Mike Scioscia is in line with Bruce Bochy and Jonathan Papelbon and all of the other old schoolers who think that there is some tenure requirement for the All-Star team. Here he is talking to the L.A. Times:
“I think he needs to go a little farther to earn it. If he’s not an All-Star this year, he’s going to be an All-Star for years to come. But I do think you have to play enough to earn a spot on the All-Star team.”
Scioscia went on to note that, yes, Puig is going to get a good hard look because “[t]here’s a pull to bring the best players to the game, because of the bearing it has on home-field advantage in the World Series.” Which is an odd way to put it. World Series implications or not, what kind of All-Star Game do we have some consideration other than “bringing the best players to the game” takes precedence?
My thinking on this has changed over the years. But where I am now is that — unless Major League Baseball wants to get serious and make the All-Star Game an actual Game — it should have players who are fun to watch. That’s it. They all have to be good players, but if push comes to shove, give me a guy who’s either exciting or is having some sort of crazy historic run or a neat rookie season or something. Make it friggin’ interesting. Puig is interesting. He should go.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.