I was going to say “racist” but Ortiz doesn’t actually say that. I think the phrase “culturally insensitive” is stupid. I dunno. Here are his words, translated from Spanish, over at ESPN Boston. You decide what he thinks:
“Yesterday, the guy came to see me and asked some questions about steroids, and when you see the writing, it basically focuses on the fact that I’m Dominican and that many Dominicans have been caught using steroids. And what about the Americans?” Ortiz said.
“If you’re from the Middle East, because there are some people there who put bombs and terrorize civilians, I have to see you like that, as well? If you are a white American, I have to call you a racist because white Americans were in the Ku Klux Klan?
Know what? The part where Shaughnessy noted that a reason for his suspicion was because Ortiz was Dominican wasn’t the part that agitated me the most. Maybe Shaughnessy was ham-handed in saying it, but if forced to explain himself I think there’s a non-racist/insensitive explanation having to do with the undeniable fact that PEDs are more freely-available in the Dominican Republic and that many high-profile PED cases of recent years involved Dominican players.
But I am with Ortiz generally in that Shaughnessy’s overall suspicion is baseless and unfair, and I think his points made later in the article about how he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t are good ones.
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: