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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 9, Athletics 4: Oakland jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two but Boston jumped on ’em for six in the third. It was sort of like the Hulk-Thanos fight in “Infinity War” in which you thought, “uh oh, he’s in trouble now” as Hulk got a couple of punches in but, um, nah. I’d really like to start making references to “Endgame” in this space but I feel like I can’t do that until after the second weekend.

Anyway, Xander Bogaerts‘ two-run double in the third tied it and Michael Chavis‘ two-run single put Boston ahead. Chavis would add another RBI in the fifth. The Sox scored all of their runs without the benefit of the homer. Oakland did too for that matter.

Cardinals 6, Nationals 3: Like Boston, the Cards put up a six-spot in a single inning. Like Boston they also needed to do so to come from behind. Here a returning-for-the-disabled list Michael Wacha was shaky early, walking in a run with the bases loaded and giving up a two-run single right after that, but those three runs would be all he’d allow in five. The Redbirds’ comeback came courtesy of a Harrison Bader homer, Matt Carpenter scoring on a wild pitch, Marcel Ozuna singling in two runs, an RBI double from José Martínez and a Yadi Molina single. All of that damage was done against Patrick Corbin who, before this game, was one of the best pitchers in the National League so far this year. Life comes at you fast. St. Louis has won three straight and eight of nine.

Reds 5, Mets 4: I guess big innings were the order of the day, because the Reds scored four in the second with a couple of doubles, a single and a sac fly, staking them to an early 4-0 lead. They’d lose that lead by the fourth, when the Mets tied it scoring both their third and their fourth runs via bases-loaded walks from Tanner Roark. Jesse Winker broke that tie with a two-out, ninth inning homer off of Mets closer Edwin Díaz. Winker had seven home runs in each of the last two seasons. He has eight so far in 2019.

Brewers 5, Rockies 1: And another four-run inning, this one in the Milwaukee first which ended this one before it began. At least in hindsight. Jesús Aguilar hit the big blow, a three-run homer off of Kyle Freeland, and he’d add a second dinger off of Freeland, a solo shot, in the third. Aguilar hit 35 homers in 2018. These were his first two of 2019. After the game he said “This is going to be the first night where I’m going to sleep good.” I wonder what that’s like.

Braves 3, Padres 1: Mike Soroka have Atlanta yet another strong start, allowing only one run in six innings while striking out eight. He also played a part in the scoring, helping Atlanta score a run via a fielder’s choice, advancing to third when the Padres committed not one but two errors on the play, and scoring on an Ozzie Albies single right after that to give himself and his team a 2-1 lead. Albies would add an insurance run with a homer. It was his third in the last two games. Maybe the biggest news here was that the Braves got three scoreless innings from their bullpen. Since when does that happen?

Twins 1, Astros 0: When you score only one run off of Justin Verlander you aren’t likely to win, but Minnesota beat the odds by making a third inning solo homer from third baseman Ehire Adrianza hold up as the only run in the game. They did it mostly thanks to Jake Odorizzi, who tossed seven shutout innings, walking one and striking out seven. It was the Twins’ eighth win in ten games. Only the Rays have a better record than the Twins in all of baseball.

White Sox 5, Orioles 3: Manny Bañuelos — who before this year had not seen big league action since 2015 because, I’m assuming anyway, he got snapped by Thanos and just reappeared, um . . . somehow . . . pitched five-hit ball into the sixth inning in his first start in a dog’s age. Tim Anderson and Yonder Alonso each hit a two-run homer and James McCann had three hits as the Chisox won their third in a row. In other news, every year there’s some non-divisional matchup which seems like it has lasted 50 games even though you know it’s only like six. That’s Chicago and Baltimore for me so far this year. I know, intellectually, they’ve played only four times but it sure seems like it’s been 12.

Rays 8, Royals 5: Tommy Pham, Yandy Díaz and Ji-Man Choi each drove in two as the Rays won for the fifth time in six games. They’re such a balanced team this year. Every night someone else is contributing to a win. I know it’s still April, but it sure feels like something special is going on here.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: The Dodgers had a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh and Ross Stripling came in to keep the shutout going. He didn’t. Joe Panik singled, Yangervis Solarte doubled him over to third and Brandon Belt walked, chasing Stripling and bringing in Dylan Floro. He struck out Buster Posey for the second out of the inning but then surrendered a bases-clearing double to Evan Longoria to give the Giants a 3-2 lead that proved to be the final score. The Dodgers’ four-game winning streak, and the Giants’ three-game losing streak, were . . . snapped.

Like I said: I would REALLY like to start talking about “Endgame” soon, you guys.

This Day in Transaction History: Cardinals send two players to Phillies in lieu of Curt Flood

Curt Flood
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As a recurring column idea, Bill will expound upon one interesting transaction that occurred on a particular day in baseball history. It won’t always be the most exciting or most impactful transaction, but always something interesting. Feel free to share which transactions stand out to you in the comments.

. . .

The Cardinals and Phillies agreed to terms on a trade involving outfielder Curt Flood on October 7, 1969. The Cardinals sent Flood, Tim McCarver, Joe Hoerner, and Byron Browne to Philadelphia in exchange for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. Flood famously refused to report to the Phillies, citing the club’s poor record, stadium disrepair, and racist fans. Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause, sitting out the 1970 season. On this day in 1970, the Cardinals sent Willie Montañez and Jim Browning to the Phillies in lieu of Flood.

The trade became one of baseball’s most famous and not because of the quality of players involved. Allen, Rojas, Montañez, McCarver, and Hoerner all had lengthy, productive major league careers. Allen, in fact, would go on to win an MVP Award. Browning was really the only player of the bunch that didn’t pan out, as he never exceeded Double-A before his career in baseball was finished in 1975 at the age of 23.

Baseball’s reserve clause tied players to their teams even when their contracts expired. That is why many well-known players in the 1960’s and prior spent their entire careers with one team. Their options were: accept the below-market salaries offered by their teams or sit out the season in protest.

The Major League Baseball Players Association wasn’t created until 1966, but the reserve clause was challenged prior to Flood. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1922, in Federal Baseball Club v. National League, that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to Major League Baseball. The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits in interstate commerce anticompetitive agreements and attempts to create monopolies. The Supreme Court maintained that the business of baseball did not qualify as interstate commerce as it pertains to the Sherman Antitrust Act. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote, “The business is giving exhibitions of baseball, which are purely state affairs.”

New York Giants outfielder Danny Gardella sued then-commissioner Happy Chandler. Gardella was banned five years because he played in the Mexican League. He claimed that was an unfair use of monopolistic power and said that the 1922 Supreme Court ruling no longer applied given the exponential growth of the sport. Gardella ended up settling out of court.

The reserve clause was more seriously challenged in 1953 when Yankees minor league pitcher George Earl Toolson filed a lawsuit against the Yankees. Toolson spent the 1946-48 seasons with the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox in Louisville. He joined the Yankees in ’49, reporting to the Newark Bears. The Bears, however, dissolved, so Toolson was sent to the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate the next year. Toolson refused to report, saying that the reserve clause was a restraint of trade. Because the highly competitive Yankees had complete control over his career, he could not willingly play for another team that might afford him a better chance to realize his dream of pitching in the majors. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reaffirmed the reserve clause.

All of that laid the groundwork for Flood and MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller to challenge the reserve clause when the outfielder refused to report to the Phillies. Flood said in a letter to commissioner Bowie Kuhn, “After 12 years in the Major Leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen.”

Aside from a very brief stint with the Washington Senators in 1971, this lawsuit ended Flood’s career in baseball. He was a terrific player, making the NL All-star squad three times, winning seven Gold Gloves, and winning two championships with the Cardinals in 1964 and ’67. From 1961-69, he accrued 39.2 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference. Only 12 players had more WAR in that span of time.

Sadly, Flood too was unsuccessful in challenging the reserve clause. Judge Irving Ben Cooper of the Southern District of New York denied Flood’s motion for a preliminary injunction, writing, “The game is on higher ground; it behooves every one to keep it there.” He also wrote that “the preponderance of credible proof does not favor elimination of the reserve clause.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also dismissed Flood’s case, citing Federal Baseball Club v. National League and  Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc. as precedents. The Supreme Court upheld the rulings of the lower courts.

However, Flood and the MLBPA had made the most progress against the case to date. Miller finally nullified the reserve clause five years later when pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally argued that the reserve clause didn’t give team owners the right to renew player contracts year after year in perpetuity. The MLBPA filed a grievance on behalf of the two players and the case went before an arbitration panel. Peter Seitz, an arbitrator agreed upon by the two sides, ruled in favor of Messersmith and McNally. Major League Baseball appealed in the district court of Western Missouri, but Judge John Watkins Oliver upheld Seitz’s decision. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld Seitz. In 1976, the era of free agency began, allowing players with six years of service time to become free agents.

Despite Flood making arguably the greatest impact on the game of baseball, he is not in the Hall of Fame. It is not surprising, though the Hall of Fame is owned and operated by private interests, as the Hall has often taken an ownership-sided slant. It was not until very recently that Miller was elected to the Hall of Fame, in fact. In late February, 102 members of Congress sent a letter to the Hall of Fame urging Flood’s election. Thankfully, we don’t need the Hall of Fame to decide for us whether or not Flood made an impact. He most certainly did and every player who has signed a contract as a free agent in the time since has him to thank. Just ask Gerrit Cole.