Usually when we talk about “tools” on this blog, we’re talking about those players who are able to run fast, throw hard, hit the ball far and be almost completely unable to actually play the game of baseball. Sports Business Journal has an article up about tools today, however, and they sound like something that I absolutely do not want:
Craftsman brand is teaming with MLB for a line of licensed tools that
available online in time for Father’s Day gift purchases.
Assuming positive sales results, Sears hopes to have a line of
tools, power tools, tool storage and perhaps even lawn and garden
its 3,900 stores in time for November and December holiday shopping.
Having a lawnmower with an Atlanta Braves logo on it would only make me all the more bitter to be out mowing my lawn on a Sunday afternoon rather than watching an Atlanta Braves game.
Of course, if they keep playing like they’re playing now, I may rather be out mowing the lawn instead . . .
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.