It has been three years since Major League Baseball set up a committee to look into whether the A’s can move to San Jose. So you’d figure there would be some resolution on the matter now. Guess what? Nope!
Two conflicting reports over the weekend. First from Bill Madden of the New York Daily News:
Unfortunately, the “Moneyball” film came up empty with the Academy Award voters, and the same fate beckons for Beane and Oakland A’s owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher in their determined effort to move to a new stadium in Hi-Tech haven. The latter prospect, in which, for a variety of reasons, MLB is going to uphold the San Francisco Giants’ territorial rights in San Jose …
Then comes Hank Schulman’s report in the San Francisco Chronicle:
I’ve just been told by someone in the commissioner’s office that contrary to what a New York newspaper suggested yesterday, the A’s proposed move to San Jose is not on life support. And, it is not true that Commissioner Bud Selig and baseball owners have all but decided to uphold the Giants’ territorial rights to San Jose, which would preclude the A’s from going there.
Who knows? Madden’s report was casual to the point of catatonic, passing along that little nugget in the course of yet another lame “Moneyball” analogy. If it was news — Extra! MLB to slam the A’s! — you’d think it would warrant its own story or at least its own sentence. This smells like scuttlebutt that couldn’t be confirmed and is now being passed along as gossipy conventional wisdom.
That said, the reasoning in Madden’s story — Selig doesn’t have the support of the other owners to approve the San Jose move — makes a lot of sense, so it’s possible that that’s where things will eventually go.
But the key takeaway here is this: IT HAS TAKEN THREE YEARS TO DECIDE THIS.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.