Getty Images

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

37 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 1, Nationals 0: I wrote about this one yesterday. Short version: the Nats are in a funk and Romo is a punk.

Mariners 3, Orioles 2: James Paxton punched out 10 Orioles (not literally; that’d be illegal, though pretty badass if you think about it) and Kyle Seager was a one-man gang, homering and driving in two on an RBI single. Seager was batting cleanup because Nelson Cruz was a late scratch. Someone asked him if he thought he’d like batting in the four-hole on the regular:

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Seager said. “I like when Mr. Nelson is in there.”

When my kids were little most of their little friends would call me “Mr. Craig” and other adults by their first names with a title like “Mr. Robert” or “Ms. Megan. It lasted until the kids were in around the second or third grade, maybe. I thought it was really weird. No one ever did that when I was a little kid. If you were on a first name basis with an adult, it was just like you’d be now, calling them “Craig” or “Megan.” If you weren’t it was “Mr. Calcaterra” or “Ms. Smith.” Does anyone know when that changed? Guessing it was sometime between my childhood and Kyle Seager’s.

Yankees 6, Phillies 0: Yesterday, as I mentioned in the recaps, there were four seven-inning shutout performances from starting pitchers. A few years back someone — it was either David Pinto of Baseball Musings or David Schoenfield of ESPN, I can’t remember which — observed that bullpen use was such that traditional nine-inning shutouts were rare birds and that maybe we should have a stat which recognizes an achievement in the context of the new starting pitching philosophy. He called them “short shutouts.” I was kind of dismissive of the idea and of course, it didn’t take. With a few years to think about it, I’m wondering if I was too dismissive too quickly. I’m not saying we should have a stat for, say, a seven inning shutout, but I do think we should probably recognize and accept that that’s about the best we can expect most days and give it some sort of due. Or not, I dunno, but I have to admit that I am more impressed with seven shutout innings than I used to be. Viva low expectations.

In related news, the Yankees got seven shutout innings for Luis Severino and homers from Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius. The other four runs came via means other than homers, so maybe that’ll make the New York press happy. If I can cheer seven shutout innings, they can cheer sac flies and RBI singles.

Athletics 9, Tigers 7: For the second straight game Jed Lowrie drove in the tie-breaking run in the top of the ninth inning, this coming four innings after he went deep. All of this was in the service if a big comeback, as the Tigers held a 6-0 lead after three innings. Oakland has won eight of ten.

Red Sox 9, Angels 1: Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled home a couple of runs, singled in another and hit himself a bomb. David Price was sharp, limiting the Angels to five hits and a run over six. The Angels’ loss, combined with the Athletics’ win, dropped Anaheim to fourth place in the West, 11.5 games behind Houston. My god did the shine come off the halo quickly this year.

Mets 4, Pirates 3: Things got temporarily chippy in this one but it was over a lot of nothing and it calmed down quickly. As for the none jawing-at-each-other part of the game, Michael Conforto tied things up at three with a seventh inning homer and Wilmer Flores drove in three, including the game-winner in the 10th on a single. That busted the Mets’ seven-game losing streak though, for obvious reasons, their celebration was subdued.

Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 3: John Ryan Murphy drove in three, David Peralta had three hits and drove in a run and Jake Lamb had two hits and knocked in one himself. “This is an awesome team,” Murphy said after the game. No word if he then said “Remem–remember that time we scored those five runs and beat Miami? That was so cool.”

Reds 5, Braves 3: Matt Harvey allowed only one run while pitching into the seventh inning against one of the better offenses in baseball. Everyone declared him dead when the Mets unloaded him, but I guess he was only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead, of course. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do. For example. In less morbid news, Jesse Winker had three hits and two RBI. Cincy has won eight of nine.

Padres 3, Rangers 2: Texas held a 2-0 lead until the eighth when Wil Myers doubled in a run Christian Villanueva hit a sac fly and Hunter Renfroe doubled one in. Tyson Ross allowed two over six in a no-decision. Austin Bibens-Dirkx — who cannot be a ballplayer but, rather, must be the seventh in line to some title of lesser English nobility which his father has imperiled due to his scandalous and spendthrift ways — pitched well but was betrayed by his bullpen.

White Sox 8, Twins 4: Yolmer Sanchez knocked in four and Avisail Garcia homered as the Chisox dug themselves out of an early, shallow hole and won going away. Chicago has won three of four.

Brewers 5, Royals 1: Freddy Peralta pitched one-hit ball over seven scoreless innings — short shutout! — and Milwaukee got homers from Jesus AguilarChristian Yelich and Ryan Braun. Peralta was a minor league callup who has tossed 13 consecutive shutout innings.

Astros 7, Blue Jays 0: Charlie Morton tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out 13 — short shutout! — Jake Marisnick hit a three-run homer, Alex Bregman hit a two-run shot and Evan Gattis knocked in two with a single. I feel like I’m writing about Gattis in every Astros recap lately but I look up and see he’s basically being normal, good Evan Gattis. It’s one of his best years so far, but it seems to be within reasonable variance as opposed to some outlier, monster year. Guess he’s just making his hits count.

Cardinals 11, Indians 2: Corey Kluber has an argument for being the best pitcher in baseball right now but even the best pitcher in baseball gets his ass handed to him once in a while. At least the Cardinals had the courtesy of handing it to him in fewer than two innings last night, allowing him to go into the locker room and apply his choice of balm. St. Louis knocked the reigning Cy Young winner around for six runs in an inning and two-thirds, as Matt Carpenter homered twice and drove in three. Jose Martinez homered once and drove in three himself.

Cubs 9, Dodgers 4: Javier Baez hit two homers, one of which was a grand slam and Jon Lester played stopper, winning his sixth straight start to help the Cubs snap their four-game losing streak. Yasiel Puig helped open the floodgates with some bad defense and some poor decisions on he base paths. In that respect it was sort of vintage Puig, but unlike the Puig of old he took full responsibility for it after the game, saying he cost the team the game and that it was all on him. Someone’s gonna make a Baseball Man out of him yet.

Giants 3, Rockies 2: Gorkys Hernandez homered and drew a go-ahead, bases-loaded walk in the eighth. The Rockies had a chance to even things up late thanks to Hernandez booting a ball in the outfield but the baserunner, Tom Murphy, didn’t look at his base coach who was imploring him to take third, held up at second and was stranded when the game ended.

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

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
20 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.