And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 12, Cubs 5: Pedro Martinez wasn’t spectacular in his
2009 debut, but he was effective enough and showed that he still
belonged on a Major League mound (5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 5K). I was most
impressed by his first inning strikeout of Jake Fox where, after
consistently hitting 88 on the gun with his fastball to start off the
game, he ratcheted it up to 92 on strike three. That’s useful. One
wonders if it wouldn’t be more useful in the pen, but that’s something
we’ll figure out over the next couple of weeks. Jeff Samardzija made
his first start and it wasn’t pretty, as he gave up seven runs on eight
hits in 3.1 innings. Oh, and some dumb rich kid showered Shane
Victorino with beer as he caught a fly ball. No word on whether
Victorino picked up a rock and made a nice-sized dent in the fan’s
life-sized Hot Wheels car after the game. So what else do you want to
hear, I’m out of stories.

Braves 6, Nationals 2: It’s a lot of fun for me to watch the Braves win like this. Now if only Philly and Colorado will cooperate by losing a bit.

Rockies 8, Pirates 0: That’s not what I mean when I ask for cooperation. Ubaldo Jimenez makes short work of the Pirates (8IP, 3 H, 0 ER).

Twins 7, Royals 1: Brian Bannister gets shelled (6 IP, 9 H, 7
ER) and Francisco Liriano had his best start in, like, forever (7 IP, 3
H, 1 ER, 8K). Most of the damage against Bannister came in the first,
when the Twins hit four straight singles off of him, followed by a home
run. Bannister tried to explain to the Twins that all but the homer was
the result of an unusual run of BABIP luck, but they insisted on
celebrating anyway. Ignoramuses.

Giants 4, Dodgers 2: Juan Uribe wins it on a walkoff homer in
the 10th, though if it wasn’t for a bad call at first base that led to
a Dodger run, it would have ended in the ninth. There was some pushing
and shoving early in this one, but no Youkilis-Porcello moments. Which
is sad, because the inside pitch that caused the ire was to Pablo
Sandoval, and I would have liked to see his kung-fu in action.

Mets 6, Diamondbacks 4: Jon Rauch got pissed at the ump over
what he felt to be a shrinking strike zone in the eighth and charged in
to argue with him. Manager A.J. Hinch came out to protect his pitcher
and Rauch shoved him aside. “He really didn’t hold me back too much,
and I went and apologized for manhandling him.” You just can’t buy that
kind of respect from your subordinates. It has to be earned.

Red Sox 8, Tigers 2: Despite a fairly big series against the
Rangers this weekend, Youkilis began serving his suspension, and thus
sat this one out. Probably a good idea, though, because (a) the Sox
have approximately 347 guys who play first or third; and (b) who’s to
say the Tigers wouldn’t have thrown at him again? Josh Beckett goes
seven innings giving up two runs and notching his 14th win. I’m getting
this funny feeling that they’re going to give him the Cy Young award
this year despite the fact that there are several starting pitchers
more deserving. It just feels like a “look at the wins!” kind of year.

Rangers 5, Indians 0: Strike that — reverse it. Tommy Hunter
continues to impress (7.2 IP, 6 H. 0 ER 5K) and Josh Hamilton goes 3-4
with a couple of doubles as the Rangers replicate the Indians 5-0 win
from the previous night.



Cardinals 5, Reds 2: Chris Carpenter (7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 10K)
shuts down the Reds. A line drive off of Homer Bailey’s foot shuts down
Homer Bailey after throwing only 12 pitches. Pujols hit his 38th homer.
Matt Holliday goes 3 for 4.

Angels 10, Rays 5: Not a lot of pitching to be found here, as
the teams combine for 24 hits. From the Angels side it had to do with
the fact that Trevor Bell was making his major league debut. Rob wasn’t as impressed as the Angels’ announcers.
Bell wasn’t all that impressed with the majesty of the Major Leagues:
“But just talking to the veteran guys, they said the game is no
different up here. Just more people and better speakers.”

Athletics 6, Orioles 3: The A’s finish up their
28-games-in-28-days stretch with a victory, resulting in a 14-14
record. In August 1990 I worked 28 straight days at the radio station
without a day off. All 11pm-6am shifts. I was pretty whipped by the end
of that stretch, and it was all I could do to read the station ID at
the top of the hour without slurring my speech or falling asleep. I
guess what I’m saying is that the A’s can declare victory with that
14-14.

