Selig hands up

Report: Bud Selig is prepared to tear up the drug agreement just to get A-Rod out of baseball


He is if you believe this report from the Daily News, anyway. Which, yes, is a pretty big caveat — this could very well just be a big bluff communicated to a newspaper which has done a great job over the years carrying the anti-PED crowd’s water — but we gotta take reports at face value until we have reason not to.

The report: that Bud Selig is prepared to invoke his powers to “preserve the integrity of the game” in order to keep Alex Rodriguez off the field even if he appeals his discipline. In other words: Selig will essentially void the part of the Joint Drug Agreement that allows players to play pending appeal and suspend him summarily.

Which is absolute madness, of course.

Even if A-Rod has done everything of which he is accused, even if he is the biggest PED user in the history of PED users, even if he has attempted to interfere with MLB’s investigation, he is still owed due process. Everyone is. The Joint Drug Agreement covers all of those offenses, even the interference with an investigation thing. It says that the JDA is the sole basis of discipline in matters arising out of PEDs. To deny a player his appeal rights under that agreement would be a shameful abuse of power, even when the player involved happens to be unpopular. The least of my brothers, and such.

At some point we have to ask ourselves how much of Major League Baseball’s investigation and subsequent discipline of Alex Rodriguez is about penalizing a player for his bad acts and how much of it is about kicking an unliked and unwanted player — and a player who makes an awful lot of money — out of the game simply because it would make most people feel good.

Of course, maybe it doesn’t go this far.  Maybe the point of this is to simply make Bud Selig look tough. After all, this very question — “Is Bud Selig going too far to fight the drug users?!” — serves his legacy interests very, very well.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.