Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

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?

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

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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
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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.