And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 10, Astros 0: A simply unbelievable night for Matt Cain.  As we noted last night, this was among the best games ever pitched in the history of baseball. Perfection is one thing. Doing it while striking out 14 is dominant perfection.  And don’t try to diminish it by saying “hey, it was the Astros.” Their offense is respectable this season. And Cain only faced the opposing pitcher one time.

Mets 9, Rays 1: When you east coasters went to bed I bet you thought R.A. Dickey was going to have the best game of the night among pitchers, huh?  And it was good. Dickey tossed a one-hitter, striking out 12. The Mets are appealing the one hit, though, arguing it was an error. Um, OK, I guess David Wright — the man who would be charged with the error — won’t mind. But it’s not like Dickey is gonna get a dogpile and a pie to the face out of this if it is overruled. All of the joy of a no-hitter tends to come in the moment, ya know?

Cardinals 1, White Sox 0: Last night I decided to go retrogeek so I dialed up a couple of Star Trek TNG episodes on Netflix and let my dork flag fly.  One of them I watched was “Parallels,” a seventh season number in which Worf finds himself shifting among alternate universes. A pretty good one. Partially because it featured a lot of late-model Counselor Troi with a part big enough for her to hang around a lot — which was something I certainly appreciated back in 1993 — but not so big to where the writers’ inability to give her anything approaching decent dialogue or things to do would ruin the episode.

The gist of the episode was that any moment in time presents infinite possibilities and that all of those possibilities actually do occur, just in parallel universes.  So, for example, back in February, the Chris Carpenter in our universe was injured and went on the DL.  But in some other universe, Carpenter was fine and has taken his turn in the Cardinals’ rotation every time out.  If that were to happen here, Lance Lynn would not have won his tenth game last night, would not have struck out 12 and would not have lowered his ERA to 2.42 after seven and a third shutout innings.

Rangers 1, Diamondbacks 0: The other episode I watched was “Tapestry,” because I love me some Q. It had absolutely nothing to do with Matt Harrison shutting out the Dbacks for seven and a third and Craig Gentry singling in a run. Unless of course it was found out later that Harrison winning this one caused some future problem for him that he wished never happened, the win was undone by an omnipotent being, it caused Harrison to totally lose his mojo and he then begged to have time set right again, whatever the consequences.

And now that I think about it, I probably could have more easily shoehorned the Mets/R.A. Dickey recap into “Tapestry” if I wanted to, imagining a future where Dickey is awarded the no-hitter only to have it ruin his life somehow. I imagine his conversations with Q would be way more interesting than Matt Harrison’s at any rate.

Tigers 8, Cubs 4: Brennan Boesch went 4 for 5 and drove in two and Jhonny Peralta went 3 for 4 and drove in two more. Ramon Santiago drove in two also, but both came on groundouts. I guess I’d feel OK with that if I were him, even if it wasn’t quite as fun.

Phillies 9, Twins 8: The Phillies had six-run leads twice, almost blowing both of them but ultimately holding on. Jim Thome was big, driving in four. Too bad the Phillies can’t use a DH all season.

Red Sox 10, Marlins 2: Any team in baseball streakier than the Marlins this year? They’ve gone from cold to hot to cold again. Maybe Ozzie should talk up some despot once again and try to jump start things.   “I love Gul Madred.  A lot of people have wanted to kill Gul Madred for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still here.”

Reds 5, Indians 3: Mat Latos gave up two runs over seven innings and Brandon Phillips went 3 for 3 with a two-run homer. Oh, and Derek Lowe called Dusty Baker out after the game with one of those “he knows what he did” rants that are always so amusing.

Orioles 7, Pirates 1: Jake Arrieta wasn’t even supposed to be there yesterday. It was Brian Matusz’s start, but he knocked himself in the face in the batting cage the other day. Arrieta was up to the challenge, however, as he struck out nine over seven innings, ending a personal six-game losing streak and helping the O’s win their fourth straight.

Yankees 3, Braves 2: New York comes into Atlanta and takes three straight. Just like 1996 all over again.

Nationals 6, Blue Jays 2: Stephen Strasburg continues his outrageously good year, striking out eight in six innings and winning his eighth game. Tyler Moore is 25 and is just now getting his footing in the majors, but after a two-homer five RBI day, it looks like he’s gonna make it after all.

Royals 4, Brewers 3: John Axford doesn’t blow a lot of saves, but he blew a two-run lead in the ninth here, giving up a two-run triple to Alcides Escobar, sending it to extras.  In the 11th, Kameron Loe loaded the bases, was yanked for Jose Veras and Veras walked Mike Moustakas on five pitches. Ballgame.

Angels 2, Dodgers 1: Erick Aybar doesn’t hit a lot of homers. Indeed, the game-winning shot he hit in the ninth inning of this one was his first all season. Aybar was also involved in a weird play in which he “dropped” a line drive with a runner on first, but began a double play when he picked up the ball. Umpire Sam Holbrook ruled, however, that Aybar did it on purpose, called the batter out but sent the runner back to first. I can’t recall ever seeing that happen in a game.

Padres 1, Mariners 0: The third 1-0 game of the night. From the files of the unexpected: Jason Marquis threw six and third shutout innings. Shame he has an “r” in his name. If he didn’t he’d be way more badass.

Athletics 10, Rockies 8: Seven straight losses for Colorado, this after leading since the bottom of the first. Brandon Inge hit a two-out, two-run double in the ninth to plate the winning run and an insurance run. Michael Cuddyer hit two homers in a losing cause. Not to be a poop-stirrer, but at what point does Jim Tracy get canned here?

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.