R.A. Dickey

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Blue Jays 3, Rays 0: R.A. Dickey throws a Maddux (i.e. a shutout in under 100 pitches), with his knuckler back up to the velocity he featured so often during his Cy Young season. Game was over in two hours, ten minutes.

Athletics 5, Reds 0: A.J. Griffin needed 108 pitches for his two-hit shutout and the game lasted ten more minutes but he still did it. Surprising too, given that he walked two of the first three batters he faced in the game.

Marlins 5, Twins 3: Placido Polanco — who I had no idea played for the Marlins, if that tells you how much attention I pay to the Marlins — homered for the first time in a year. Jeff Mathis hit one too. That’s the Marlins’ 13th win this month, which ensures they’ll have a winning record for June. How about them apples?

Phillies 7, Padres 5: This one ended in the 13th inning when Ben Revere hit a grounder to second baseman Logan Forsythe who (a) bobbled it; and (b) made an errant throw home. Two runs scored and that’s all Philly needed. Philly lost the first one of this series in awful fashion but then took the final two. Tell anyone who talks about momentum in baseball to get bent.

Rangers 8, Yankees 5: Nelson Cruz homered and  Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski hit back-to-back two-run doubles. Andy Pettitte was more like Andy MEHttitte again.

Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jordan Zimmermann gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings. The runs and two of those hits came in the first. The final six were dominant.

Pirates 4, Mariners 2: Felix Hernandez struck out 11 and gave up only two runs, but as so often is the case with him on this team, it wasn’t enough. The Buccos rallied for two in the ninth to break the tie and win the game. Six straight wins for the Pirates, who are now tied with the Cardinals for both the NL Central lead and the best record in all of baseball.

Cubs 5, Brewers 4: At the other end of the division, the Brewers loss here ties them with the Cubs for last in the NL Central. Scott Feldman pitched well and Kevin Gregg bent pretty hard but did not break in the ninth.

Dodgers 4, Giants 2: The sweep. If you didn’t pick the Giants to win the NL West odds had you picking the Dodgers before the season began. Now these two are in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Clayton Kershaw gave up two runs over eight innings.

Reds Sox 5, Rockies 3: John Lackey’s fastball was up to 95 and he struck out 12 over seven innings. Roy Oswalt failed to impress for the second straight time, allowing five runs in six innings.

Indians 4, Orioles 3: A one run lead in the ninth? Call Jim Johnson. Jim Johnson. Wat R U doin’? Jim Johnson. Stahp! Walk-double-walk-fielder’s choice-fielder’s choice, lead blown.

Angels 7, Tigers 4: The Angels have won eight straight over the Tigers. Mike Trout homered and drove in three. Tommy Hanson was scratched from the start before the game and was replaced by Billy Buckner and a cast of thousands. More or less.

Mets 3, White Sox 0: Eight shutout innings for Shaun Marcum who picks up his first win of the year. Eric Young Jr. was 3 for 4.

Royals 4, Braves 3: The Royals blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh but then Alex Gordon won it with a walkoff single in the 10th.

Astros 4, Cardinals 3: St. Louis has now lost four of five and, as noted above, fall into a first place tie with Pittsburgh. I predict now I will be asked 100 times this week if Pittsburgh is for real. No one ever asks me if the Cardinals are for real.

Bryce Harper reportedly wants a $400 million extension

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.

What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”

That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.

The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.

UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered:

At least one quarter of the Today’s Committee owed Bud Selig a solid

Bud Selig
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OXON HILL, MD — The 16-member committee that voted Bud Selig and John Schuerholz into the Hall of Fame — the “Today’s Game” Committee — consisted of the following members: Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bobby Cox, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Pat Gillick, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton, and Frank Thomas, major league owners/executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Phillies) and Kevin Towers (Reds); and media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt and Tim Kurkjian.

That’s certainly a venerable list of names. A quarter of that electorate, however, could be characterized as having a pretty notable conflict of interest when it comes to Bud Selig. At least if anyone cared about things like conflict of interest when it comes to baseball.

Whatever the case, two of those 16 guys became owners — and even more wealthier as a result — due to his affirmatively choosing or approving them to join sports’ most exclusive club. Two others were personally chosen by Selig to assist him over the years, raising their profile and importance in the game and giving them resume pieces that will one day be part of their own Hall of Fame cases.

  • Royals owner David Glass: Became the Royals CEO and Chairman in 1993, right after Selig became the acting commissioner. Glass was a key ally for Selig’s efforts to impose a salary cap and take a financial hard line in negotiations with the union, which eventually led to the 1994-95 strike. In 1999-2000 he became the full owner of the Royals after Selig personally stepped in to stop a bid for the club by a competing ownership group and is thus widely refereed to as Selig’s handpicked man. Glass is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served for decades.
  • Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr.: Bought his club in 1995, after Selig had taken over and thus would not be a baseball owner without Selig’s approval. DeWitt was a point man for Selig on a host of his pet projects, including the Wild Card and interleague play. He likewise led the charge for revenue sharing and other potentially divisive financial matters which tended to be in the interest of smaller market clubs, the sort of which Selig himself championed when he was a mere owner. DeWitt chaired the committee to find Selig’s successor, which eventually served to validate Selig’s desire to have his hand-picked choice, Rob Manfred, succeed him.
  • Phillies President Andy MacPhail: Selig’s handpicked choice for the labor negotiating committee in 2002 which, at the time, continued speculation that MacPhail would one day be on the short list to succeed Selig. A few years before that MacPhail was public in saying that Selig would be the right choice to become permanent commissioner at a time when many were concerned that a team owner assuming that role was a conflict of interest.
  • Former President of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston: In the late 90s, Beeston resigned as president of the Toronto Blue Jays following a successful reign to accepted baseball’s newly created position of president and chief operating officer. The move was widely seen as a means of giving Selig a top lieutenant — a defacto deputy commissioner — which would help him smooth his transition from acting commissioner to permanent commissioner. Many thought at the time that if Beeston was not hired for that gig, Selig may have declined the full-time commissioner’s role. Selig was described in the press at the time as a strong admirer of Beeston’s. In 2014, Beeston reflected glowingly on Selig’s legacy, saying, “I absolutely admire him on this steroid thing.” Beeston is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served.

Is there anything necessarily wrong with that? No. Baseball is a small world and Bud Selig existed in it for a long, long time, so having a relationship with Selig was pretty unavoidable for almost anyone with any sort of profile in the game. No technical rule or historical baseball norm was violated by virtue of this vote or the composition of the committee itself. Indeed, the old Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame was widely seen as a group of good old boys voting their old friends. Worth noting, perhaps, that that iteration of the Veterans Committee was abolished precisely for that reason, but I suppose we’ll leave that go for now.

I wonder, however, what the vote totals would have been for some of the other candidates if 25% of their electorate consisted of people who owed personal and professional debts to them the way Selig’s electorate owed him. Maybe Barry Bonds’ agent could get a Hall of Fame vote? Roger Clemens’ mechanic? Mark McGwire’s interior designer?

I suppose we’ll never know.