I knew this day was coming since September. It actually came later than I thought it would, based on all we heard about his diagnosis. But neither its inevitability nor its delay softens my sorrow. Ernie Harwell has died at the age of 92.
I wrote this back in September, but it bears repeating: I was a nervous kid, afraid of the dark and afraid of going to sleep
myself. My parents let me turn on the radio at night as I went to bed
and the talk, rather than the music, made me feel better. The voice
that gave me the most comfort was Ernie Harwell’s voice on WJR, which I
latched onto before I even truly realized it was describing a baseball
Ernie put me to sleep most spring and summer nights for several years,
teaching me about baseball in the process. He also taught me that I
could enjoy it just as much if I could not actually see it, which I
can’t help but think is the reason why I enjoy writing up the “And That
Happened” recaps every day. I see very few of the games I
describe, but just because I don’t see them doesn’t mean that there
isn’t a story to be told. Information and flavor to be teased out.
Maybe you always have a thing for your first love, but I think I’m being
objective when I say that I have never encountered a better baseball
broadcaster than Ernie Harwell. How lucky that I had him putting me to
sleep when I was four years old as opposed to someone else. Would I
have even been a baseball fan if it was someone else’s voice on the
radio? I kinda doubt it.
Farwell, Ernie. Your like or equal will never be seen again.
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:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.