And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

92 Comments

source: AP

Yankees 8, Twins 4: Six months ago the Yankees’ view of Alex Rodriguez was “Who?” And if he so much as farted off-key, they probably would’ve tried to void his contract. Now, in August, the Yankees are in a pennant race, Rodriguez has an OPS of .868 and 25 homers and, after he hit a grand slam with the Bombers down three in the seventh, he gets his own hashtag from Yankees Twitter. “#BAEROD”

 

What a weird six months it’s been.

Mets 5, Orioles 3: Jacob deGrom allowed one run and took a four-hitter into the eighth inning. Curtis Granderson hit two homers. If this was the 1980s they’d make some cheesy poster of them with the words “deGrom and deGrand” on it and they’d be wearing, I dunno, chef’s uniforms or something. And that’d be one of the more understated posters as far as those things went. I have such a hard time explaining the 1980s to my kids.

Blue Jays 8, Phillies 5: Josh Donaldson hit two home runs, one of which travelled about eleventy-seven thousand feet unto the upper deck in left field at CBP, where homers don’t often go. Now is probably a good time to remember that Billy Beane traded Donaldson away for largely non-baseball reasons. Guess that didn’t work out too well.

Angels 5, White Sox 3: Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols homered in the first inning and the Angels never looked back. Well, it was close late so they were looking back a good bit. But it was only a glance or two. The sort of looking back you do when you try to see if you’re being followed but you don’t want it to look like you think you’re being followed. But really, if someone wants to follow you, there are better methods. As one of my cinematic heroes once said: “People know they’re being followed when they turn around and see someone following them. They can’t tell they’re being followed if you get there first.” There’s some wisdom there, friend.

Pirates 9, Diamondbacks 8: Pedro Florimon tripled home Francisco Cervelli with two outs in the bottom of the 15th to end this marathon. Pittsburgh had a five-run lead after seven innings but the Snakes came back with three in the eighth and two in the ninth. Those ninth innings runs were both the product of infield errors, so there are some infielders happy about the end of this one getting them off the hook.

Red Sox 9, Indians 1: It’s definitely been an eventful week in Boston. John Farrell’s cancer diagnosis, Dave Dombrowski getting hired and the Sox winning four of five. Travis Shaw went 4-for-4 and Brock Holt had three hits and two RBI. Trevor Bauer’s nightmare second half continues. He didn’t make it out of the second inning, having given up five runs on six hits.

Royals 3, Reds 1: It was 1-0 heading into the ninth when Ben Zobrist managed to hit a homer off of Aroldis Chapman, sending it on to extras. He was also part of the Royals’ two-run rally in the top of the thirteenth. The blown save was Chapman’s first one at home in 57 save opportunities, dating back to September 2012. Overall, sixteen pitchers combined to allow four runs — only three earned — in 26 innings, striking out 24. Welcome to baseball in 2015.

Tigers 10, Cubs 8: Ian Kinsler had five of the Tigers’ 19 hits, one of which was a homer in this wild one. A rain delay knocked out the starters in the third inning, which means the Tigers needed to depend on their relievers. And Detroit had a 6-2 lead heading into the fifth inning but blew it before rallying later. Brad Ausmus:

“Offensively the lineup did their part. We’ve just got to be better out of the bullpen.”

This is not a repeat from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 . . . .

Mariners 3, Rangers 2: Last time he pitched Hisashi Iwakuma tossed a no-hitter. It seems that whenever guys do that lately their next start — or next several starts — are lackluster. Not here. Iwakuma allowed two runs over seven and got the win. All of the M’s runs came in the first, including a Seth Smith homer.

Marlins 9, Brewers 6: Ichiro was 4-for-5 with two runs scored. It was his first four-hit game in two years. He now has 2,919 hits on his career, with 75 this year. If he says on his current pace he’ll likely get 20-25 more or so this season. It’s inevitable, then, that someone will give him a chance to break the 3,000-hit mark in the United States next season and it’s very likely that he’ll do it, one assumes. It’s just astounding when you realize that he didn’t start here until he was 27. And has 1,278 hits in Japan.

Astros 3, Rays 2: Marwin Gonzalez had three hits including a tenth inning walkoff homer. He also doubled in a run earlier. A.J. Hinch said that Gonzalez, normally a utility guy, gets to play again today. I’d say that’s only fair.

Giants 2, Cardinals 0: Ryan Vogelsong pitched six shutout innings, but he wasn’t the only Giants starting pitcher who played a role here. In the seventh inning Bruce Bochy used Bumgarner to pinch hit for Vogelsong, and he singled. Two walks and a hit-by-pitch later and he came in to score the Giants’ second run. Bumgarner homered in his last start. The Giants have three games at Oakland in late September. Maybe he should DH? The Giants have won six of eight.

Nationals 15, Rockies 6: Washington snaps its six-game skid. Yunel Escobar and Ian Desmond each drove in four. Bryce Harper walked four times. The Nats as a team walked ten times, including three times in a four-run eighth inning. A run scored that inning on a balk too. You’d think the Rockies had played in Colorado long enough to realize that you can’t get away with that sort of thing.

Athletics 5, Dodgers 4: Clayton Kershaw didn’t have his a-game, but he did allow only one run through seven innings and stood to be the winner after the Dodgers scored three in the top of the eighth. Then Pedro Baez gave those three runs back in the bottom of the eighth and Yimi Garcia allowed back-to-back doubles to Mark Canha and Billy Butler to lead off the tenth to let the A’s walk it off. In addition to scoring the winning run, Canha was 4-for-5 and drove in two.

Padres 9, Braves 0: Melvin Upton Jr. homered twice against the team who signed him to a $75 million deal before the 2013 season and who did jack squat for them while he played there. If you forfeit a game you lose 9-0 according to baseball rules. That may have been preferable to watching Upton hit two homers against the Braves. In fact I know it would’ve been.

Rob Manfred explains reasoning behind proposal to cut 42 minor league teams

Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
7 Comments

As we learned earlier this week, Major League Baseball wants to contract 42 minor league teams, mostly in short-season and rookie ball. The proposal earned a lot of backlash, including from some of the teams on the chopping block and from Congress. MLB responded with its own letter to Congress, written by deputy commissioner Dan Halem, explaining the league’s reasoning.

In the letter, Halem complains about the lack of competition between minor league teams and independent teams. Halem wrote, “The lack of competition among operators of teams for an affiliation with a Major League Club has reduced the incentive for some affiliated Minor League teams to improve their facilities and player amenities.” It is an interesting thing to write as someone representing a $10 billion business that has benefited for a century from an antitrust exemption.

Halem also noted that MLB has several goals that are supposedly attained by cutting 26 percent of the minors: ensuring the quality of the facilities for the players, reducing the travel burden, improving the “compensation, accommodations, and amenities” for players, improving the affiliation process between minor league and major league teams.

Commissioner Rob Manfred essentially echoed that sentiment on Thursday, per Newsday’s Laura Albanese. He gave four reasons behind the proposal: inadequate facilities, travel, poor pay, drafting and signing players who don’t have a realistic shot to make it to the majors. The last reason is a new one, but let’s go over those four reasons in context.

It is true that some, perhaps even most, of the facilities of the 42 named teams are inadequate. It’s not all of them. As NECN’s Jack Thurston reports, the owner of the short-season Lowell Spinners, Dave Heller, said that his team’s stadium is “arguably the best facility in the New York-Penn League,” speaking highly of its lighting and field conditions. The Quad Cities River Bandits, the Astros’ Single-A affiliate and also on the chopping block, renovated their stadium a handful of times over the last 12 years. In fact, it earned an award from BallparkDigest.com for “Best Ballpark Improvement” in both 2008 and ’09, and finished third in the 2018 running for “Best View in the Minors.” At any rate, if facility quality is such a big issue, why did the Athletics continue to play in a stadium that repeatedly had its sewage system overflow in 2013?

Travel is certainly a big issue for minor leaguers because they mostly travel by bus, not plane. Having teams located closer to each other would be more beneficial in this regard. Or — and hear me out, here — major league teams could take on the extra expenditure of paying for their minor leaguers’ airfare. Several years ago, the Phillies took on the extra expenditure of making sure their minor leaguers ate healthy food and that has worked out well. The Blue Jays took on the extra expenditure of giving their minor leaguers a pay raise and that has worked out well. The Red Sox took on the extra expenditure of installing a sleep room at Fenway Park to ensure their players were well-rested and that has worked out well. No one is suggesting that Single-A players have to fly first class on every flight, but the travel issue is an easy fix that doesn’t require contracting 42 teams. Teams have individually chosen to improve their players’ quality of life and it has yielded positive results. Imagine it on a league-wide scale for thousands of players in their formative years.

Manfred citing minor league pay as a basis for the proposal is laughable. His own league successfully lobbied Congress to amend language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, classifying minor league players as seasonal workers. That means they are not entitled to a minimum wage or overtime pay, among other worker protections. If the pay of minor league players was so important to Major League Baseball, it wouldn’t have pressured the government to legally ensure they didn’t have to pay them a living wage. Every baseball team is worth at least a billion dollars. The league has set year-over-year revenue records for 16 consecutive years, crossing $10 billion in 2018. Minor leaguers could be compensated well without robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Lastly, it is true that a majority of minor league players will never reach the major leagues. That doesn’t mean that their presence in the minor leagues or their effort to realize their dreams have zero value. Lopping off the bottom 26 percent of minor leaguers might nominally increase the level of skill on each roster, but it eliminates so many jobs — well over 1,000. Furthermore, there are few incentives for athletes to want to slog through several years of the minors as it is, as Kyler Murray recently showed, but there would be even fewer incentives by shrinking the minors (and, consequently, the draft). Shrinking the minors and the draft could lead to more minor league free agents, but if baseball is actually interested in a free market (it’s not) then it should abolish the draft entirely as well as the arbitration system.

These reasons, each uniquely fallacious, hide the real reason behind the proposal: shifting money around so Major League Baseball can say it will award pay raises to minor leaguers, ending a years-long stretch of bad P.R., without actually cutting into profits. MLB could have afforded to pay minor leaguers a living wage years ago and it chose not to. MLB could have chosen not to lobby Congress for the ability to continue underpaying minor leaguers years ago, but it chose to do so. Everything since has been the league trying to avoid lying in the bed it made for itself.