Phillies celebrate

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 6, Rockies 3: Chase Utley tied it on an RBI single in the ninth and then Ryan Howard hit a walkoff three-run bomb. Thing is, LaTroy Hawkins should’ve had the game closed out before either of those guys came to the plate, but Josh Rutledge had a throwing error which allowed both Utley and Howard to bat with two outs.

Athletics 3, Tigers 1: Another game, another wakoff three-run home run. This one from Josh Donaldson off Joe Nathan, who was trying to preserve a 1-0 lead handed to him by a dominant-until-the-ninth Anibal Sanchez. That threw the win to the equally deserving Scott Kazmir, who allowed only one run while going the distance.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Moises Sierra drove in the winning run with a walkoff single. Both T.J. House for the Indians and Hector Noesi for the Sox pitched some pretty spiffy baseball, but neither factored in to the decision. Jason Giambi hit his 440th home run. Then he and his mule went back into the canyon, ready to scare off any other snoopers who come nosing around to jump his claim.

Mets 5, Pirates 0: Bartolo Colon tossed a shutout into the eighth and was at the plate for the wild pitch that scored the first Mets run. And he looked like this as he swung at it:

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In his defense, he looks like that when he swings at everything. And he’s 0 for 17 on the year with ten strikeouts. I feel like the DH in the NL is inevitable, but I also want them to wait until Bartolo Colon is done playing in the NL because how can you deprive us of this, Baseball Gods?

Astros 9, Royals 3: Another game, another homer for George Springer. That’s nine in May for him. Chris Carter homered twice. The Astros sweep the Royals, who have lost four in a row.

Giants 5, Cubs 0: Six Giants pitchers, led off by Tim Lincecum, combine for a two-hit shutout of the Cubs. Despite only two hits, the Cubs had ten base runners as Giants pitchers walked five and hit a batter and two more Cubs reached on errors. They couldn’t convert, though.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: That’s nine straight for Toronto, this one coming on a walkoff E-1 following a bunt to the pitcher. The other two runs scored on an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion in the first.

Marlins 8, Nationals 5: Miami blew a 4-0 lead but the Nats bullpen fell apart in the tenth with Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett allowing four runs of their own. Henderson Alvarez left this one for the Marlins with elbow stiffness. Sadly that’s not too rare a thing in baseball this year.

Red Sox 4, Braves 0: John Lackey pitched a shutout into the seventh and Sox hitters dinked and dunked Gavin Floyd and Alex Wood to death. Three straight wins for Boston now. This one coming on Idiots Day at Fenway.

Brewers 8, Orioles 3: Nelson Cruz hit homers 18 and 19, but they came in a losing effort. Ryan Braun’s two-run double and Khris Davis’ three-run homer came in a winning effort.

Rangers 1, Twins 0: Joe Saunders and four relievers combine for the shutout, with their only run of support coming on a Luis Sardinas single in the seventh. Not bad for Saunders, who was making his first start in two months.

Yankees 7, Cardinals 4: Hiroki Kuroda won on the road for the first time in 11 starts, stretching back to last year. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and three RBI. The Yankees take the series. Brian McCann started at first base and went 2 for 4. So that was something.

Diamondbacks 12, Padres 6: An eight-run first for Arizona pretty much ended this one before it started. Dbacks starter Chase Anderson got 18 runs of support in the start before this one. He’s gonna get spoiled.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: King Felix took a shutout into the ninth and struck out nine. Mike Zunino drove in both of the M’s runs, one on a solo shot.

Reds 3, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw pitched OK, but Homer Bailey pitched better. Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer, but Brandon Phillips hit a two-run shot. Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.

 

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.