This morning I wrote about Jim Reeves’ column in which he said he believed that voting for the Hall of Fame was his “sacred duty” and that it was his aim to keep Cooperstown “clean and pure.”
My take was more one of amusement, but this afternoon The Common Man has a much more focused takedown. After detailing just how non-sacred the vote really is and how unclean and impure the current many members of the Hall of Fame actually are, TCM nails Reeves to the wall, wondering how it was possible that, in 40 years of covering the Rangers — the Rangers! —
he never wrote about PEDs in baseball until Barry Bonds was poised to break Hank Aaron’s record.* And how, in that very article, he took a shot at Jose Canseco for “violating the code of the clubhouse” in talking about it in his books.
By all means, check out TCM’s take.
*UPDATE: From TCM: “In fairness to Reeves, after some additional research I found articles in which Reeves does write about steroid use in baseball that predates the 2004 Bonds chase of the Homerun record. Reeves did write about steroids on May 31, 2002, when he wrote that steroid users “should all be wearing a scarlet ‘S,'” and that Rusty Greer never saw steroids in the Ranger clubhouse. He also defended Gabe Kapler against steroid accusations in August of 2000. And on August 25, 1998, he said that the story about Mark McGwire’s andro use “is overblown” and that “You wouldn’t begrudge Nolan Ryan his Advil, would you? Troy Aikman his Met-RX? Popeye his spinach?” He continued to write about steroids on occasion between 2002 and 2004, all excoriating steroid users, never questioning his profession’s role in missing them for so long.”
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: