Competitive balance fine, no need for expanded replay, says MLB President

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Baseball’s president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy was on “Mike & Mike in the Morning” yesterday, and was asked about the Yankees’ alleged buying a title. His response:

“I don’t think that’s a fair statement. Competitive balance has been a hallmark of the entire tenure of Commissioner [Bud] Selig. The numbers tell an awfully compelling story. Twenty of the 30 clubs have made the playoffs the last 10 years, when we’ve had eight different World Series champions. There is too much disparity. We’d like to see that gap close. That’s why we’ve been pushing revenue sharing. But if you look beyond the Yankees, that ratio is more compressed than people realize.”

That last bit reminded me of the famous Marion Barry quote in which he said that if you take out the killings, Washington D.C. actually has a very very low crime rate. Absolutely true! Totally not comforting!

DuPuy went to call for a reformation of the draft to add international players. Though he didn’t say it explicitly, he was also clearly advocating for hard slots on amateur signing bonuses. Both of those things will be demanded by the owners the next time the Collective Bargaining Agreement is up for renewal. If I had to guess now, I’d say that the players will give that to the owners, simply because neither of those things directly impact current players.

Finally, DuPuy was asked about the bad umping during the playoffs. In response he dismissed the call for expanded replay and said “Our job is to get the very best umpires on the field and for them to get the calls right.”  Given that he called some of the plays this postseason “inexplicable” I’m inclined to believe that there are some umpires — say, Phil Cuzzi and Tim McClelland — who are going to get blasted back to the stone age as a result of their performance this fall.

That’s not enough for some GMs, however, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports today:

“The playoffs were a mess,” a National League general manager said.”There is no reason not to have a replay ump upstairs.”

A second GM agreed but said he expects no action on replay in 2010. “That speaks to a real lack of vision and leadership at the commissioner’s office,” he said.

Psst! Bob! He’s talking about you.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.