RHP Alex Cobb (3-4, 4.09 ERA) goes for the Giants while LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.13 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers. Cobb has had a modest July, going 0-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 innings. Kershaw is fresh off a start in the All Star Game and has otherwise gone 2-0 with an ERA of 0.40 in July. He needs eight wins to get to 200 for his career.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
1909 At Washington Park, the Superbas sweep a twin bill from the visiting Cardinals with identical 1-0 scores. Brooklyn’s southpaw Nap Rucker, who will finish second in the NL with 200 strikeouts, whiffs 16 Redbirds in one of the contests.
1931 For the second time in ten days, Babe Herman hits for the cycle. The Dodger outfielder joins “Long John” Reilly and Bob Meusel as one of only three ‘tricyclists’ to have accomplished the feat of collecting a single, double, triple, and home run in one game three times.
1965 Unbeknownst to him at the time, 75 year-old Mets skipper Casey Stengel, who compiled a managerial record of 1,905-1,842 with the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, and Mets, manages his final baseball game, a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia at Shea Stadium. After leaving a party after midnight at Toots Shor’s, the ‘Old Perfesser’ loses his balance and fractures his left hip, resulting in the unexpected retirement with the team.
1968 ChiSox reliever Hoyt Wilhelm breaks Cy Young’s record when he makes his 907th career appearance, pitching a third of an inning in which he gives up a run on two hits to be on the short side of the team’s 3-2 loss to Oakland. The 45 year-old knuckleballer, who will retire in 1972 after pitching in 1,070 games, will finish his 21-year major league career with a 143-122 (.540) won-loss record and 228 saves, hurling for the Giants, Cardinals, Indians, Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Braves, Cubs, and Dodgers.
1970 Tommy Agee steals home with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, giving the Mets a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Dodgers at Shea Stadium. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, the New York center fielder stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, before scoring the winning run with his thievery of home plate.
1977 After his two-out foul pop-up is dropped by Mets’ right fielder Bruce Boisclair, Davey Lopes responds with a game-ending three-run home run off Bob Apodaca. The L.A. second baseman’s ninth-inning dramatics provide the Dodgers with a 5-3 win and spoil the opportunity for a win for Nino Espinosa, who left the game needing just one more out for a complete-game victory.
1993 Following the game at Dodger Stadium, Vince Coleman tosses an M-80 from a car, resulting in reported injuries to three fans in the Chavez Ravine parking lot, including an 11 year-old boy and a two year-old girl. The Mets’ player was a passenger in the 1991 Jeep Cherokee driven by LA outfielder Eric Davis, who acknowledges Coleman flipped the firecracker out of his vehicle as a ‘joke,’ but not into a crowd of people.
1993 In a 5-4 loss to the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, Mets right-hander Anthony Young extends his record losing streak to 27 games. The latest defeat is the result of the hard-luck hurler walking Dave Hansen in with the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning.
2015 Michael Conforto becomes the 1,000th player in Mets history when he makes his major league debut, going 0-3 in the team’s 7-2 loss to the Dodgers at Citi Field. Tomorrow, the 24 year-old rookie left fielder will enjoy a 4-for-4 day at the plate when he will collect three singles and a double en route scoring four runs.
2020 For only the second time in baseball history, all four starting infielders are the sons of former major leaguers, when shortstop Bo Bichette (Dante), second baseman Cavan Biggio (Craig), first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Vladimir), and third baseman Travis Shaw (Jeff) top the order for the Blue Jays on Opening Day. In 2012, the Dodgers’ lineup featured an infield consisting of third baseman Ivan DeJesus Jr. (Ivan), second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. (Jerry), shortstop Dee Gordon (Tom), and first baseman Scott Van Slyke (Andy), with outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. (Tony) patrolling center field.
1. Talks should get serious in January
“owners and the union before the new year were set to discuss matters of relatively lesser importance. That’s notable because at the very least discussions took place…”
2. Those ‘core economics’ are complicated
“…the average player salary has declined in the face of ever-soaring franchise values, the union wants to remake the economic structure of the game. The players’ wish list is too expansive to be addressed in a single CBA negotiation, but you should expect that their energies will be focused on getting young players paid more and paid sooner.
Younger players in terms of on-field value are, as a group, better than older players, but the antiquated salary structure, which is driven by tenure rather than capability, doesn’t reflect that. Right now, almost all players are entitled to no more than the major-league minimum until they have three years of MLB service time, at which point they become eligible for arbitration. To put a damning point on it, AL MVP finalist Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made just $605,400 this season (compared to the current minimum salary of $570,500), which means he was underpaid relative to his production by tens of millions of dollars.
3. The players may have some leverage for the time being
Negotiations leading up to the COVID-shortened 2020 season served to galvanize the players, and the mass of signings leading up to the owner lockout means less uncertainty for several high-profile free agents. All of that, in turn, makes it less likely that there will be divisions within the ranks of players. Beyond those factors, veteran players like union rep Max Scherzer sound fully committed to fighting for the rights of younger and less tenured players during these negotiations. That means fewer class schisms that management can exploit.
4. Time will soon be running short
Should we get into the second week of February or thereabouts without a deal, then the possibility of a compromised spring training becomes a concern. This again plays into the leverage that players may have right now. Spring training games at sites in Arizona and Florida have become a profit center for teams, and they don’t want to lose those games. Players, meantime, don’t start getting checks until the regular season begins. So the prospect of a shortened spring training figures to increase pressure on the league side to get a deal done.
Taking a swing at improving their middle infield, the Dodgers have signed Eddy Alvarez, known as a Miami Marlins Quad-A prospect … but more prominently known as a USA Baseball silver medalist and a decorated speed skater from the 2014 Sochi games.
Alvarez also got his most extended big-league run with the Marlins during the 2021 season, too.
In 24 games, split between third and second base, Alvarez hit .188 while cracking his first home run at the MLB level. He doesn’t offer much on the defensive end, grading out as below-average at third, the spot he spent the majority of his reps.
Just getting to the big leagues is nothing to sneeze at, of course. Getting to the big leagues after winning silver on the rink? Now that’s really something.
No need to treat this as some sort of token reward, though. Alvarez mashed at the minor-league level last season, posting an .865 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A (.423 OBP). He earned his keep, and will now be getting a fresh chance in one of baseball’s model organizations.
As late as March 1, scores of free agents were still unsigned as front offices divest from players who are 30 or older — All-Star outfielder Adam Jones is 33, Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is 31, closer Craig Kimbrel is 30. At the same time, teams manipulate the service time of big-league-ready young players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by leaving them in the minors. Teams do this assured in the knowledge that while these veteran and rookie players could obviously help a team, the public condones the anti-labor practice of tanking. Many teams simply aren’t trying to win, and fans don’t care.
But today’s player, across sports, was born into a country that has demonized labor so thoroughly that some of them do not even believe philosophically in the principles of unions and more quickly turn on one another. It should forever be remembered that when the owners squeezed veterans in the NBA and NFL, the players responded by attacking younger players, advocating for a rookie wage scale.
Baseball’s ownership is now reaching a brazen point. The new generation of Ivy League GMs, with their own metrics and measures for paying players (how is it not collusion if everyone is seemingly using the same methodology?), have crossed two lines:The first is their philosophy of no longer paying players for what they’ve done, only for what they are projected to do. The second is controlling players for six full years and then refusing to pay them once they reach their free agent seventh. The modern player, richer than ever, is faced with a question: Is a punitive free agent market, and a culture that threatens any player over 30, enough to shut down the game?
So far, the players aren’t looking like Curt Flood, while the owners are looking like Charles Comiskey (the reason the Black Sox threw the Series was because their owner was such a cheap man). The players seem to be opting for the security of multi-year contracts, which is rational seeing what’s happened to the stars who’ve hit free agency and received no offers at all.