Fay Vincent has some good ideas on improving umpiring

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And it’s not just saying “robot umps now,” no matter how satisfying that is.  Writing over at Murray Chass’s blog, the former Commissioner of Baseball Fay Vincent says that MLB needs to take total control of umpiring:

  • MLB should buy the umpire schools and take over the training and development of all umpires in professional baseball. The recruitment, training and compensation of minor league and major league umpires should be controlled by the commissioner and modern personnel programs instituted to insure proper professional development.
  • Minor league umpires as employees of MLB should be offered the opportunity to become members of the same union as major league umpires to insure all of them are properly represented and protected by Federal law.
  • The use of technology to improve the accuracy of on field decisions should continue to be explored with the full involvement of the umpires. Additional use of replays should be carefully adopted with careful attention to the risks of further delays in the games.

It’s probably shocking to some that Major League Baseball does not train the umpires, but it doesn’t. They hire them from the private umpire schools and these guys are largely on their own until they’re promoted to the bigs. Which probably has a lot more to do with their often adversarial relationship with the league and with players by the time they’ve got the MLB job.

Odds of anyone in MLB’s offices listening to Vincent? About zero, sadly. You tend not to take advice from people you deposed in a coup.  But he’s right.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.