And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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In addition to the box scores, I also watched Bill Clinton last night. No matter what your politics, I hope we can agree that Clinton makes everyone want to listen to their “Siamese Dream” cassette and drive around in their Chevy Cavalier, waiting for their pager to blow up.  Anyway:

Nationals 9, Cubs 1: Gio Gonzalez tossed seven three-hit shutout innings and the Nats smacked six home runs. Two for Bryce Harper and one for the incandescent Adam LaRoche. There hasn’t been scoring like this in Washington since Clinton left office.

Braves 1, Rockies 0: Mike Minor took a no hitter into the seventh, but gave up a hit on his first pitch of that innings. People on Twitter blamed me for jinxing it. Whatever. I want to gamble or play games of skill with these people who believe in such sorcery.

Brewers 8, Marlins 5: The season is starting to become a blur to me. As I sit here and type this right now, I am convinced that there has been a Brewers-Marlins game end in the score 8-5 every night for the past three weeks. I won’t check it. I’m just sure of it.

Yankees 6, Rays 4: Wait, I was convinced after reading all of the tabloids yesterday that the Yankees were never going to win again. What happened? Three RBI for Russell Martin and, while it wasn’t Hiroki Kuroda’s best start, he continues to be the defacto ace of the staff in the second half.

Pirates 6, Astros 3: Brock Holt — Brock Holt! — had two RBIs. The Pirates are now one and a half games back of the Cardinals for the wild card.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 4:  Rajai Davis homered and had three RBIs to help the Jays avoid the sweep. Now the Orioles go home for four against the Yankees and three against the Rays.

Rangers 7, Royals 6: Homers from Adrian Beltre and Michael Young and Ryan Dempster struck out eight over six innings.

Mets 6, Cardinals 2: R.A. Dickey won his 18th on his charge to 20 and the Cy Young award and Ike Davis had a three-run bomb. Adam Wainwright, in contrast, was a better hitter than pitcher yesterday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings, but hit a home run.

White Sox 6, Twins 2: Alex Rios hit two homers — one a grand slam — and drove in six. And a day after the Twins erupted for 18, Jake Peavy restored order.

Tigers 7, Indians 1: But Detroit keeps pace behind homers from Cabrera and Fielder. Now the Tigers have a ten game road trip which I do not think it is hyperbole to say will determine the outcome of the season for them.

Phillies 6, Reds 2Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run and Chase Utley hit a two-run bomb, which was more than enough for Roy Halladay, who allowed one run in seven and a third. Joey Votto returned and went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter drove in three and the Angels swept Oakland, helping put themselves back in the wild card race. The result, however, is way less important than the health of Brandon McCarthy who took a liner off his head. He appears to be doing OK, thankfully.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: Trevor Cahill took a no-hitter into the seventh. Chris Johnson doubled, tripled and drove in two. There was the threat of fisticuffsmanship in the eighth when John McDonald ran into Pablo Sandoval on a play at third without sliding, but cooler heads prevailed.

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. couldn’t take advantage of the San Francisco loss, thanks in part to a great Cameron Maybin play, robbing Matt Kemp of a home run.  Now the Dodgers face the Giants for three this weekend in San Francisco. Moving time, Dodgers.

Mariners 2, Red Sox 1: With this win, Seattle matches their win total from 2011 with 24 games left to play. Kevin Millwood allowed one run over six before Eric Wedge went expanded rosters bullpen crazy. Dustin Ackley hit a two run single.

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

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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.