Live Blog: Rangers-Yankees ALCS Game 3


UPDATE: Feliz shuts down the Yankees 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, securing an 8-0 victory. Hey, Clay Rapada could have done that.

The Rangers now hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Joe Girardi has indicated otherwise, but I would be very surprised to see A.J. Burnett starting for the Bombers tomorrow.

Stay tuned for a post-game wrap-up from yours truly. As always, thanks for reading!

11:18 PM: The Rangers added another run on a wild pitch by Sergio Mitre and lead 8-0 going into the bottom of the ninth. If the huge lead didn’t make it obvious already, the handshakes and high-fives on the bench do. Cliff Lee’s night is officially over. Maybe he really is “The Scariest Thing Ever.” Very surprised to see Neftali Feliz coming on to pitch, but this is Ron Washington we’re talking about here.

11:08 PM: And David Robertson is done. Elvis Andrus just doubled over the outstretched glove of Nick Swisher, scoring Bengie Molina from second base. The Rangers have plated five runs so far in the top of the ninth and lead 7-0. Yankee Stadium now looks like Citi Field in September.

11:06 PM: Mitch Moreland just added two more with a double just inside the first base line. The Yankee Stadium faithful — or at least the ones in the expensive seats — are headed to the exits. I think Cliff Lee can probably keep his jacket on.

11:05 PM: Bengie Molina tacks on another one with an RBI single off Robertson. It’s 4-0 and the bases are still loaded.

11:01 PM: Nelson Cruz just singled in Josh Hamilton from third, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead. The ball was hit awful hard, but the speedy Julio Borbon managed to go first to third.

10:53 PM: Josh Hamilton just snuck one into the left center field gap and is now standing on second base with a leadoff double. Potentially valuable insurance. Boone Logan out, David Robertson in.

10:49 PM: Wow. Cliff Lee now has 13 strikeouts — tying his career-high — through eight shutout innings. Perhaps of more importance, he has thrown 122 pitches. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse points out, his career-high for pitches in a game — including postseason and regular season — is 124. The ninth inning is going to be a very tough call for Ron Washington.

10:44 PM: Cliff Lee just struck out Jorge Posada looking to begin the bottom of the eighth. He now has 12 strikeouts on the night — a new personal postseason best.

10:39 PM: Kerry Wood retired the Rangers in order in the top of the eighth on a couple pop-ups and a groundball. Cliff Lee is slated to face Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner in the bottom of the eighth. Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells us that “The Darrens” are up in the bullpen for the Rangers.

10:34 PM: Kerry Wood is in for the Yankees in the top of the eighth. Andy Pettitte is done for the night after giving up two runs on five hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked none. For those just tuning in, the difference in this game was a two-run shot by Josh Hamilton in the top of the first.

10:31 PM: Cliff Lee just struck out Marcus Thames — again — to end the bottom of the seventh. Thames came into tonight’s game with 15 strikeouts in 36 career at-bats against Cliff Lee. Tonight, he’s 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. That’s a sample size we can probably rely on.

10:19 PM: Alex Rodriguez just made a diving stop of a ground ball hit by Bengie Molina to end the top of the seventh inning. Any other human would have beat it out, but this is Bengie Molina we’re talking about here. Credit where it’s due: It took a great pick by Mark Teixeira to make it happen.

10:12 PM: Cliff Lee got Mark Teixeira to ground out to end the bottom of the sixth inning, stranding Brett Gardner at third base. Elvis Andrus actually bobbled the ball on the transfer, but still had enough time to get him.

Lee now has 10 strikeouts through six innings tonight. He has reached double digits in strikeouts in three straight starts so far this postseason. If that sounds pretty special, you’re right. No other pitcher has done something like that before.

10:04 PM: The Yankees finally have a runner in scoring position, as Gardner swipes second base. The ball got away from Elvis Andrus, but Gardner was unable to advance.

10:00 PM: Brett Gardner just led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center field. He dove into first base, just out of habit. Kidding.

9:58 PM: Pettitte just struck out Vlad Guerrero looking to end the top of the sixth. He’s now at 100 pitches for the night. Yes, pitching counts are largely irrelevant in the postseason — yet we still obsess over them —  but it’s worth noting that these are the most pitches the veteran left-hander has thrown in a game since July 8.

9:54 PM: Josh Hamilton just fell short of his second two-run homer of the game. I’m not sure whether to be impressed by Hamilton’s power, hitting it off the end of his bat, or disturbed by how much of a joke right field in Yankee Stadium is.

9:50 PM: Michael Young singles again. He has three of the Rangers’ four hits tonight.

9:45 PM: Curtis Granderson strikes out swinging, stranding Jorge Posada at first base. Cliff Lee has nine strikeouts over the first five innings. I’m enjoying the brisk nature of this game, but fear it may be too good to be true.

9:42 PM: The Yankees finally have their first hit of the evening here in the bottom of the fifth. Jorge Posada just poked a two-out single into shallow right field.

9:34 PM: Pettitte has retired seven straight since Michael Young’s two-out single in the third.

9:31 PM: Someone just ran onto the field at Yankee Stadium, apparently. No word on a taser sighting.

9:28 PM: Nelson Cruz made it more of an adventure than it needed to be, but Alex Rodriguez just flew out for the final out in the fourth. The Yankees are hittless through four and the Rangers are still up 2-0.

9:24 PM: Woah. Cliff Lee is perfect no longer. He just issued a two-out walk to Mark Teixeira. Amazingly, this is the first time Lee has issued a walk this postseason.

9:23 PM: Quite an at-bat by Nick Swisher there. He ended up being Cliff Lee’s seventh strikeout, but made him throw 11 pitches in the process. He also may have used an expletive on the way back to the dugout. Understandable.

9:14 PM: The Rangers are done quickly in the fourth, as Pettitte delivers a 1-2-3 inning. He has retired 11 out of 12 since Josh Hamilton’s two-run blast in the first.

9:12 PM: On second thought, maybe Gardner was out. It had something to do with the fact that he tried to grab the outside part of the bag, but his helmet also covered his eyes when he went into the dive. He should try running next time, methinks. Brett Gardner is pretty fast on his feet, I hear.

9:07: Brett Gardner was just called out on a head-first dive at first base. If you remember, he did the same thing in the eighth inning on Friday and was called safe. The thing is, he sure looked safe here. Thanks Angel Hernandez! But hey, he prolly would have actually been safe had he, you know, actually ran. Prolly.

Anyway, Cliff Lee is perfect through three.

8:58 PM: Pettitte was able to retire Josh Hamilton on a harmless ground ball to second base to end the inning. He has thrown 61 pitches over the first three frames. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse points out, all three Yankees starters in this series have needed at least 60 pitches to record the first nine outs.

8:56 PM: Jeter just did his trademark field-in-the-hole jumpy-throw thing. No dice. Michael Young has a two-out hit. Each of the first three batters in the third have run a full count on Pettitte.

8:45 PM: Another 1-2-3 inning for Cliff Lee, who has three strikeouts already. If you listened closely enough, you could hear him thanking his hat as he ran off the field.

8:38 PM: Interesting seeing Jered Weaver on that list of fewest baserunners per nine innings, right between Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez. Don’t think he should win it, but he’s not getting nearly enough love for AL Cy Young. Ah well, that’s a conversation for another day.

8:34 PM: Jeff Francoeur’s ownership of Andy Pettitte is on hold. He just grounded out for the second out in the top of the second.

8:28 PM: The Yankees go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first inning. Lee needed just 15 pitches.

8:24 PM: Derek Jeter just flew out to right field to lead off the bottom of the first. On the bright side, he managed to run the count full. That’s kinda like drawing a walk against Cliff Lee.

8:19 PM: Pettitte just escaped the first without any further damage. He threw 25 pitches in the inning. Your move, Cliff.

8:16 PM: The Rangers jump out in front first. Josh Hamilton, who walked four times on Saturday, just launched a two-run blast to right field to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead. This is his second hit of the series. Both are home runs.

8:11 PM: The Yankees finally get Elvis Andrus. Andy Pettitte just threw him out on a tapper. Andrus got on base to lead off each of the last two games and scored on both occasions. The last three games if you count Game 5 of the ALDS.

8:00 PM: Tino Martinez just threw out the first pitch. He did an awesome job as a last-minute substitute for Matt Nokes.

7:53 PM: Craig is handing me the baton to do some live blogging for tonight’s Game 3 of the ALCS between the Rangers and Yankees. No worries, I don’t intend to run with it. I’m just going to sit on my couch and watch baseball for a couple few hours. And that’s pretty cool.

As always, feel free to add to the conversation in our comments section.

Game 3 starters:

Cliff Lee – Some might know him better as “The Scariest Thing Ever.” The left-hander posted a 3.09 ERA in three starts against the Bombers this season and won both of his starts against them in the World Series last season, including a 10-strikeout complete-game victory in Game 1.

Andy Pettitte – The winningest pitcher in postseason history added to his own record by tossing seven innings of one-run ball in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins on October 7. While Pettitte has 19 postseason wins, he has also started more postseason games than anybody. And it’s not even remotely close. The veteran left-hander won his only start against the Rangers this season, allowing two runs over eight innings back on April 18.

Looking for lineups? Here’s Ron Washington’s lineup card and here’s Joe Girardi’s.

MiLB president Pat O’Conner says teams would contract if minor league players had to be paid more

Minor League Baseball
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As Craig mentioned earlier, a new law is likely to pass as part of a Republican-led spending bill that amends language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The result of that will make minor leaguers exempt from being owed minimum wage and overtime pay, meaning that teams can continue to pay them very little. Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball lobbied Congress to do this, as MiLB president Pat O’Conner readily admits, as Josh Norris of Baseball America reports.

Why all this effort? In 2014, former minor leaguer Aaron Senne filed a lawsuit along with Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle, alleging that the minor leagues violated state and federal minimum wage laws. In many cases, minor leaguers earn less than $10,000 a year and only a small percentage of players can be buoyed by their signing bonuses.

O’Conner said, “When the lawsuit came out two or three years ago, we started to put a strategy together. We’ve been lobbying Congress since June of 2016. … We had 94 people in Washington in June of 2016 walking the halls, talking to the elected officials.

Here’s what that lobbying effort looks like in graph form, via Maury Brown of Forbes:

O’Conner goes on, as he usually does, making disingenuous arguments to justify paying minor leaguers unlivable wages. He said, “To me, it’s fairly simple. If Major League Baseball experiences a tremendous increase in its cost of labor, it will reduce the number of players it offers to Minor League Baseball, or it will come to Minor League Baseball and expect us to pay a portion of that increase in cost. Either one of those are catastrophic to our business model.”

O’Conner went on, “If the cost of that talent is doubled or tripled, which could happen under an FLSA basis, MLB is not going to pay that much money for the talent. They’re not going to pay. They’re going to do one of two things: They’re going to say, ‘If 160 (minor league) teams is going to cost (this much), we’re just going to cut down on the number of teams. We’re not going to pay for 160. We’ll pay for 80. We’ll pay for 100.’ Then the other 60 or 80 that are left without players, if they want to stay in business, they’re going to have to pay for their own players. … You might lose half of the (league). You don’t know. You might lose leagues. You might lose cities in leagues. Nobody knows, but the fact of the matter is one of two things is very likely to happen: MLB is either going to cut back on the number of teams it provides, or (MiLB) is going to have to start paying salaries.”

Major league teams are responsible for paying the salaries of the players on their minor league affiliates. Minor league teams are only responsible for paying their own employees, including front office personnel as well as ticket-takers, ushers, concession stand workers, and such. But we’ve done the math on this before and giving minor leaguers a livable wage is a drop in the bucket to an industry that saw over $10 billion in revenue last year. The average Major League Baseball team is valued at $1.54 billion, according to Forbes. TV deals and MLB Advanced Media have a lot to do with that.

Let’s go over the math again just so we’re all on the same page. Most teams have six affiliates; some have seven or eight. Players will go up and down through the minors, so the teams are usually dealing with 50 or so players in any given year, sometimes in excess. But generally speaking each team has a 25-man roster. Six minor league teams at 25 players each comes out to 150 players. Guaranteeing them a $30,000 salary comes out to $4.5 million in total for six teams. Obviously, the total is slightly more for teams with more affiliates, and if you want to guarantee them a higher salary. $4.5 million is the cost of a free agent reliever. Fernando Rodney, Craig Stammen, and Jared Hughes signed contracts for exactly that amount this offseason. For the cost of a free agent reliever, every team could guarantee each of its minor league players a livable wage so they could pay the bills. $30,000 in the grand scheme of things still isn’t much, but in many cases, it would represent a pay increase of four or five times what they’re getting now. Teams valued north of $1 billion can easily afford an additional $4.5 million each year.

Furthermore, Matt Winkelman of Crashburn Alley brings up a good point:

As mentioned on, the Tampa Yankees, Springfield Cardinals, and Gwinnett Braves are examples of teams owned by their major league parent team. Which makes O’Conner’s fear-mongering all the more disingenuous.

Major League teams wouldn’t pass on the cost to their minor league affiliates not only because they might already own their affiliates, but also because they would be reaping the benefits of paying their players more. Being able to study film at home instead of working the graveyard shift as an Uber driver would, on the whole, make their players better. Being able to afford gas would allow them to more easily shop for fresh fruit and vegetables instead of constantly walking a block to a pizza shop or McDonald’s. Healthier players are better than unhealthier players, right? Being able to afford a quality mattress, instead of sleeping on a couch, would allow players to sleep better. Better sleep means better production in every industry. Better players means a better hit rate on draft picks, which means more talent making its way to the majors that is cost-controlled for six years. As we’ve seen with the evolution of free agency, teams vastly prefer cultivating their own talent rather than paying a premium for it on the free agent market.

What this comes down to is pure, simple avarice. It’s short-sighted greed on the part of team owners and the people that work for them. Their public justification falls flat and were they capable of feeling shame, that’s what they should be feeling. Beyond their labor, minor league players are the product being marketed to fans. Without them, the owners have nothing.