Astros 14, Marlins 6: Hunter Pence had two homers — both of
them three-run jobs — and Ricky Nolasco continues to make people
wonder why he was such a hot fantasy property back in March (3.1 IP, 8
H, 10 ER).

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3: A costly victory for the Yankees as
Jeter, Rodriguez and Posada all got beaten up by hit or pitched balls,
and Mariano Rivera didn’t even hang around for the game due to a
“cranky arm,” whatever the hell that means. They got a bit of a cushion
now, though, so they can give some guys a day off here or there.

Mariners 1, White Sox 0: Ken Griffey Jr. has had a rather poor
(presumably) final year in the majors, but he get a nice near-the-end
highlight here, singling home the game’s only run in the bottom of the
14th. I mentioned Josh Beckett’s Cy Young chances before. Among the
guys with better cases but who likely won’t get near the support are
Felix Hernandez, who threw seven shutout innings with ten strikeouts to
lower his ERA to 2.72. Mark Buehrle had a good game too — his first
since the perfecto — shutting Seattle out over eight.

Padres 6, Brewers 5: The new-look Brewers lose to a Padres team
that has won 5 of 6. After the game, Doug Melvin demoted Prince
Fielder, released Ryan Braun, fired Ken Macha and had three of every
five stadium vendors killed. Dude doesn’t mess around.

Marlins’ Dee Gordon says he unknowingly took PEDs

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon looks into his dugout after reaching third on a double by teammate Marcell Ozuna during the third inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. The Cardinals won 4-3. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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MIAMI (AP) Reigning NL batting champion Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins says he unknowingly took the performance-enhancing drugs that led to his 80-game suspension, but he’ll accept the penalty.

The announcement of the suspension by Major League Baseball came shortly after the Marlins’ victory at Los Angeles on Thursday night. MLB said Gordon tested positive for exogenous testosterone and clostebol.

“Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances,” Gordon said in a statement released Friday by the players union. “The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization, and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this.

“I made a mistake and I accept the consequences.”

The 28-year-old Gordon led the majors in hits and stolen bases last year. He batted .333, became an All-Star for the second time and won a Gold Glove at second base.

The big season helped him earn a $50 million, five-year contract he signed in January.

He and Marlins manager Don Mattingly were together with the Dodgers for four years, but Gordon didn’t become a regular in Los Angeles until 2014. Gordon was traded to Miami in a seven-player deal in December 2014, and Mattingly became the Marlins’ manager this season.

“Dee is always a guy we felt could play, but at that point he was 145 pounds soaking wet,” Mattingly said during spring training. “Now he has turned into a man. He has put some physical strength on him, and he’s a different player.”

Following the suspension announcement, Mattingly said the Marlins will continue to support Gordon.

“I feel like Dee’s one of my kids, to be honest with you, because I’ve known him so long,” Mattingly said.

Shortly before the penalty was announced, Gordon hit an RBI single in the seventh inning and scored after forcing a balk as the Marlins rallied for a 5-3 win and a four-game sweep over Los Angeles.

Gordon became the seventh player to be suspended this year under the MLB drug plan. Last week, Toronto slugger Chris Colabello was penalized 80 games after testing positive for a PED.

Miami President David Samson said the Marlins “completely support the drug prevention program in every way.”

“Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him,” Samson said. “That said, I don’t like or condone what he did.

“He will be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization,” he added. “But in the interim period, we expect him, and we are positive that he will do everything that’s necessary to make it up to his fans, to his teammates and to this organization.”

The speedy Gordon is the son of former All-Star pitcher Tom Gordon.

The MLBPA continues to shoot itself in the foot regarding PEDs

Tony Clark
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Most players are adamantly anti-PEDs now. Unlike their complicit or passive predecessors, today’s players don’t, for the most part, accept PEDs as just part of the game. They’re competitors and they see PED use as their competition cheating. They consider these guys to be taking money and service time away from other players. They are legitimately angry about it. And they should be.

