More details have emerged regarding the gambling investigation into Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels. And while I acknowledge that some of the following may be pretty innocent in nature, it doesn’t make them any less curious under the circumstances.
Per the New York Daily News:
According to law enforcement sources close to the probe being conducted by the Queens DA’s office and the NYPD’s Organized Crime and Control Bureau, the probe has revealed that Samuels:
* Received a $50,000 tip from outfielder Jeff Francoeur before Francoeur left the Mets for the World Series-bound Rangers earlier this season;
* Provided Francisco Rodriguez with a place to stay in his home after the closer was ordered by a Queens judge to stay away from his common-law wife following an altercation with her father at Citi Field in August.
* Once received a new Lexus from Mike Piazza, whose father had lost a bet to Samuels on how much weight the elder Piazza could lose.
I have never worked in an MLB locker room, but I would imagine that expensive gifts aren’t something out of the ordinary. As much as we needle Jeff Francoeur here, it would be unfair to jump to conclusions. The most curious part, at least to me, is that Francisco Rodriguez was so down on his luck that he had to shack up with the clubhouse manager. This is a multi-million dollar athlete we’re dealing with here, not Samuel’s cubicle-mate. Just plain odd.
Does any of this mean that Rodriguez was involved in any wrong-doing? Of course not. In fact, sources told the Daily News that Rodriguez is not part of the probe and that there is “no evidence so far that K-Rod did anything wrong, no gambling or anything else.” Still, when you are this close to this many players for so long, the extent of those past relationships will be thoroughly investigated. Just part of the process.
Hey, at least give the Mets credit for consistency. Whenever a story first surfaces about them, it’s just the appetizer for the main course of craziness.
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: