The party is most definitely on in Chavez Ravine.
New Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez strutted to the plate to a rousing standing ovation in his first at-bat Saturday night at Dodger Stadium and connected for a three-run homer on the second pitch he saw from Marlins starter Josh Johnson.
The Dodgers lead 4-1 at the end of the first inning.
Gonzalez was acquired from the Red Sox in the nine-player blockbuster trade that was finalized this afternoon after getting the approval of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Gonzalez took a private jet from Boston to Los Angeles along with right-hander Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto, arriving at his new home park just a couple hours before first pitch.
Beckett is set to make his Dodgers debut Monday. Punto is on the bench tonight, serving as a utilityman.
Gonzalez is now batting .301/.345/.476 with 16 home runs and 89 RBI in 124 total games this season. We’ll track his activity the rest of the way as the Dodgers try to gain ground on the first-place Giants.
UPDATE, 9:56 PM: Gonzalez struck out swinging in his second plate appearance of the evening. That’s baseball for you. The Dodgers lead the Marlins by a score of 5-2 at the end of the second inning.
UPDATE, 10:32 PM: Gonzalez struck out swinging again in his third at-bat. L.A. is up 6-2 in the fifth.
UPDATE, 11:04 PM: Gonzalez grounded out to first base in his fourth at-bat. The Dodgers lead 7-2.
UPDATE, 11:52 PM: Gonzalez popped out to center field in his fifth — and probably final — trip to the plate. The Dodgers will carry an 8-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning.
UPDATE, 12:01 AM: Yep, that’s it. Gonzalez goes 1-for-5 with a homer and three RBI in his first game with the Dodgers. Andre Ethier went 4-for-4 and Matt Kemp finished 3-for-5.
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.
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: