White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a prodigious two-run home run off of Royals starter Brad Keller in the fourth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game in Chicago. Anderson celebrated by throwing his bat back towards his dugout.
MLB celebrated Anderson’s achievement as such:
Predictably, the next time Anderson stepped to the plate, leading off the bottom of the sixth inning, Keller threw a fastball at him. The benches emptied. Keller and Anderson were ejected, as was White Sox manager Rick Renteria.
10 days ago, Pirates pitcher Chris Archer intentionally threw at Reds infielder Derek Dietrich. I predicted, correctly, that Archer would get a mere five-game suspension, which didn’t even result in a missed start. Archer essentially had his start pushed back one day; he started on April 7 and 13, his team’s eighth and 13th games of the season. Archer was also fined, but hardly enough to outweigh the social incentives for retaliation.
Just as MLB needed to suspend Archer for a much longer period of time, the league needs to make Keller’s fine and suspension count. MLB can’t, at both times, promote “let the kids play,” then do nothing when the “kids” who “play” have baseballs intentionally whipped at their bodies. Based on precedent, however, Keller will receive a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine, and pitchers will continue to hurl baseballs at batters whenever their feelings get hurt.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?