Remember back in October how the players, umpires and Major League Baseball announced that they were going to meet in order to address the increasingly sorry state of umpiring? OK, that’s my characterization, I suppose the umps viewed it differently. Anyway, after a delay of several months they finally met yesterday.
“We had a productive exchange about a range of issues of concern to players, umpires and the commissioner’s office,” union head Michael Weiner said … Attending for MLB were executive vice presidents Joe Torre and Rob Manfred, senior adviser Frank Robinson and senior vice president Dan Halem.
“Just a conversation about areas of mutual concern,” Manfred said.
The biggest area of concern in my view is not necessarily blown calls. Those are bad, but they are merely a case of human error. Replay would fix a lot of that, but Bud Selig has made it abundantly clear that ain’t happening any time soon.
No, the biggest issue is the demeanor of umpires and their increasingly confrontational behavior when they screw up a call or if their authority is questioned. This is, in turn, compounded by the fact that the Commissioner’s Office has shown time and again that it has no interest whatsoever in disciplining umpires or, at the very least, being transparent about such discipline so as to instill confidence in their system. Players and fans are increasingly exasperated, and rightfully so.
There is no word coming out of this meeting on any action dealing with any of this, so the problems are probably going to continue. And if they again wait six months after another ugly incident occurs to address it, I fully anticipate that any sense of urgency will be once again lost and they’ll have a nice little meeting that does nothing.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.