And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and higlights

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It was a really rough weekend for people in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. Storms, trees down, power outages and intense heat made it for a really crappy weekend. We were fairly lucky here at Chez Craigy. The power was out for only about 24 hours before coming back Saturday evening.

Even luckier: the ex-wife’s power was still out as of late Sunday. Mother Nature can be tough and is usually capricious, but sometimes she’s fair. Not that I’m petty about it or anything. OK, a little petty. Anyway, baseball happened yesterday:

Tigers 5, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is in freefall. They dropped three of four to the Tigers. Clearly it was the Tigers dusting off the most awesomest road jerseys they’ve ever had on Saturday night that did the trick. Seriously, Tigers: keep the pullovers. They’re dead sexy. And yes, I realize they didn’t wear them yesterday. I just wanted to post this pic.

Marlins 5, Phillies 2: Miami sweeps the Phillies who have lost five straight. Ricky Nolasco said after the game:

“A sweep against anybody is big, but we know how good that team is and we’re trying to prevent them from getting on a roll as well”

I see quotes like this from Phillies’ opponents a lot lately. Question: at what point do the other teams have to stop paying lip service like this to how good Philly is and treat wins over them like they would wins over any team with a .444 winning percentage?

Giants 4, Reds 3:  Nice vulture job by Santiago Casilla. It was a perfect one, actually, because not only did he blow the save and vulture the win, but he also allowed an inherited runner to score thereby stiffing his predecessor with an earned run. Casilla entered the top of the ninth with a one-run lead and Jay Bruce on first, who had gotten there via a single off Javier Lopez. Casilla allowed Bruce to score, trying the game and blowing the chance for Ryan Voglesong to get the win after a good day’s work, when he gave up three singles. He finally sets down the side and watches from the dugout as Buster Posey hit a double and Angel Pagan doubled him in (with help from Jay Bruce) with the winning run. Hard-earned win there, Mr. Casilla.

Brewers 2, Diamondbacks 1: Tied at one in the ninth, pinch-runner Carlos Gomez at first. They try to pick him off a gajillion times but they don’t get him. he finally steals second, the throw from the catcher sails into the outfield and the throw to get him at third sails into the stands. Gomez trots home. Ballgame. You know those are the kinds of fundamentals that Kirk Gibson just loves to see screwed up. I’m sure he was something other than placid after the game.

Padres 2, Rockies 0: Great for Kip Wells winning his first game in nearly three years, but him throwing seven shutout innings against Colorado in Coors Field may be the biggest indictment yet against this pretty-frequently indicted 2012 Rockies team.

Angels 10, Blue Jays 6: Mike Trout hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth and the Angels scores seven runs in the final two innings to ruin Canada Day in Toronto. Trout went 2 for 4 with a walk and scored three times. He’s now batting .339 on the year.

Twins 10, Royals 8: Trevor Plouffe homered twice. The Twins came back from being down 5-1, went up 10-5 and then held on to win 10-8. Josh Willingham homered too. Despite having 17 of those on the year and 55 driven in, he was left off the All-Star team. But hey, three days off, yes?

Cubs 3, Astros 0: A sweep of the Astros by Chicago behind seven and two-thirds shutout innings by Travis Wood. Anthony Rizzo drove in another run.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: The Cards salvage one. Allen Craig continues to abuse Pirates pitching with his second homer in three days.

Yankees 4, White Sox 2: With starters dropping like flies lately, the one thing the Yankees seriously need is for dudes like Phil Hughes to step up. And up he has stepped his past couple of starts. In this one he allowed two runs over eight innings, helping save the bullpen on a day they needed a rest.

Nationals 8, Braves 4: Ryan Zimmerman homered and drove in four as the Nats take two of three from the Braves, as they always seem to do. Well, except for four-game series in which they always seem to take three of four.

Indians 6, Orioles 2: Jim Thome made his Orioles’ debut but he didn’t mash any taters. Shelley Duncan mashed a tater, however, and drove in two on a 3 for 4 day.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: Jason Vargas couldn’t get any run support on a fine day of pitching, so it entered extras tied at one. In the tenth two runners reached on Brandon League and then David Ortiz hit a sac fly to score what would be the winning run off Lucas Luetge. Oh, and Will Middlebrooks left the game with hamstring tightness. I wonder if the White Sox are willing to deal their third baseman.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: Yu Darvish struck out 11, but Travis Blackley still out-pitched him despite striking out three. Because strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: The Dodgers gave away a Hello Kitty bobblehead last night and they won. I submit that they should give away Hello Kitty bobbleheads all 81 home games of the season.

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.