And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 9, Rockies 1: How Jair Jurrjens continues to win — this was his 12th win — and win impressively without striking out a crap ton of dudes is one of the more interesting little things going on so far this year. How the Braves might do if they continue to score some runs to go with that pitching staff could be one of the more interesting little things that could go on going forward. What’s more interesting is the reason I didn’t watch this one: I started watching “Battlestar Galactica” on Netflix last night.  I got through all three hours of the opening miniseries and now I have 74 (or thereabouts) episodes to watch while on the treadmill in the morning.  That should pretty much guarantee that I drop Cylon references and the word “frak” in every other ATH for the next two or three of months, so like, be warned.

Reds 9, Cardinals 8: A long game — 13 innings and over four hours of playing time — thanks in part to the Reds blowing an eight run lead they held in the fifth inning. Pujols was 1 for 6 in his return from his arm being severed by Count Dooku or whatever the hell happened to him.

Mets 5, Dodgers 3: Fourth win in a row for the Mets.  I understand that my cohort Aaron Gleeman, along with many other members of the SABR Convention crew, were at this game.  Now that I know that they have willingly given money to Frank McCourt, however, they’re all pretty much dead to me. Sorry guys.

Astros 8, Pirates 2: See, the Pirates have to lose occasionally, lest all of us national people run out of things to say about them other than “golly gee, how neat it is that the Pirates are winning!”  Now we actually have to consider them like they’re a regular baseball team or something and not some novelty.  I’ll start doing that tomorrow. I still have a few more golly gees in my system.

Indians 5, Yankees 3:  Justin Masterson had eight scoreless innings before the Tribe bullpen decided to make it interesting. Didn’t matter though. And Jetes got a hit. Here’s hoping he gets to 3,000 on Friday night when I’m out having dinner and drinks with my wife and a friend of ours from out of town, because if that happens it’s D.J.’s task to write up the big “3,000th hit” post.

Nationals 5, Cubs 4: The first eight runs of the game came on homers. The last and deciding run of the game came on a suicide squeeze by Wilson Ramos with Mike Morse running.  There is something glorious about all of that. It’s like, “we go all the way or we frakkin’ forget it. None of this in-between stuff for us!”

Marlins 7, Phillies 6: Mike Stanton with the walkoff bomb in the 10th. Charlie Manuel violated a pretty hard and fast baseball rule here: “never call on sucky, awful relievers like Danys Baez on the road in an extra inning game.” Controversial, sure, because a game can be blown at any time, not just when you have a lead to protect, but it’s unwritten, plain as day, in the unwritten rule book.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4: Rickey Romero got roughed up for six runs on nine hits in four and a third. Three knocked in for Ellsbury.

Athletics 2, Mariners 0: Guillermo Moscoso with seven two-hit shutout innings and Scott Sizemore with all of the offense for the A’s. Another home run for him. I guess the AL West just agrees with him. Maybe it’s those 2:12 games. They help sharpen the senses or something.

Brewers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Casey McGehee hit a three-run pinch hit homer. After the game, the slumping McGehee said “It definitely felt like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulder.”  The fact that my first thought upon reading that was “yeah, but if you go back to sucking tomorrow, it’s gonna feel like the cruel fates have thrown that weight back on your shoulder with some extra pounds added on to taunt you” is why I never really meshed well with teammates during my youthful forays into competitive sports.  Having pessimists around just really kills team chemistry.

Tigers 5, Angels 4: Detroit fought back from a 3-0 hole in order to avert the sweep. In other news, Joe West worked the plate and no one was ejected.

Royals 4, White Sox 1: Bruce Chen was effective and Edwin Jackson turned in one of his patented 122-pitch blah-bombs, which those of us who happen to watch a lot of AL Central games have grown used to over the past few years. When he’s on he’s electric. When he’s not, there aren’t a lot of pitchers who are harder to watch.

Rays 12, Twins 5: Three hits and four RBI for Evan Longoria. He’s been slumping, but he has some perspective about it all: “There’s nothing I can really do to control the outcome of a ball put in play.”  Hey Evan, Voros McCracken, my personal human shield when I’m in the greater Phoenix area, called and he says you’re stealing his bit.

Rangers 13, Orioles 5: That was a bloodbath. And it was 100 degrees in Arlington at game time too. Gonna go out on a limb here and say that those two things combined for this being the Orioles’ least-pleasant game all year.

Giants 6, Padres 5: A big night on a long night for Nate Schierholtz, who led off the bottom of the 14th with a walkoff homer. This went with his two-run homer in the fourth inning. Being such a long game and taking place on the west coast, I assume this ended, like, ten minutes ago.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.