Instant replay costs the Tigers a run. Sort of.

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Crazy sequence of events in Cleveland yesterday afternoon. Instant replay cost the Tigers a run, though it was ad-hoc instant replay, nothing official.  The upshot:

  • Alex Avila missed third base while scoring the Tigers fifth run in he fifth inning, but the Indians apparently didn’t notice immediately.
  • During a pitching change right after the run scored, someone in the Indians’ clubhouse watched it on replay. They told the Indians’ dugout about it, which soon became animated, with players telling Manny Acta that he needed to appeal the play. Tony Sipp continued warming up.
  • Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont heard the ruckus and knew what was happening. Cognizant that, per the rules, an appeal has to be made before the next pitch or play, told Quintin Berry — who was on second base — to take off, trying to get him picked off. That would have ended the  inning, but it would have preserved the run.
  • Berry took off, trying to get thrown out, but play had not officially resumed yet. Start over.
  • Berry took off again, but Sipp threw to third — not to get Berry — but to put out Avila, who had missed the base, as is done in such appeals.  The ump called Avila out. Run off the board, inning over.

Very heads up play by the Indinas. And really, quite the attempted heads up play by Lamont and Berry too.

Still: the whole appeal process is kind of antiquated and, frankly, whack. The need to actually throw over to the base after the guy who missed it left the field of play. The fact that the umps stay silent, even if they know the base had been missed, and await an appeal.  The fact that a play that was clearly messed up cannot be reviewed if a throw is made.  And above all else, the fact that we can have no official replay of such plays, but that the teams can utilize replay, more or less, from the clubhouse.  If we had an ump in the booth and some common sense, that whole play is straightened out in five seconds, not all of that time it took.

You know what to do, people:  write letters — actual letters in the mail — to the Commish.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.