As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t think the Mets have the right to void K-Rod’s deal pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I don’t even think they’ll try, honestly.
But there are growing calls today for the Mets to at least attempt to void his deal or do something else drastic. Lupica’s column is the first one I’ve read, but I’m sure there are others. I’ve talked to no small number of Mets fans in the past 12 hours who think the Mets should try. I totally understand the sentiment.
The sentiment certainly sits atop the moral and ethical high ground, with that ground being the notion that violence and aggression like that (allegedly!) shown by Rodriguez has no place in a major league clubhouse or on a major league payroll. It’s an admirable bit of high ground too. If I were running a baseball team I’d attempt to take such a stand in the event my players were involved in such things, even if the odds of success were low given the CBA and precedent.
But the Mets blew their chance to take such a position. They suspended him for two games, yes, but as soon as the suspension was over they pitched him. If they thought his act was so bad they could have done what the Cubs did with Carlos Zambrano or the Mariners did with Milton Bradley and placed him on the restricted list and told him to stay away from the team. Instead, they essentially said “we’re fine with whatever K-Rod did, as long as he can pitch.”
In light of that stance, I don’t see how — ethically speaking — the Mets can now voice the kind of disapproval the columnists and Mets fans are genuinely exhibiting. Any move against K-Rod now would be borne of disappointment that their closer can’t pitch, not disapproval of his untowards acts. It would be an act of opportunism, really.
Am I out to lunch here? Is punching a guy out less of a transgression if the guy doing the punching doesn’t get hurt? If so, sure, go ahead Mets. I just don’t think it’s so.
UPDATE: Rosenthal has some less philosophical thoughts about the mechanics of punishing K-Rod over all of this.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
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: