UPDATE: The whole marginalization idea has always been my gut feeling, not some fact I’ve heard from anyone. And if there was any doubt about that, I was just contacted by the Indians who quite politely told me that I’m reading way too much into this (shocker, because, like, I NEVER do that. Ahem):
We wanted to reach out to clarify something, re: Chief Wahoo, about which we saw your post this afternoon. There are absolutely no plans to phase out Chief Wahoo, as some folks have speculated on social media. The details:
Nothing is changing on our 2013 uniforms except for the batting helmets. By MLB rule – with the new helmets being universally adopted – teams were only allowed one logo and not a different helmet for home and road.
Secondly, Chief Wahoo remains on our traditional home cap, our alternate road cap and every uniform sleeve.
5:20 PM: I’ve said for years that the Indians will never issue some press release announcing the end of the ugly and racist Chief Wahoo logo. They’re too savvy for that and don’t need the blowback. But they will, I have predicted and in some cases observed, marginalize Wahoo. They’ll do a long, slow phase-out to the point where he’s not the face of the franchise and where, if he is ultimately eliminated, it won’t be a big deal.
Is this the latest datapoint to that effect?
Nice move, Cleveland. Taking him off the one TV shot — isolation on the batter — which probably gets more screen time than any other.
Next move: take him off the sleeves of those home and road alternate jerseys, which clearly don’t need them. Then you’re poised for home caps.
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: