New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

MLB yelled at the Red Sox for replaying a close play on the Fenway scoreboard


In the bottom of the sixth of the first game of yesterday’s Sox-Yankees doubleheader, David Ortiz was doubled off first base when Adrian Gonzalez flied out to Andruw Jones. It was a close play and, on first glance, it looked like Mark Teixeira was pulled off the bag when leaping for the relay throw.

So, just as you as a fan would hope for, the people who operate the video board at Fenway Park ran a replay. Even though it seemed to show that the right call had been made, the crowd booed because, hey, the home crowd is gonna boo such things.

But get this:

The Red Sox received a call from the commissioner’s office complaining that the video board at Fenway Park replayed a controversial umpire’s decision during Saturday’s game. As a rule, teams are instructed not to replay close calls, for fear that it might incite the crowd … The umpires are believed to have lodged a complaint between innings to MLB, which subsequently contacted the Red Sox.

This is stupid cubed. It’s stupid that there’s any kind of a rule in which teams should not show replays of close calls, it’s stupid that the umpires complained when this stupid rule was not honored and it was stupid when MLB contacted the Red Sox to complain about the stupid umpire complaint regarding the stupid rule.

We already know that umpires’ skins are so thin and their insecurity so great that they cannot countenance official instant replay, but I had no idea it was so thin that they could not countenance merely showing a call that may or may not have been messed up to fans in the seats. The same replay that thousands or, in national games, millions of people watching on TV are already seeing.

And Major League Baseball, what’s your excuse? The stated purpose of the rule — inciting the crowd — is silly. This is not South American soccer. The only riots at major league ballparks in living memory involved disco and ten cent beer, not bad umpire calls. I think baseball fans are mature enough and security at ballparks is sufficient to withstand showing a botched umpire call from time to time.

And what is baseball losing by not allowing such things? A better in-game experience for fans who won’t, after a close call, wonder if the call was correctly made and think to themselves — as I do from time to time — if I would have been better off watching at home.

Oh, and some transparency and public accountability for umpires too, but I don’t think that’s very high on baseball’s agenda, so forget I mentioned it.

(thanks to Bigleagues for the heads up)

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.