And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

87 Comments

Dodgers 1, Reds 0: A win for the Dodgers but a costly one as both Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig left with injuries. Gonzalez’s is minor and he says he’ll play tonight. Puig says his hamstring is worse now than his original strain, so it’s not unreasonable to think he’s done for the year. But at least they have Zack Greinke, who tossed seven shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 1.61. If the season ended today that would be the fifth lowest ERA in the live-ball era.

Angels 2, Tigers 0: As everyone expected, a pitchers duel between Matt Shoemaker and Randy Wolf. Shoemaker was scoreless into the eighth, tossing one-hit ball. The game story notes that Shoemaker is from just south of Detroit and he was happy to pitch in front of family and friends. So just like Jerome Bettis. In case you were unaware. Also: the Harbaughs are brothers.

Rangers 4, Blue Jays 1: The Blue Jays are finally cooled off. Yovani Gallardo was scoreless into the sixth and picked up his 100th career win. Delino DeShields walked three times, scored twice and had two hits, including a single on which he totally rounded the bases because Jose Bautista let the ball roll under his glove and all the way to the wall.

Royals 5, Orioles 3: Yordano Ventura struck out 11 in six innings. He’s 5-0 in his last seven starts. Not bad for a guy who was demoted in he middle of the year. The bullpen this time was not as impressive — Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland each got beat up a bit — but K.C. held on. Costly loss for the O’s too, as Adam Jones ran into the wall and had to leave the game. He doesn’t leave games often. I think he once played three innings after a gator bit is dang leg off.

Giants 9, Cubs 1: If you think Ventura was overpowering I’ll raise you a Madison Bumgarner, who struck out 12 in six innings. And he did this:

 

Also, Kelby Tomlinson hit a grand slam. Which has to be a joke because there is no way someone named Kelby Tomlinson is not a backup quarterback for an SEC team. More of a runner than a thrower, but coach is trying to get him to stay in the pocket more to keep the defense honest.

Nationals 4, Padres 2Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman homered, and starter Joe Ross allowed only one hit. That’s good! Meanwhile, Yunel Escobar, Michael Taylor and Denard Span are all sidelined by injuries now. That’s bad! So bad it’s inspiring some Nats fans to be less-than-optimistic:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsGonna be a long winter in Washington if they don’t mount some crazy rally in September.

Mets 9, Phillies 5: The Mets are 18-6 in August. They’re getting outs with crazy plays. They’re starting rallies with relief pitchers getting hits. They’re watching Daniel Murphy be a hero. They’re making Jeff Francoeur pout a little:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Hard to script this any better if you’re a Mets fan.

Pirates 2, Marlins 1: Gerrit Cole allowed one run into the eighth and the Pirates take three of four. Pedro Alvarez homered and Francisco Cervelli tripled and scored.

Rays 5, Twins 4: The Twins’ six-game winning streak is snapped. Rays relievers Brandon Gomes, Alex Colome and Brad Boxberger combined for four and two-thirds scoreless innings. The Twins fall just behind Texas for the second wild card.

White Sox 4, Mariners 2: Adam Eaton had three hits and scored three runs and Carlos Rodon took a shutout into the seventh. More importantly, the White Sox looked like this:

source:

 

If Rafael Soriano played for the 1976 White Sox, what would he do to celebrate each save? Tuck IN his shirt?

Cardinals 5, Diamondbacks 3: Seth Maness got came into the game with the bases loaded in the eighth and no one out, the Cardinals clinging to a two run lead. He got two strikeouts and induced a groundout, threat over. The Cards just aren’t fair sometimes.

Something needs to change to avoid future incidents like Machado-vs.-Welke

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
19 Comments

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that Padres third baseman Manny Machado was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for “aggressively arguing” and making contact with home plate umpire Bill Welke after a controversial strike three call in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado. The clip of the incident is below, showing that Welke’s call was poor. Machado’s behavior was also poor, as he indeed made contact — inadvertently or not — with Welke and repeatedly swore at him. Machado also threw his bat, though it was not in anyone’s direction and no one was put in harm’s way.

Machado chose to appeal his suspension, as is his right. While that matter is in the process of being resolved, the Major League Umpires Association put out a lengthy statement on Facebook and a shorter but hashtag-laden post on Twitter. The statements were problematic for a number of reasons, chiefest being that the union is publicly commenting on an ongoing matter. MLB can keep Machado’s suspension at one game, which seems likely, or it can reduce his suspension to zero games. The league can also choose to reduce or remove the fine as well. Once the matter is resolved, the MLBUA should feel free to comment publicly on the matter.

