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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 13, Royals 5: Who put the Benzedrine in the Seattle Mariners’ Ovaltine? Edwin Encarnación hit two homers in the same dang inning — the second time he’s gone deep twice in an inning in his career — and the M’s hit five jacks in all to send the Royals to yet another loss. Jay Bruce, Dan Vogelbach, and Dylan Moore went deep as well, abusing Homer Bailey and a series of Kansas City relievers. The Mariners have 32 homers in their first 12 games, which is the most by any team in 12 games to start a season. Ten wins now for Seattle. Most of those have come against some weak sisters of the American League, but the M’s themselves were supposed to be a weak sister of the American League. This is . . . unexpected.

Cubs 10, Pirates 0: Jon Lester left early with hamstring tightness but the Cubs’ Beleaguered Bullpen™ stepped up with  Brad Brach, Brandon Kintzler, Randy Rosario and Pedro Strop combining to toss seven innings of scoreless relief. They were buoyed by the Cubs’ six-run second inning and two runs each in the third and fourth.  Lester, by the way, was hurt when he scored from second on a two-run single after he himself hit a two-run double. Pitchers batting giveth, pitchers batting taketh away.

Astros 4, Yankees 3: New York took a 3-1 lead into the seventh, thanks in part to Aaron Judge hitting a homer off of Justin Verlander. Jose Altuve went deep for Houston’s lone early run. In the seventh, though, Robinson Chirinos doubled in two to tie it. Carlos Correa gave Houston the go-ahead run the next inning thanks to a little dribbler of a broken-bat hit off of Adam Ottavino which functioned like a perfect bunt to score Alex Bregman. It was the first run Ottavino had given up all year. I feel like if it were me I’d rather give up that run on a double off the wall rather than a broken bat nothin’ that went about 30 feet.

Orioles 12, Athletics 4: All anyone was talking about during the game last night was Chris Davis’ record-breaking 0-fer streak, but the rest of the O’s were just fine as they laid some serious lumber to the A’s. Jonathan Villar homered and had four RBI, Trey Mancini went 3-for-3 with a homer, Cedric Mullins hit two triples and drove in three and Richie Martin‘s had a triple and a pair of singles. Only 6,585 fans paid their way to the game, making it for the lowest attendance total in Camden Yards history if you don’t count the game they played with no fans that time.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: Rhys Hoskins hit two solo homers and Odubel Herrera hit a two-run shot. They were the fourth and fifth homers of the year for Hoskins, who I feel like is going to put up one of the more quiet MVP-caliber seasons in some time.

Rays 5, White Sox 1: The Cy Young winner was in Cy Young form, striking out 11 over six innings. He started strong, striking out five of the first six hitters he faced and then, in the sixth, he put two runners on and then struck out the side, ending the threat as he ended his outing. Just big man stuff. His counterpart, Carlos Rodón, was in a somewhat lesser form, putting on baserunners like it was his job when, in fact, his job was the exact opposite of that. The Rays, 8-3, are off to their best start since 2010.

Cardinals 4, Dodgers 3: The Dodgers lost Hyun-Jin Ryu early after he was removed with a groin strain. Ryu missed time with a similar injury last year so, uh-oh. His counterpart, Miles Mikolas, stood a better chance of hurting opposing hitters than hurting himself as he plunked three Dodgers batters on the night. None seemed intentional, though. He allowed three runs on five hits in getting the win. The Cardinals won thanks to a seventh inning rally which was capped by Paul Goldschmidt scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Joe Kelly, who has blown three saves on the young year.

Braves 8, Rockies 6: Atlanta built a big early lead for what seemed like the fifth time this season, and they turned out to need it. Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a two-run homer in the first, then a two-run Nick Markakis single in the third and a two-run Dansby Swanson triple in the fifth made it 6-0. Swanson would then score on a wild pitch to give the Braves seven. Colorado mounted a comeback in the bottom half of the fifth with six runs of their own, capped by Trevor Story‘s three-run homer, but that’s as close as they’d get. A Swanson sac fly would provide some insurance later. Neither started is framing the box score of this game and putting it on the wall of their rumpus room.

Padres 6, Giants 5: Madison Bumgarner was staked to a 5-0 lead after four thanks in part to a Kevin Pillar grand slam but it was not enough. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fifth, Wil Myers hit a solo shot in the sixth and Franmil Reyes hit a two-run homer in the seventh to cap the big comeback. Bumgarner gave up five of the six runs and the Tatis and Myers bombs. San Diego may not be good enough to hang with L.A. all season, but they’re plenty good this year and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Angels 5, Brewers 2Mike Trout, if you were unaware, is ridiculously good at baseball:

He also walked twice and scored a run. His home run streak ended, but Trevor Cahill thanks him for his defense, which helped Cahill toss six innings of two-run ball. And even if Trout didn’t homer, Tommy La Stella, Justin Bour and Andrelton Simmons did.

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.