We’ve seen the gamut of defensive gems over the years, from the smooth barehanded snag to the rare triple play to the incredible fence-scaling grab. On Saturday, Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander broke the mold with a sac fly double play that has to be seen to be believed:
Powered by a Renato Núñez home run in the top of the inning, the Orioles led 1-0 when the bottom of the sixth rolled around. The Astros didn’t make it easy for Andrew Cashner, who surrendered back-to-back singles to give the competition a more-than-fair shot of getting back on top. With one out and runners at the corners, Yuli Gurriel lifted an 0-1 slider out to right field, where it was caught at the wall by Santander and airmailed to first base.
Derek Fisher scored on the sac fly, but Trey Mancini‘s diving catch proved a lucky one for the Orioles, as his foot just managed to stay on the bag while Michael Brantley stepped off first. The unconventional double play brought the Astros’ rally to a swift end, allowing the Orioles to recapture the lead with a run-scoring groundout in the eighth and a two-run homer from Richie Martin in the ninth.
Thanks to Santander’s antics, the Orioles boosted their woeful record to 20-44 on the year, slowly but surely building toward fourth-place status in the AL East. They’ll attempt to take the series from the Astros on Sunday, when right-hander Dylan Bundy is scheduled to go up against lefty Wade Miley at 2:10 PM EDT.
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?