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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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I took the kids to see “Captain America: Civil War” last night. Its plot is set in motion by a powerful and at times inspiring hero who, unfortunately, is divisive, occasionally arrogant, is prone to poor impulse control and who is really feeling the heat after he is accused of destroying an entire country. He also has at times questionable facial hair and a sidekick named Clint who is surprisingly heroic when given the chance. When I got home, I watched the last couple of innings of the Nationals-Tigers game which featured a powerful and at times inspiring hero who, unfortunately, is divisive, occasionally arrogant, prone to poor impulse control and who is often accused of destroying an entire country. He also has at times questionable facial hair and a sidekick named Clint who is surprisingly heroic when given the chance.

I guess what I’m saying is that I totally expect people to propose the baseball equivalent of the Sokovia Accords for Bryce Harper today, even if I expect him to be less receptive to it than Iron Man was. In both cases our hero is far more interesting when he’s doing the things he’s born to do than when he’s pulled into contrived controversies, so here’s hoping we can just see more repulsor beam firing from our hero and less political intrigue surrounding him going forward. And here’s hoping Iron Man’s life is simplified a bit too.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 5, Tigers 4: For all of that Bryce Harper drama, the absolute best part of this game was Clint Robinson admitting that he thought it was the eighth inning and not the ninth and didn’t realize at first he had hit a walkoff homer. The second best part of this was that my friend who is a Tigers fan was watching it as the ninth was starting and texted me to tell me that she was going to go bed, saying “Don’t really want to see how the Tigers lose this one and I have to work early tomorrow.” Real Tigers fans know. They know it in their bones. It’s not even surprising or particularly disappointing to them anymore.

Yankees 6, Royals 3: The Yankees hit five solo homers. Carlos Beltran hit two of them. The Royals hit two homers as well. Just a dingeriffic night in the Bronx. Well, not so much for Kansas City who has lost 10 of 13 and is under .500 for the first time in forever. Aroldis Chapman made his 2016 and his Yankees debut, striking out two and flashing triple-digit heat but also giving up two hits and a run.

Red Sox 14, Athletics 7: Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a grand slam and drove in six. He’s on a 15-game hitting streak during which he’s hitting .382 (21-for-55). Brock Holt hit a two-run homer, and David Ortiz had three hits and two RBI for Boston. The Sox have won seven of 10.

Reds 3, Pirates 2: Tucker BarnhartZack Cozart and Joey Votto all went deep for the Reds’ only three runs and, shocker, the bullpen didn’t allow any runs in three innings.

Marlins 4, Brewers 1: Jose Fernandez tossed seven shutout innings but the highlight of the game was clearly J.T. Realmuto hitting what would’ve been a tiebreaking two-run home run only to have it negated because he passed the baserunner ahead of him on the basepaths. That’s the kind of thing that would be excruciating in a loss, but they can joke about it in a win. Maybe whoever bats ahead of him in the lineup tonight should be designated “line leader” like my kids had in preschool.

White Sox 8, Rangers 4: Todd Frazier had been slumping, but a grand slam in extra innings will turn that frown upside down. It was Frazier’s second homer of the game. He, like Bradley in Boston, had six RBI on the night. They were all needed as the White Sox pen blew leads in the eighth and ninth innings before having their bacon saved.

Astros 7, Indians 1: The Astros bats beat up the 2014 Cy Young winner for five runs in two and two-thirds, propelled by Jose Altuve‘s three RBI and a pair from Colby Rasmus. Altuve is putting up MVP numbers — .323/.408/.654.

Diamondbacks 10, Rockies 5: Jake Lamb homered and drove in four. A lot of baseball writers won’t admit it, but I will because I’m all about transparency: I’m gonna like Lamb for the rest of his career because he gave me a really fun and funny interview in spring training. I didn’t even use the best part for any story. The upshot was that he was talking to his dad over the winter and he mentioned some famous player like Paul Goldschmidt and his dad was all impressed and talked about what it must be like to be a big famous major leaguer. Lamb was like “dad, you know I am a major leaguer too . . .” And Lamb’s dad told him “Well, yeah, but you know what I mean.” I understand, Jake. I totally understand.

Mariners 5, Rays 2: Felix Hernandez is now the all-time wins leader for the Mariners, passing Jamie Moyer. I bet a lot of people would’ve thought it was Randy Johnson. It’s easy to think that — he spent parts of ten seasons in Seattle — but he wasn’t RANDY JOHNSON yet for the first few and ended up with only 130 wins in an M’s uniform while Hernandez now has 146. Ketel Marte hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth here to ensure King Felix’s place atop the team leaderboard.

Mets 4, Dodgers 2: Steven Matz won his fifth after allowing two runs and six hits in six innings and striking out five. Scott Kazmir continues to allow a lot of homers — he now has surrendered nine on the year, which is a 46-HR pace if he’s allowed to pitch all season — and the Dodgers continue to reel. Chase Utley pinch hit and came to the plate twice, but there was no hint of retribution for the infamous slide from last year’s playoffs.

Blue Jays 3, Giants 1: Aaron Sanchez allowed only one run and three hits in seven innings. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer in the third which provided the winning margin. The call on that homer was pretty impressive.

Padres vs. Cubs; Orioles vs. Twins — POSTPONED: Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height… height…
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height… height…
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: