Houston’s decision to fire Cecil Cooper with 13 games remaining left Dave Clark with a two-week stint as interim manager and the assumption seems to be that he won’t be offered the full-time job. So who will the Astros tab as their next manager? Alyson Footer of MLB.com and Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle both tackled that subject this morning.
Footer separated potential candidates into three groups consisting of 14 total names: Clark, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Valentine, Manny Acta, Willie Randolph, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Brad Ausmus, Jim Deshaies, Phil Garner, Bill Ripken, Tim Bogar, Kirk Gibson, Tim Wallach.
Not included on Footer’s list is longtime Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, who discussed his possible interest in the job with Ortiz:
Earlier in my career I think I had a desire to manage more than I do now. I don’t think that you go into the job like that without making a really strong commitment. And usually it has to have some length to it. So my interest right now, you know I’ve been around a long time, and I don’t know whether I’d have the same desire to make that type of commitment than I might have in years past.
Clark is Houston’s fifth manager in the past nine seasons and the job awaiting skipper No. 6 is a tough one, because the Astros don’t have much in the way of MLB-ready impact prospects coming up through the farm system and are 10 games below .500 despite spending over $100 million on the oldest team in the league. Among the 27 players who’ve batted 100 times or pitched 25 innings for Houston this season, only Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Felipe Paulino, Bud Norris, Alberto Arias, and Wesley Wright are in their twenties.
MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke have retired.
Davidson, 64, was known as “Balkin’ Bob” for his tendency to call pitchers for balks. Davidson has also made a name for himself picking fights with players and managers, as well as unnecessarily escalating situations.
Hirschbeck, 62, didn’t quite have the reputation Davidson had, but he had a couple of notable incidents on his profile as well. Last year, when ejecting Twins slugger Miguel Sano, Hirschbeck said, “Get the [expletive] out of here.” In 2013, he threw a drum of oil on a fire that very easily could’ve been snuffed out with Bryce Harper.
Joyce, 61, was a well-liked and well-respected umpire who will go down in history for one mistake. On June 2, 2010, Tigers starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game. Indians second baseman Jason Donald hit a weak grounder about halfway between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera went to his right to field it and flipped to Galarraga covering first base. It was a close call, but Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe, ruining Galarraga’s perfect game. To both Joyce’s and Galarraga’s credit, both handled the mistake with the utmost class.
Craig also wrote in detail about Joyce a few years ago. It’s worth a re-read.
Tim Welke, 59, actually announced his retirement last year, but I guess it wasn’t made official until recently. He underwent a left knee replacement procedure in January last year and then had his right knee replaced five months later.
CNBC, citing Reuters, reports that Facebook and Major League Baseball are in discussions to stream one game per week.
Streaming is becoming more and more ubiquitous as it’s a more convenient way for people to access media they like. MLB Advanced Media, which handles MLB’s streaming service, is worth several billions of dollars. Last year, Disney paid $1 billion to purchase a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, the independent company MLBAM launched for its streaming.
Millennials and “Generation Z,” in particular, are driving the streaming trend. Forbes, citing the Digital Democracy Survey in 2015, reported that 56 percent of millennials’ media consumption was done via computer, smartphone, tablet, or gaming device. Those 30 years and older rely on television to watch film and TV shows at a clip higher than 80 percent.
Twitter is already in the sports streaming arena. It streams MLB, NFL, and NHL games as well as the PGA Tour.