It was really the first weekend that actually felt like spring, at least from a baseball perspective. Yeah, the previous weekend was nice, but we were still getting a lot of rainouts and cold games. This weekend, no matter which game I turned to, it looked and felt like baseball. Ah.
- Roy Oswalt is on the DL. First chink in the Big Four’s armor? Apart from the fact that only Kyle Kendrick got a win in the Atlanta series?
- This item from Saturday about Jose Reyes was headlined “The Dumbest Thing You’ll Read Today.” I just read it again and it’s the dumbest thing you’ll read on Monday too.
- B.J. Upton got suspended because Joe West’s umpire crew is terrible.
- The Chase Utley shakedown cruise starts off well.
- Justin Verlander to the Blue Jays: “No, you cannot have hits. Not yours.” And he was still cooking with gas at the end of the game.
- Todd Wellemeyer retired. In five years he well be inducted to the Hall of Had A Pretty Good Half Season as a Swingman After Being Claimed Off Waivers By The Cardinals in 2007. It’s not a very big Hall, but the gift shop is pretty nice.
- The Julio Teheran Era did not start off quite as awesomely as one might have hoped.
- Andre Ethier fails to extend his hitting streak to 31. Vlad Guerrero, Ken Landreaux, Ron LeFlore, Rico Carty, Willie Davis, Vada Pinson, Sam Rice, Napoleon Lajoie, Ed Delahanty, and Jimmy Wolf continue their tradition of cracking open a bottle of champagne when yet another pretender fails to enter a tie for the 25th all-time longest hitting streak with them.
- Oh, and Joey Votto’s on-base streak ended at 33. No one cares about that one, though.
- The Red Sox call up Jose Iglesias. All leather, no bat at the moment.
- Tony La Russa has an awful eye infection thing and is going to have it examined at the Mayo Clinic. I hope he feels better soon. I also kind of hope that his course of treatment includes staying away from bullpen phones for 4 to 6 weeks.
- The number of reports about Derek Jeter which will use the hacky old “the reports of Derek Jeter’s death …” cliche this morning will be considerable.
- Mike Scioscia gets his 1000th victory. Sadly, none of the Angels’ runs in yesterday’s game came as the result of a squeeze play or a delayed double steal or good catching defense or anything all Mike Sciosciay like that.
And into the new week we plunge.
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: