And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 3, Braves 0: The Nats clinch their second NL East title in three years and do so in convincing fashion. Tanner Roark tossed seven scoreless innings. Washington got to celebrate on the field and in the visitor’s clubhouse of the team that, theoretically, stood as their biggest challenge this year. It was fun for a bit in the first half, but the  Braves proved to be little if any challenge to the Nationals. Now they set their sights on maintaining the best overall record in the National League and enjoying some home cooking for the playoffs.

Orioles 8, Blue Jays 2: Meanwhile, up the road, the Orioles were clinching as well. It was a bit longer of a time coming for Baltimore, who nabbed their first AL East crown since 1997. As for the game: it was their ninth win in their last 10. Steve Pearce set the tone with a three-run homer in the first. Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run triple. If you live out west or never watch a team other than your team, and if your idea of the Orioles is based on what you read about them in the season previews last March, well, you have a lot of studying to do before they playoffs start.

White Sox 7, Royals 5Twins 4, Tigers 3: Nothing is changed in the Central as both contenders lose. For the Royals, it was an uncharacteristically awful night for bullpen aces Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, who have been damn nigh unhittable all year but were beat around by the Sox. For the Tigers, it was an all-too-characteristic bad night for Joe Nathan, who allowed two runs to lose a game that the Tigers had come back to lead in the ninth. Starters Ricky Nolasco and Rick Porcello probably went out for a beer afterwards and complained about bullpens until the bartender told them to move it along because they don’t serve their kind. Meaning, of course, Ricks.

Rangers 6, Athletics 3: Oakland couldn’t create any separation between their wild card pursuers, remaining one up on Kansas City and two up on Seattle. Scott Kazmir’s second half swoon continued, allowing six runs — four earned — and not escaping the fifth inning. Bad Oakland D was on display here. This team will probably make it into the playoffs, and if they do they’ll probably be dangerous, but man this has been a long, limping second half.

Mariners 13, Angels 2: Seattle takes advantage, pulling to within one game. The offense woke up with a six-run sixth inning. In the M’s previous eight games they scored 14 runs. Here, 13. It was an instance where Mike Scioscia’s “give Cory Rasmus a couple of innings and then turn it over to a bullpen committee” approach didn’t work. It’s been a good approach and has helped lessen the sting of losing Garret Richards, but doing that enough times will, occasionally, lead to a game like this. Too many moving parts or whatever.

Pirates 4, Red Sox 0: Charlie Morton returned after coming off the disabled list and he pitched well: five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. The Pirates have won 9 of 11 and maintain their one and a half game lead over the Brewers for the second wild card.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: Milwaukee stays alive, as Gomez, Hector knocks in Gomez, Carlos with an RBI single in the 12th. The single was preceded by Carlos Gomez stealing both second base and third base off of Yadier Molina following a walk. Actually, Gomez said afterward that he wasn’t running on Molina, he was running on pitcher Kevin Siegrist, as one times everything off the pitcher. Which is a good point. Still: that’s some pretty major base running. The Brewers stay a game and a half behind the Pirates.

Rockies 10, Dodgers 4: The Rockies ended a seven-game losing streak. Corey Dickerson homered, tripled and drove in four runs. The Dodgers got 16 hits but left way, way too many on.

Giants 2, Diamondbacks 1: Peavy and Posey come through again, as they have so many times in the second half. Peavy allowed one run in seven and two-thirds. Posey had two hits, including a fourth inning solo shot. San Francisco pulls to three back of L.A.

Rays 6, Yankees 1: Derek Jeter got gifts. He also got plunked. Joe Girardi got ejected after that and then Yankees pitcher David Phelps was ejected for throwing inside later. Dugouts emptied but no one here had the ill-will nor the motivation to make this into an actual donnybrook. It’s late in a lost season for everyone. Jake Odorizzi allowed one run and five hits over six innings.

Mets 9, Marlins 1: Two homers and six driven in for Wilmer Flores. Bartolo Colon somehow only allowed one run despite giving up 12 hits in seven and two thirds. That stretches the applicability of the word “scattered.” The judges have said they’d allow it, though. But that we shouldn’t push it.

Cubs 7, Reds 0: Jake Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth, allowed only the one hit to Brandon Phillips and struck out 13. The Cubs rocked Johnny Cueto.

Indians 4, Astros 2: Corey Kluber allowed more hits, but he struck out 14 in seven innings of work as the Indians stop their losing streak at four. Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer.

Padres 5, Phillies 4: Alexi Amarista had three hits, including a two-run homer. A.J. Burnett suffered his league-leading 17th loss.

This Day in Transaction History: Cardinals send two players to Phillies in lieu of Curt Flood

Curt Flood
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As a recurring column idea, Bill will expound upon one interesting transaction that occurred on a particular day in baseball history. It won’t always be the most exciting or most impactful transaction, but always something interesting. Feel free to share which transactions stand out to you in the comments.

