Marlins play dead as Phillies complete three-game sweep

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Is anyone involved with the Marlins even trying anymore?

Ownership isn’t. The team played with just 12 position players today, even though the it’s September and rosters can be expanded to 40.

Ozzie Guillen isn’t. Perhaps in protest of the limited roster he’s getting to work with, he just went three straight games without pinch-hitting for a position player. He also did next to nothing to back up Justin Ruggiano after his left fielder was tossed following a particularly horrendous ball-strike sequence today.

The players may be, but beyond Ruggiano, it’s hard to tell.

The Marlins were tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh today when John Buck walked to start the top of the inning against Cliff Lee. Time to manufacture a run, right? Nope. Donnie Murphy flied out to right, bringing up the pitcher’s spot. Josh Johnson might have had one inning left in him at the time, but certainly no more than that. It would have made a lot of sense to go to the bench and try to score that run.

Well, at least, it would have made a lot of sense had the Marlins possessed a right-handed hitter to bring in. The only righty on the bench today was Austin Kearns, who entered the game when Ruggiano was ejected. Rather than go to a left-handed hitter, Guillen left Johnson in to bunt. Johnson popped it up for an out, and Lee then retired Gorkys Hernandez to end the inning. Johnson came back out for the bottom of the seventh, gave up a two-run homer to Jimmy Rollins and the Marlins lost 3-1.

That, by the way, made it a three-game sweep for the Phillies, who are now over .500 at 72-71.

MLB rejected Players’ 114-game season proposal, will not send a counter

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball has rejected the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter offer. The league said it has started talks with owners “about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.”

This should be understood as a game of chicken.

The background here is that the the owners are pretty much locked into the idea of paying players a prorated share of their regular salaries based on number of games played. The players, meanwhile, are pretty much locked in to the idea that the owners can set the length of the season that is played. Each side is trying to leverage their power in this regard.

The players proposed a probably unworkable number of games — 114 — as a means of setting the bidding high on a schedule that will work out well for them financially. Say, a settled agreement at about 80 games or so. The owners were rumored to be considering a counteroffer of a low number of games — say, 50 — as a means of still getting a significant pay cut from the players even if they’re being paid prorata. What Rosenthal is now reporting is that they won’t even counter with that.

Which is to say that the owners are trying to get the players to come off of their prorated salary rights under the threat of a very short schedule that would end up paying them very little. They won’t formally offer that short schedule, however, likely because (a) they believe that the threat of uncertain action is more formidable; and (b) they don’t want to be in the position of publicly demanding fewer baseball games, which doesn’t look very good to fans. They’d rather be in the position of saying “welp, the players wouldn’t talk to us about money so we have no choice, they forced us into 50 games.”

In other news, the NBA seems very close to getting its season resumed.