Giants 11, Rangers 7: I’m trying to remember a sloppier World Series game, but I’m comin’ up empty. At least if you don’t count the earthquake.
The big story today is obviously Cliff Lee, who saw his postseason ERA climb from 1.26 to 1.96 in the space of a couple hours. Then there are the six errors (Pfun Pfact: none were on Juan Uribe or Edgar Renteria, who actually played some pretty spiffy defense out there, amazingly enough). And the fact that the Giants felt they had to bring in Brian Wilson with a seven run lead. And then there was Juan Uribe’s bomb and Freddy Sanchez’s doubles. All interesting in their own right. But the thing that still stuck in my mind as I went to bed last night was Vlad Guerrero in right field. It was ugly and it was sad and I hope we don’t have to see it again. Give me Murphy, Ron Washington. Hell, even give me Francoeur. But if I have to see one of my favorite players embarrassing himself out in the field again, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to handle it.
As for the series, I know we live in the age of “Everything That Just Happened Is The Most Important Thing That Has Ever Happened,” but it’s one game. An encouraging one, no question, if you’re the Giants. A punch to the nose, no question, if you’re the Rangers. But it’s a best of seven here. The Rangers were down 0-1 in the ALCS following a somewhat shocking loss. They didn’t need two Cliff Lee victories in that series either. Still lots of baseball to be played.
Here’s hoping it’s played much, much better by both sides.
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: