UPDATE: Being told be several people that teams do not use the 2008 Sharp TVs for replay. That they have true HD screens of more modern vintage. This makes sense to me. It’d still be good if MLB was more upfront with it, however.
9:38 AM: Not sure what to make of this Deadspin post. It shows a fairly small and antiquated TV which doesn’t do true high definition in the bowels of a ballpark, reporting that this is the TV that major league umpires use to review plays. The reason: a sponsorship deal with Sharp and no apparent desire to keep things up to date.
But then later in the article:
Most of what we know about how MLB handles replay comes from 2008, when the system was first implemented. They haven’t talked about any changes since then, and when we asked very specific questions about the technology used a league official politely declined to answer any of them. It’s possible they have larger screens (and ones from Samsung, the new MLBAM official sponsor) but MLB didn’t confirm anything of the sort when we asked—and we can’t find any evidence the system’s technology has been revamped at all, something you’d assume the league would trumpet in support of its sponsor.
So maybe this is old information. But, at the very least, it seems like MLB should say it’s old information if it is. And affirmatively state what technology umpires are using to review plays.
People don’t trust baseball’s umpires or its review system right now, and for good reason. A good way to get people to start trusting again — apart from the obvious in not botching easy calls — would be for Joe Torre or someone in a position of authority to explain the system being used and assure us that it’s the best it can reasonably be. To assure us that the men in charge of deciding things in games aren’t worse off than some fan 500 miles from the park watching the replay on his iPhone.
If it’s not: well, umpires aren’t the only thing we need to worry about.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.
A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.
Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”
I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.
The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.
If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.