And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1: I guess I owe Kevin Kernan an apology. Apparently the Yankees were waiting for A-Rod to get his 600th home run before the team would focus on winning baseball games again. He did it, they won, Kernan was right, Q.E.D.

Twins 2, Rays 1: And hey, the Yankees now own first place again thanks to the Rays loss. This one went 13 innings, though the Rays didn’t score their first run until Dan Johnson hit an RBI single off Matt Capps in the bottom of the ninth to send it into extras, blowing an excellent start for Scott Baker. But a win, as they say, is a win. Well, except for Scott Baker. That dude just doesn’t know how to win I guess.

Dodgers 9, Padres 0: Vicente Padilla with the two-hit shutout as the Dodgers take their second in a row from San Diego. This guy is turning into Livan Hernandez part deux: when he’s hit hard you totally understand it and when he’s hardly touched at all it almost drives you nuts.

Braves 8, Mets 3: The Mets throw the ball all over the field during what many Mets fans were saying on Twitter last night was the night they officially fell out of contention. I don’t know about that, but it certainly feels like it.  Not that (a) the Braves looked good either; or (b) the news was all good for them. But hey, Chipper hit another homer against the Mets, so a pretty strong sense of normalcy remains.

Phillies 7, Marlins 2:  Three RBI for Domonic Brown, though they came in less than glamorous fashion: a single, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice. But hey, they’re runs.

Cardinals 8, Astros 4: Single, double and a homer for Albert Pujols and seven and a third strong innings from Chris Carpenter. As for the Astros, J.A. Happ didn’t exactly make anyone forget about Roy Oswalt last night (1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 3 BB). On the bright side, the Houston bullpen allowed only one run in the next eight innings.

Indians 9, Red Sox 1: The Indians are 12-8 since the All-Star break. This is good. It will cause people to once again make them their “frisky pick” next spring, however. This is bad. For the sake of prognosticators and spring training optimists everywhere, Manny Acta, tank the rest of the season! Cleveland sports fans can’t afford to have their hopes — however irrational they may be — crushed again!

Orioles 9, Angels 7: Torii Hunter hit an RBI double in the ninth to bring the Angels to within two. Then, with no one out and the tying run at the plate, he tried to steal third and was thrown out.  On what planet does a guy try to steal third base with nobody out in the ninth inning, down by two?

Cubs 15, Brewers 3: I’ll stop saying that the NL Central is a rec softball league on a night when one of their teams doesn’t put up a couple of touchdowns on an in-division opponent. Jesus, this is ugly baseball.

Rockies 6, Giants 1: Even if I don’t think the Rockies have enough go-go to their game right now to get back into the race in the NL West, Ubaldo Jimenez’s season has at least given Rockies fans something worth following. He picked up his 17th win, striking out nine and allowing only one run over seven innings. He also scored all the way from first base on a Ryan Spilborghs double in the second innings, so the kid’s got stamina too. Must be all that good food his mama makes him.

White Sox 4, Tigers 1: Edwin Jackson was kind of the white elephant of the trade deadline. No matter what he says now, Kenny Williams did not intend to be stuck with him, but stuck he was after the Nationals decided that they only liked Jackson, not like-liked him. Having him paid off like crazy last night, though, as Jackson allowed only one run in seven innings. Only threw 95 pitches too, which is very un-Edwinlike.

Reds 9, Pirates 4: Heard this: Johnny Cueto owns a little shadowbox in which he stores and displays the Pirates’ butts, which he so thoroughly owns. He’s 3-0 against them this season, having allowed only four runs in 26 innings while striking out 27.

Athletics 4, Royals 3: Jose Guillen is 0 for his last 21. Which makes me
wonder why in the hell I listed him in my little “guys who could be
traded after clearing waivers” segment on HBT Daily yesterday. The
lesson, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

Nationals 7, Diamondbacks 2: Two homers and four RBI for Adam Dunn, who (a) is now the sole home run leader in the NL; and (b) is making himself a lot of money in this next contract.

Rangers 11, Mariners 6: A win on the field and an even bigger win in the courthouse. Grand slams for Michael Young and Chuck Greenberg.

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.