This is cool: the MLBPA is trying to organize a meeting between the players, the umps and the Commissioner’s Office to discuss the state of umpiring:
What the players would like to address, two player representatives said,
is the growing concern among players about poor communication with
umpires and what players see as a failure of accountability and
transparency in the grading and evaluation of umpires. Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler,
the team’s player rep, said that because disciplinary action of umps
isn’t made public, a distrust often exists among some players . . .
. . . It’d be nice if they were rated and those who didn’t pass, they get a week vacation, they get sent down,” said Jimmy Rollins,
the Phillies’ player rep. “It’s not that they’re trying to be bad. Some
players just can’t make it; some umpires just can’t make it. That’s
just the way it is. As long as they don’t have to answer to anybody and
they have that job security, that pressure of having to be good to stay
here — they don’t have to worry about that.”
This is so manifestly reasonable that you know damn well it will never happen. The umpires believe that there’s nothing wrong and how dare they be questioned. The Commissioner’s Office has shown time and again that they have no interest whatsoever in making sure the right calls are made, that umpires are appropriately disciplined or that, when they are, anyone knows about it so as to instill confidence in their supervision. Having some sort of sit-down is a great idea by the union. So I fully expect it to go nowhere.
Beyond the idea of the meeting, by all means, read the rest of the story. Amy Nelson of ESPN got Jimmy Rollins to say an awful lot about the state of umpire-player relations these days, and it’s great stuff. Rollins pretty much nails the state-of-play with respect to the umpires’ increasingly hostile demeanor towards players and managers.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.