Nelson Cruz home run

The memorable homers I missed

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As I suspected, I missed the most memorable home runs by a number of teams yesterday.  Here, based on reader feedback, are the most egregious oversights and a few other random observations:

Yankees

There wasn’t strong dissent here, probably because there was so much to choose from, but there were some interesting alternative suggestions. One person mentioned one I hadn’t considered: Chris Chambliss’ homer in the 1976 ALCS that killed the Royals.  The rationale: it was a bigger “we’re back” moment than Reggie’s World Series homers in 1977.  Interesting choice. I don’t agree with it, but interesting.

Red Sox

No super-strong opposition to the Fisk homer, but some people found the Bernie Carbo homer from earlier in Game Six more of a big deal as it happened. Again, respect for Carbo’s shot, but I’m staying with Fisk.

Blue Jays

There were a surprising number of Jays fans who contend that Roberto Alomar’s homer off Dennis Eckersley in the 1992 ALCS was a way bigger deal than Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series game-winner. The thinking is that Alomar’s was an exorcism home run, symbolically casting out the demons of the Jays’ 1980s failures. This was a recurring theme in the criticisms of my choices — homers that meant for to a team’s fans based on past history than for the actual moment itself — and I suppose I understand it because, like I said yesterday, this stuff is subjective.  But to the non-hardcore Jays fans, Alomar’s doesn’t register twenty years like it did at the time. Hard to beat a walkoff World Series shot.

Rays

This one was a pure miss. Almost everyone says it was Dan Johnson’s big homer to fend off the Red Sox in the heat of the 2008 playoff race was the biggest. I have to agree.

White Sox

Another pure miss. There are two bigger homers than that Geoff Blum one I cited, both in Game Two of the 2005 Series: Paul Konerko’s grand slam and Scott Podsednik’s game-winner.  All of the memorable White Sox homers are detailed by Brett Ballantini over at CSN Chicago.

Indians

Another monster whiff on my part. As Vince Grzegorek noted, there are many candidates bigger — or at least way more recent — than Ken Kelner’s 1948 shot: Tony Pena’s shot in Game One of the 1995 ALDS against the Red Sox and, later in that game, Albert Belle’s famous bicep-flexing after he hit a homer in the 11th and the Sox had his bat confiscated. But the biggest was probably Sandy Alomar’s homer off Mariano Rivera in the 1997 ALDS.

Rangers

Nelson Cruz’s shot in Game Six of last year’s ALCS, which put a dagger in the Yankees. Just plum forgot about it, which makes me wonder about my short term memory.

Athletics

A lot of people want to go with Jose Canseco’s moon shot into the eleventeenth deck of the Sky Dome or Mark McGwire’s game-winning solo shot in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1988 World Series.

Phillies

I figured that if I got this one wrong that I’d hear holy hell about it, what with the belief among Phillies fans that I hate them and everything they stand for. Yet there were only a couple of people who disagreed with Dick Sisler’s 1950 pennant-clinching shot.  Those couple of people have a pretty good argument, though, inasmuch as their suggestion — Mike Schmidt’s blast in the top of the 11th on the second-to-last day of the 1980 season, securing the NL East title over the Expos — was tough stuff. And has the benefit of actually being remembered by a decent number of living people.

Nationals

Everyone who had an opinion said it was Ryan Zimmerman’s walkoff homer to beat the Braves on the debut night of Nationals Park a couple of years ago. Given that I was actually watching this game and cursing the television after it happened, you’d think I would have remembered it.

Cardinals

I didn’t get this one wrong — Ozzie Smith’s was the best — but I was surprised at how many people want to cite the Pujols-off-Lidge shot in the 2005 playoffs. Well, sorry. Great homer. A defining moment in a great career. But it is dwarfed by Smith’s on sheer WTF-ness alone.

Padres

People are way more enamored with Steve Garvey’s homer in Game Two of the 1984 NLCS, and I have to agree, I totally blew that one. But in my defense, I do like to write the name “Kurt Bevacqua.”

I think that’s it.  On everything else I believe that there are either (a) some disagreements but not so great to make me change my mind; or (b) no disagreement whatsoever.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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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.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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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: