Here’s Roger Clemens’ ace lawyer, Rusty Hardin, speaking about his client’s indictment:
He’s right about reason being thrown out the window when it comes to baseball. People freak the hell out about steroids and have been doing so since at least 2002, when Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti began to speak up about it all.
I wish some perspective was maintained, but I know that’s a vain wish.
But you know what? It was Rusty Hardin’s job to assess all of this in late 2007 and early 2008. To realize how combustible the Mitchell Report and its fallout was and would continue to be and to advise his client to proceed in a manner which limited his legal risk. It may not be fair that Congress and the press and the public was going crazy, but it wasn’t Hardin’s job to change their minds about the fairness of it all. It was his job to keep his client out of legal trouble and he failed miserably in that regard.
At some point — a point before Clemens went on 60 Minutes and sued Brian McNamee and held a big silly press conference — Hardin should have realized that playing PR like Clemens was doing was a dangerous, dangerous game. This is not hindsight. I don’t have the fraction of the legal skills or experience of Rusty Hardin and I saw it and was talking about it at the time (see here, here and here). Hardin should have seen it too and should have impressed upon Clemens that discretion, in this instance, was the better part of valor. This he did not do.
At the end of the above video, Hardin talks about convincing the public or public opinion or whatever. Even now, more than two years later, he doesn’t seem to understand that shaping what the public thinks is not his job. That’s a job for publicists. Hardin was and his Clemens’ lawyer, and he should have done everything he could have to avoid his client getting hauled before a Congressional committee in the first place. He failed at that job, and in this regard he’s continuing to fail.
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: