Joyce blown call

We don’t care about umpire development. We just want the right calls made.


There was an essay in the New York Times over the weekend about the state of umpiring. The author, Bruce Weber, who wrote a book about umpiring in 2009, says that replay would be bad a thing. Why? Well, human element and Alexander Cartwright and all of that.  What does Weber think is preferable? Better training:

But instead of reducing the role of umpires by expanding replay, why not help them improve?

The way to do this is for baseball to begin thinking of umpires as they do players, as assets to be maximized.

Players, as they develop in the minor leagues, are overseen by major league clubs, but Major League Baseball plays a minimal role in the development of umpires. In fact, the system that feeds umpires to the big leagues is meant to encourage them to quit before they get there.

Weber suggests intensive, year-round training for umpires. Better pay when they’re in the minors. Recruitment of better candidates. Allowing umpires to make “subtle adjustments” in their technique in an effort to do better on close calls, what with how it’s almost impossible, Weber writes, for umps to be in the right position a lot of the time given that players are moving and jumping and that there are so many variables in play.

Interesting ideas, I guess, but at the end of the day I don’t see how any of that is preferable to simply letting a guy look at a screen and say seven words on a walkie talkie down to the field once or twice a game when there’s a close, blown call.

Indeed, the only argument Weber seems to have in opposition to that is that umpires are “part of the fabric of the game.”  While I’m sure they’re a lot of nice umpires who take their craft seriously, the fans simply don’t care. We don’t want them gone — that would be weird — but at the same time, we don’t care about “encouraging them” or what have you. We want the calls right. That’s really the beginning and the end of it.  If we’re going to spend time working on umpires, let’s work on their attitude and demeanor and keep ugly scenes between players and umps from happening.  But as far as a the calls are concerned, let the umpires continue to make them all. Just let someone with a better, video-enhanced view correct the small handful of mistakes that happen during a game.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.

Lineups for Dodgers-Cubs NLCS Game 6

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game two of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.

Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.


1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
5. Josh Reddick (L) RF
6. Joc Pederson (L) CF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Chase Utley (L) 2B
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP
1. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ben Zobrist (R) LF
5. Javier Baez (S) 2B
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
7. Addison Russell (R) RF
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP