I’m not sure what to make of the Terry Collins choice just yet. Obviously I didn’t think Wally Backman was the right choice, but I didn’t have a preference for any specific candidate per se. While Mets fans don’t want to hear it, my thinking is that the team is likely to be in the competitive wilderness for a while, and that the best way to use the next couple of years would be to cleanse all of the dysfunction from the organization. The guy I’d pick would be whoever I thought could bring stable professionalism to the table while the Sandy Alderson regime is putting its stamp on things. Of the finalists I’m guessing that Bob Melvin was the guy who fit that profile the best but, no, I’m not under any illusions that Bob Melvin was a guy anyone was crying out for. The other candidates were like spicy Thai food: some people loved ’em, some people didn’t. Melvin was pot roast. No one really hated him, but he didn’t inspire any excitement at all.
Can Terry Collins be the guy who steadies the ship while its being overhauled? Possibly. We’re a day or two away from someone going out and getting an injunction against people using the word “intense” to describe Collins — and things ended poorly for him in Anaheim partially, it’s said, because of that intensity — but you have to acknowledge that there is more to his resume than mere intensity. You couldn’t come up through the ranks of the Dodgers organization of the early-to-mid 80s if you were merely an intimidator, because that organization was still known for skads of young talent and professionalism back then. Likewise with the late 80s Pirates, who were producing lots of talent at the time. Mets fans who worry about the Alderson-led Athletics’-brand of boring managers should take note that, at one time, Collins was thought of as the anti-Art Howe, leading to his hiring by the Astros. He managed in Japan and in China, which suggests that he possesses a discipline admired in Asian baseball but also the ability to function in a hierarchy.
So there’s the drill sergeant rep, sure, but like any good drill sergeant he’s aware that there is brass above him to which he is subordinate. In this he may very well be the perfect compromise between the Backman backers and the folks who are more interested in having Sandy Alderson’s vision for the organization carried out. He’ll be able to bark when he needs to. He’ll be able to carry out orders from above. At least that’s the theory.
And if it doesn’t work? The guy only has a two-year contract and, I assume, Wally Backman will get two more years to build his resume in the Mets’ system, so we may be back here again fairly soon.
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: