A’s lose 10th straight opener, set major league record

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The A’s have certainly been a rather successful franchise the last 10 years, going to three postseasons and never losing more than 88 games. While the timeframe doesn’t include their extremely successful 2000-03 run, they’re still 45 games over .500 since the beginning of 2005.

It just doesn’t happen for them on Opening Day.

On Monday, they lost their 10th straight opener, dropping a 2-0 game to the Indians. They’re the first franchise in major league history to take a loss in their first game 10 consecutive years.

Tonight’s game, a pitcher’s duel between Sonny Gray and Justin Masterson, was scoreless in the eighth, when Josh Donaldson hit a ball off the very top of the wall in center field. Three inches more and it would have been a homer. Instead, it was one of the longest singles in history (just to the right of the 400 foot sign at the Coliseum), as the runners on first and second returned to the bag to tag up and advanced only one base. Cody Allen then pitched out of the bases-loaded jam, striking out Jed Lowrie and inducing a grounder from Brandon Moss.

A’s closer Jim Johnson went on to take the loss in the ninth after retiring just one of the five batters he faced.

The last time  the A’s won an opener was 2004 against the Rangers. Tim Hudson started that game for Oakland, and Eric Byrnes had the big hit in the bottom of the eighth, turning a one-run deficit into a lead with a two-run double.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.