundreds or more similar cases into one proceeding. The judge’s ruling today, however, was that the cases really weren’t factually similar and thus collective action was not appropriate because figuring out how many hours each player worked and what was required of him varied too greatly among the players.

From his order:

“The difficulties associated with determining what activities constitute ‘work’ in the context of winter training are compounded by the fact that there appear to be no official records documenting these activities. Because it may be impossible to determine from official records the types of conditioning activities in which the players engaged, membership in the state classes based on winter training would depend largely upon the players’ ability to remember, with a reasonable amount of detail, what they did during the off-season (often for multiple years and for many, several years in the past) to stay fit.”

The judge said that, in light of this, each case would be unique and would require “individualized inquiries” to find damages and liability. That phrase –“individualized inquiries” — constitutes magic words which sink would-be class actions. If a company overcharges all of its customers by $8 due to an error repeated a million times, it’s easy to look at one set of facts and judge them together. If you had to look at a million different wrongs, that’s no class action. And so it is not a class action for the players.

As many courts who have dealt with these sorts of cases have noted, for many plaintiffs, a class action is the only practical method of adjudicating Fair Labor Standards Act cases because individual plaintiffs are frequently unable to bear the costs of separate trials. They are, by definition, (allegedly) exploited workers. They’re not going to be able to pay legal costs and fight off a multi-billion dollar business in order to collect the few thousand dollars they were underpaid. At the same time, however, the defendants have rights too and, if the facts of each players’ treatment truly differ (e.g. the Yankees make their minor leaguers do more than the Brewers do) it’s not fair to bind one defendant’s defense to the acts of another.

So, where does this leave the players? Not dead. Not yet, at least. Their claims have not been dismissed on the merits. They have only been denied the right to act collectively. The individual plaintiffs can now file separate lawsuits against their former employers and Major League Baseball under the same theories. It would be harder to land a big blow in such a scenario, but if enough do, it could end up being death by a thousand cuts for the clubs and the league. Their legal fees might go up and, eventually, if they lose enough of these cases, more might be filed. There are a lot of former minor leaguers, after all, and once there’s some blood in the water, more of them — and their lawyers — may enter the frenzy. Decertification is certainly a win for the league right now, but it’s not necessarily a permanent win.

There are likewise some other quasi-collective forms this case could take such as multi-district litigation in which the cases, while individual, are coordinated in a loose fashion. That could lead to some efficiencies for suing players even if it’s not as robust as a class action.

We’ve written quite a bit about minor league pay and treatment in this space by now, so you probably know where we stand on it. We believe that minor leaguers are exploited and underpaid and we believe that Major League Baseball has been happy to exploit and underpay them for some time. Ultimately we believe that this state of affairs cannot and will not persist and that eventually, somehow, baseball will either see fit to pay its workers fairly or, more likely, will be forced to do so by a court or by collective bargaining of some fashion.

Today, however, was a big setback for the minor leaguers. Today’s ruling will give Major League Baseball and its clubs more time and more comfort in which to underpay them. There’s no doubt about it.