Look, it’s not always easy being a Braves fan. Part of it is because the hard core among us have to constantly answer for the largely indifferent Atlanta fan base, their playoff-no-shows and the Tomahawk Chop. Part of it is that whole Buffalo Bills-esque five-pennants-but-only-one-title thing (though I’d take that over what anyone besides the Yankees have done in recent history).
A lot of it, though, is that there has never been anything particularly cool about the Braves. Lots of good players, but not many cool ones (my latest hope, Jason Heyward, strikes me as kind of a nerd, actually; here’s hoping I’m wrong). No moments that transfer well to t-shirts or catch phrases that excite the fan base, however briefly. We have no “Chooooch!” or “Yooouuuk!” and our time in the national media spotlight was more a function of Ted Turner needing to fill time on his network in the 80s than of sustained excellence which, while it came later, was somehow less fun.
All of which is to say that I am 100% unsurprised that when the team starts to rally around something — in this case a rally song — that it’s kinda lame and old: “Shakin” by Eddie Money, according to Dave O’Brien. You know, from the 1982 “No Control” album? The one with this video? No, you don’t know because you either weren’t alive then or you had moved on from Eddie Money after the 70s were over to something less … sucky.
Not that I have a huge problem with it. I’m nearly 38 years old and I’m kind of lame myself. And, sure, nine year-old Craigy actually kind of liked that song. Heck, in some sort of half-ironic way I like it now. I hope the Braves’ adoption of it is ironic. I just kind of doubt it is.
And the problem will be if this takes hold and the Braves rip off, like, 20 wins in 30 games. Then it will start to become a thing. And once again I will have lots of people asking me why the Braves are so lame. And I will have absolutely no answer.
But I guess if it comes with wins, I won’t care.
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: