Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Major League Baseball continues to ignore Labor Day in its holiday celebrations

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Major League Baseball rolls out special jerseys and caps for several holidays. And, as they are quick to remind you, they back up those special caps and jerseys with charitable outreach. Funds and awareness are raised for various noble causes for Earth Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July via baseball’s highly-visible and well-publicized on-the-field nods to them during the season.

But not Labor Day. There are no special caps, jerseys or philanthropic tie-ins on this day. No statement from the commissioner honoring labor, organized or otherwise. It can’t be because Major League Baseball doesn’t know it’s Labor Day. I mean, they scheduled 13 of today’s 15 games for this afternoon, which never happens on a Monday, so they’re taking financial advantage of the holiday. They just can’t seem to be bothered to care about its purpose. Indeed, at times in the past parts of Major League Baseball have been downright hostile to anyone acknowledging its purpose.

This, of course, is not just Major League Baseball’s failing. It’s a reflection of where we are as a society. Organized labor makes up a smaller portion of the workforce than it ever has. Even a great many of the people who do the working in this country have bought in to the notion — propagated by those who profit from labor — that unions are tools of the communists and giving any lip service to the rights of workers is a suspect and even un-American pursuit. Good, secure jobs with good pay and benefits have come to be seen as rare luxuries for which it is rude to ask, let alone expect. Many workers have adopted the language of the rich and powerful in this regard, having been convinced that their need to hustle harder than they used to in order to make less in real dollars than they used to is somehow a good thing. As if using your time off from your main job to drive an Uber or to let in boarders in your apartment via Airbnb is “entrepreneurial” rather than “taking a second, benefits-free job to make ends meet.”

There are obvious political overtones to any conversation about labor. But no matter what your views are when it comes to those matters, the fact remains that the whole fabric of our society rests upon labor. People die on the job every day. People have died in the name of worker’s rights and in the name of keeping more people from dying on the job. Labor built this country. The labor movement has saved lives that would have been lost and has elevated the standard of living of families. Odds are that, whether you accept it or not, labor and workers in your own family allowed you to get where you are now.

Labor activists may not be commonly portrayed as conventionally heroic as soldiers and the work of the labor movement may not be as visible nor as immediately relatable as that of our military, but they are still worth your remembrance. They are worth a moment and a gesture. They are worth the time and recognition of our institutions. That includes Major League Baseball, which has, for half a century, owed its billions to the work of an active and organized labor force.

Maybe a special cap or jersey isn’t a big deal and maybe it wouldn’t make a difference. But our values are revealed in both our substantive and our symbolic gestures. And it’s regrettable that the quintessentially American institution of baseball can’t find time to give even a nod to the men and women who form the figurative foundation of American society and built the literal foundation of America itself.

Settling the Scores: Sunday’s results

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Happy Labor Day, everyone. I’ll probably put my annual lefty Labor Day rant up later to aggravate half to two-thirds of you, but for now I’ll just stick to baseball.

Yasiel Puig hit a three-run homer to lead the Dodgers over the Padres yesterday. He also walked twice. In his two games back from exile he’s reached base in five of eight plate appearances. That’ll do.

The Blue Jays avoided a sweep at the hands of the Rays while the Red Sox were prevented from sweeping the A’s thanks to a walkoff double from Khris Davis. Same story for the Orioles and the Yankees, except the Yankees didn’t win with a walkoff from Khris Davis, what with him playing for the A’s and all. The AL East currently features the Jays up on the Red Sox by a game and the Sox up two above the Orioles. Meanwhile, the Tigers took two of three from Kansas City and stand tied with Baltimore for the second Wild Card.

In the National League, the Giants lost three of four to the Cubs, who remain ridiculous. They may come around and lap the Reds and Brewers soon. The Dodgers took two of three from San Diego and have a three-game lead in the NL West. They get Clayton Kershaw back this week too so, yeah. The Mets took two of three from the Nats and the Cardinals dropped two of three to the Reds, making the Wild Card fun: the Cards are a game up on New York for the second slot. The Pirates. losers of six straight, are playing their way out of the picture.

Here are the scores:

Cardinals 5, Reds 2
Blue Jays 5, Rays 3
Yankees 5, Orioles 2
Braves 2, Phillies 0
Brewers 10, Pirates 0
White Sox 13, Twins 11
Tigers 6, Royals 5
Cubs 3, Giants 2
Astros 7, Rangers 6
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0
Indians 6, Marlins 5
Angels 4, Mariners 2
Dodgers 7, Padres 4
Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 5
Mets 5, Nationals 1

Yasiel Puig to be in the Dodgers lineup tonight, playing right field

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said today that Yasiel Puig “is definitely on his way” to Los Angeles and that “he’ll be in the lineup tonight, playing right field,” as the Dodgers face the Padres.

Puig, of course, hit .348/.400/.594 in 19 games since being demoted to Oklahoma City. His demotion was for both baseball and attitude purposes, it would seem, with everyone at the time making noises about Puig needing to focus as well as become a more consistent offensive threat. He certainly handled the baseball side of things down at Triple-A. With the exception of a noted SnapChat controversy soon after his demotion, he was reportedly a good citizen down on the farm as well.

So, why is Puig back up? The hitting certainly helps, as Josh Reddick, who was traded for in large part to replace Puig in the lineup, has tanked since coming over from Oakland, hitting .161/.223/.172. He wasn’t immune from weird off-the-field headlines himself, missing time after getting injured while ordering room service in a hotel.

The biggest question will be how Puig plays now that he’s back in the big leagues. Will he remain focused and will that hot bat he flashed in the minors carry over? If so, a lot of his past sins will be overlooked as playing well tends to eclipse most things when it comes to ballplayers. It’ll also be worth watching his teammates, many of whom clearly have issues with him, with at least one of them apparently spreading misinformation about him as he got sent down to the minors in an effort to make him look bad.

But again: if he plays well, all sins are forgiven.