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Video: Andrew McCutchen’s wife throws him his own All-Star party at home

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Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen was in the midst of a solid season in the first year of his three-year, $50 million contract. He was hitting .256/.378/.457 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in his first 59 games. Sadly, he suffered a torn ACL, ending his season on June 3 in San Diego.

For as much coverage as baseball players get, we don’t often talk about how tough these kinds of injuries can be to deal with. McCutchen got a little bit into that when he shared a video on Instagram. His wife Maria threw him a surprise All-Star party, but not just any party. Take it away, Andrew:

For those who can’t watch the video, McCutchen says:

Normal day at the McCutchen household. Well, at least that’s what I thought. I come home with my family from going to the family function today. My wife tells me to proceed down to the basement. So I do that. And this is what I see.

Hobblin’ down the steps, one foot at a time. I look up. Hold — hold up. [There are big standing letters spelling CUTCH emblazoned with stars in front of a red carpet.]

It gets better. That’s a red carpet. Then we have some family and friends in this area standing there. And I’m like, “Tell me that we having an All-Star party? No.” Then we go over here to the left. [He shows National League All-Star shirts with McCutchen’s name and number on the back and an All-Star hat.]

Balloons on deck. [Some look like baseballs.] I don’t even know how they did that. Then there’s a whole lot of food and snacks and a big ol’ baseball balloon right there. Sometimes that’s how a baseball look when you hot.

Then, they throw this up. [A “You’re Our All-Star” banner above the basement bar.]

This is one of the coolest things. Bop! [A picture, surrounded by bright lights, of McCutchen holding his son at his introductory press conference after signing with the Phillies. Another picture shows McCutchen posing in a Phillies uniform.] The lights on, man. Got me with my son, chillin’ at the press conference over here. Bop! The lights on ’em. It’s lit! Travis Scott voice.

Man, this was on the cake topper. I was seein’ photos of that later. [The cake toppers include him holding his son, both in Phillies gear, a scoreboard showing the NL winning, and a Phillies hat.] Look at that man, I was on the top of a cake. That was me and my son. They had the score on there — we won. Then — look, we got the hat.

I know I’m biased, I know I am. But I honestly feel like I got the coolest wife in the entire world. That’s honestly how I feel. Because she went and took the time out of her life to do something like this for me. And it means a lot. It means so much because you work so hard, and to have an injury like this to where it gets wiped away, all your work. Everything you prepared for, the year is just wiped away. And for her to do this for me, it means the world to me, honestly. It went from a regular day at the McCutchen household to one of the coolest days. One of the coolest days, man. Look at the McCutchen, bro! [Camera pans to the big letters in the back.] It’s over there! It’s “CUTCH!”

My wife said since my All-Star chances got wiped away she thought that she should bring the All-Star Game to me. I got the best wife in the world.

That is a really cool, heartwarming moment for McCutchen. He and his wife are officially #relationshipgoals.

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.