The Miami Marlins just announced that Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games, effective immediately. This came about 20 minutes before his press conference began. A statement accompanied the suspension. After announcing it, it reads:
“The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen. The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship.
One gets the sense that this is a preliminary penalty. Designed to try to head off the situation before it gets out of hand. If it settles people down, that’ll be it. If not, more discipline, I suspect. Or termination.
Either way, the statement is a good one, I believe. And, given that this is primarily a local issue, it is probably better that the Marlins are doing this than MLB, eve if I think all of this response is disproportionate in light of both the nature of Guillen’s comments and the fact that he has already issued what I think was a sincere apology.
I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.
First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:
+10 Blue Jays
The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.
Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:
Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.