Deadspin has a pretty controversial theory on the Braun decision

76 Comments

Over at Deadspin, Tommy Craggs offers a potential theory of why Ryan Braun won his arbitration, even though many believe the case against him was so strong:

Over the weekend, however, I spoke with someone familiar with the arbitration process in general. He had another theory: Ryan Braun didn’t get off because of the merits of his case; he got off because the arbitrator who cast the decisive vote in Braun’s favor—the vote with which baseball “vehemently disagrees”—was thinking about his own future.

The upshot: arbitrator Shyam Das serves at the pleasure of both the union and the league. He has ruled against players an awful lot lately, especially on drug cases, and he used the Braun case as a means to balance the scales a bit so the union wouldn’t get fed up with him and fire him from his lucrative and high-profile gig. As Craggs puts it “If ever there were a case for Das to throw to the players, it was this one.”

Possible? Well, I suppose anything is possible. But saying that an arbitrator is placing his self interest ahead of the case in front of him is an extraordinarily serious charge. One which I’d feel a lot more comfortable entertaining if it was based on something more than a theory from “someone familiar with the arbitration process in general.”  Because really, this is not terribly different from saying that a judge threw a case because he was thinking about his reelection.

Less broadly, the theory has a major problem:  if the arbitrator was really throwing this thing — a case where it seems most people who are not Ryan Braun’s legal team think MLB should have won — it’s just as likely if not more so that Major League Baseball would get angry and fire Das.  At least it’s a risk, so what would Das have to gain here by being unethical?

What would not be as risky is if Das were to make a well-reasoned decision that explains why this case, and not any others, had this particular outcome. It would satisfy the union because it would be based in reason and would have an outcome with which they were happy. It would satisfy the league, eventually anyway, because it would be based in reason, would not present a scenario that would be replicable in future appeals and would provide a road map to the league about how to fix the problem.

We’re going to get Das’ reasoning, by the way, within a few weeks, so we’ll be able to judge that for ourselves.  Until then, I’m loathe to accuse this man of violating ethical considerations in reaching the decision he reached.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.