And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 8, Orioles 2: Adrian Beltre hit two homers on a 4 for 4, 5 RBI night. He has an 11 game hitting streak and is 21 for his last 43. Wrecking crew. — He’s not a member of the All-Star team despite a line of .319/.362/.551. Thank you, Jim Leyland, though, for giving us five middle relievers to choose from in that Final Vote thing. THIS TIME IT COUNTS.

Royals 3, Yankees 1: Third loss in a row for the Yankees. This time they were tied up by James Shields for seven innings. CC Sabathia went the distance but gave up homers to Butler and Lough.

Phillies 4, Nationals 2: Cole Hamels allowed one run and six hits in eight innings, winning his second straight. The Phillies are now 6-2 in July, having taken series from the Pirates and Braves and now having beaten the Nationals twice in a row.

Rays 4, Twins 1: That’s six straight for the Rays. Granted, they’ve come against the Twins, White Sox and Astros, but wins against bad teams count just as much in the standings as wins against good ones.

Athletics 2, Pirates 1: Dan Straily allowed one run in six and a third and was then optioned to Sacramento because that’s how life works when you’re a fifth starter around the All-Star break. Oakland maintains its half-game lead over the Rangers.

Braves 6, Marlins 4: Justin Upton had been doing a pretty good B.J. Upton imitation for the past couple of months, but last night he doubled twice, homered and drove in two.

Cubs 7, Angels 2: Two homers for Alfonso Soriano. Five in all for the Cubbies. Four straight wins for the Cubs.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 0: Ubaldo Jimenez and three relievers combine for the shutout. Took only two hours and sixteen minutes to get this one in the can.

Brewers 2, Reds 0: Wily Peralta with a three-hit shutout overshadowed Tony Cingrani’s ten-strikeout performance. Peralta’s complete game was the Brewers first in 407 starts, which is pretty amazing.

While Sox 11, Tigers 4: A 6 for 6 night for Alex Rios. Adam Dunn after the game: “That takes people like me two, maybe three weeks to get six.” Dunn did, however, hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the eighth to put the Sox ahead for good as Chicago scored ten runs in the final two frames. Twenty-three hits in all for the Chisox.

Cardinals 9, Astros 5: Seven scoreless innings gives Adam Wainwright his 12th win, tying him for the NL lead. He’s now 13-1 in 15 career starts against Houston with a 1.56 ERA.

Red Sox 11, Mariners 8: Jackie Bradley Jr. flew into Seattle after being called up and hit the tie-breaking homer. Five homers in all for the Sox. David Ortiz stole a base. Weird things happen after I go to sleep.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 1: Ricky Nolasco made his Dodgers debut and allowed only one run in seven. The Dodgers have played eight straight against NL West opponents and have won six of them. They’re still not back to .500, but they’re only 2.5 out of the division lead.

Padres 2, Rockies 1: The Padres finally win a friggin’ ballgame. A complete game for Eric Stults. Bud Black visited the mound to take him out in the ninth but left him in, saying afterward that he remembered what it was like to be in that position when he pitched. Which reminded me that Bud Black was once a starting pitcher. I had somehow forgotten that, having his identity morph in my head into a manager only at some point. That has happened with Mike Scioscia at times too. Not Kirk Gibson yet. Some ex-players always feel like ex-players to me. Some make that jump. I dunno.

Mets 10, Giants 6: A Marlon Byrd grand slam gave the Mets breathing room as they put up five runs in the eighth. The Giants, by the way, have a worse record than the Cubs.

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.