Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, speaks at a news conference announcing the Head Health Initiative, a collaboration between GE and the NFL, in New York

One man’s solution to the Baltimore scheduling conflict: total capitulation by the weak and feeble baseball people!

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There are those who speak truth to power. Then there are those who cover the powerful and revel in that power as if it is some extension of their own power. Man, those folks are truly pathetic:

When it comes to being a sheriff – or, at least, playing one on TV – Roger Goodell has few peers in professional sports … And with all due (dis)respect to the displaced national pastime, it’s time for the Sheriff of Park Avenue to walk all over Selig, his MLB counterpart.

That’s Yahoo!’s football writer Michael Silver, whose argument for solving the Orioles/Ravens scheduling conflict mentioned earlier today is basically thus:

  • The NFL is strong and popular.
  • Major League Baseball is weak an unpopular.
  • The powerful and popular NFL should do whatever the hell it wants to and ignore the puny MLB.
  • When it does so, no courtesy should be extended MLB. Rather, Roger Goodell should flex his popular and powerful muscles.

I’m not even exaggerating. Check this out:

Does Selig seriously think he’s going to win this battle against the NFL, a league which dwarfs his in popularity and which has conspicuously refrained from flaunting its superiority? … The NFL could easily bully baseball, but for the most part, that doesn’t happen.

He ultimately tells Bud Selig that he should “take some money from Uncle Roger’s slush fund” move the game and come watch the Ravens game himself because that’s what God and Nature intended. And that the NFL should make no accommodations to baseball because, well, why should it?

Know what? In this instance I imagine something like that actually will happen. I bet the O’s-White Sox game gets moved and money is exchanged. But that’s sort of beside the point.

Because at the moment I’m mostly amazed at how many jollies this apparently professional journalist is getting by being on the same side of an issue as the Great and Mighty Roger Goodell, and I’m wondering how being enthralled with that power translates to his critical analysis of whatever else the NFL chooses to do.

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)
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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: