Young Elvis

Your Monday afternoon Power Rankings

52 Comments

Once again, we’ve pretty much said all that can be said about these teams. So let’s force them into arbitrary categories!  I sort of feel like I’m stealing Peter Gammons’ bit here, but what the heck.

NOTE: the bands/artists are only for description purposes, They themselves are not being ranked. Because there’s no way I’d ever have The Velvet Underground beneath the Red Hot Chili Peppers on any kind of musical list. I’m just trying match the zeitgeist, ya dig?

Also: there are no Beatles here, because you can’t really talk about the Beatles without acknowledging that they were really the only top-tier band that clearly ended as a reigning champion.  Just doesn’t seem right to apply their name to any team before the playoffs are over.

1. Phillies (1): Elvis. Hail to the King, baby.

2. Yankees (2): Dylan. Sublime when they’re on, but they do go through their troubling periods. And yes, Elvis went through way more troubling periods than Dylan ever has, but there was enough attitude and aura about his height that makes it all seem forgivable. Sort of like how the Phillies’ “Sun Sessions” rotation makes you forget their “Clambake” bullpen.  In contrast, Dylan’s strange detours always have to be mentioned when considering him as an artist, just as the Yankees’ flaws do too.

3. Tigers (6): The Rolling Stones. Started off as something obviously talented but somewhat derivative, improved greatly as things rolled along and then hit a peak in which they were nearly unstoppable and undeniably dangerous. The question for the Tigers is whether the playoffs will be their “Exile on Main Street” — the peak at the end of an extended run of greatness — or their “Goats Head Soup,” the clear demarcation of the end of a great run.

4. Brewers (4): The Kinks. Excellent in so many ways — a team you really wish more people appreciated and understood — but inevitably never to be considered in the true upper echelon, and thus always destined to be half-a-notch below the true titans.

5. Red Sox/Braves (3, 5): Prince. So good for so long but then something went wrong and they started to put out sub-par crap at an alarmingly high rate.

7. Diamondbacks (8): The Clash. Or Maybe Nirvana. Neither are a perfect fit here for various reasons, but I’m struck by the “came from seemingly out of nowhere and knocked the reigning kings off their pedestal, yet questions exist about how long they’ll really last” dynamic.

8. Rangers (7): Red Hot Chili Peppers. Everyone always thought they knew what made them so great — charismatic leader, elite bass player, lots of funk and attitude — but everyone realized that what really carried them was an under-appreciated and even unexpected contributor. For the Texas Rangers, the big power and offense plays the part of Kiedis and Flea, while C.J. Wilson and the pitching staff plays the part of the essential John Frusciante. When that goes, things will probably go downhill, and what everyone thought was so great will be enough to carry the day.

9. Rays (9): The Velvet Underground. Just sort of crashing the party, messing with the narrative and making so much out of seemingly nothing. But really, they’re insanely talented which, in hindsight, makes you wonder why no one really gave them a shot. It was said that  “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”  The Rays don’t sell a lot of tickets, but everyone who buys one can’t help but being won over.

OK, everyone else gets categories, not their own band:

THE DAVE CLARK FIVE TEAMS (hanging around and generally doing the same things that the big boys are doing, but with a little perspective you realize that, no, they’re not ready for prime time)

10. Angels (9)

11. Cardinals (11)

The OASIS TEAM (we thought they’d be big forever, but they disappeared as quickly as they emerged)

12. Giants (12)

THE DOORS TEAMS (Did some pretty spectacular things for a brief time — or at least possessed one highly interesting element — but there was way more talk about them then the talent level really ever called for).

13. Blue Jays (15)

14. White Sox (14)

15. Indians (13)

16. Reds (16)

THE M.C. HAMMER TEAMS (lots of flash, but better-known for their financial problems than anything else at this point)

17. Dodgers (17)

18. Mets (18)

THE JOURNEY TEAMS (Occasional hits, tons of filler, maybe some guilty pleasure to be taken here, but you know in your heart they suck)

19. Rockies (19)

20. Nationals (20)

21. Marlins (23)

22. Athletics (21)

23. Pirates (22)

THE REO SPEEDWAGON TEAMS (Really bad — not even the number of hits or overall quality of a band like Journey — but occasionally you can get some ridiculous so-bad-it’s-good campy pleasure from them. “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” anyone?)

24. Cubs (24)

25. Padres (25)

26. Royals (26)

27. Mariners (27)

28. Twins (28)

THE GRAND FUNK RAILROAD TEAMS (Too bad for so-bad-it’s-good pleasure. Absolutely nothing to recommend them. A miserable ordeal to which no man or best should be subjected)

29. Orioles (29)

30. Astros (30)

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

adams
Getty Images
5 Comments

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
16 Comments

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.