And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 9, Nationals 6: Joey Votto hit three homers including a walkoff grand slam.  Yeah, that’ll play. The back end of the Nats bullpen continues to be horrific.

Marlins 8, Mets 4: Earlier in the day Giancarlo Stanton hit a walkoff slam of his own capping a six-run bottom of the ninth for Miami. Heath Bell got the decision despite giving up two in the top of the ninth. Guess he just knows how to win.

Phillies 3, Padres 2: Cole Hamels got an extra day of rest and then got to face one of the worst offenses in baseball. How is that punishment again? Hamels allowed one run over seven innings and apparently didn’t have to welcome any rookies to the big leagues with Old School Baseball.

Braves 7, Cardinals 4: The sweep. Several HBT regulars attended this series this weekend in a mini-meetup.  Of course I suck so I didn’t go even though they asked me nicely and scheduled it for a Braves weekend to entice me. Did I mention I suck?  Braves don’t, though.  They’re looking pretty damn spiffy right now, yes? Lance Lynn takes his first loss of the year.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: And they said a Melky Cabrera/Gregor Blanco-powered offense couldn’t get it done. Four hits for Melky, three driven in for Blanco. Ponder why Melky is always referred to by his first name all the time and Blanco isn’t. Like that’s fair.

Dodgers 11, Rockies 5: A.J. Ellis drove in four and the Dodgers managed 11 runs on only eight hits. But ruh-roh Raggy: Matt Kemp aggravated his hammy.

Tigers 3, Athletics 1: Leave it to the big man to salvage the split. Justin Verlander allowed one run and struck out eight over seven innings. Clearly the reason for the A’s loss was an Inge deficit disorder, as he was given the day off.

Twins 4, Blue Jays 3: Seven shutout innings for Scott Diamond, who has two of the teams ten wins despite only joining the team a week ago.

Cubs 8, Brewers 2: A homer for Ian Stewart and a pinch hit homer for Reed Johnson. They still count the same, though. Those are the rules. Chicago wins its first game in Milwaukee in over a year.

Royals 9, White Sox 1: Close until the ninth when Robin Ventura got all walk-the-bases-loaded happy for some reason.

Pirates 3, Astros 2: Wandy Rodriguez deserved better. He threw eight innings of one run ball, but A.J. Burnett was nearly as a good and the Houston closer — well, Brett Myers — couldn’t hold the one run lead. Onto extras where Josh Harrison did some first-pitch swinging in the 12th and drove home the winning run on an RBI single.

Red Sox 12, Indians 1: The Sox sent nine men to the plate in the first inning, more or less setting the tone.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered and drove in five. Three straight for Boston, turning a hot mess into a merely warm mess.

Rays 9, Orioles 8: Tampa Bay had a 7-1 lead and the O’s chipped back with three in the sixth and two in the seventh to get within one, the Rays scored a couple, the O’s scored a couple of their own but the Rays just hung on to salvage one in the series. Baltimore is still in first place. I don’t know how long they’ll stay there. I do know, however, that they are going to be a gigantic pain in the ass for everyone this year, and O’s fans have to love that.

Mariners 6, Yankees 2: Andy Pettitte’s return was underwhelming, allowing four runs on seven hits in six and a third. Kevin Millwood, meanwhile, took care of business, allowing only one in seven. Three driven in by Casper Wells, who began the day posing for a pic with his mom, who has a pretty sweet M’s shirt.

Rangers 13, Angels 6:  Remember back in March when people were saying that the Angels were the favorites in the West? Haha, yeah, that was fun. Josh Hamilton drives in three more. Nelson Cruz drives in four. The Rangers are eight games up on the Angels and have a +80 run differential.

Don’t let Rob Manfred pass the buck

Rob Manfred
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Yesterday morning, in Ken Rosenthal’s article, Rob Manfred made it pretty clear what his aim is at the moment: throw blame on the union for the sign stealing scandal getting to the place it is. It was clear in both his words and Rosenthal’s words, actually:

In fairness, Manfred was not alone in failing to see the future clearly. As far back as 2015, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) expressed concerns to MLB about the rise of technology in the sport. The union, however, did not directly focus on the threat to the game’s integrity.

Then, in his press conference yesterday, he went farther, saying that the union refused to allow a situation in which punishment might happen, going so far as to claim that the union refused to make Astros players available for interviews without blanket immunity.

The union, both in its official statement last night and in Tony Clark’s words to Yahoo’s Hannah Keyser earlier this afternoon, is basically saying Manfred is full of it:

“We were approached with respect to their intentions to not discipline players. Our legal role and responsibility is inherent in accepting that consideration, which is what we did.”

Which is to say, it was Rob Manfred, and not the union, which started from the presumption that there was immunity for Astros players. Manfred is the one who settled on that at the outset, and he’s now trying to make it look like the union was the side that insisted on it so that people who are mad will get mad at Tony Clark for defending the indefensible as opposed to getting mad at him for creating a situation in which there was no legal way to punish Astros players.

And, as we have noted many times already, he did create that situation.

It’s undisputed that Manfred never attempted to make rules or set forth discipline for players stealing signs. Indeed, he did the opposite of that, saying over two years ago that GMs and managers, not players, would be held responsible. If he wanted to discipline players now, he’d have a big problem because he specifically excluded them from discipline then. I’d argue it was a mistake for him to do that — he should’ve said, three years ago, that everyone’s butt would be on the line if the cheating continued — but he didn’t.

Some people I’ve spoken to are taking the position that the union is still to blame here. I’m sort of at a loss as to how that could be.

It is the union’s job to protect its members from arbitrary punishment by management. It is not the union’s job to say “hey, I know our workers were off the hook here based on the specific thing you said, but maybe we should give them some retroactive punishment anyway?” If someone in charge of a union proposed that, they’d be in dereliction of their duties and could be fired and/or sued. Probably should be, actually. A lot of people might be mad about that, and I know fully well that unions aren’t popular. But then again, neither are criminal defense attorneys, and they don’t go up to prosecutors and say “well, there isn’t a law against what my client did — in fact, the governor issued an order a couple of years ago saying that what he did wasn’t prohibited — but we’re all kind of mad about it, so why don’t we work together to find a way to put him in jail, eh?” It’d be insane.

That doesn’t make anyone feel better now. The players are certainly mad, with new ones every day finding a camera to yell at over all of this. I get it. What has happened is upsetting. It’s a situation in which some members of the union are at odds with other members. It’s not an easy situation to navigate.

They should take that anger, however, and channel it into telling their leader, Tony Clark, that they don’t want this to happen again. That, to the extent Rob Manfred now, belatedly, proposes new rules and new punishments for sign-stealing or other things, he should get on board with that. They should also — after the yelling dies down — maybe think a little bit about how, if the facts were slightly different here, they would never argue that Rob Manfred should have the power to impose retroactive or other non-previously-negotiated punishment on players.

Either way, neither they nor any of the rest of us should take Manfred’s bait and try to claim that what’s happening now is the union’s fault. If, for no other reason, than because he doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to this whole scandal. Remember, he’s the guy who issued a report saying that, except for Alex Cora, it was only players involved despite knowing at the time he said it that the front office had hatched the scheme in the first place. Which, by the way, similarly sought to make the players out to be the only ones to blame while protecting people on management’s side. He’s not someone who can be trusted in any of this, frankly.

At the end of the day, this was a scheme perpetrated by both front office and uniformed personnel of the Houston Astros. To the extent nothing more can be done about that than already has been done, blame it on Rob Manfred’s failure of leadership. Not on the MLB Players Association.