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Punches were thrown during a benches-clearing brawl between the Blue Jays and Rangers

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The Blue Jays and Rangers are not the best of friends. Jose Bautista sent the Jays into the ALCS last year with a three-run home run and famously flipped his bat, something that would become the subject of many discussions in the ensuing months.

The two clubs met for the first time since the ALDS for a four-game set in Toronto on May 2. There was some speculation that the Rangers might try to exact revenge on Bautista, but the series was completed without incident.

This weekend’s three-game set in Texas between the two games almost finished without incident. The Jays won the first game on Friday 5-0, and the Rangers used a Drew Stubbs walk-off home run on Saturday to win 6-5.

Rangers reliever Matt Bush came in as relief in the seventh inning, allowing an inherited runner to score to push the Jays’ lead to 6-3. He came back out to start the eighth inning, facing Bautista. His first pitch was a 96 MPH fastball that hit Bautista and was, without question, done with intent. Bautista wasn’t happy about it. Both teams were issued a warning. Bautista was discussing the incident with first base umpire Dale Scott.

After Edwin Encarnacion flied out and Jake Diekman came in to relieve Bush, Justin Smoak hit a ground ball to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Beltre threw the ball to second baseman Rougned Odor who whipped around to first to complete the double play. Bautista slid late into Odor, also obviously done with intent to harm. Odor wasn’t happy about it and threw punches at Bautista, one of which landed flush. The benches quickly emptied.

Jesse Chavez, who had entered in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a three-run home run and a single before getting the final out of the frame, started the bottom of the eighth. He threw a first-pitch fastball that hit Prince Fielder. Chavez was immediately ejected and the benches emptied again. Things calmed down quicker than before, but it was still a messy affair.

There were so many ejections…

  • Blue Jays: first base coach Tim Leiper (ejected in the third inning), manager John Gibbons, pitcher Jesse Chavez, right fielder Bautista, third baseman Josh Donaldson, bench coach DeMarlo Hale
  • Rangers: second baseman Odor, bench coach Steve Buechele

Odor is likely looking at a lengthy suspension and a fine. Bush, Bautista, and Chavez at the very least are also likely looking at suspensions and fines. What a messy situation.

The two teams don’t play each other again for the rest of the regular season.

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

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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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: