The 2003 steroid list should never have existed in the first place

26 Comments

That’s what the 9th District Court of Appeals said yesterday anyway:

The federal government illegally seized confidential drug test results of dozens of Major League Baseball players and must now return the records, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

“This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data” it was not entitled to have, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

And of course, if there was no illegal seizure, there would be no “list” and if there was no list there would be no leaks like we’ve recently had.

As I’ve said before, It was already ridiculous for people to call for “all the names to be released” given that doing so would be to violate a federal court order. It’s even more ridiculous now that the list’s very existence has been confirmed to be premised on the government’s violation of the Constitution in obtaining it. Of course, that doesn’t stop some folks, in this case the Associated Press’ Tim Dahlberg, from continuing to get it all wrong:

Yes, in a perfect world certain names wouldn’t be made public while other names remain secret. But in a perfect world baseball players wouldn’t have used concoctions whipped up in a lab to make a mockery of the records that the game used to hold so sacred. So don’t feel too sorry for A-Rod and company just yet.

How it is that people continue to think of baseball’s PED rules — which, at their heart, are no different from the work rules in your employee manual — are more important than the Constitutional rights of Americans is beyond me, but there you have it. Don’t feel sorry for A-Rod that he was betrayed by his union and fell victim to illegal acts by government agents! He was ‘roiding, and we all have a right to know about that!

Of course oftentimes justice delayed is justice denied, and that’s certainly what we have here. Because years passed between the seizure and the court’s final ruling of its illegality, the list was able to be created and the leaks able to be leaked. In light of that, yesterday’s ruling is of little practical help to the ballplayers’ whose names appear there. Someone still knows the names, and given that they’ve already leaked some of them in violation of a court order, there is no reason to believe that this ruling will stop them from continuing to do so.

Hopefully, however, we will all have a new appreciation for just how outrageous such leaks are, and treat the inevitable release of additional names with an appropriate level of skepticism and disdain.

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
15 Comments

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
25 Comments

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: