We’ve all been impressed with the Aroldis Chapman show recently. That 103.9 reading the other night was boffo, and it actually made that 105 reading from Louisville — which I had doubted but am maybe coming around to believe — seem more plausible. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein has a great point, though: we should be skeptical of the guns:
Radar guns are sensitive
pieces of equipment that need to be consistently calibrated, and that could be
the extent of the issue, but at the same time, there’s been so much good press
generated by Chapman’s velocity since the 105-mph reading, that conspiracy
theorists are starting to ask questions. Now that MLB doesn’t have juiced balls
or players anymore, are the radar guns juiced?
Goldstein’s comments aren’t mere contrarianism, mind you. His skepticism comes from the fact that a handful of other fireballers — including Neftali Feliz and Chris Sale — have recently had unprecedentedly hot readings as well and maybe — just maybe — some funny business is afoot.
Good catch by Kevin. For what it’s worth, I would have no trouble whatsoever featuring the people behind the ballpark radar guns putting their thumb on the scale, so to speak, in order to spark a few more oohs and ahhs from the crowd. And maybe — just maybe — a few extra ticket sales.
Every year the playoff schedule is announced, every year people complain. And it’s understandable why they do. After six months of games starting at around 7pm — bam! — the playoffs come and you’re either staying up late or tuning in early to watch your local nine.
Of course, the reason for this is that Major League Baseball has two fundamental problems to deal with when the playoffs come around (a) the country is big; and (b) baseball is local and two-thirds and more of the fans don’t have a local team to root for in the playoffs. As such, baseball has to make a schedule that somehow deals with teams — like the Mets and Dodgers — who have big time differences between their home fan bases while trying to rope in as many national viewers as possible.
This means compromises and weirdness like, say, the first couple of Mets-Dodgers games starting after 9pm Eastern time on Friday and Saturday. Or the Texas Rangers starting a game at what, back home in Texas, will be 11:45AM. Which, admittedly, aren’t great start times, but do we expect Dodgers fans in L.A. to fight Friday rush hour traffic and be home in time to watch a game featuring the local team any earlier than 6pm? Seems like a tall order.
Anyway, the early round schedule was just released and you can see it below. If you are so inclined you can find all manner of inconveniences here. Sure, if you don’t have a job — or if being online and watching baseball all day is your job — Friday’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back playoff games are pretty sweet. But otherwise, just plan accordingly and do the best you can.
And remember: no one gives a rip about these schedule issues about ten minutes after the games start:
Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.
Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.
Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at: