San Francisco threatens to sue if the A's move to San Jose

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San Francisco.JPGNot the San Francisco Giants. The City of San Francisco:

City Attorney Dennis Herrera gave Major League Baseball a little chin
music on Thursday, firing off a letter suggesting San Francisco would
sue the league if it approves moving the Oakland Athletics to San Jose . . . “I need to make sure the interests of the city and its taxpayers are
protected . . . The city and county of San Francisco has a
vital interest in making sure the Giants are successful and viable so
they can make good on their obligations to the city.”

Setting aside the entire issue of the antitrust exemption which could prevent this suit in the first place, on what possible theory would the City of San Francisco have standing to sue baseball over a franchise move that doesn’t even involve (a) the team that lives in the city; and (b) the city itself (here’s a basic definition of legal standing for you non-lawyers out there)?

Sure, San Francisco has a financial interest in the Giants doing well. But so do the ferry companies. So do the beer vendors. So do the people that print giant foam fingers that say “Giants” on them.  Would Dennis Herrera admit that they all have standing to sue too? Wait. Don’t answer that. Would a court say they have standing? Doubtful.

I’ve always been dubious of the whole territorial claim the Giants have on San Jose to begin with anyway. Yes, I know they technically “own” that territory, but it doesn’t make any kind of sense for them to be so protective of it.  The ballpark in Oakland is a sixteen mile drive from AT&T Park.  Downtown San Jose is forty miles away. Which location is more likely to draw people away from Giants’ games?  And besides, San Jose was Athletics territory for years anyway. They gave it to the Giants in order to help them out when the Giants had stadium issues.  If New York and Chicago can handle coequal team territory, the Bay Area should be able to handle it too.

But good luck with your lawsuit anyway, Mr. Herrera.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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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.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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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: