Frank Robinson in charge of umps, game-pace is not gonna change anything

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Frank Robinson took over as Vice President of Baseball Operations last week.  The move was views by many — me included — as a way for Bud Selig to put someone tough in charge of the umps and to do a better job carrying out baseball’s on-the-field priorities like speeding up the pace of the game and stuff.  Ken Rosenthal reminds us, however, that this is nothing new:

So I’m talking to Frank Robinson on the phone, talking to him about his
new position in baseball, talking to him about his plans to speed up
the game. And suddenly, it hits me:Haven’t I had this conversation before?

In fact, I have — just after the 2000 World Series, during Robinson’s
first tenure as a vice president of baseball operations. Yes, almost 10 years ago.

Rosenthal quotes Selig from back in 2000 talking about how pace-of-game issues were “a very high-priority thing.”  Those were to be Frank Robinson’s responsibility, but they were obviously were never addressed, so what makes anyone think they’ll be addressed now?

Rosenthal also throws cold water on the notion that Robinson is going to come in, snap his fingers and get the umps to fall in line. To the contrary, Rosenthal’s sources say that Robinson will be tasked with “improving communication with the umps.”  Seems to me that the only communication that needs to happen right now is for the umps to be told, in no uncertain terms, that no one comes to the park to see them so quit acting all arrogant and getting in players’ faces, but I suppose we’ll leave that to Robinson.

Robinson does say he has “a special message” he wants to convey to the umpires. I hope that’s a euphemism for a size 10 EE in their collective posteriors, but it doesn’t sound like it will be.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

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A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.