But the manner in which they have expressed that anger — publicly, emotionally or by being quoted at length by baseball’s top writer calling for draconian punishments — is neither the best way to address their concerns about PED use in the game nor is it in their best interests in a larger sense. Indeed, it undermines their interests and sets them up to be taken advantage of by the owners both with respect to PEDs and other matters which affect their lives and their livelihoods.

PED rules and every other rule which affect the circumstances of baseball players are the subject of collective bargaining. It’s union stuff, negotiated with ownership. And it’s a zero sum game. You make a concession, you get something in return. If you give up something for nothing, you get nothing. It’s like any other sort of negotiation. If you cease to treat it as one, you lose your leverage to get what you want. You get no points whatsoever for your personal virtue, your public position and what people not party to the negotiation think of you. Players loudly and publicly proclaiming their desire for the harshest possible PED penalties are like a man in midlife crisis walking into a Porsche dealership wearing a shirt that says “I will not leave here without a red 718 Boxter.”

Ownership knows that the players will agree to anything and will even put the anything on the table themselves. And they’ll take maximal advantage of the players. For example, maybe the players are in favor of a contract-voiding provision in the narrow case of PED use. Maybe they see it as something confined solely to drug situations. The owners could jump at that knowing full well that, for the first time, the union has caved some on the critical concept of guaranteed contracts in baseball and will use that as a basis to make further inroads later. Maybe the players want to suspend players pending their drug test appeal. The owners will nod and privately acknowledge that players will, in the right cases, negotiate away their due process protections. Once a party caves on something, even if it’s a broad concept, it’s extraordinarily difficult for them to later present a credible defense to that concept or to claim that it is sacrosanct.

At the same time, maybe there are things the players can actually GAIN if they’re more guarded in their approach. Many acknowledge that PED use is, at least in part, a function of players trying to keep their bodies together over the long grind of the baseball season. Meanwhile, players would love more off-days and changes to the schedule. Why not link these issues and, in exchange for some harsher penalties, force the owners to give them some schedule relief? Why not get something they want and need in exchange for giving something up? It’s an ideal situation for a party to a negotiation and it’s a situation lost if one spends months before the negotiation making it clear that they’ll freely give away something that would otherwise have to be paid for.

None of which is to say that the players cannot or should not try to get exactly what they want, up to and including, I dunno, an instant death penalty for PED users if they feel it’s necessary. It’s to say that, to get that, they have to be unified. They have to agree on a strategy to get what they want and execute it the same way every other strategy is executed in these situations. There is no negotiating strategy that has ever been helped by loudly signaling to your adversary what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Being guarded about what it is you value and how you value it in the context of a negotiation does not mean that you don’t value it. Demanding that the owners compensate you for an increased PED sanction does not mean that you’re pro-PEDs.

I look at Justin Verlander‘s public comments and the comments of other players who are angry at PED users and I understand where that anger comes from. But I also know that, if Marvin Miller or Don Fehr were running the union today, those comments would be made in communications with union leadership and fellow players for the purposes of developing a strategy, not in public for the purposes of venting anger. They would form the basis of a consensus with which a unified MLBPA could approach ownership in a way best calculated to accomplish the players’ goals. As I put it rather crudely on Twitter this morning, if players in Miller and Fehr’s day spoke publicly in a way that undermined the MLBPA’s negotiation leverage, they’d end up in body bags.

This morning I wonder what Tony Clark is doing to address the legitimate anger of players like Justin Verlander. Does he have their confidence that he can accomplish what they want to accomplish with respect to harsher PED penalties? Are their public comments actually frustration by players at what they perceive to be a union which doesn’t value their concerns? Or, alternatively, are the players simply not as invested in the sort of unanimity of voice that all unions require to be successful? And if so, why not? Is it because they’re complacent or has MLBPA leadership simply not done as good a job explaining to them the real consequences of a failure of solidarity?

Dee Gordon‘s suspension is not, in and of itself, a big deal. But it could have some big repercussions. The MLBPA and its membership had best be on the same page, publicly and privately, if they want to ride out the repercussions and shape their future in a way that best serves their interests. As opposed to the interests of ownership which, in the context of the CBA, is their adversary, even if their interests often coincide.

Dee Gordon’s suspension is likely to lead to a call for harsher PED penalties

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Associated Press
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Objectively speaking there is no difference between Dee Gordon’s suspension for PEDs and anyone else’s. Abraham Almonte, for example. Or Cameron Maybin. Or David Rollins. All were guys who got their 80 games, served their time, came back and whose cases didn’t raise too much of a fuss. But Gordon’s suspension will almost certainly be talked about longer and more loudly and will likely lead to calls for harsher penalties and changes to the PED suspension rules.

Part of it is simply fame. He’s a pretty big name as far as these things go. The biggest since the Biogenesis guys a couple of years ago. He won the batting title last year. He’s the son of a famous major leaguer. There is a direct correlation between the volume and intensity of the narratives applied to one’s story and the fame of the subject of the story. For that reason alone Gordon’s story will last longer and loom larger.

Another reason — a bigger reason, I think — is timing. Gordon was seen by many to have had a breakout season in 2015 and, when it was over, he was rewarded for it with a nice five-year $50 million deal. The narrative will arise by, oh, 9AM today, that the suspension was “worth it” for Gordon and that he cashed in because of it, rendering his suspension a mere slap on the wrist. This is especially true given that his deal is severely backloaded. He’ll lose less than $2 million in salary in 2016 while collecting the other $48 million-plus. Totally worth it!

I understand why people will say that, but such a stance has some serious flaws. Among them:

  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows when Gordon began to take PEDs;
  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows how, in fact, Gordon’s performance was actually enhanced;
  • It forgets that lots and lots of people were talking about how Gordon’s “breakout season” was actually 2014, not 2015, rendering that whole “he juiced and then got his money” argument fairly problematic.

Those points will likely be ignored as arguments in favor of harsher penalties grow louder. Ken Rosenthal reminds us this morning that some have called for some form of contract voiding or clawing back of more money than just the salary earned while on suspension. Those calls too will likely grow louder. There will also be calls for changes in the appeal process. Like this one, which came moments after Gordon’s suspension was announced:

When you have an actual union member angrily call for the repeal of a collectively-bargained protection in punishment situations, you’re sort of through the looking glass. Or past a tipping point. Or something. You’re certainly in a world where the usual dynamics between employer and employee are not operative and, as a result, changes are inevitable. As we noted recently, players today are perhaps more adamantly anti-PED than the owners and the league are. They’re competitors reacting to cheating by their competition. The fuel for stronger penalties is likely to come more from them than anyone.

The union and the league will be negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this year. Performance enhancing drugs and their penalties will be a part of that. Expect harsher penalties and possibly different sorts of rules altogether. Expect Dee Gordon to be the poster child for these changes, even if his case is no different in form than that of Abraham Almonte, Cameron Maybin, or David Rollins. Expect emotion, rather than logic, to lead the coming debate.

And That Happened: Thursdays scores and highlights

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, right, is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers after earning a save during a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Braves defeated the Red Sox 5-3. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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Gonna mail this one in this morning. Partially because of the light slate of games yesterday, partially because of a late night for me but mostly because of the Dee Gordon news which has me thinking of a lot of other things I want to write about this AM.

It’s worth noting that the Braves won a game. It comes just ahead of a series at Wrigley against the Cubs, so the winning streak will likely last a single day, but the 2016 Braves have to take what they can get.

The Marlins had a notable night outside the Gordon news too, finishing off a sweep of the Dodgers, which had to make Don Mattingly happy. For what it’s worth, Gordon singled in a run and then came around to score in the seventh. His RBI tied it and the run he scored ended up being the one necessary for the Marlins’ margin of victory. That means nothing, but you know some jackwagons are gonna make a big deal out of that and I figured I’d get ahead of the jackwagons and note that, yes, Gordon and the Marlins knew what was coming before it was announced because that’s how the appeals process works, but no, it makes no difference, because that’s how the appeals process works.

Anyway: Here are the rest of the scores:

Tigers 7, Athletics 3
Cubs 7, Brewers 2
Phillies 3, Nationals 0
Orioles 10, White Sox 2
Braves 5, Red Sox 3
Diamondbacks 3, Cardinals 0
Marlins 5, Dodgers 3
Pirates vs. Rockies — POSTPONED
: In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand. And an aching in my heart, and my pockets full of sand. I’m a long way from home, and I miss my loved one so. In the early morning rain with no place to go.