Here’s Frank Robinson — Vice President of Baseball Operations — talking about the many blown calls so far this postseason. Listen to this and tell me if you think instant replay is going to be expanded any time soon:
What people don’t understand is that this is a different era now.
This is strictly an electronic era that shows every little wrinkle,
every little mistake. The margin of a mistake is minute. And they still
complain about the call being missed.
In the old days when people thought umpires were better than they are
today . . . if that play had been 10 years ago, there would have been
nothing said about it. Believe me. The game would have went on with
nothing said about it. That’s the problem today. (Television) shows every little piece of
dirt that you can find in the game. There’s nothing wrong with it. But
it creates controversy. It puts undue pressure on the umpires. And they
are criticized unfairly.
19th Century Policeman: Captain! I think I’ve solved the Colonel Stilson murder!
Captain: That’s wonderful, Officer MacDougal! Did you get the butler to confess?
Policeman: No, sir. But our chemists have developed a new technology by which we were able to determine that the butler had handled the bloody candlestick prior to it being used to bludgeon poor Colonel Stilson! His fingers, you see, left telltale marks, unique to him alone!
Captain: Really, officer. This is what you bring me? Marks from a man’s fingers? Why, ten years ago, we would have had
nothing on which to charge this butler if he had not confessed to the crime. Believe me. He would have walked free with
nothing said about it. That’s the problem today. This new learning reveals every little piece of evidence that can found. There’s nothing wrong with it, mind you, but it creates such a controversy and causes criminals to be criticized unfairly. Please release the butler.
Officer: But . . . but Captain! He did it! We know this to be true! He murdered Colonel Stilson!
Captain: If you continue on in this manner, Officer MacDougal, I shall have no choice but to levy a fine. Now, go back and see if the butler might confess. Good day.
Officer: But —
Captain: I SAID ‘GOOD DAY!’
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: