Hunter Pence slugs long solo homer to get Giants on board in Game 4

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Hunter Pence’s struggles caused him to be dropped to sixth in the order in Game 4 tonight, but he has responded in a big way.

Pence launched a long solo home run to left field off Adam Wainwright in the top of the second inning to get the Giants on the board. According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, it traveled an estimated 451 feet.

Pence entered tonight’s action hitting just .161 (5-for-31) with no extra-base hits or RBI this postseason.

Pete Kozma reached on a fielding error to lead off the bottom of the second against Tim Lincecum, but he was quickly erased on a stolen base attempt. Not exactly the best idea to give away outs to the guy who is struggling. Lincecum walked two in the inning, including opposing pitcher Adam Wainwright, but he managed to escape and keep the score at 2-1. Still, he’s already at 44 pitches, so it’s unlikely he’ll last long in this one.

The Giants had a chance to tie it up in the top of the third inning when Angel Pagan reached on a two-out triple, but Wainwright got Marco Scutaro on a comebacker to end the threat. The Cardinals lead this one 2-1 as we move to the bottom of the third inning.

MLB now trying to get minor leaguers exempted from minimum wage law at the state level

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In recent years, Major League Baseball spent significant amounts of money lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. They succeeded last year, as minor leaguers are now considered seasonal workers and as such are not owed minimum wage or overtime pay.

MLB is not yet done attacking minor leaguers. Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times reports that MLB is trying to get Arizona lawmakers to exempt players from state minimum wage law. A proposed bill, HB 2180, is being sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope (R – Coolidge) and would protect MLB from lawsuits, past or present, for not paying minor leaguers at least minimum wage during spring training. Minor leaguers already do not get paid for their work in spring training, so this is simply a preemptive maneuver by MLB to protect itself from potential lawsuits. As Giles notes, HB 2180 would enshrine the exemption in federal law in Arizona’s state statute.

Shope said, “I think it’s just trying to clear up what MLB considers a gray area on their blank. … My assumption is they obviously do have a concern, and are trying to protect a flank of theirs more in the pro-active sense.” Talking about minor leaguers, Shope said spring training is “essentially a tryout. You’re not on the team yet.”

Garrett Broshuis, a former major leaguer and one of the lawyers representing Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle in a case Craig wrote about here, spoke to Giles for his article. Broshuis said, “It really is just unfortunate, because the people of Arizona passed this law to require employers to pay all workers a minimum wage, and these ballplayers are performing a service that is a valuable service, and they deserve to be compensated at least the minimum wage for it.”

Broshuis is seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in Florida and Arizona, the league’s two homes for spring training. Arizona is home to the Cactus League, the spring training league for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers. A federal judge denied Broshuis’s request but he appealed and is waiting on a ruling.

MLB makes a ton of money during spring training the same way it makes money during the regular season: by charging for tickets, concessions, merchandise, and parking. Minor leaguers are part of the player population helping attract fans to the ballpark, so they deserve to be compensated for their work. That they are not is criminal enough, but to brazenly push legislation to remove any legal remedies they might have had is even more evil. MLB has been setting revenue records year over year, taking in more than $10 billion last year. The league and its individual teams can afford to provide a comfortable life for minor leaguers, but every day it makes the choice not to do so out of avarice.