For those of you following the Wilpon/Mets/Madoff train wreck, there’s a fascinating story in today’s New York Times which suggests that the Wilpons’ legal problems may just be getting started.
The upshot: when Madoff got arrested, the Wilpons and Saul Katz were strapped. Coming to their rescue: as many as eight banks who provided them with financing on which Sterling Equities continues to rely. The Times talks to multiple banking and legal experts who suggest that, in light of the current lawsuit — and all of the ugliness it’s dredging up — the banks could do any number of things, none of which are good for the Wilpons and Katz.
Things like calling in their loans now, which would put even more financial pressure on them to sell the Mets. Another possibility: they could comb through all of their own financial records relating to the Wilpons searching for something — anything — which, in light of the new information we’re all learning, could be used to cast the Wilpons in a bad light.
I don’t pretend to understand the complexity of the financial stuff. But I certainly do understand the overall when-it-rains-it-pours dynamic of these things. We’d all like to believe that people will stand strong with us when things get bad, but when a scandal erupts or a suit gets filed people either run for cover, look for someone else to throw under the bus or both. These banks are no innocents themselves. J.P. Morgan, for example, has its own Madoff-related problems. You can bet that if there’s a way to shift blame to or share blame with someone else, they’ll take it. The first big conversation with the lawyers in any mess like this involves the question of “who else can be invited to this party?”
Every day the Wilpons don’t settle with the trustee is another day when someone, somewhere, will consider jumping on the pile.
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: