Max Scherzer
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Max Scherzer fires back at owners crying poor

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MLB team owners haven’t done themselves any favors lately, as several of them went to the press to cry poor. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said last week that owners’ losses during the pandemic shutdown have been “biblical.” He also said that generally, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash.”

Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick went on Arizona radio earlier this week to continue defending the ideas of revenue sharing and a salary cap. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. went on St. Louis Radio earlier this week and said, “The industry isn’t very profitable, to be quite honest.”

These comments came against the backdrop of ongoing negotiations between the owners and the MLB Players Association pertaining to a 2020 season. Though there have been weeks of trading ideas back and forth, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. As Craig explained recently, this is solely because the owners are being obstinate. Among other things, the owners want a shorter regular season and for the players to agree to further pay cuts, even beyond those agreed to back in March. The players want a longer season and a larger share of their salaries.

Nationals starter Max Scherzer, a member of the MLBPA executive subcommittee, responded publicly to the league’s desires. In a tweet, he wrote, “There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions.” He also suggested the owners open their books to prove their claims of economic distress.

Scherzer is not an outspoken player when he’s not on the mound. He rarely offers a controversial opinion or combative thought that doesn’t involve him blowing a 98 MPH fastball past a batter. For him to comment publicly about this exemplifies just how tense things are labor-wise in baseball.

Scherzer responded again, this time to the owners’ recent claims of the sport not being profitable. He tweeted, “Some owners have mentioned that owning a team isn’t very NET profitable.. You know what other company isn’t very NET profitable? Amazon.”

Indeed, Amazon reported net income of just over $11.5 billion in 2019. The business itself was valued at $1 trillion earlier this year. Aside from the Braves, as the team is publicly traded, it’s impossible to know exactly which baseball teams are net profitable and by how much because the owners keep their books closed to the public.

We do know, however, that the league set a revenue record for the 17th consecutive season last year at $10.7 billion and we know that every baseball team is worth at least $1 billion. Even the Marlins, arguably baseball’s poorest franchise, provided incredible value for former owner Jeffrey Loria. Loria bought the franchise for $158.5 million for the Marlins in 2002, then sold the team in 2017 to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion. That’s about a 7.6-to-1 return on investment. Former Royals owner David Glass bought the team for $96 million in 2000 and sold it to John Sherman last year for $1 billion — a 10-to-1 ROI. Owners wouldn’t be purchasing MLB teams, including some within the last five years, if the sport weren’t profitable.

If the owners want sympathy from players, from the media, and from fans, then they have to provide transparency. Dating back to the formal organization of the sport, owners have been decidedly opaque — and at times actively misleading — about their financials. Anything they say should be considered with the utmost skepticism until they open their books.

Blue Jays clinch 1st playoff spot since 2016, beat Yanks 4-1

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Barred from playing in their own ballpark this year because of COVID-19, the vagabond Toronto Blue Jays have found a home in the playoffs.

The slumping New York Yankees, meanwhile, look likely to play on the road in the postseason, where they’ve struggled all year.

Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings and the Blue Jays clinched their first postseason spot since 2016, beating the Yankees 4-1 Thursday night and further damaging New York’s chances of hosting a first-round series.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games following a 10-game winning stretch and remained two games behind the slumping White Sox for the fourth seed. Chicago lost 5-4 at Cleveland, its fifth straight defeat.

“We’ve got to get it rolling again, obviously, if we’re going to get to where we want to go,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’m confident we can do it.

New York went 21-7 at home this season but was 11-18 on the road. Boone said he’s not concerned about that split even as a potential road playoff series looms next week.

“We’ve got to get ourselves in order and start playing really good baseball if we’re going to give ourselves a chance,” Boone said.

Toronto secured at least an AL wild-card spot and ensured its eighth trip overall to the postseason. The Blue Jays had endured three losing campaigns since their previous playoff trip, going 67-95 last season.

“I’m just so proud of my club and everything we’ve gone through all year,” second-year manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Canada’s federal government refused to allow games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre this season, citing the closed Canada-U.S. border and the travel risk associated with the pandemic. Stuck on the road to start the season, the Blue Jays eventually ended up at their Triple-A ballpark, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, but didn’t gripe about their fate.

“They never complained,” Montoyo said. “They had their mind set on getting to this moment right now.”

Blue Jays players embraced after Rafael Dolis struck out Aaron Hicks to end it, donning blue T-shirts that said “Respect Toronto.”

“This is something we want to make an every year thing,” infielder Cavan Biggio said. “For us, we’re happy, we’re excited we’re able to put ourselves in this position, but this is only the start of hopefully something special for a long time.”

The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by two games for second place in the AL East. Both teams have three games remaining. Toronto hosts Baltimore in Buffalo this weekend while the Yankees host the Marlins.

New York failed to hit a homer for the fourth straight game, matching its longest streak since June 2016. It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to homer in a four-game series since doing so at Texas in July 2013.

“I’m concerned with the way we’ve played recently,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “Any time you’re not playing your best baseball and the postseason is right around the corner, something needs to be corrected rather quickly.”

New York loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez flied out to deep center, where Randal Grichuk made a leaping catch at the wall.

“It’s good to see him get a really good swing off in a big spot,” Boone said of Sanchez. “Just unfortunately, that short.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for Toronto, his eighth.

Ryu (5-2) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Luke Voit and Hicks hit back-to-back singles to begin the sixth but Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out, and retired Gio Urshela on a groundball.

“He’s an ace and he did what an ace does,” Montoyo said.

The left-hander lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.69.

Dolis got four outs for his fifth save in six chances.

Guerrero opened the scoring with a solo homer off left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-3) in the second.

The Blue Jays extended their lead when Biggio and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back, two-out doubles in the third.

Toronto made it 4-0 in the sixth. Grichuk chased Montgomery with a single and Guerrero singled off Adam Ottavino before rookie Alejandro Kirk hit a two-out, two-run double.

Montgomery lost for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays finished 5-5 in their 10-game regular season series against the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (elbow) was activated off the injured list and RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. . RHP Jordan Romano (strained right middle finger) will throw a second bullpen session Friday.

Yankees: Aaron Judge came on as a pinch-hitter but is expected to start all three remaining regular season games, Boone said.

SHARED DUTY

Boone said he expects to use both Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher in the postseason. Higashioka has hit well while working with ace Gerrit Cole, while Sanchez has struggled with both offense and his defense down the stretch.

SEVEN UP

Ryu became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher since Aug. 22, 2019, to pitch into the seventh. It had been an MLB-record 88 games since RHP Jacob Waguespack pitched into the seventh at Dodger Stadium last year.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.25) starts Friday as New York returns home to begin a three-game series against Miami. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts for the Marlins.

Blue Jays: RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.86) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter.