Many are talking about this as the latest act in the season long run of The Umpire Follies, but I think it’s something more fundamental.
The upshot: in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Royals-Angels game, Jeff Francoeur swung at a pitch with two strikes on him. Home plate umpire Marty Foster called him out on strikes. But wait! Francoeur argued that he fouled the ball off and should live to take another hack. Foster, eventually, consulted second base umpire Tim Welke who backed Francoeur, saying he saw the ball tipped. Foster reversed himself.
This set off an argument from Mike Scioscia, who claimed that Foster wasn’t allowed to consult another ump on that call for a second opinion. Scioscia — who had multiple run-ins with Foster all weekend — was ejected. After the game, Ned Yost actually agreed with Scioscia that Foster couldn’t consult Welke:
Royals manager Ned Yost had a different angle on the play, but believed that Foster shouldn’t have been able to check with Welke on the play.
“It was a foul ball,” Yost said. “I told Marty, he said he didn’t hear it. I said I heard it; he goes ‘Well I’ll check.’ You’re not allowed to check, so Mike was right in a sense. But one of the umpires did see it.”
Know what? Any rules of umpiring which prevent calls from being made properly, be it due to the lack of replay or the lack of what umpires are allowed to do with replay or situations like this one where umpires are allowed to ask for help from other umps on some calls but not others is stupid.
“You’re not allowed to check?” Christ, man, get the calls right. That’s all fans want. If one umpire sees something and another one doesn’t, what possible justification is there for us to ignore the right call? I’m GLAD Foster consulted Welke. I don’t care what the rules say. Get the calls right.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.