I missed this before, but Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt was on SiriusXm the other day talking about Hall of Fame voting. He thinks it’s time to change the voting procedures. You can hear his whole idea here. It won’t blockquote it because it’s kind of rambling, but here is the upshot of his comments:
- Getting voted in to the Hall of Fame is not just an honor, but it’s important to some players in terms of “subsidizing their current income.” This, I presume, refers to the very real notion that guys who are inducted can command much, much higher fees for autographed merch and appearances at baseball card shows and the like;
- The more recent players really don’t need the money like some of the other ones do;
- Writers often have personal grudges against players, have big problems with PEDs, etc., so maybe they shouldn’t vote on these guys;
- Instead, have the writers come up with a list of finalists for voting and then let a committee of current Hall of Famers make the final call.
Setting aside the idea that allowing current Hall of Famers vote is the reason why the old version of the Veterans Committee never elected anyone, does Schmidt not realize that his idea comes with an extreme conflict of interest?
Sure, the writers may have grudges and irrational ideas on some matters, but if you’re a current Hall of Famer, and you make a LOT of money selling yourself as a Hall of Famer — and notice that Schmidt says that before anything else — is it not in your best interest to ensure that there are far fewer Hall of Famers who might compete with you on the autograph circuit? Indeed, Schmidt’s seemingly random comment about some players not needing the money as much as others suggests that this is at the forefront of his mind.
Maybe he’s right that the voting system should be changed, but between the conflicts, the track record of the old Veteran’s Committee and the calcified “things were better in MY day” reasoning of a lot of former ballplayers, I think having them play a part in elections is the worst idea imaginable.
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: