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The bankruptcy court gave the Dodgers something no other team has

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Bill Shaikin has a report up today that, while dealing with the often murky and confusing world of TV revenue and media rights, suggests that the big settlement of the litigation between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball, the new Dodgers owners have benefits no other team has. Specifically: to hold back media money from revenue sharing that no other team would get to hold on to.

The Dodgers’ new owners could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits from the confidential terms of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court settlement between former owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball …

Guggenheim Baseball, the Dodgers’ new owners, can negotiate a new television contract as soon as this fall, with Fox Sports, Time Warner Cable and perhaps CBS expected to bid. If the Dodgers accept an annual rights fee, they would simply pay 34% of whatever money they receive into the revenue-sharing pool.

However, the Dodgers are expected to pursue a regional sports network, on their own or in partnership with Fox, TWC or another television outlet. Guggenheim could establish a media company separate from the Dodgers, then have the company pay the team in accordance with the proposed Fox contract and keep the remaining revenue.

The difference here between what the Dodgers are doing on the one hand, and what the Yankees do with YES or the Red Sox do with NESN, is that 34%. In their cases, they pay that 34% of media rights fees — plus a surcharge if the team is getting lowballed by its sister regional sports network.  With the Dodgers, their new Fox deal is charged at 34%, but even if a new Dodgers cable network pays them tens of millions  more a year, and that money is not touched by MLB.

Shaikin suspects that this will cause some tensions within the ownership ranks, as the Dodgers — by virtue of litigation with an irresponsible former member of their ranks — got something they didn’t. Worth watching.

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: