And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

6 Comments

Mets 6, Indians 4: The Mets and R.A. Dickey simply can’t lose.  The previous sentence would have made no logical sense to anyone on the planet just a few short weeks ago. Seven straight for the Mets as they go back home to face the Yankees. Well, they’ll be on the road, technically, but they will be able to sleep in their own beds and everything.  In other news, we heard that both John Maine and Oliver Perez are making rehabilitation starts down on the farm someplace. The way things are going for the big club since they left, I have this feeling that there will be “setbacks” in their rehab.

Phillies 7, Yankees 1: As everyone predicted, the Phillies were simply waiting to go play the hapless New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium in order to snap out of their funk. Between Jamie Moyer throwing his near-stationary junk by them on Wednesday night and Kyle Kendrick baffling them with sinkers last night, methinks the book on the Yankees may be to lay off the gas.

Braves 3, Rays 1: Atlanta holds off Philly and New York by somehow taking two of three from the Rays. Tim Hudson gave up one run in seven innings for his seventh win in what has been one of the quieter spiffy seasons among pitchers this year (7-2, 2.34 ERA). Jason Heyward hit his first homer since May 29th.

Red Sox 8, Diamondbacks 5: With both the Bombers and the Rays losing, the Sox are now only two games back. According to the AP game story “Boston became the only team with three eight-game winners.”  If this was the 80s, Donruss would come up with a special card with Lester, Lackey and Buchholz on it each holding out baseballs with the number eight written on them in magic marker over the title “Eight Balls” or something. Actually, come to think of it, Donruss may have already done that with Dave Parker, Dale Berra and Rod Scurry. Different deal altogether, though.

Royals
5, Astros 2
: Here’s some bizarre stuff: Yuniesky Betancourt hit a
line drive to shortstop Geoff Blum in the fifth that led to the end of
the inning when David DeJesus was doubled off second. Except the umpires
reversed the call after everyone left the field, ruling that the ball
had been trapped, not caught. They ended up calling Betancourt out at
first, ruling that Geoff Blum would have thrown him out, and they
awarded DeJesus third base. This despite the fact that Blum never threw
to first base and despite the fact that DeJesus  likely never would have
advanced to third if it was a ground ball to the left side.

And guess what? The umps seem to have gotten this right. Replays seem to
show that the ball was trapped.  The umpires — checking their egos for
the good of the game — got the call right once they conferred. Given
that runners were in motion and stuff it’s not easy to figure out what
to do on the play, but Rule 9.01 (c) states that each umpire
“has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these
rules,” and this kind of play seems not to be in the rules.  I’ll think
harder about this one as the morning unfolds and the coffee kicks in,
but as of now I think that, even though you maybe should keep DeJesus at second
base on the call, all-in-all
this makes sense as a good bit of judgment and a good bit of umpiring.

Rockies 5, Twins 1: Ubaldo Jimenez gives up eight hits. It’s a shame to
see his season unravel like that.

Reds 7, Dodgers 1:  I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. It
was Arroyoriffic
.

Rangers 6, Marlins 4: The Rangers sweep the Feesh behind three RBI from Ian Kinsler. Mike Stanton is now 0 for his last 12 with six strikeouts.

White Sox 5, Pirates 4: How low can the Pirates go?  That’s 11 straight in the dustbin for Pittsburgh. The Sox have won seven of eight. Mark Buehrle is now the winningest interleague pitcher, running his record to 22-6 against the NL in regular season games, which puts him one ahead of Jamie Moyer and Mike Mussina. Moyer will probably pass up Buehrle once the latter retires, however.

Cubs 3, Athletics 2: Kosuke Fukudome came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth, hit a single and came around to score the tying run, stayed in the game and drove home the winning run with a ninth inning single. Jerry Blevins gave up that last hit, by the way. I guess he wasn’t lucky.

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: What good is this Stephen Strasburg character if he can’t help the Nats win?!  They’re under .500 since he’s been called up! Give me Jack Morris or someone who knows what it takes to put Ws on the board over some overpriced strikeout machine any day!  (did you like that? I’m thinking of trying out to do some talk radio and I figured I could hone my shtick here a bit. OK, now check this out):  And what’s with Miguel Cabrera?!  Sure, he he’s hitting .332 with 19 homers and 59 RBI, but I have yet to see him once lay down a bunt and get the runner over this year and he never hits the ball the other way to take what the defense is giving him!  It’s all me-first stats with that guy! Next caller!

Nick Markakis: ‘I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?’

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
16 Comments

Earlier today, the Braves inked veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a club option for the 2020 season worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. Though Markakis is 35 years old, he’s coming off of a terrific season in which he played in all 162 games and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 705 trips to the plate. Markakis had just completed a four-year, $44 million contract, so he took a substantial pay cut.

Per David O’Brien of The Athletic, Markakis asked his kids where they wanted him to play and they said Atlanta. O’Brien also asked Markakis about the pay cut. The outfielder said, “I’m not mad at all. I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”

This seemingly innocuous comment by Markakis is actually damaging for his peers and for the union. Baseball as a game is indeed a “kids’ game,” but Major League Baseball is a billion-dollar business that has been setting revenue records year over year. The players have seen a smaller and smaller percentage of the money MLB makes since the beginning of the 2000’s. Furthermore, Markakis only gets paid “a lot of money” relative to, say, a first-year teacher or a clerk at a convenience store. Relative to the value of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, and relative to the value of Major League Baseball itself, Markakis’s salary is a drop in the ocean.

That Markakis is happy to take a pay cut is totally fine, but it’s harmful for him to publicly justify that because it creates the expectation that his peers should feel the same way and creates leverage for ownership. His comments mirror those who sympathize first and foremost with billionaire team owners. They are common arguments used to justify paying players less, giving them a smaller and smaller cut of the pie. Because Markakis not only took a pay cut but defended it, front office members of the Braves as well as the 29 other teams can point to him and guilt or shame other players for asking for more money.

“Look at Nick, he’s a team player,” I envision a GM saying to younger Braves player who is seeking a contract extension, or a free agent looking to finally find a home before spring training. “Nick’s stats are as good as yours, so why should you make more money than him?”

Contrast Markakis’s approach with Yasmani Grandal‘s. Grandal reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million contract offer from the Mets early in the offseason and settled for a one-year, $18.25 million contract with the Brewers. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Grandal said on MLB Network, “I felt like part of my responsibility as a player was to respect the guys that went through this process before I did. Guys like Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina, These are guys who established markets and pay levels for upper-tier catchers like me. I felt like I was doing a disservice if I were to take some of the deals that were being thrown around. I wanted to keep the line moving especially for some of the younger guys that are coming up … to let them know, if you’re worthy, then you should get paid what you’re worth. That’s where I was coming from.”

Grandal’s comments are exactly what a member of a union should be saying, unapologetically. The MLBPA needs to get all of its members on the same page when it comes to discussing contracts or labor situations in general publicly. What Markakis said seems selfless and innocent — and I have no doubt he is being genuine without malice — but it could reduce the bargaining power players have across the table from ownership, which means less money. They are already being bamboozled, at least until the next collective bargaining agreement. They don’t need to be bamboozled any more.