Carl Crawford, Mike Napoli

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 13, Rangers 2: I would like to thank the Rangers’ pitchers for providing us with a pennant race in the AL West that we didn’t think we’d have. Carl Crawford was reanimated for this one and drove in five.

Angels 8, White Sox 0: It’s not just about Texas’ pitching sucking though. It’s a pennant race that the Angels are forcing due to their hot play since allegedly being knocked out of things by Texas in last week’s series. Guess not, because that’s six straight wins. Jered Weaver with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Anaheim is only 2.5 back.

Athletics 6, Yankees 4: Coco Crisp made the Yankees people I follow on Twitter use a lot of bad words last night. Two homers including a three-run shot in the 10th inning. He drove in five overall. Nick Swisher had two homers also, but since he only cares about padding his statistics and not winning, they don’t count. This is the first series victory for Oakland over New York in eleven tries.

Rockies 7, Astros 6: Troy Tulowitzki scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th as the Rockies won their fifth straight. It feels like the Rockies have been out of contention forever and I wouldn’t bet a dime on their chances to get back into it, but it’s not against the laws of physics for there to be at least some sort of Rocktober — or is it Rocktember? — run in them that will at least give us something to talk about. I mean, it’s like either Arizona or San Francisco seems interested in taking the division by the throat.

Marlins 6, Reds 5Reds 3, Marlins 2: A homer for Logan Morrison in his first game back after being sent to his room for his impudence, er, I mean after being sent down to the minors to work on his hitting. In the nightcap Bronson Arroyo threw eight scoreless and Joey Votto homered. He actually homered in the day game too.

Mariners 9, Indians 2: Wily Mo Pena went 3 for 3 with four driven in, falling a triple short of the cycle. Would like to have seen him leg out a triple, but he also walked in this one, and you can only ask for so many once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. Kyle Seager went 4 for 4 and hit three doubles.

Dodgers 9, Cardinals 4: L.A. sweeps the reeling Cardinals. The reeling Cardinals who are ten games back of Milwaukee now, which is the biggest deficit for any second place team in baseball.

Mets 7, Phillies 4: Mike Pelfrey threw 125 pitches in only six innings and seemed like he tried to pick a fight with Placido Polanco. Sort of glad I didn’t watch this one because inefficiency and belligerence don’t make for good baseball in my book.  Whatever. The Mets avoid the sweep.

Pirates 2, Brewers 0:  Aaron Thompson made his big league debut and shut out the hottest team in baseball for nearly five innings. If it wasn’t for the hard pitch count he was on he would have got the win, but that’s life for a youngin.’ The pen finished the shutout and two sac flies was all the offense that anyone needed.

Diamondbacks 4, Nationals 2: Daniel Hudson allowed nothin’ but zeroes for eight and two-thirds and then gave up back-to-back homers. Not a shutout but ….

Blue Jays 4, Royals 3: I, for one, welcome our new Brett Lawrie overlords. He hit what proved to be the game-winning homer and also plated a run with a triple. The kid is now hitting .328/.379/.656 in 18 games.

Rays 3, Tigers 2: Elliot Johnson had the game-winning fielder’s choice. It came with two outs and the bases loaded, and the run scored because Sean Rodriguez booked it like no one’s business from first to second and avoided the force out. If he lollygags there, the game goes into the 11th.

Giants 2, Padres 1: Tim Lincecum allowed only one run in eight innings and drove one in himself, giving himself a 0 NLP — crap, I can’t remember the name of the phony statistic I came up with the other day. Carlos Beltran had a homer.

Cubs 3, Braves 2: Randy Wells more or less tied the Braves’ bats up into the seventh inning, allowing one run. He also drove one in.  Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run bob. Jason Heyward was 0 for 4 with a strikeout, so I guess my reverse jinx thing isn’t working anymore. Enjoy the bench today, big guy.

Orioles 6, Twins 1: A five run fifth makes this a laugher for Baltimore. The death of Mike Flanagan, however, takes all of the laughs away.

