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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Kobe’s last game? Golden State going for the record? Over a dozen night baseball games? That’s all good, but after the Braves went down 3-0 and looked to be on their way to yet another loss I switched to Art Carney and Lily Tomlin in “The Late Show,” which is one of the weirder but still more fun 1970s movies I’ve seen in a while. Sometimes you gotta step away from sports and remind yourself that no matter how old you are, there are some cool movies you haven’t seen and then make a point to see them.

Anyway, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 2, Marlins 1: Why I could never be a fan of a New York team: people were talking about this afterwards as if it were a “must-win” game. Like, not just crazy fans and columnists. The manager of the team was saying stuff like this. Baseball is supposed to fun, man. If my team thinks it has a must-win game on April 13 I’m just gonna get all freaked out and not enjoy myself for six months. This was enjoyable though.

Angels 5, Athletics 1: Four in a row for the Angels thanks to Matt Shoemaker and Albert Pujols. The Angels are still my dark horse “collapse at some point over the summer and have a really ugly end to the season” team this year — maybe the only real candidate for this in the AL — but for now they’re humming along pretty well.

Indians 4, Rays 1: Terry Francona said starter Carlos Carrasco was battling some “intestinal turmoil” at the beginning of the game. Given that he pitched eight innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts I’d hate to see what he would’ve done to the Rays if his intestines were a placid sea of peacefulness. In other news, I heard that one of my favorite hardcore bands from the 1980s, “Intestinal Turmoil,” is getting back together. I probably won’t go to any of their shows, though. Not the same since their bass player killed all of those people and then died after choking on prison food while awaiting trial. I lost interest then, because that was a pretty boring way for a 1980s hardcore band member to die, comparatively speaking. Show me something, man. Show you’re committed to the scene.

Mariners 4, Rangers 2: The Mariners had a 2-1 lead in the eighth but blew it and it was 2-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning when Dae-ho Lee came up to bat. He was benched because a righty got the start — and had been struggling anyway — but Lee came up big in a pinch hitting situation, smacking an 0-2 fastball off Jake Diekman for a walkoff two-run homer.

Red Sox 4, Orioles 2: The O’s finally lose one. Had to happen eventually, as there has never been a team to go 162-0 in a baseball season. Not even in that 1988 version of Lance Hafner Baseball I had for my Commodore 64 in which I created a team consisting of Bench, Gehrig, Morgan, Wagner, Schmidt, Mays, Ruth and Aaron with a pitching staff that matched up to that talent level. I think I ended up going 150-12 or something like that, because even computer systems in 1988 had that annoying “look, I know you’re taking advantage of me here, but I am NOT going to stand for this” mode. I think the first team to beat me was the 1987 Tigers or Blue Jays. After that I really cooled on my team. Don’t do that, O’s fans. Your guys are still good.

Brewers 6, Cardinals 4: “Hello. My name is Domingo Santana. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” At least that’s what I assume Santana said to Trevor Rosenthal before their ninth inning faceoff. It went about as well for Rosenthal as things went for Count Rugen. With go-ahead two-run homers being about as welcome to relievers as a sword to the gut.

Nationals 3, Braves 0Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings. He was a spot starter, as Stephen Strasburg was scheduled to go but was scratched due to an illness. The spot starter could’ve been Art Carney or Lily Tomlin and it would’ve gone the same way. Art Carney has been dead for over 12 years and Lily Tomlin is 76 years-old. The Braves are bad.

White Sox 3, Twins 0Carlos Rodon was very Carlos Rodony, showing great stuff and not giving up any runs but still walking five in six innings. When he puts it together he’s gonna be something. He just hasn’t put it together yet. Didn’t have to really have it together, however, given that he was facing the Twins. Jerry Sands gave the Sox some insurance with a two-run homer in the seventh off of Phil Hughes. The Twins are 0-8. They too are bad.

Phillies 2, Padres 1: Jared Eickhoff struck out nine in seven scoreless innings and Maikel Franco homered, doubled and drove in two. The Phillies: actually playing good baseball for a team that’s supposed to suck.

Tigers 7, Pirates 3Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s 100th career homer was a grand slam which brought the Tigers back from a 2-1 deficit and put them ahead to stay. Losing James McCann was bad, but Saltalamacchia can hit a bit.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 2: Still not used to a world in which J.A. Happ is a money starter, but he has been. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his past 12 starts and here it was one run over six. After the game he was asked what was key to his performance and he said “making some big pitches.” Ah. Jose Bautista got his 800th career RBI. I presume he was happy to help the team get a big win against a good opponent.

Cubs 9, Reds 2: Alfredo Simon gave up five runs on four hits and three walks and didn’t even make it out of the first inning. Maybe he wanted to go watch “The Late Show” too. He’s not big on Carney or Tomlin I hear, but a young Joanna Cassidy has a small role in this one and who doesn’t love Bill Macy?

Royals 4, Astros 2: The Ken Giles acquisition is not yet making Astros fans happy. Sal Perez smacked a tiebreaking two-run homer off of him in the eighth inning. Giles has given up three home runs in four games. He’s my early favorite for “relief pitcher who punches a wall in frustration, fracturing his pitching hand” this season. It’s early, though.

Rockies 10, Giants 6: Nolan Arenado homered twice, doubled, singled and drove in seven runs. Meanwhile, Trevor Story had two triples. Nice to see him mixing things up like that. Too many homers make people suspicious.

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Diamondbacks’ starters are 0-6 with a 6.61 ERA through the team’s first nine games. And their defense stinks. And they couldn’t do anything against Alex Wood, who allowed one run and pitched into the eighth. Adrian Gonzalez hit a homer.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.