I’ve said it before, but one of the best things about Peter Gammons is how he’ll be writing about topic A and then, in the course of it, he’ll drop some background factoid that completely blows your mind.
The best thing is that he doesn’t do it in a way that screams “check out this scoop!” It’s so casual, as if everyone knew it already and he’s just giving it voice. I really love it. Draws you inside in a way that those dudes who do backflips to show you just how inside they are can never touch.
He did it again today in his column about Theo Epstein’s departure from Boston. Lots of conventional state-of-the-team stuff and then this:
There was a burnout factor in Epstein’s desire to leave, which he was going to do regardless after the 2012 season. It was as if he were stuck on an elevator between the ninth and 10th floors. His wife, Marie, and son, Jack, could not live normal lives. There often was an unmarked Brookline police cruiser at the end of his street because of a stalker and concerns about the family privacy.
I had never heard this before, that’s for sure. Not that anyone would publicize it, of course. But man, that’s just nuts. The GM of a team gets a stalker? A baseball team? Unbelievable.
People need help out there. There are nuts walking the streets all the time and we don’t realize that there are as many as there are.
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:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.