Someone at Major League Baseball needs to stage an intervention because the umpires are out of control. Last week we saw Joe West and Bob Davidson decide that the game was all about them. Yesterday it was Bill Hohn’s turn.
The scene (which you can see here): the Astros-Nationals game. Hohn was behind the plate and had been rather erratic with the balls and strikes. After Roy Oswalt registered his disgust with a call — with his back turned to the plate, mind you, so he wasn’t barking at Hohn directly — Hohn comes out from behind the plate, takes his mask off and seems more interested in confronting Oswalt than officiating a ballgame.
Maybe the lip-readers among you can tell me differently, but to me it looks like Oswalt, when he noticed Hohn approaching, said “I’m not talking to you.” Apparently telling an umpire that you’re not berating him is enough to get you ejected now, because that’s what Hohn did to Oswalt. In doing so he changed the complexion of the game, caused the Astros to unnecessarily tax their bullpen and likely affected the outcome of the next couple of Astros games.
Every single person in a position of authority, be they a boss, a teacher a judge or whatever is taught that to maintain respect and control you have to maintain your composure and be the more mature actor. Somehow the umpires never learned that lesson, because they seem to be picking fights right and left these days.
If Bill Hohn wants to make a point about his strike zone, the way to do it is to keep calling his game the way he wants to and let the complaints of others roll off his back. They’ll get the message quickly. Instead he decided that his ego was more important than his authority and he wrongfully inserted himself into the game.
It was yet another shameful display by an umpire. Baseball had better do something about it quickly.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.