FOX’s Ken Rosenthal is generally pro-Phillies in this column and likes them to win it all, but he’s got a good point here:
Hey, I love Pedro. It is foolish to bet against him. But no one has any idea how he will pitch in cool weather against an American League club using a DH, one that happened to be the highest-scoring team in the majors during the regular season
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, working the Series for FOX, says Martinez will be tough if he throws his breaking ball for strikes. The Yankees, if they start to press, might even prove easy prey, given Martinez’s ability to change speeds and read hitters.
Of course, the other, perhaps more realistic, possibility is that the Yankees will simply crush Martinez and his diminished, 87-90 mph fastball.
I’m a huge Pedro Martinez fan myself, and my own World Series prediction notwithstanding (I need the Phillies to lose four of five to be proven correct) nothing would make me happier to see him catch some 1999 lightning in a bottle tonight.
Like Rosenthal, however, I just don’t like his chances of doing it. Cliff Lee has proven over the past two years that when he’s on the top of his game, he is basically untouchable. The 2009 version of Pedro Martinez, however, is merely good at his best, eminently hittable if he’s off. And that’s when he’s not facing the Yankees, who have basically had his number over the course of his career.
The Yankees are due, and I think Martinez will be hit hard tonight.
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.
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: