Associated Press

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Below are the highlights. A bit later than usual for a Monday morning because I spent last night at a Dead Milkmen concert. Not even lying. They were my favorite band for a time in the mid-to-late 1980s. As for them in 2017? Not bad for a bunch of 50-somethings playing music that I liked as a ten-something. In fact, it was pretty amazing.

Oh, and because I’m an old man, I never know what to wear to concerts anymore. This one was easy, though. The Dead Milkmen are from Philly, so I wore my Jeff Francoeur Phillies shirsey (you remember that I bought that, right?). I’d like to think they appreciated the gesture and that, maybe, they liked me because I wasn’t like all of the other people there, in the trailer park.

Anyway:

Astros 7, Mariners 1: And with that the Astros clinch the AL West. Justin Verlander continues to do what he was picked up to do, striking out ten in seven innings and allowing only one run on three hits. Verlander is doing his best Doyle Alexander impression. Those of us of a certain age certainly remember that 1987 Tigers season. If not for Alexander’s fantastic late run after his midseason pickup from the Braves, then for the fact that Tigers outfielder Jim Walewander made the news that summer when it was revealed that he was the most famous Dead Milkmen fan around. It was even listed on his baseball card. During that season, he met the band at Tiger Stadium after they played a gig nearby. That same day he also hit his only major league home run. Rodney, Joe, Dave (RIP) and Dean did not see him do it, though. They had to get in their van before the game started and head on to the next town. By the way: the band still tours in a white van. Saw it parked outside the club last night. They set up their own instruments and stuff too. They never made it so big that they got a bus or roadies or anything. In fact, I think they all have day jobs now. It must be weird to have something of a cult national following but to never have really gotten past the “we tour in a van that we drive ourselves and have day jobs” mode. But respect to them for still doin’ it.

Oh, congratulations, Astros.

Athletics 6, Phillies 3: Down 3-2 in the sixth, the A’s Joey Wendle hit a go-ahead grand slam for Oakland. From the AP writeup:

Growing up near Philadelphia, Joey Wendle dreamed of coming to the plate and hitting a game-winning home run for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

My first thought was “how could any adult have dreamt about hitting a homer in CPB when they were a kid? The place is new!” Then I looked it up and realized that that park opened in 2004 and that Wendle was just a tad older than my daughter is now when it made its debut. My god, where has time gone? *puts on “Bucky Fellini” and pretends it’s still July 1987, when I turned 14 years old*

Orioles 6, Yankees 4Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 10 in just five innings and Tim Beckham hit a three-run homer. Also: Buck Showalter had Zach Britton walk Aaron Judge with two outs in the ninth, bringing the potential winning run to the plate in the form of Gary Sanchez. It worked — Sanchez struck out — and to be honest, given how much Judge has abused the Orioles this year, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing. You may remember that Showalter was also the guy who once ordered an intentional walk to Barry Bonds with the bases loaded back when Showalter managed the Diamondbacks. A man has to have a code.

Indians 3, Royals 2: The Indians technically clinched the AL Central on Saturday, but they celebrated it after yesterday’s win. And it wasn’t one of those bittersweet, we-backed-in sort of things, as they just kept on rolling with the 3-2 win. Corey Kluber — who is probably going to win the Cy Young given his amazing second half — tossed seven shutout innings to notch his 17th win and push his ERA down to 2.34. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer. Friday night’s loss ended that winning streak but nothing seems to be stopping them otherwise.

Tigers 12, White Sox 0: Matt Boyd lost his no-hitter with two out in the ninth but Tim Anderson‘s double to break things up was all he allowed. Nine innings, the one hit, one walk and five strikeouts for Boyd. On offense the Tigers rolled. Jeimer Candelario hit a three-run shot and drove in four. Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run homer and doubled in two more. Miguel Cabrera sat with aches and pains, but what else is new?

Reds 5, Pirates 2Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett each hit two-run homers and Tucker Barnhart triples home a run as Cincinnati scored all five of their runs in the sixth inning. They were backed by Robert Stephenson‘s six innings of one-hit, shutout ball.

Rays 3, Red Sox 2: Jake Odorizzi allowed only one hit in six innings, though it was a two-run homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. That tied things up at two, but Jesus Sucre‘s solo shot in the bottom half of the sixth put the Rays ahead. David Price returned and tossed two hitless innings in relief against his old team. He’ll be an intriguing piece of the postseason puzzle for Boston. He could be anything from the most expensive lefty specialist of all time to their version of Andrew Miller.

Mets 5, Braves 1: Robert Gsellman didn’t allow an earned run over seven innings and Asdrubal Cabrera had a two-run, pinch hit homer as the Mets cruised. The Braves are officially eliminated from playoff contention. So sad. Really thought they had a run in them. Oh well, they could still finish at .500 if they win every single one of their last 14 games. Let’s do it, Bravos!

 

Twins 13, Blue Jays 7: Toronto took a 5-0 lead behind two Josh Donaldson homers in the first inning and a half but the Twins came roaring back with seven in the second and then six more in the fifth before the Jays would cross home plate again. Eddie Rosario hit two homers and Joe Mauer hit a grand slam. Byron Buxton homered and doubled in a run. The Twins remain two games up on the Angels for the second Wild Card.

Brewers 10, Marlins 3Travis ShawJesus Aguilar and Manny Pina each had two hits and Shaw and Domingo Santana each drove in three as the Brewers take two of three from the displaced Miami Marlins. The Brewers stayed four games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and got within two and a half games of Colorado for the final NL wild-card spot. Miami has lost 17 of 20 games.

Cubs 4, Cardinals 3: The Cubs sweep the Cardinals in their three-game series and take their sixth game in a row to push St. Louis six back in the Central with only thirteen games left to play. So much for that frisky little run from the Cardinals. Jason Heyward hit a tiebreaking RBI in the seventh. Ben Zobrist drove in two and Kyle Schwarber hit a homer.

Rangers 4, Angels 2: Joey Gallo hit a solo homer that went nearly 500 feet. Mercy. Really, NO ONE hits a ball to this part of Angels Stadium:

Adrian Beltre hit a two-run double and had two hits on the day. I would’ve bet the ranch that he wouldn’t play again this season too.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 2: If I didn’t think Beltre would play again, I didn’t think Pablo Sandoval was even alive. But here he is, hitting a homer and driving in three. J.D. Martinez hit yet another homer — his 40th overall and his 24th in 51 games as a Diamondbacks. The Dbacks’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is six.

Nationals 7, Dodgers 1: Stephen Strasburg‘s scoreless innings streak ends at 35 but he allowed only the one run in six innings en route to a win. Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers in this possible NLCS matchup. Weirdest thing about the Dodgers and Nats meeting in the NLCS: one of them would have to actually win it and advance to the World Series. Not sure that’s in either team’s DNA, but I guess we’ll see. Indeed, if that series happens, it will be such an interesting matchup you’ll want to drive your car up here from the Bahamas to check it out.

Now, the important thing here is, you ask me what kind of car it is.

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

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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.