Dylan

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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There were only three freakin’ games last night. Three!  How is this fair? Bah! Bah, I say.  So, to make up for the lack of games to talk about, I go into some random Bob Dylan stuff below the scores. My feature. Do what I wanna do.

Tigers 7, Red Sox 3: Max Scherzer continues to be non-disastrous, which is what the Tigers really need from him. Delmon Young and Quintin Berry each had three hits for Detroit. Alex Avila had one hit in the box score and one hit to the face while catching — foul ball — which left him bloody and forced him out of the game.

Rockies 11, Astros 5: Carlos Gonzalez’ reign of terror continues (3 for 4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI). Michael Cuddyer drove in three as well.  Astros starter Bud Norris probably needs a hug. He gave up nine runs on seven hits in less than two innings. It’s OK, Bud. The bad men in the white pinstriped jerseys aren’t there to hurt you anymore.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 2:  Milwaukee sweeps the Dodgers in the four game series. Zack Greinke allowed one run over six.  The Matt Kempless-era, Part II, of the 2012 Dodgers has not gotten off to a rousing start. Gloom and doom is afoot, people. Gloom and doom.

OK, now — because there is no more baseball to talk about from last night — a giant digression …

I’ve probably made about a thousand Bob Dylan references on this blog over the years, so it’s probably no secret that I’m a big Dylan fan. Probably bigger than you think, though. I don’t talk about it THAT much but I’m fairly obsessive. I got almost all of it, even the crazy evangelical Christian albums he put out in the late 70s and early 80s. Even awful stuff like “Empire Burlesque” and “Self Portrait.”  All of the “official” bootlegs and a fairly decent number of unofficial ones. If Dylan has done it, I have it. Or at least have heard it.

There was a time when I’d corner you and act all jerky if you said you didn’t like Dylan. I’m way more mature about such things these days, realizing that the bulk of Bob Dylan is not for everyone and even the essential stuff can be an acquired taste. Yes, I think you’re missing the entire point if you say his voice is hard to listen to, but I’m past the point in my life where I’ll argue with you about it. I probably don’t like stuff you like and think is important and that’s OK.

But I can’t help myself here but to recommend The Onion A.V. Club’s Dylan primer that went up yesterday.  It’s shorter than extended overviews elsewhere but also detailed enough to let you know what it is you’re missing if you care. And it’s not overly fanboyish. It tells you what’s good and what sucks, which is the only way to be honest about the famously uneven Mr. Zimmerman. And it’s the most I can muster as far as Dylan proselytizing goes.

Anyway, since there are only three games to talk about, I figure I’d give you my personal Dylan top Albums list and maybe kick off some Dylan talk today. This is in no particular order — which of these is my favorites changes depending on my mood — but these five usually cycle through the top five:

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: The one that introduced me to Bob when I was a kid, because my dad owned it. Of course my dad was also one of those guys who turned his back on Dylan when he went electric, so it’s not like my dad was cool or anything. When I swiped this from him sometime in the 80s he was all “Oh, yeah. You can have it.” “Girl From the North Country” may be the most beautiful song in his catalog and it makes me misty sometimes. It’s hard to believe that something so personal and affecting sounding can result from the same ancient folk song that served as the basis for something as sterile as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair.” Really kids, it’s the same song. Listen to them if you don’t believe me.

Highway 61 Revisted: I could easily put “Bringing it All Back Home” here. Or “Blonde on Blonde.” With a nod to the Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt. Peppers Beatles and the Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers/Exile Stones, they constitute what is perhaps the greatest three-album stretch of anyone ever. I tend to favor Highway 61, however, because I heard it first — on cassette! — when all I had known of Dylan before that was his early folk output. It hit me like a lightning bolt. I think it hits everyone like a lightning bolt. With “Desolation Row” serving like some post-storm rolling thunder after the worst of the storm is over.

Blood on the Tracks: Some call it “the Divorce Album.” It may be that. I certainly got reacquainted with it in major fashion when my marriage was disintegrating last year, because boy howdy does it resonate. But the fact is that it is much more than that. Just a beautiful song cycle that, for the first time, really sounded like it came from a truly mature Bob Dylan as opposed to a young man trying so hard to sound worldly.

Good as I Been to You: This doesn’t make many top Dylan lists. Don’t care. Wore it out when I got it in late 1992. Dylan was at something of a critical nadir when it came out but to me it sounded like a logical continuation or an echo or something of “Freewheelin,” which was still relatively new to me then. And it had the added bonus of refueling Dylan’s creative juices, even if he didn’t write a single song on the disc. Bonus: I defy anyone to show me a 60s-era classic rocker who does a better sea shanty than Dylan.

Time Out of Mind: After one more non-originals record in “World Gone Wrong,” Dylan unleashed this bad boy. If “Blood on the Tracks” represented a new maturity in Dylan, this one represented yet another, higher plateau in that regard. While Dylan in the 80s sounded like a man out of time — really, apart from “Brownsville Girl,” most of the “Oh Mercy” album and stuff that showed up on bootlegs later it was a wasted decade — here Dylan sounded like a man who knew he was entering his twilight years and decided that he could wear that very well (and as his next three albums showed, he is wearing it extremely well). Most of the album consists of Dylan staring death in the face and … being just fine with it. Indeed, since 1997 it’s been like Dylan and Death meet twice a week to sip whiskey and shoot the breeze.

Anyway. Thanks for indulging me. When there aren’t any ballgames sometimes my gravity fails and I need something besides negativity to pull me through. More often than not, Dylan has served that purpose in my life, so I can be forgiven for all of this blather, I hope.

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.