Rush

The other Hall of Fame inductees announced

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Rock and Roll, that is:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced next year’s inductees: Rush, Public Enemy, Heart, Randy Newman, Donna Summer and Albert King

There’s no baseball news right now, so let’s find their baseball analogs:

Rush: Jim Rice.  Really not deserving, but their supporters are so vocal and such pains in the butt that at some point it’s just easier to let them in than leave them out. Not sure if Boston has a lot of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame support, but they’d be Jack Morris.

Public Enemy: Sandy Koufax. Burned brighter than anyone but only for a short while. “Yo! Bum Rush The Show,” “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back,” “Fear of a Black Planet” and “Apocalypse 91” are like Koufax’s 1963-66.

Heart: Ernie Banks. Not in overall greatness — Banks was of higher quality — but in terms of having two very distinct careers. “Barracuda” era Heart is Ernie Banks the shortstop. “These Dreams” Heart is first baseman Ernie Banks. The latter is OK — a guilty pleasure, even — but we would not be talking about their greatness if only the second half existed.

Randy Newman: I’ll admit, I only really know Randy Newman for “Short People,” “I Love L.A.” and his movie work. A lot of his stuff, I gather, especially songwriting for others, is really high quality. I’m just ignorant. So consider me to be one of the jerkier, willfully ignorant Hall of Fame voters circa 2004 and consider Newman my Bert Blyleven.

Donna Summer: An unfairly- judged representative of an era which everyone now says they hated but we all loved at the time and don’t you pretend we didn’t. So, of course, she’s Jeff Bagwell.

Albert King: I don’t know much about his career, but according to his Wikipedia entry his nickname was “The Velvet Bulldozer,” and that should get him in the Hall of Fame in and of itself.  Dick “Dr. Strangeglove” Stuart? I’m sure that’s totally unfair to King, but I don’t have a ton of time to check his stuff out right now. Anyone who wants to hip us to King’s bonafides in the comments, by all means do so.

When does baseball season start again?

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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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.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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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: