I’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?
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.