When all else fails, blame technology

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The awful umpiring during the
postseason has been discussed ad nauseam here, most recently during the
World Series, with a curious double play call in Game 1 and a missed
double play call in Game 2. So, who’s the biggest culprit for the added
scrutiny? Technology,
says Joe Lemire of SI.com:

It’s hard to quantify umpiring errors for comparisons with other
postseasons, but there’s no question that this intense focus on the men
in blue is a creation of television. At the ballpark itself, MLB policy
prohibits any obvious umpiring mistake from being shown on the video
scoreboard.


Mistakes are simply disseminated quicker and farther. The live TV
audience is higher — and not shrinking because of the umpiring
blunders, either, as Fox’s World Series Game 2 ratings were 44 percent
better than the same game last year. There’s a larger press corps at
each playoff game, and the Internet transmits their words instantly.
Video clips are easily accessible online.

Fox is using 20
TV cameras for each playoff game it broadcasts, the same as it used
last year, but that’s still twice as many as most networks use in the
regular season.

Lemire is painting the umpiring
problems with a broad brush here. We might not like it, but most of us
can accept a missed call at first base here or there. It happens in
baseball. But when umpires make egregious mistakes like Phil Cuzzi in
Game 2 of the ALDS or Tim McLelland in Game 4 of the ALCS, it becomes
very difficult to blame technology.

If anything, increased technology
and scrutiny from expanded replay could enhance the game in half the
time, saving us from unnecessary umpire huddles with inexact resolutions. If only Bud Selig would agree.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.