ryan braun getty

Ryan Braun should be pretty darn happy with 65 games

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Ryan Braun is suspended for the rest of the year, which means a 65 game suspension. Those 65 games will cost him about $3.5 million.

It’s an absolute steal for Braun, methinks.

Partially because of what he could have faced. If you believe the reports which have flown hither and tither for the past few weeks, Major League Baseball was bound to bring the hammer down on Braun. Maybe 100 games! Maybe life! I doubt it actually would have come to that, and if it did, Braun could have fought hard against it, even if it was only to try to force some compromise. But now he doesn’t do that and Major League Baseball gets a pretty big head on a pretty tall pike.

Why didn’t he do that? Probably because the league had him dead to rights. But there are two other reasons why this works out as the best case scenario in what is overall a bad situation for the former NL MVP.

First, it’s a nice time for a break. Braun’s season has been riddled with injuries and the Brewers season has turned into a pretty depressing slog. The team wasn’t going to do anything this year and Braun was going to probably have nagging injuries which would keep him from doing anything to cut out and put in the personal scrapbook. Now, with his suspension limited to one season, he can get healthy, take the winter off and come back fresh in spring training 2014. It’s a win for him in that narrow regard and a win for Brewers fans who don’t have to face parts of multiple seasons without their best players.

Financially, though, now is the time for Braun to take his medicine. People may not realize it, but Braun is a pretty low-paid superstar at the moment. His 2013 salary: about $10 million. That’s part of a structured long term extension he signed in 2011 which has things really starting to escalate from 2016 through 2020, when he’ll make around $19 million. Sixty-five games at his rate right now is way better than 50 games — or less — next year.

Obviously this is not any sort of actual win for Braun. He’s suspended and his name is Mudd for the rest of his career. But he’ll be back to being a regular baseball player next season. And a highly paid one at that.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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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.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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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: