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Hanley Ramirez’s walkoff blast stuns the Yankees

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The Yankees were in the driver’s seat last night, with Masahiro Tanaka allowing one run on four hits over seven innings and Yankees hitters knocking Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez out of the box before two innings could be completed. Yep, that was exactly what New York needed as it begins an 11-game road trip during which its Wild Card dreams will be realized or shattered.

David Ortiz hit a homer in the eighth to make things closer, but it was still only 5-2 and if you give Dellin Betances a three-run lead in the ninth you’re usually gonna do OK. He hasn’t been charged with four runs or more since June of last year. He had only done it one other time before that, way back in 2013. He’s a different pitcher now. One who is normally a lock in such situations.

But not last night. Maybe because he’s been worked hard lately, having pitched for three straight days. Indeed, that’s why Joe Girardi didn’t start the ninth with him, likely trying to give him a break in what should’ve been an easy save for Tommy Layne or Blake Parker. That didn’t happen, though. Girardi only let Layne face one batter, bringing in Parker, who hit the only batter he faced. With one on and one out, it was Betances’ game to save.

Betances walked Dustin Pedroia. Then he and the guy Parker plunked, Chris Young, advanced to second and third, respectively, on a pitcher’s indifference. Young was thrown out at home for out number two, but then Betances gave up two RBI singles to cut the lead to 5-4 with two men on. Then Hanley happened:

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I’ve seen a lot of Yankees fans angry at Girardi over all of this. But Betances is normally reliable and, at some point every year, your closer is gonna pitch a few games in a row and be asked to get you out of a jam despite not having his best stuff. It often works. Last night it didn’t. The Red Sox have a lot of good hitters, you see.

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: