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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 6, Reds 1: Six straight for Madison Bumgarner as he allows one run on three hits over eight innings. Fun times: I spent part of last night in Columbus’ wonderful Bob’s Bar — The Cultural Hub of the Midwest — and they were showing a replay of this game. Dude next to me thought the bright sunshine on the field was because the game was in San Francisco and that we were watching it live. I’d like to spend some time in his head for a while.

Astros 8, Angels 5: Jose Altuve drove in two, George Springer three and each had two a piece in the Astros’ four-run eighth inning. My favorite line of the night goes to Chris Carter, though: 0 for 0, four walks, no runs scored. There’s something beautiful about that, even if it amounted to nothing. It’s like some pure statement of purpose made with little heed for its practical impact. I shall walk.

Marlins 11, Rays 6: Ten losses in a row for the Rays. Figure they’re a couple of losses away from petitioning for the “Devil” to be returned to their name. Macrell Ozuna homered and drove in four. Something called Jacob Realmuto had three RBI in his major league debut. That sorta sounds like a made-up name. Like “Rollo Tomasi” or something.

Blue Jays 7, Tigers 3: The Blue Jays are an absolute buzzsaw right now. And no one saw it coming. Anyone who did is a liar. Six runs off of Justin Verlander, five of them earned. A serviceable outing from J.A. Happ. Just not the sort of things you might expect.

Cubs 7, Mets 4: And the Mets are swept. Travis Wood pitched five decent innings and, though he didn’t get the win, he hit a homer and drove in three. He was a one man gang, really. Like this.

Royals 3, Cardinals 2:  Yordano Ventura won it and was effective, but it was weird that he pitched to contact, relied on his defense and only struck out one. I’d like to see a few more starts out of him to know that he’s feeling better. Lots of dudes with hurt elbows were able to crafty-their-way to a a win here and there. I’d like to see him airing it out and snapping off wicked stuff before we feel better about him.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Nationals 4, Phillies 2: The sweep. Highlighted by Doug Fister doing this. You’re the man now, Dog.

Yankees 2, Athletics 1: Tanaka tames the A’s. He’s pretty much the lone bright spot for the Yankees this year, yes? He and Dellin Betances, maybe. Beyond that it’s pretty much “meh,” right? We’re all waiting for A-Rod to come back next year and save everyone.

Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 7: It was just a few weeks ago when people were all like “that Rockies pitching is not terrible. This could be a difference-maker for them!” My feelings were “Let’s give it some time. It’ll get warmer and drier in Colorado and then people are gonna start knocking the ball all over the place.” Well, they just dropped a three-game series to Arizona while giving up 32 runs on 48 hits. Overall the Rockies have lost seven straight and 11 of 13. So, welp.

Rangers 8, Orioles 6: The Rangers blew a 5-0 lead but scored three in the seventh thanks in part to two J.J. Hardy errors which, gah, what are the odds of that happening?

Brewers 8, Twins 5: The Brewers were down 4-0 thanks to a third inning grand slam by Oswaldo Arcia, but then they clawed back with a three-run shot by Carlos Gomez and a two-run shot by Khris Davis. Jonathan Lucroy’s two-run blast n the ninth gave them some insurance.

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.