Ramon Santiago, Austin Jackson

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.

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.