Twelve players -- including World Series participants Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira and Shane Victorino - are participating in the campaign to urge Congressional passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which seeks to bring improved opportunity for workers to bargain collectively with their employers.

The Major League Baseball Players Association co-sponsored a print ad advertisement with the AFL-CIO that ran in The Hill, Politico and Roll Call on Wednesday. It depicts each of the players in a baseball card-like theme along with his position and hometown. (See image of Roll Call ad below.)

Heath Bell, Dave Bush, LaTroy Hawkins, Torii Hunter, John Lannan, Andrew Miller, J.J. Putz, Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright, along with Rollins, Teixeira and Victorino endorsed a statement directed to Congressional leaders:

"All Americans should have the same opportunity we've had -- to be able to join a union without being fired and to negotiate with their employers without being penalized. Today, our country is facing some tough times. Health care costs are skyrocketing. Families are losing homes. Savings and retirement income are disappearing overnight. Now more than ever, we need a strong union movement to protect our jobs, our pensions and our future. The Employee Free Choice Act simply guarantees a level playing field for all workers. It makes sure everyone plays by the same rules. That's as important in the workplace as it is in baseball."

The pending legislation is considered critical to the mission of allowing more people to join together to collectively improve their workplace rules, rights, wages and benefits. It would hold corporations accountable by increasing penalties for those who break the law and ensures workers will get a contract by requiring a neutral third party to determine and enforce a fair agreement.

"Unionization and collective bargaining have produced tremendous gains for generations of baseball players. All American workers should have a fair opportunity to decide whether to join together to bargain on an equal footing with their employer. That's what the Employee Free Choice Act provides," said Michael Weiner, the incoming Executive Director of the MLBPA.

"Baseball is a defining American tradition. And so is the freedom to bargain together for a better future," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "In these troubling economic times, it's more important than ever for working people to have a fair shot at getting ahead -- and unions are the best way to make sure everyone has that chance. It's time to hit this one out of the park and pass the Employee Free Choice Act."

Burnett finally gets a taste of the World Series: A.J. Burnett never got a chance to really celebrate the last time he was in the World Series in 1993.

A member of the Florida Marlins, Burnett needed Tommy John surgery that season and was only able to watch as the Marlins defeated the Yankees to win the title. Burnett is now a member of the Yankees, and on Thursday night, he finally got to feel what it is like to pitch on baseball's biggest stage.

"I'm going to prepare, yeah, maybe, as if it's another game, but deep down, I know what it's about," he told the New York Daily News before the game. "I know how real it is, and I don't want to change it. I want to go out there knowing it's my first World Series start."

After a loss in Game 1, the Yankees needed a win to keep from falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven series and Burnett used his big-breaking curve to silence the Phillies' bats, allowing only one run in seven innings while striking out eight hitters.

Jeter honored with Roberto Clemente Award: Derek Jeter received the 2009 Roberto Clemente Award, which was presented to him ahead of Thursday's Game 2 of the World Series. The award, which was named for Clemente in 1973 after the Pittsburgh star died in a plane crash in Dec. 31, 1972, while on a humanitarian mission to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, has been given annually since 1971 and recognizes the Major League Baseball player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

"Obviously, we're very excited we're in the World Series, but it's nice to get an opportunity to focus on something that really has to do with something more than baseball," Jeter told in accepting the award. "It has to do with community work and giving back to the community. I think people in our position should take advantage of it. They should try to give back as much as possible. I know I'm being awarded for this right now, but there's a lot of players that give back to the community, and I think everyone should be commended for that."

Jeter was one of 30 nominees, one for each baseball team, and a panel led by league commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente selected Jeter as the winner.

Lee's preparedness leads to confidence: Cliff Lee was masterful on Tuesday night, pitching a complete game in the Phillies' 6-1 victory over the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series. Lee allowed no earned runs, walked nobody and struck out 10.

"To be successful at this level, you've got to be confident," Lee told "You've got to go out there and think you're going to get everybody out and think you can. I definitely do that. I try not to go over the edge and rub things in and be cocky, but I definitely have confidence -- there's no doubt about it.

"[I was] not nervous at all. It's been a long time since I've been nervous playing this game. It's what I've been doing my whole life. You do everything you need to do to prepare, and I try not to leave anything to chance. So what's the point in being nervous? I've already done the work. It's game time, time to go out there and have fun and execute and let your skills take over."

Utley alone at the top with postseason record: Chase Utley is extending his postseason record for consecutive games reaching base.

With a walk on Thursday night, Chase Utley made it 27 straight games. He established the new record on Wednesday night but conceded he was unaware of the feat.

"I didn't know that happened," Utley told "You know, every day, you try to put a game plan together, and you try to get on base for the next guy. Having Ryan [Howard] and Jayson [Werth] and Raul [Ibanez] hitting behind me -- those guys can drive in a lot of runs. The more guys on base we have, the better opportunity we have to score some runs."

Rivera chalks up two more innings for save: There was no denying the Yankees felt Game 2 of the World Series was a must-win game. So, when the Yankees built a 3-1 lead heading into the top of the eighth, manager Joe Girardi called on closer Mariano Rivera for a six-out save.

"Winning tonight is very important, we didn't want to go down two games going to Philadelphia," Hideki Matsui, whose solo home run in the sixth inning broke a 1-1 tie, told the New York Post. "It only adds to the confidence we have."

Hamels on deck for Game 3: Scheduled to pitch Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night for the Phillies is Cole Hamels. Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel says he's looking for a consistent performance from the 2008 World Series MVP.

"Cole Hamels his pitched some good games this year," Manuel told "The biggest part I would say is the consistency. When he's on, he's very capable of beating anybody. I'm hoping when he pitches [Saturday] that he's on."

Hairston's start pays off: Manger Joe Girardi decided to make a change to his lineup for Game 2 of the World Series. Jerry Hairston Jr. was given the start in right field for the Yankees, and Girardi said the move was more about Hairston's success against Pedro Martinez, who started for Philadelphia.

"He's had a lot of success off of Pedro," Girardi told of Hairston. "We also like the way they kind of match up against each other, and that kind of shows up in the numbers. So we thought we'd give Jerry tonight."

Entering the game, Hairston was 10-for-27 with two doubles and a triple in his career against Martinez. After starting 0-for-2 against Martinez, Hairston collected a key single in the seventh inning with the Yankees holding a slim 2-1 lead. Brett Gardner pinch-ran for Hairston and came around to score on Jorge Posada's pinch-hit single.

Martinez threw everything at Yankees: In six-plus innings in Game 2, Pedro Martinez struck out eight batters while allowing just three runs.

"That's all I could do today," Martinez told "I don't feel like I saved anything. I did everything I could to beat those guys."

Triunfel returns to action in Arizona: Carlos Triunfel, one of the Mariners' top prospects, missed most of the 2009 season due to a broken fibula he suffered in the second game of the season. Triunfel is back, however, having just joined Peoria in the Arizona Fall League.

"He had a very serious injury," Mariners director of Minor League operations Pedro Grifol told the Seattle Times. "Just to have him back out there playing this winter is pretty fortunate."


-- Red Line Editorial