The umps blow a would-be replay moment in the Cubs-Braves game

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Piniella argues.jpgI’ve noticed a lot of great camera work in the first two days of the baseball season. That ESPN matrix-vision thing they used to show the double-steal on Sunday night was pretty spiffy. That Mark Buehrle gem was covered from a zillion angles. Also captured really well?  Nate McLouth having the ball pop out of his glove as he made a diving non-catch on Marlon Byrd’s shot to center in the sixth inning of yesterday’s Braves-Cubs game. There was an umpire huddle, but despite the fact that 53,000 fans in the ballpark could see the non-catch on the jumbotron and millions of viewers at home could see the same thing, the original call — out — held up.

I don’t want Lou Piniella to be able to throw a beanbag out onto the field to challenge that, nor do the umpires or any right-thinking fans.  But how easy would it be to have umpire #5 — with his generously-sized tushy resting comfortably on an Aeron chair in front of a couple of TVs up in the press box — simply buzz the crew chief on his walkie-talkie, say “hey, I know it was easy for you to miss because it happened on the upstage side of McLouth’s body, but the ball squirted out,” and have the correct call made? It would have taken 11 seconds.

The umpires would get credit for making the right call. More importantly, the right call is made. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.