Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Los Angeles Dodgers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I was out of town for the second weekend in a row. This time to West Virginia to visit my mother-in-law and to breathe some mountain air. Bonus: you can pick up the Beckley, West Virginia newspaper on Sunday morning and read last Wednesday’s box scores! Reminds me of being a baseball fan back in the 80s.

Thankfully I had my phone nearby. I rarely had more than one bar because my mother-in-law lives deep in a holler, but it was just enough to keep up. But really: this is the last time I go anywhere for a while. I’m pretty sure I suffer from minor convulsions and stuff without a solid Internet connection and MLB.tv, so in my fortified — and wired — compound I shall stay.

Dodgers 3, Angels 2: The Jered Weaver vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup lived up to the hype, with each pitching fabulously. Kershaw pitched a bit more fabulously, however, and a bit longer, going the distance and striking out 11, helping the Dodgers avoid the sweep. Tony Gwynn, Jr. with the walkoff RBI single.

Blue Jays 5, Cardinals 0: The Jays sweep the Cards, taking the last one on a Ricky Romero four-hit shutout.  St. Louis has lost 12 of 15 and are 1-5 since El Hombre went down. I won’t retract my “the Cardinals can weather the loss of Pujols” rebop yet, but as a talking point, it’s officially on notice.

Brewers 6, Twins 2: In contrast, I’m feeling way more comfortable with my “I declare the Twins dead” talking point from a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota is back to its run-impaired ways, having now lost five straight, scoring a total of eight runs in those five games.

Yankees 6, Rockies 4: Ty Wigginton had two homers in a game for the second time in a week, but it was — as they say — in a losing cause. Notice no one ever talks about sucky things happening “in a losing cause?” It would be apt to say something like “Joe Schmo struck out twice and totally half-assed a grounder hit right to him in a losing cause,” but we never say that for some reason.  Oh well. On Derek Jeter’s birthday, his fill-in, Eduardo Nunez, broke the tie with a seventh inning RBI single.

Buccaneers 14, Texans 10: See, it’s funny because they’re football team names that correspond with their local baseball teams on a day on which said baseball teams scored as though they were, in fact, football teams! It’s a clever juxtaposition! Aren’t I rich? A pill, I am! A pill!

Royals 6, Cubs 3: The first six Royals reached in the first inning, helping KC to a 4-0 lead that ended up being enough to win. In other news, my son has a Cubs cap, which he asked me to get for him because it had a “C” on it (his name begins with a C too). Yesterday he went outside to play and I made him wear his cap because it was really sunny out. He said “is it OK that I have a Cubs hat even though the Cubs aren’t very good?”  He’s 5 and does not really watch baseball at all, let alone follow it, so he would have no idea about how the Cubs do unless some kid on the playground told him that the Cubs suck while he had his hat on. This is what you’re up against, Chicago. Random kids 350 miles away are slamming you to random five year-olds. You cool with this?

Red Sox 4, Pirates 2: An error-filled game by Pittsburgh helps Boston avoid the sweep. Only one of Boston’s four runs was earned, so it’s not like the Sox bats are out of their mini-slump.

Nationals 2, White Sox 1: Phil Humber had a no-hitter into the sixth, but a two-run homer by Danny Espinosa in the seventh was enough for the Nats. With this game the John McLaren era ends for Washington. He finishes with a .667 winning percentage (2-1), which will probably have him at the top of the Nats’ leader board in that department for a long, long time.

Phillies 3, Athletics 1: Roy being Roy (CG, 8 H, 1 ER). An actual Charlie Manuel quote from after the game: “He’s pretty steady.” Gee, ya think, Cholly?  Jimmy Rollins went 4 for 4 and scored twice.

Orioles 7, Reds 5: Word to your moms, Baltimore came to drop bombs: three homers yesterday, nine in the series while scoring 17 runs. The O’s take two of three from Cincy.

Tigers 8, Diamondbacks 3: Detroit wins on the day Sparky Anderson’s number was retired. Somewhere — wherever Sparky’s soul resides — he probably told someone that Don Kelly was the next Tom Brookens and that Tom Brookens should have been the next George Kell. Which, if you followed Sparky’s career, makes total sense. A seven run eighth inning sealed it for Detroit. Jhonny Peralta was 3 for 4 with two RBI.

Mets 8, Rangers 5:  Jose Reyes had four hits and scored three runs because he’s pretty much unstoppable this year. Dillon Gee rebounds from a not-so-great start to win his eighth game with six solid innings.

Padres 4, Braves 1: It’s not every day you score four runs off Johnny Venters. In fact, it’s no day until yesterday, but the Padres smacked this year’s most unhittable reliever around for four on four hits and a couple of walks to rally in the eighth inning. Damndest thing was that Venters almost got out of it with no one scoring, but the Padres plated all four runs with two outs.

Giants 3, Indians 1: Last time we saw Madison Bumgarner he was allowing the first eight Minnesota Twins hitters he faced to reach and score. This time: he struck out 11 Indians and allowed only one run in seven innings. I guess he was well-rested this time out.

Mariners 2, Marlins 1: The go-ahead run scored when Marlin’s reliever Steve Cishek threw a wild pitch with a runner on third during an intentional walk. Holy schnikes! Best part: with the reason for the intentional walk now gone, Jack McKeon had Cishek actually pitch to the batter, who had been given three of the four balls for the walk already. Cishek struck him out. I don’t approve when pitchers come back to the dugout after a tough inning, punch something and break their hand, but in this case I think that would have been an acceptable behavior for Cishek.

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.