And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Mariners 1: Obviously Ichiro in Yankees clothing is the weirdest thing to hit baseball in some time. Must be how it felt to see Willie Mays wearing a Mets jersey or — and I really don’t think it’s hyperbole to say it — Babe Ruth in a Boston Braves uniform. OK, if that’s too heavy for you, how about Hulk Hogan with the NWO? Anyway: Ichiro singled in his first at bat and stole second base, which is very Ichiro. Then he went hitless the rest of the way which is very recent-vintage Ichiro.  I suppose we’ll get used to this soon.

Phillies 7, Brewers 6: John Axford lost his closing job because he kept giving up big innings in save situations. Then K-Rod comes in tonight and allows four runs in the ninth to blow the easy three-run-lead save. Good for Philly: back to back homers for Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Bad: Roy Halladay gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to kick off the scoring and then had the go-ahead RBI single in extra innings. But of course the Nats scored five more in tenth inning because the Mets bullpen is the Beatles of allowing multiple runs in extra innings games.

Rangers 9, Red Sox 1: The Rangers have played the Red Sox thrice this season. In those games Texas has outscored Boston 33-7. Just throwing this out there, but the Sox may want to get in on the starting pitching trade action that began yesterday.

Marlins 2, Braves 1: The Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade looked like the beginning of a sell-off for the Marlins. You think that might put Josh Johnson in play. And his six, one-hit shutout innings might be a good thing if you’re gonna market the guy. But then he left early with a finger injury. Doesn’t sound totally serious, but it’s worth watching.

Cubs 2, Pirates 0: Jeff Samardzija  was brilliant, allowing only one hit in eight shutout innings. His performance overshadowed near-equal brilliance from Erik Bedard, who struck out 11 while allowing one run over seven.

White S0x 7, Twins 4: The Chisox break a five game losing streak behind Adam Dunn’s league-leading 29th homer. Francisco Liriano had one of his worst outings of the year. That can’t help the trade value.

Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3: From the things that don’t happen very often department: Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer. Only his second in his career. Chad Billingsley gave up one over six innings.

Indians 3, Orioles 1: Forgot this series was still carrying over into Monday. A shame that this couldn’t have been the ninth sweep of the weekend. Thanks for nothing, Justin Masterson (7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER).

Giants 7, Padres 1: Buster Posey didn’t need much help, as he went 3 for 4 with a homer and four driven in. He got the help, though: Ryan Vogelsong tossed seven one-run innings.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 3: Ian Kennedy took most of the work into his own hands as well, tripling with the bases loaded in the fourth to drive in what proved to be all the runs he’d need. Then he finished the night allowing two over eight innings and striking out seven. Jonathan Sanchez allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in his first start for the Rockies. I’m not sure what else they were expecting.

Reds 8, Astros 3: Everyone’s talking about the Pirates, but the Reds are in first place, have won eight of ten and show no signs of slowing down. This despite no Joey Votto in the lineup. Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier had three hits and two RBIs each in a game that took nearly four hours. Why anyone would want to watch the Astros play for that long is a mystery to me.

Angels 6, Royals 3: Kendrys Morales came in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the eighth and stroked a single that cleared the bases. I have not seen the video of it yet, but I’m wondering if this occurred because it really woulda been a double if not for the fact that a guy like Kendrys Morales was running or if, alternatively, the Royals played some Keystone Cops outfield.

 

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.