MLBUA’s statement was also poorly proofread, hyperbolic, and creates a very legitimate argument for bias against Machado and/or the Padres going forward. The MLBUA described Machado as “violently” throwing his bat “with no regard to anyone’s safety.” It continued, “It is NOT okay to throw a temper tantrum and physically touch someone of authority, just because you don’t agree.”

MLBUA then moralized, asking, “What does this teach the MLB’s immense and ongoing influential youth movement trying to attract young fans to the game? Major League Baseball has to always lead by example in all cases of violent behavior, on and off the field.” It closed out, saying that the union was “extraordinarily disappointed” in MLB’s “inaction.”

Among the hashtags MLBUA used on Twitter were “#TemperTantrum,” “#RepeatOffender,” and “#Nonsense.”

Major League Baseball then released a statement on Tuesday night, saying, “…we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association.” The league added, “We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”

Whoever put out the message on behalf of the MLBUA should have asked themselves, “What is my purpose here and for whom am I posting this?” The entire purpose of a trade union is to create a cohesive unit, establishing bargaining power on behalf of labor versus capital. So, MLBUA is not writing this for fans, for players, or for MLB executives; it is publicly commenting for umpires. An ancillary benefit might be to engender public support for umpires vis-a-vis Welke.

It must then ask itself if the statement creates solidarity among umpires. And I think that’s a solid no. Machado is not the first player and will not be the last to make contact with an umpire and to throw a “temper tantrum” of that magnitude. So why single Machado out and die on this hill today? I would be shocked if more than a handful of umpires outside of Welke and his closest confidantes appreciated the MLBUA reacting the way it did. It doesn’t help them achieve any union-specific goals and might actually hurt them. Repeatedly referring to Machado’s actions as a “temper tantrum” and “nonsense,” and calling him a “repeat offender” is unprofessional. It’s something an Internet commenter would write in the heat of the moment, not the representative of a trade union in one of the most profitable industries in the country. Furthermore, in singling out Machado, Machado himself as well as his teammates have a legitimate reason to believe Welke and his crew might be biased against them not just for the remainder of the season but for the foreseeable future.

On a more pedantic note, the MLBUA wrote that it is not okay for players to act the way Machado did against “someone of authority.” It’s not the power that should shield umpires from workplace violence; it’s their humanity. Machado should no more or less scream and yell at an umpire than he should anyone else in any walk of life. However you rank umpires, coaches, front office executives, teammates, opponents, fans, etc. — they should all be treated equally.

All of this being said, there was one part of MLBUA’s statement that rang true. As mentioned, Welke did suffer violence in the workplace. I disagree with MLB that the comparison was inappropriate. There is nuance to what constitutes “workplace violence.” Is it a mass shooting? Of course not. But in no other employment setting would it be appropriate for one person to scream, curse, and throw items across the room during a disagreement. The union correctly wrote, “Physical contact simply cannot be tolerated.” The crux of all of this is that Major League Baseball doesn’t discourage altercations between umpires and players/coaches. Things have gotten better since the implementation of instant replay, but some instances — especially ball/strike judgment — can turn into very heated altercations.

MLB needs a flat rule instructing players and coaches not to argue with umpires. The team of the offending person(s) would incur an in-game penalty as well as a potential fine and suspension. In exchange for this loss of power on the part of players and coaches, the umpires should be subject to actual oversight. As it stands, umpires are almost never punished in any way for any kind of behavior towards players and coaches, nor are they often punished for poor results in terms of correct calls made. The umpires already have the advantage with their authority; their lack of oversight puts that advantage on steroids, which is why there’s often so much frustration. Umpires instigate confrontations a non-negligible amount of the time. If they felt like they would actually be held accountable for it, they might be much more reluctant to act, for example, the way Ron Kulpa did towards the Astros in early April.

MLBUA helped gain that power imbalance for its members, so it isn’t likely to give it up very easily. I don’t see my utopian dream coming to fruition anytime soon. But that’s the crux of every umpire-involved confrontation: authority. Umpires and players/coaches need to be on a level playing field in that regard, and the rules need to be crystal clear on what kind of behavior is allowed from both sides. Until that happens, we’ll be seeing a Machado-vs.-Welke incident once or twice every year ad infinitum.