. . .

The Cardinals and Phillies agreed to terms on a trade involving outfielder Curt Flood on October 7, 1969. The Cardinals sent Flood, Tim McCarver, Joe Hoerner, and Byron Browne to Philadelphia in exchange for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. Flood famously refused to report to the Phillies, citing the club’s poor record, stadium disrepair, and racist fans. Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause, sitting out the 1970 season. On this day in 1970, the Cardinals sent Willie Montañez and Jim Browning to the Phillies in lieu of Flood.

The trade became one of baseball’s most famous and not because of the quality of players involved. Allen, Rojas, Montañez, McCarver, and Hoerner all had lengthy, productive major league careers. Allen, in fact, would go on to win an MVP Award. Browning was really the only player of the bunch that didn’t pan out, as he never exceeded Double-A before his career in baseball was finished in 1975 at the age of 23.

Baseball’s reserve clause tied players to their teams even when their contracts expired. That is why many well-known players in the 1960’s and prior spent their entire careers with one team. Their options were: accept the below-market salaries offered by their teams or sit out the season in protest.

The Major League Baseball Players Association wasn’t created until 1966, but the reserve clause was challenged prior to Flood. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1922, in Federal Baseball Club v. National League, that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to Major League Baseball. The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits in interstate commerce anticompetitive agreements and attempts to create monopolies. The Supreme Court maintained that the business of baseball did not qualify as interstate commerce as it pertains to the Sherman Antitrust Act. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote, “The business is giving exhibitions of baseball, which are purely state affairs.”

New York Giants outfielder Danny Gardella sued then-commissioner Happy Chandler. Gardella was banned five years because he played in the Mexican League. He claimed that was an unfair use of monopolistic power and said that the 1922 Supreme Court ruling no longer applied given the exponential growth of the sport. Gardella ended up settling out of court.

The reserve clause was more seriously challenged in 1953 when Yankees minor league pitcher George Earl Toolson filed a lawsuit against the Yankees. Toolson spent the 1946-48 seasons with the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox in Louisville. He joined the Yankees in ’49, reporting to the Newark Bears. The Bears, however, dissolved, so Toolson was sent to the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate the next year. Toolson refused to report, saying that the reserve clause was a restraint of trade. Because the highly competitive Yankees had complete control over his career, he could not willingly play for another team that might afford him a better chance to realize his dream of pitching in the majors. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reaffirmed the reserve clause.

All of that laid the groundwork for Flood and MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller to challenge the reserve clause when the outfielder refused to report to the Phillies. Flood said in a letter to commissioner Bowie Kuhn, “After 12 years in the Major Leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen.”

Aside from a very brief stint with the Washington Senators in 1971, this lawsuit ended Flood’s career in baseball. He was a terrific player, making the NL All-star squad three times, winning seven Gold Gloves, and winning two championships with the Cardinals in 1964 and ’67. From 1961-69, he accrued 39.2 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference. Only 12 players had more WAR in that span of time.

Sadly, Flood too was unsuccessful in challenging the reserve clause. Judge Irving Ben Cooper of the Southern District of New York denied Flood’s motion for a preliminary injunction, writing, “The game is on higher ground; it behooves every one to keep it there.” He also wrote that “the preponderance of credible proof does not favor elimination of the reserve clause.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also dismissed Flood’s case, citing Federal Baseball Club v. National League and  Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc. as precedents. The Supreme Court upheld the rulings of the lower courts.

However, Flood and the MLBPA had made the most progress against the case to date. Miller finally nullified the reserve clause five years later when pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally argued that the reserve clause didn’t give team owners the right to renew player contracts year after year in perpetuity. The MLBPA filed a grievance on behalf of the two players and the case went before an arbitration panel. Peter Seitz, an arbitrator agreed upon by the two sides, ruled in favor of Messersmith and McNally. Major League Baseball appealed in the district court of Western Missouri, but Judge John Watkins Oliver upheld Seitz’s decision. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld Seitz. In 1976, the era of free agency began, allowing players with six years of service time to become free agents.

Despite Flood making arguably the greatest impact on the game of baseball, he is not in the Hall of Fame. It is not surprising, though the Hall of Fame is owned and operated by private interests, as the Hall has often taken an ownership-sided slant. It was not until very recently that Miller was elected to the Hall of Fame, in fact. In late February, 102 members of Congress sent a letter to the Hall of Fame urging Flood’s election. Thankfully, we don’t need the Hall of Fame to decide for us whether or not Flood made an impact. He most certainly did and every player who has signed a contract as a free agent in the time since has him to thank. Just ask Gerrit Cole.