And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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All kinds of comebacks on Wednesday. Let’s call it “Comeback Wednesday!” — wait, what? Really? OK, sorry folks. The people in the marketing department said that’s impossibly lame. They’re working on something centering around the idea of “Extreme Comebacks” but they want to focus group it first. We’ll let you know.

White Sox 6, Yankees 5: Alejandro De Aza smacked a game-winning triple in the 12th. Mariano Rivera blew the save in the ninth, the Yankees blew another lead in the 12th and with it they were swept by a White Sox team that came into the series on a ten-game losing jag. This pretty much has to be what rock bottom looks like, right? Oh well, on the bright side Rivera’s blown save was significant: with it he tied Trevor Hoffman on the all-time blown saves list. When you think about it, you gotta be pretty good to blow a lot of saves.

Mets 5, Rockies 0: Matt Harvey shut ’em out on just four hits and 106 pitches, striking out six and walking no one. On the year he’s 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 178/29 K/BB ratio in 159 2/3 innings. Tough stuff.

Orioles 10, Padres 3: Chris Davis absolutely crushed a baseball — sending it 453 feet — for his 41st homer during Baltimore’s four-run eighth inning. They tacked on three in the ninth. After the game Bud Black said “[w]e had a little bit of a breakdown in our bullpen.” Gee, ya think?

Reds 6, Athletics 5: Bartolo Colon got roughed up pretty good, surrendering five runs and failing to escape the third inning. After the game he said he had some stomach trouble. That’s no small concern when Colon is involved. A homer and three RBI for Jay Bruce.

Mariners 9, Blue Jays 7: A couple of comebacks. The M’s were down 7-2 when they came to bat in the fourth and were up 9-7 after five. That made for a rough return to action for J.A. Happ who had been out since being struck by a batted ball and suffering a fractured skull back in May. Better a bad comeback from that than no comeback at all.

Tigers 6, Indians 5: It took them 14 innings, but the Tigers continued their mastery of the Tribe and collected their 11th straight win. Eleven of twelve over Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera with a big two-run homer in the eighth and Prince Fielder with the ultimately game-winning two-run double in the 14th.

Braves 6, Nationals 3: That’s thirteen straight wins for Atlanta, as they complete the sweep of the Nats. Justin Upton doubled and homered. After the game Fredi Gonzalez revealed that for every win he has been given some protein drink by Braves players and superstition obligates him to continue drinking it. What is it? He doesn’t know. “They may be giving me poop. I don’t even know what it is,” he said. It’s poop, isn’t it? Tell me it’s poop.

Cubs 5, Phillies 2: Hero of the game, Donnie Murphy, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth to go with an earlier solo shot. He had one the day before too. What the heck, man?

Royals 5, Twins 2: Danny Duffy couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, but he and five relievers combine for 16 strikeouts of Twins hitters.

Pirates 4, Marlins 2: Charlie Morton started rough but settled down and ended up throwing seven strong innings. He also Helped His Own Cause with an RBI single. The Pirates continue to maintain the best record in baseball.

Red Sox 7, Astros 5: Stephen Drew hit a three-run homer in the ninth to bring the Sox back from behind. A five-run comeback on Tuesday night, a three-run comeback last night. Indeed, it was the sixth time in its last seven wins in which Boston has come from behind.

Rangers 10, Angels 3: And with that, the Rangers are back atop the AL West. Well, tied. One behind in the loss column, but they do have a share of the lead for the first time since July 1. A homer and three RBI for Adrian Beltre.

Dodgers 13, Cardinals 4: All kinds of bad for the Cards as they get their clock cleaned and they lose Shelby Miller after just two pitches. Good news: he says he feels OK and should make his next start. As for the Dodgers, Andre Ethier and Skip Schumaker each had three hits and four RBIs while Carl Crawford had four hits and a walk.

Diamondbacks 9, Rays 8: A double comeback as the snakes found themselves down 3-0 and then 8-7 late. Martin Prado won it, though, with a two run double in the ninth. On the day he was 4 for 4 with a homer and four driven in.

Brewers 6, Giants 1: Marco Estrada was excellent in a spot start, shutting out the Giants for five innings on one hit. This one was 0-0 into the seventh inning before the Giants scored to make it 1-0, so I guess we can say there was a comeback here as well.

Still waiting to hear from the focus group, but I’m really liking the branding opportunities from last night.

Don’t let Rob Manfred pass the buck

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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.