Bryce Harper reportedly wants a $400 million extension

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.

What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”

That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.

The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.

UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered:

At least one quarter of the Today’s Committee owed Bud Selig a solid

Bud Selig
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OXON HILL, MD — The 16-member committee that voted Bud Selig and John Schuerholz into the Hall of Fame — the “Today’s Game” Committee — consisted of the following members: Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bobby Cox, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Pat Gillick, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton, and Frank Thomas, major league owners/executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Phillies) and Kevin Towers (Reds); and media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt and Tim Kurkjian.

That’s certainly a venerable list of names. A quarter of that electorate, however, could be characterized as having a pretty notable conflict of interest when it comes to Bud Selig. At least if anyone cared about things like conflict of interest when it comes to baseball.

Whatever the case, two of those 16 guys became owners — and even more wealthier as a result — due to his affirmatively choosing or approving them to join sports’ most exclusive club. Two others were personally chosen by Selig to assist him over the years, raising their profile and importance in the game and giving them resume pieces that will one day be part of their own Hall of Fame cases.

  • Royals owner David Glass: Became the Royals CEO and Chairman in 1993, right after Selig became the acting commissioner. Glass was a key ally for Selig’s efforts to impose a salary cap and take a financial hard line in negotiations with the union, which eventually led to the 1994-95 strike. In 1999-2000 he became the full owner of the Royals after Selig personally stepped in to stop a bid for the club by a competing ownership group and is thus widely refereed to as Selig’s handpicked man. Glass is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served for decades.
  • Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr.: Bought his club in 1995, after Selig had taken over and thus would not be a baseball owner without Selig’s approval. DeWitt was a point man for Selig on a host of his pet projects, including the Wild Card and interleague play. He likewise led the charge for revenue sharing and other potentially divisive financial matters which tended to be in the interest of smaller market clubs, the sort of which Selig himself championed when he was a mere owner. DeWitt chaired the committee to find Selig’s successor, which eventually served to validate Selig’s desire to have his hand-picked choice, Rob Manfred, succeed him.
  • Phillies President Andy MacPhail: Selig’s handpicked choice for the labor negotiating committee in 2002 which, at the time, continued speculation that MacPhail would one day be on the short list to succeed Selig. A few years before that MacPhail was public in saying that Selig would be the right choice to become permanent commissioner at a time when many were concerned that a team owner assuming that role was a conflict of interest.
  • Former President of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston: In the late 90s, Beeston resigned as president of the Toronto Blue Jays following a successful reign to accepted baseball’s newly created position of president and chief operating officer. The move was widely seen as a means of giving Selig a top lieutenant — a defacto deputy commissioner — which would help him smooth his transition from acting commissioner to permanent commissioner. Many thought at the time that if Beeston was not hired for that gig, Selig may have declined the full-time commissioner’s role. Selig was described in the press at the time as a strong admirer of Beeston’s. In 2014, Beeston reflected glowingly on Selig’s legacy, saying, “I absolutely admire him on this steroid thing.” Beeston is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served.

Is there anything necessarily wrong with that? No. Baseball is a small world and Bud Selig existed in it for a long, long time, so having a relationship with Selig was pretty unavoidable for almost anyone with any sort of profile in the game. No technical rule or historical baseball norm was violated by virtue of this vote or the composition of the committee itself. Indeed, the old Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame was widely seen as a group of good old boys voting their old friends. Worth noting, perhaps, that that iteration of the Veterans Committee was abolished precisely for that reason, but I suppose we’ll leave that go for now.

I wonder, however, what the vote totals would have been for some of the other candidates if 25% of their electorate consisted of people who owed personal and professional debts to them the way Selig’s electorate owed him. Maybe Barry Bonds’ agent could get a Hall of Fame vote? Roger Clemens’ mechanic? Mark McGwire’s interior designer?

I suppose we’ll never know.