Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night

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Sunday is the 30th anniversary of the infamous “Disco Demolition Night.”
For those unfamiliar, it went down like this: Doubleheader between the
White Sox and Tigers. Disco backlash reaching its apex. Local DJ
convinces the Sox to stage a promotion for which people bring unwanted
disco records to the game in exchange for a 98 cent ticket, the records
get collected, placed in center field, and blown up by the DJ during
the intermission between the two games. Totally foreseeable, but
seemingly unforeseen side effect: the cheap tickets and disco
demagoguery draws lots of people who usually don’t go to baseball
games, and those people proceed to use their tickets savings to buy
lots of beer. Well, at least the people who weren’t baked out of their
gourds did (I’m guessing nacho sales were pretty brisk). There’s no
dispute, however, that it was a crazy scene that evening.

Then came the explosion, which tore a big chunk out of the outfield
grass. Then thousands of fans rushed the field, lighting fires,
throwing firecrackers, and making general asses of themselves. The
batting cage was pulled down and wrecked, bases were ripped off the
infield, and the place was generally torn to shreds. Everyone was
having a grand old time until the riot police showed up. Man, those
guys can be buzzkills.

Anyway, the guy whose bright idea this all was — Steve Dahl — now writes for the Chicago Tribune, and today has an interview with . . . himself. It’s pretty good reading, actually:

So you had no idea that DD was going to be as big as it was?

No, I thought it was going to be a failure. Even if I drew 10,000
fans, the place would have still looked empty. I was just hoping I
wouldn’t be too embarrassed. I mean, I was dressed up like a fat G.I.
Joe, singing “Do You Think I’m Disco” a cappella and running around
blowing up records.

When did you know that it was going to be bigger than you had ever imagined?

When I finally got down on the field and felt the beer-fueled energy
of he crowd. I might have also smelled a little pot. They were throwing
cherry bombs at me. Never schedule an event that close to the 4th of
July.

You mentioned alcohol and drugs. Were you high?

I don’t think so. I feared for my life and my career.

Some people may look back at Disco Demolition Night as an
unmitigated disaster. I choose to remember it fondly. After all, at
least in those days there was a sense of community. In today’s
uber-fragmented world — a world in which a given band’s perceived
coolness is directly related to how obscure it is — we can’t get
anyone to agree on anything, and there’s something quite sad about
that.

I guess.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: