Cliff Lee phillies throwing

Cliff Lee and the media


Bob Raissman writes about how really no one in baseball media got the Cliff Lee story right. Fair enough. I can’t remember the last time everyone was this fooled about a big signing. But I think Raissman is a bit unfair with this passage:

In fact, none of the legion of ESPN’s highly promoted, self-decorated baseball reporters, all who appear on the World Wide Leader’s multiple media platforms, knew what the heck was going on with Lee and the Phillies. Since ESPN promotes these baseball reporters as better than the rest of the schlubs on the beat, it should be embarrassed.

No one at ESPN got the story, true, but it should be noted that Jayson Stark was one of the first — and may have been the first — to surmise that the Phillies could be involved (even Heyman, who first reported that a “Mystery Team” was involved didn’t believe it was the Phillies).  Stark got there, not based on actual inside information, but based on his overall read of the situation.  I’m not suggesting that Stark be lauded for breaking anything because he didn’t, but I think that understanding what’s going on based on experience can be just as valuable as actually getting the scoop. In some cases, more valuable. ESPN should not be “embarrassed” for this.

Everyone is wrong sometimes and everyone is right sometimes, but I prefer that the baseball writers I read spend as much time thinking about this stuff as they do checking their Blackberries.  It’s certainly a lesson I’m learning as I dip my toe into the scoop biz more and more.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.