Don Denkinger worked as an MLB umpire from 1969 to 1998 and is infamous for blowing a call at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between St. Louis and Kansas City, yet even he calls the umpiring in this year’s playoffs “kind of a disaster.”
In an interview with Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, Denkinger criticized the many blown calls we’ve seen throughout the playoffs and questioned commissioner Bud Selig’s reluctance to expand instant replay:
I’m in favor of getting all the calls correct, whatever it takes. I don’t see how he can get away with not [expanding instant replay]. It makes no sense not to. There’s nothing better than getting every call right. …
The way the game used to be played, what [the rulings were] just stood. But now there’s so much technology out there that can tell you if you’re right or wrong, why not use it? Why not have a guy in the booth who can review the play and get a ruling in 20 seconds? I don’t think anyone wants to see the game delayed any more than it is … but I think everyone wants to get the calls right. That’s the scenario every umpire thinks about.
And no one better understands the fallout from a blown call in the postseason.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.