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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Seems like every game is nothing but a homer fest anymore. Baseball is nothing but dingers now. I wonder if chicks are gettin’ a bit tired of the longball.

Braves 9, Blue Jays 5Dansby Swanson hit a homer in the seventh inning, breaking a 5-all tie and helping the Braves take both games of the two-game set. Freddie Freeman went 2-for-4, walked and hit another homer, his 14th on the year. Overall the NL East may be the worst division, but it’s got the three best hitters in the NL so far this year with Freeman, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.

Nationals 8, Pirates 4: Speaking of Harper and Zimmerman, the former went 2-for-4 with a homer and the latter doubled in two. Harper’s homer almost landed in the Allegheny River. After the game he said this:

“I don’t worry about hitting the ball in the water,” Harper said. “Matt [Williams] used to say, ‘It’s not how far. It’s how many.’ Just trying to put the ball in play, and sometimes it goes over the fence.”

Matt Williams was a great player, but man he seems kind of boring.

Rays 6, Indians 4: The Rays hit five homers in all. Corey Dickerson hit two of them, one of them went 450 feet. After the game Dickerson took issue with that estimate and said he thought it went farther than 450. Guess he never met Matt Williams. Danny Salazar gave up four of the homers. No word if he thinks that “you just have to tip your cap” to the Rays hitters.

Orioles 13, Tigers 11: An extra innings homer is pretty special. Chris Davis hit two of them. He led off the 12th with a solo shot as the O’s scored three. The Tigers matched those three runs in the bottom half, however, giving Davis another chance. In the 13th he hit a two-run drive to give the O’s their winning margin. OK, maybe Matt Williams was right about that whole quantity thing. In other news, the Orioles led 7-1 after three innings, only to squander that lead and then some, requiring a Mark Trumbo homer in the ninth to force extras. Seven total dingers in this game. J.D. Martinez drove in five in a losing cause.

Astros 12, Marlins 4: A huge early lead allowed Dallas Keuchel to have a short, 70-pitch night and leave after five, confident that he’d go on to get his 7th win of the year. Jake Marisnick hit two two-run bombs. The Astros have the best record in baseball.

Rangers 5, Phillies 1: Yu Darvish rung up nine strikeouts in seven one-run innings, notching his 50th career win. Maybe I should say he did it in “seven inning, in which he allowed one run overall.” “Seven one-run innings” could mean he allowed one run in each of them. It reminds me of an old SNL sketch in which Ed Asner played the supervisor of a nuclear power plant who told his employees “remember, you can never put too much water in a nuclear reactor.” He leaves and they’re not sure if that means don’t put too much in or, alternatively, that it’s impossible to put too much in. Then it explodes and everyone dies. That was in the Joe Piscopo years, I believe. I realize the Dick Ebersol SNL years don’t get as much pub as the Lorne Michaels ones, but those were the first ones I watched and there was some real quality there that has been lost to history. And not just the Eddie Murphy stuff. Anyway, (a) I’m old; and (b) The Rangers have won seven in a row and, after a horrific start, have pulled to .500.

Cubs 9, Reds 5Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber homered, giving the Cubs the win. It also happened to give Joe Maddon his 1,000th career win as a manager. He celebrated by drinking wine during the press conference:

Somewhere Darren Rovell is tweeting about how much that cost the Gatorade people in forgone postgame drink visibility rights or some nonsense.

Rockies 7, Twins 3Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run homer, drove in three and had three hits on the night. The Rockies early season success is notable enough, but it’s even more notable that they’re 12-5 on the road. Somewhere Darren Rovell is tweeting about how much damage the Rockies are doing to their brand, which was forged in part on road game futility. The AP gamer contains the sentence “Phil Hughes had another disappointing outing.” At least someone is keeping on-brand.

Red Sox 6, Cardinals 3: The second of two former World Series matchups on the night (first person to name the other one in the comments wins a free HBT subscription for life). Here Mookie Betts homered and drove in two, Jackie Bradley Jr. went deep too. Eduardo Rodriguez allowed three runs and five hits. It was only the Cardinals second loss in ten games.

Yankees 7, Royals 1: CC Sabathia tossed shutout ball into the seventh. Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer and Chris Carter hit a two-run shot. Sabathia is 13-5 in 21 career starts at Kauffman, which ties him for the most career wins there by a visiting pitcher. “I love pitching here,” Sabathia said. “It’s my favorite park.” I’m too lazy to look at which visitor has the most wins at the K. Gonna guess Verlander — has to be someone from the unbalanced schedule era, right? — but I have no idea.

UPDATE:

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4: Nothing is going right for the Mets lately. They botched a rundown and let Paul Goldschmidt steal home in the process, so that was fun. Yasmany Tomas hit a homer in his fifth straight game against the Mets. Zack Greinke allowed four runs on five hits while striking out eight in six and two-thirds. Not great, but good enough against a team that has taken shooting itself in the foot to new heights. Or depths.

Angels 7, White Sox 6: The Angels had a three-run lead in the ninth but couldn’t hold it. Then the Chisox took a 6-5 lead in the 11th, but couldn’t hold it. Cameron Maybin had five hits on the night, his final one a game-tying double. Then Albert Pujols singled home the winning run for the walkoff win. It was the Angels’ seventh walkoff win this year.

Athletics 9, Mariners 6: “Jesus, everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.” Unless you’re the A’s, as this one ended well in their view. They were down one heading into the ninth only to put up five runs thanks to a two-run homer from Matt Joyce and a three-run shot from Mark Canha. The former came off of Steve Cishek, the latter off of Marc Rzepczynski. This a day after their usual closer, Edwin Diaz, walked the whole dang ballpark. I’m no expert, but I think it’s possible the M’s have some bullpen issues.

Brewers 6, Padres 2: Five first inning runs for the Brewers held up. Milwaukee leads all of baseball in bombs, but all of those runs, plus their sixth run later, came without the aid of a home run. Chicks loved this one, I bet. At least the ones who showed up at Petco last night, which wasn’t many.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Rich Hill came back and allowed one run over five, but Ty Blach allowed only one run over seven for the Giants and his bullpen was better. Not that the Dodgers’ pen was bad or anything, but Brandon Crawford did single home a run in the sixth for the winning margin. Brandon Belt homered for the fourth time in six games. The Giants have won five of six.

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.