And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 9, Red Sox 6: Just your standard seventeen inning affair in which a first baseman is the winning pitcher, after throwing two shutout innings and and outfielder is the losing pitcher after giving up a three-run homer . Chris Davis shut out the Red Sox for the 16th and 17th innings, striking out two. Of course he did. Darnell McDonald gave up a three-run homer to Adam Jones. Of course he did. J.J. Hardy had two homers. The game took six hours and seven minutes. Mercy.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Albert Pujols hit a homer, so we can quit keeping track of that I suppose. Guess now we can see how long it takes for his average to get above the Mendoza Line.

Indians 4, Rangers 2: Yu Darvish struck out eleven Indians but still got the loss because, strikeouts aside, walking four and giving up six hits in six innings while throwing 112 pitches isn’t a study in efficiency. The Indians three-run third inning started when a Johnny Damon popup fell in after getting lost in the sun. Here’s Darvish, after the game through an interpreter:

“If the ball goes into the sun, what can you do?”

I’d like to think that he listened to “A Saucerful of Secrets” right before this game, but I kinda doubt it.

Braves 7, Rockies 2: The sweep. What a nutso series. I thought they had a humidor or something, but by the time yesterday’s game got started I was totally of the mindset that a six run deficit didn’t matter any. Overall the Braves scored 29 runs in this three-game series. On the pitching side, some order was restored in this one with Brandon Beachy allowing only a couple of runs in six and a third.

Marlins 6, Padres 3: Tied at two until the Fish put up a four-run eighth inning. Thankfully, however, the Padres scored one in the bottom of the inning, creating a save situation and allowing us to watch someone besides Heath Bell handle the ninth. Edward Mujica gets the save.

Mariners 5, Twins 2:  Hector Noesi took a shutout into the seventh and Jesus Montero hit a two-run double. If you told this to a Yankees fan a year ago …

Cardinals 8, Astros 1: Tyler Greene hit two homers, the Cardinals salvaged one in the series and, more importantly, Adam Wainwright looked good, with good command for really the first time all season.

Yankees 10, Royals 4: Robinson Cano hit a grand slam, Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run shot and Nick Swisher hit a solo homer, breaking the Yankees offense out of a slump. We knew the offense was going to figure it out soon enough. We were less sure of Phil Hughes, but he turned in his best start of the season, allowing three runs over six and two thirds and striking out seven.

Reds 5, Pirates 3: This is why the Reds traded so much talent for Mat Latos: six innings, two hits, no runs and eleven strikeouts.

Athletics 9, Rays 5: Of course Brandon Inge hit a three-run homer and drove in four. We all know he’d do that against Matt Moore. Who we also predicted would give up eight runs.  We all talked about this during the big pregame show. It was my Master Lock “Lock of the Week.”

Mets 3, Diamondbacks 1: R.A. Dickey was on point (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER). Assuming knuckleballers have points. I think of them as having weird concave places and a lot of swirly bits.

Giants 4, Brewers 3: Matt Cain struck out ten in seven innings but the bullpen couldn’t hold the one-run lead. Tim Dillard walked two and gave up two hits to blow the game in the 11th. Because — all together now! — you can’t use your closer in a tie game on the road!

Tigers 3, White Sox 1: The Tigers offense still isn’t clicking, but solo homers by Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder and Andy Dirks were all Rick Porcello (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) and four relievers needed to take care of the Sox.

Cubs 4, Dodgers 3: A walkoff walk to David DeJesus in the 11th. By the way: is it just me, or are there an inordinate number of extra inning games this year? Seems like a lot. Someone who has some research-fu, tell me if I’m nuts.

Phillies 9, Nationals 3: True fact: Natitude is still only 66.6% effective. Hunter Pence had four RBI.  Cole Hamels allowed one run in eight innings and struck out eight. And likely got himself a suspension for admitting that he’s kind of a  jerk.

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.