Selig brushes off calls for expanded instant replay

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Poor umpiring and high-profile blown calls have been one of the biggest storylines of the playoffs so far, but commissioner Bud Selig made it clear today in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that he has no plans to expand instant replay:

I don’t really have any desire to increase the amount of replay, period. This goes on every time there’s a controversial call. I understand the Phil Cuzzi call and others. But frankly, I’m quite satisfied with the way things are. We need to do a little work, clean up some things. But do I think we need more replay? No. Baseball is not the kind of game that can have interminable delays.

The first round isn’t even over yet and we’ve already had Phil Cuzzi ruling Joe Mauer’s double a foul ball, Jerry Meals ruling Chase Utley’s foul ball fair, and C.B. Bucknor botching multiple calls at first base. And let’s be clear about something: Those are not, as Selig puts it, “controversial calls,” because that trivializes the issue by implying that they were something other than flat-out wrong.
We’re not talking about inconsistent strike zones or bang-bang plays being ruled the wrong way, although certainly those are issues that Selig should be looking to address as well. No, we’re talking about blown calls in hugely important situations. In every case instant replay could have corrected them within minutes, but Selig wants us to be satisfied with the idea that “baseball is not the kind of game that can have interminable delays”?
So, bad umpiring and incorrect calls are acceptable as long as they’re really quick? And since when is baseball worried about delays? Nearly every playoff game is running well over three hours at this point, with expanded commercial breaks and snail-like pacing, so spending a few extra minutes to review plays that can make or break a team’s season seems reasonable. If the umpires are unable or unwilling to get these calls right, they need help.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.