And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 10, Mets 0: Actual conversation that took place between a Mets fan I randomly met and I yesterday: the two of us trying to pinpoint exactly when the season ended for New York. Think hard about it: there are so many possible instances you can point to and say “There! Right there! That’s when it was clear that things were effectively over for the Mets.”

Mariners 3, Indians 2: Tribe closer Chris Perez comes into a tie game in the ninth, hits a dude, hits another dude, and then throws the ball away on a sacrifice attempt. I guess the error ended up not mattering — the g0-ahead run scored on a sac fly that would have plated the run even if the bunter was out at first on the previous play — but it added spice. The sweep by the Tigers was bad, but one gets the sense that we’re seeing the Indians’ season sort of ending before our eyes.

Brewers 8, Pirates 1, Pirates 9, Brewers 2: In the first game Chris Narveson allowed no runs in five and a third and drove in two for himself. I’m kind of a stats moron, but when I see something like that I feel like making up — with a totally straight face — some baloney metric about NL pitcher run differential or something and see if I can get anyone to run with it. Game two: Zack Greinke was rocked, allowing seven runs on seven hits. (and not driving in any, making his NLPRD a negative 7).

Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 1: The Diamondbacks keep skidding out of control. They’ve scored seven runs in six games. Damn shame someone has to represent the NL West in the playoffs. Not that there’s anyone else that we can allow in in their place, what with there only being three good NL teams this year apparently.

Tigers 5, Rays 2: You’ll be shocked to learn that the Tigers won a Justin Verlander start (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8K). Jhonny Peralta drove in two. He’s having the quietest .315/.361/.512 season for a shortstop in recent memory.

Orioles 4, Twins 1: J.J. Hardy — former Twin — hit a homer. It inspired Gleeman to make the following observation during last night’s game:

J.J. Hardy has 24 homers in 383 at-bats. Twins’ entire infield, including anyone to play 1B, 2B, SS, or 3B, has 37 homers in 2,320 at-bats.

But no, the Twins had no use for the guy at all.

Braves 3, Cubs 0: Jair Jurrjens had been beaten up in four of his last five starts, so he needed this. Jose Constanza went 2 for 3 and scored a run and … left with an ankle injury. Even if you’re in the “he’s gonna turn into a pumpkin soon” camp, losing him for any amount of time wouldn’t be good because, you know, he still hasn’t turned into a pumpkin. Seems minor, though.

Rockies 9, Astros 5: The Astros had baserunners all night — they had 11 hits off starter Jhoulys Chacin — but couldn’t do much of anything with them. The Rockies got an early 6-0 lead off Brett Myers who, in hindsight, probably didn’t deserve that contract extension he received last year.

Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1: St. Louis took a 1-0 lead into the ninth. After starter Chris Carpenter — who had shut L.A. out for eight innings — hit the first batter he faced in the ninth, La Russa did the “let’s use three pitchers to face three batters thing.” Arthur Rhodes struck out Andre Ethier, but then Fernando Salas surrendered a triple to Aaron Miles, he got yanked, and then Jason Motte induced a grounder that Rafael Furcal bobbled, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Rangers 4, Red Sox 0: C.J. Wilson and the trio of Uehara, Adams and Feliz shut out Boston. A three-run homer for Mike Napoli was the big blast.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?