I know. I’m as shocked as you are. John Shea at the San Francisco Chronicle has the scoop:
Barry Bonds’ agent finally acknowledged Wednesday that the home run king is done playing baseball.
“It’s two years since he played his last game, and if there was any
chance he’d be back in a major-league uniform, it would have happened
by now,” agent Jeff Borris told The Chronicle.
There’s a certain brand of sabermetrically-inclined fan — many of whom are friends of mine — who think that Barry could still DH for someone if he was given a week or two in a batting cage. I’m extremely dubious of this, and was last year and even a good way back into 2008. Sure, he probably can still tell a ball from a strike better than anyone, but entropy is a bitch once you reach a certain age, and even the Great Barry Bonds’ baseball body is going to quickly decline without regular use. He probably should have broke camp as someone’s DH a couple of years ago, but I long gave up any hope that he’d don a uniform again.
The real question, of course, is the Hall of Fame. 2013 is his eligibility date. All things being equal he’d be a first ballot inductee. Of course all things aren’t equal with him. There’s some softening on the Mark McGwire’s of the world, but no one was the face of the Steroid Era like Barry Bonds was. He’s going to take the heat for that, likely delaying his induction for a good long while. This despite the fact that (a) there’s no evidence to suggest that he was deeper into PEDs to a greater degree than any other player of his era; and (b) he was likely a Hall of Famer before the turn of century and his association with BALCO.
If I had the franchise, I’d vote for him in a second. I’d expect, however, Barry won’t be getting into the Hall of Fame without a ticket until he’s an old man.
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: