The St. Louis chapter of the BBWAA is having its annual dinner on January 16th. And in addition to the usual awards and things, they’re shaking things up by roasting Tony La Russa:
To mark manager Tony La Russa’s return for a 16th season in the Cardinals dugout, the writers have invited some of his close friends and formers players to join the dinner in a … ahem … toast to the club’s winningest skipper. If some of those friends and players also choose to needle, jab, joke or otherwise tease TLR, well we can’t be held responsible. They’re men, not machines.
If there’s anyone in baseball who needs a good roasting it’s Tony La Russa. I have no idea how he’d take some truly inspired put-downs. I could see him laughing at himself. I could see him scowling. I could also see him pretending to enjoy the night while secretly making an enemies list that includes the participants.
But I do know this: the first guy up should start telling a joke, stop in the middle, be replaced by a guy who tells some more of it, stop, and then be replaced by a third guy who closes the joke out.
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.
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.