And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 3, Athletics 2: Holy ninth inning rally, Batman! Josh Willingham hits a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Brian Fuentes after the Twins were shutout for six innings by Jarrod Parker and two by Jerry Blevins and Grant Balfour.

Angels 5, Yankees 1: The Angels win again and are now over .500. And Pujols hits his eighth homer. Mark Trumbo homered again. Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos put on a defensive clinic. That’s 11 of 15 for Anaheim and eight in a row. It’s like April and the first half of May never happened.

Marlins 3, Nationals 1: Anibal Sanchez hasn’t lost to the Nationals in 19 starts (he’s 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA against Washington). That’s pretty impressive. As was his performance in last night’s game (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER). The Marlins are 20-8 in the month of May, which is the best record in baseball in that span.

White Sox 7, Rays 2: Chicago is also hot. They’re winners of seven straight after rocking Big Game James for six runs on ten hits. Hideki Matsui had a homer in his first game back in the bigs.

Mets 6, Phillies 3: Joe Blanton didn’t have it. Scott Hairston did, hitting a two-run shot to give the Mets some breathing room in the sixth. Omar Quintanilla made his Mets debut and went 3 for 4 and scored twice. Easily the best debut for a Mets player with Q as the first letter of his last name ever. You can look it up.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Adam Jones hit two homers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Jays, who snagged a 8-1 lead by the fifth inning. Brett Lawrie had three hits and three RBI. And no umpires were harmed in the making of this baseball game. The O’s have dropped four straight and seven of ten.

Braves 5, Cardinals 4: The Braves finally break their losing skid thanks to a three run homer by Dan Uggla and a shot from Michael Bourn as well. Fredi Gonzalez batted the pitcher eighth. I’m guessing Fredi credits that bit of strategy for the win and will be doing it constantly now.

Royals 8, Indians 2: Mike Mike Moustakas drove in four and Will Smith got his first career win. In other news, whenever the Royals face the Indians, I get the lyric from Dylan’s “Summer Days” in my head which goes like this: “I got a house on a hill, I got hogs out lying in the mud/Got a long-haired woman, she got royal Indian blood.”  It’s a fairly nonsense song, but it rocks and gallops, Dylan has gotten away with that kind of thing for 50 years now and I love it so I don’t care.

Cubs 5, Padres 3: Jeff Samardzija struck out eight in seven innings on what was his own bobblehead day in Wrigley Field. Alfonso Soriano hit a homer. His seventh in 13 games. I don’t guess he gets a bobblehead day this year. The Padres have lost five straight and eight of nine. Which just means the price for that game against the Rangers I’m taking my kids to on June 18th gets cheaper and cheaper. Heck, at his rate I may be able to get some inexpensive Field Box VIP seats or something. Keep losing, San Diego! Do it for the children!

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Justin Verlander done got blowed up (6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER). David Ortiz went 3 for 4, doubled, homered and drove in a couple.

Reds 8, Pirates 1: Reds third baseman Todd Frazier had two hits and drove in two, helping snap the Pirates’ four-game winning streak. The day before he saved someone’s life at a restaurant by giving the Heimlich maneuver. Not a bad 24 hours or so for the guy, no?

Mariners 10, Rangers 3: Josh Hamilton went deep again, but that was about the only thing that went right for the Rangers. John Jaso hit a two-run homer and had an RBI single. Scott Feldman got the loss for the Rangers. He was starting as a fill-in for Neftali Feliz. Roy Oswalt was signed on the same day. Do I gotta draw you a diagram, people?

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: Ryan Braun’s two-run homer in the first was all the Brewers needed. My friend Todd was at the game. He texted me last night to tell me that at one point Braun threw a ball into the stands to a fan, but the fans threw it back to him, which made him laugh. So then at the end of an inning he caught another ball and faked a throw to the stands. Fun times.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 1: Melky Cabrera had three hits. That makes 50 hits this month for him, breaking Willie Mays’ team record for hits in May. He has 77 hits in 50 games. Who knew the Giants were getting mid-2000s vintage Ichiro?

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.