And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Tigers 4, Royals 3:

The crowd began to rise, and clap, waiting for Michigan’s most iconic sports broadcaster to walk out to home plate to say good-bye. Slowly, the applause floated out onto the field, peaking as Harwell strode out from the tunnel behind home plate, walked past the gates and out onto the grass.

He thrust his arms into the sky as the noise washed over him. Standing before a solitary microphone with no one on the diamond but the umpires, the old voice of the Tigers raised his arms once more and quieted the crowd . . .

. . . “You Tiger fans are the greatest fans of them all,” he finished. “Thank you for your support, your loyalty and your love.”

Then he strolled back off the field. His ears filled with chanting:

“Ernie! Ernie! Ernie!”

Rockies 4, Giants 3: I’ll leave this one to Neyer, who got to watch this one from the press box: “. . . in the Hierarchy of Horribles, if you’re a Giants fan, losing to Jorge de la Rosa — being practically shut out by Jorge de la Rosa, then coming oh so close in the ninth inning — and having to play that schedule, and having a lineup full of struggling hitters … well, that’s gotta be pretty close to the top.”

Orioles 4, Rays 2: Losing all of these games isn’t ugly enough for you Rays fans? How about a nice shouting match between your left fielder and DH in the clubhouse before the game? And lo, Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, making it clear now that the last four months have merely been a test of our faith. I never doubted you, Matt! And I’d like to remind you, that as a trusted Internet personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in your underground sugar caves.

Athletics 4, Rangers 0: This is the way the Rangers’ playoff hopes end. This is the way the Rangers’ playoff hopes end. This is the way the Rangers’ playoff hopes end. Not with a bang but a whimper (sorry, T.S.).

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 4: One HBP — Shawn Camp on Melky Cano — but everyone kept their powder dry. Francisco Cervelli — who probably isn’t in this game if Posada didn’t get suspended — hit the game winning RBI in the ninth.

Phillies 6, Nationals 1: Ryan Howard stole second base on the front end of a double steal in which Chase Utley stole home. As for Howard: Whoa. Nice wheels, big guy. As for Utley: There should probably be some sort of fielder’s choice kind of scoring decision for that kind of thing, because that’s just really not a steal of home as far as I’m concerned. Jayson Werth hit a grand slam. The Phillies actually allowed a run.

Dodgers 3, Pirates 1: Man, Pittsburgh will cure what ailes you, won’t they? Ronnie Belliard was 3 for 3 with a homer and two runs scored for cryin’ out loud. A Wednesday day-game sellout for L.A. FYI: it wasn’t the Pirates that spiked the fan interest.

Red Sox 9, Angels 8: The Angels led by one entering the ninth. Boston loads the bases and Nick Green comes in to pinch hit for Casey Kotchman. Fuentes gets two strikes on him, and then Green checks his swing on what would have been strike three. At least the umps say he did — Mike Scioscia disagreed. Fuentes and Green battle until the count is full. The payoff: low, ball four, tying run walks in. Adam Kilgore at the Globe said “If it really was low, it was low by half a millimeter. Scioscia is enraged.” Alex Gonzalez comes up, hits a bloop single to win the game.

Reds 6, Astros 5: How on Earth can you give up eleven hits, five of which were home runs, and not lose the game? Ask Justin Lehr. I imagine he’d start by telling you to only walk one dude. His next idea would be to tell you to make sure you’ve got a good bullpen like the Reds have so they can bail your tater givin’ up butt with four innings of shutout relief. Hal McCoy was honored before the game, which was a nice move by the Reds.

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 5: Luis Durango, who was making his first big league start, hit an infield single to lead off the 10th inning, then stole second, and then beat the throw home on a single to win it. In other news, “Luis Durango” is a fabulous ballplayer name.

Brewers 9, Cubs 5: Alcides Escobar went 4 for 5 with three RBI. Brewers fans may want to turn their attention to the Packers these days, but watching this guy come up and work to figure it out is the kind of thing that they should really take the time to savor in the waning days of 2009.

Marlins 5, Cardinals 2: Josh Johnson gave up nine hits but allowed just one run and struck out nine in six innings. The Marlins somehow continue to hang around, sitting four back of Colorado.

Twins 7, Indians 3: The Twins win, they’re four and a half back, and they face a Tigers team this weekend that can be had. Really early in the season I talked about how the Twins always seem to hang around. This is what I meant.

Mariners 4, White Sox 1: Mike Carp hit his first major league home run. Then: “When the game ended, Carp was given a beer shower and had an ice cream pie shoved in his face by a couple of the veterans.” Ice cream? Original, I guess. Question: why is that there are always pie plates hanging around major league clubhouses? Are they seriously making pie part of the standard post game spread? These are the kind of things that keep me up all night obsessing.

Braves 6, Mets 5: The Braves come from behind and win the game on a Daniel “I have no business playing any defensive position” Murphy error in the ninth.  That’s six straight.  Derek Lowe left the game with a blister on his finger after playing the 18th take of “Helter Skelter.” 

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.