In the name of all that is holy!
Kenny Albert and Tim McCarver made it very clear during Saturday’s FOX Red Sox-Yankees broadcast that we can’t allow Melky Cabrera to win the NL batting title after his steroids suspension this week. In fact, it seems we need a new rule to prevent players who receive steroid suspension from being eligible for such awards.
And I can actually see the latter point. The BBWAA might want to consider a rule that prevents such players from qualifying for postseason awards.
But the batting title isn’t an an award. It doesn’t exist as anything more than a sacrifice fly crown or a passed ball champion does. It’s made up, and it only matters to people who any weight into it.
The truth is that very few people care about the batting title anymore. It definitely meant something in the days of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, and it was still a big honor in the era of Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs.
Now? Did anyone besides the Mets really care that Jose Reyes won the NL batting crown last year? Does anyone even know that Carlos Gonzalez won it in 2010 or Hanley Ramirez did in 2009? I’m guessing even Pirates fans scarcely remember that Freddy Sanchez won the NL batting title in 2006.
My whole feeling on the subject of asterisks and the like is that you leave the statistics alone and then you decide for yourself what they mean. Regardless of how he did it, Melky Cabrera hit .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBI this season, and it’d be foolish for anyone to try to tamper with that.
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.
I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.
The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.
Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”
Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.