And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Francisco Rodrigues Jose Reyes.jpgMets 6, Yankees 4: I ain’t gonna lie to you: I was watching the “Lost”
finale, not Mets-Yankees. Kind of glad I missed this one too, because I just don’t think my senses could take something as implausible as the Mets taking 2 of 3 from the Bombers. Better off staying in the realm of the possible: magic tropical islands with polar bears and malevolent smoke monsters and all of that stuff.

Tigers 6, Dodgers 2: I think Jim Leyland misses the NL. In the ninth he
pinch hit Dontrelle Willis for Phil Coke, but then when Joe Torre
switched pitchers Leyland called back Willis and went with Adam Everett,
and then put on the old squeeze play to score Brandon Inge. He then did
six double switches, changed out the ballpark’s grass for Astroturf and
said that if you had any problem with that you can take it up with league
president Chub Feeney
.

Marlins
13, White Sox 0
: Brett Carroll stole second base with a 7-0 lead,
so Ozzie Guillen had Randy Williams plunk him. Says Ozzie: “I don’t know
what happened there. This is baseball, you have to
respect. I was up by eight a couple days ago, and that’s just the way we
learned how to play the game. We had to do something
about it, and we did. We just told the guy not to play like that.”  With
all due respect, Ozzie, your team is 18-25 and just had its ass handed
to it 13-0. No one is going to listen to you at this moment about “how
to play the game.”

Cardinals 6, Angels 5: A comeback win for the Cardinals. Albert Pujols
continues to slump, but was part of a double steal that put him on
second base and allowed him to score the tying run in the eighth inning.
“That was Albert reading and making it happen,” manager Tony La Russa
said.  “That quote was Tony La Russa trying to make up with Albert after
stupidly angering him by having guys steal in front of him like he did
on Saturday night
,” I said.

Padres 8, Mariners 1: Close until the eighth inning and then the Mariners bullpen blew up.  The Mariners scored 15 runs on Friday night, but scored one run a piece yesterday and Saturday, so they’re feeling much more like themselves now.

Athletics 3, Giants 0: Of course, the Mariners’ offense looks like freakin’ murderer’s row compared to the Giants, who scored one run in the entire three-game series with the Athletics. Not to take anything away from the A’s, but five pitchers combined on this shutout, and the fact that San Francisco couldn’t touch a single one of them tells you that it’s more about bad hitting than it is good pitching. Jonathan Sanchez received no run support for the fifth time in his nine starts, so he pretty much can punch whoever he wants in the Giants clubhouse right now.

Blue Jays 12, Diamondbacks 4: Just your standard five home run three-game series for Edwin Encarnacion, with three on Friday night and one each the last two games.  The Jays avoid the sweep.

Brewers 4, Twins 3: Trevor Hoffman returned and pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth inning. The Twins had tons of chances, but left boatloads of runners on base.

Rays 10, Astros 6: The Astros managed to score five runs in five inningss off AL ERA leader David Price, but the Tampa Bay bats bashed Houston to make up for it. The Rays are now 32-12, one game off the 2001 Mariners’ record at this point of the season. I’m not gonna say that the Rays will win 116 games, but I remember that 2001 season very well and this Rays team looks stronger in almost every facet of the game than the M’s did.

Rockies 11, Royals 7: Zack Greinke takes a lot of tough-luck losses. This was not one of them (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R).

Red Sox 8, Phillies 3: Roy Halladay can’t blame bad luck for yesterday’s game either (5.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R). Tim Wakefield, however, pitched eight scoreless.  Between that and what Dice-K did to them on Saturday, one could say that the Phillies may need to worry about their offense a bit.  Of course, one could also say that there aren’t two pitchers in baseball that screw with your timing more than the eminently deliberate Dice-K and the Knuckle Knuckle King, so maybe it was just one of those weekends.

Cubs 5, Rangers 4: The fact that Carlos Silva is 6-0 is far harder to believe than anything that ever happened on Lost.

Nationals 4, Orioles 3: Walkoff job for Josh Willingham. Drew Storen had a hit too, and is batting 1.000 on the season. If used conventionally, he may not have another plate appearance all year, thereby making him a total beast in all the video games next year. That is, if they haven’t improved the video games any since that old Lance Hafner simulation where a guy with a 1 for 1 career batting line will get a hit every single time he bats no matter what.

Indians 4, Reds 3: The Indians salvage one and stop their losing skid. Homer Bailey left this one early with tightness in his shoulder. Is someone about to be very, very wrong?

Pirates 3, Braves 2: Cox gives Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann the day off with expected results.

Bryce Harper reportedly wants a $400 million extension

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.

What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”

That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.

The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.

UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered:

At least one quarter of the Today’s Committee owed Bud Selig a solid

Bud Selig
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OXON HILL, MD — The 16-member committee that voted Bud Selig and John Schuerholz into the Hall of Fame — the “Today’s Game” Committee — consisted of the following members: Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bobby Cox, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Pat Gillick, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton, and Frank Thomas, major league owners/executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Phillies) and Kevin Towers (Reds); and media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt and Tim Kurkjian.

That’s certainly a venerable list of names. A quarter of that electorate, however, could be characterized as having a pretty notable conflict of interest when it comes to Bud Selig. At least if anyone cared about things like conflict of interest when it comes to baseball.

Whatever the case, two of those 16 guys became owners — and even more wealthier as a result — due to his affirmatively choosing or approving them to join sports’ most exclusive club. Two others were personally chosen by Selig to assist him over the years, raising their profile and importance in the game and giving them resume pieces that will one day be part of their own Hall of Fame cases.

  • Royals owner David Glass: Became the Royals CEO and Chairman in 1993, right after Selig became the acting commissioner. Glass was a key ally for Selig’s efforts to impose a salary cap and take a financial hard line in negotiations with the union, which eventually led to the 1994-95 strike. In 1999-2000 he became the full owner of the Royals after Selig personally stepped in to stop a bid for the club by a competing ownership group and is thus widely refereed to as Selig’s handpicked man. Glass is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served for decades.
  • Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr.: Bought his club in 1995, after Selig had taken over and thus would not be a baseball owner without Selig’s approval. DeWitt was a point man for Selig on a host of his pet projects, including the Wild Card and interleague play. He likewise led the charge for revenue sharing and other potentially divisive financial matters which tended to be in the interest of smaller market clubs, the sort of which Selig himself championed when he was a mere owner. DeWitt chaired the committee to find Selig’s successor, which eventually served to validate Selig’s desire to have his hand-picked choice, Rob Manfred, succeed him.
  • Phillies President Andy MacPhail: Selig’s handpicked choice for the labor negotiating committee in 2002 which, at the time, continued speculation that MacPhail would one day be on the short list to succeed Selig. A few years before that MacPhail was public in saying that Selig would be the right choice to become permanent commissioner at a time when many were concerned that a team owner assuming that role was a conflict of interest.
  • Former President of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston: In the late 90s, Beeston resigned as president of the Toronto Blue Jays following a successful reign to accepted baseball’s newly created position of president and chief operating officer. The move was widely seen as a means of giving Selig a top lieutenant — a defacto deputy commissioner — which would help him smooth his transition from acting commissioner to permanent commissioner. Many thought at the time that if Beeston was not hired for that gig, Selig may have declined the full-time commissioner’s role. Selig was described in the press at the time as a strong admirer of Beeston’s. In 2014, Beeston reflected glowingly on Selig’s legacy, saying, “I absolutely admire him on this steroid thing.” Beeston is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served.

Is there anything necessarily wrong with that? No. Baseball is a small world and Bud Selig existed in it for a long, long time, so having a relationship with Selig was pretty unavoidable for almost anyone with any sort of profile in the game. No technical rule or historical baseball norm was violated by virtue of this vote or the composition of the committee itself. Indeed, the old Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame was widely seen as a group of good old boys voting their old friends. Worth noting, perhaps, that that iteration of the Veterans Committee was abolished precisely for that reason, but I suppose we’ll leave that go for now.

I wonder, however, what the vote totals would have been for some of the other candidates if 25% of their electorate consisted of people who owed personal and professional debts to them the way Selig’s electorate owed him. Maybe Barry Bonds’ agent could get a Hall of Fame vote? Roger Clemens’ mechanic? Mark McGwire’s interior designer?

I suppose we’ll never know.