And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Indians 5, Blue Jays 4: Carlos Villanueva threw six shutout innings. Too bad he couldn’t stay in to throw more, because the Indians rallied like crazy in the ninth with an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI single and then the big shot: the Travis Hafner walkoff grand slam. That’s some serious dramatics right there, babies. Almost enough to make me feel OK to call him “Pronk” again, which seemed kind of ridiculous when he was in the middle of three blah years.

Cubs 10, Nationals 9: Facepalm. actually, make that a double facepalm. The Nats had an 8-0 lead heading into the sixth inning and they couldn’t seal the deal. Livan Hernandez deserves most of the blame here. Or maybe Davey Johnson. Dude just ran out of gas. Probably shoulda been pulled when the Cubs started doing a conga line around the bases in the sixth. This is one of those games that those of you who want to say that the Nats could be frisky have to deal with, because frisky teams don’t lose like this very often.

Rays 5, Yankees 1: Bartolo Colon didn’t have nothin’ (5.2 IP, 10 H, 5 ER), so the competitive part of this game ended early, leaving everyone to focus on Derek Jeter’s at bats. He got one hit, so he needs two more.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 4: One of the least fun thing about following games on Twitter: when fans of a team (in this case the Yankees), voice their displeasure at team in a totally different game (in this case the Orioles) for allegedly laying down against the the team (in this case the Red Sox) who is in a race against the team for which they root (back to the Yankees).  I mean, until we see money changing hands between the Red Sox and Orioles, we have to assume that this is simply a matter of Baltimore sucking every time they visit Fenway Park, not some underhanded scheme.

Braves 6, Rockies 3: Freddie Freeman continues his rampage, hitting a three-run homer in the third inning that put the Braves up for good. The Braves themselves are on a rampage, winners of nine of their last ten. Now it’s three against the Phillies — whom they trail by two and a half games — to take them into the All-Star break.

Marlins 5, Astros 0: Brad Hand — who I know damn well is gonna make me break out “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” quotes at some point this season even though that’s a totally hack thing to do — shut out the Astros for seven innings on two hits.

Twins 6, White Sox 2: Phil Humber was rocked like a hurricane. And to be clear: that’s bad when the Scorpions aren’t involved. Joe Mauer played first base and went 3 for 5 with two RBI. Hurm.

Tigers 3, Royals 1: Remember those games where Max Scherzer used to strike out, like, eleventeen guys? Well, this wasn’t one of those games — he only k’d two — but ’twas enough. “Twill serve. Homers for Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly, each of whom sound more like characters on “Mad Men” than baseball players.

Brewers 5, Reds 4: Rickie Weeks was 2 for 3 with a three-run homer. Zack Cozart was 1 for 3 with a run scored in his major league debut.

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 1: Arizona has won four of six. St. Louis has lost four of six. Justin Upton hit a big home run.

Rangers 6, Athletics 0: In light of what went down, I really don’t feel like riffing on this game at the moment.

Now we get to the late west coast games where, every night it seems, someone is throwing a complete game or shutting someone out for seven or eight innings or whatever. Viva la pitching.

Giants 2, Padres 1: All Barry Zito does is win baseball games.  Well, at least since he came back from the DL. Eight innings of four-hit ball.

Angels 5, Mariners 1: Jered Weaver tosses a complete game to win his 11th. Now he probably starts the All-Star Game on Tuesday. The offense he faces there will be slightly better than the bunch from Seattle.

Dodgers 6, Mets 0: Clayton Kershaw flummoxed the Mets for eight innings, shutting them out on five hits and striking out nine. The Dodgers made the most of their seven hits and two walks.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.