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Source: If A-Rod doesn’t settle with MLB, he will be given a lifetime suspension

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A source familiar with the Biogenesis investigation tells HardballTalk that if Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball are unable to reach a settlement in connection with the Biogenesis matter, Major League Baseball will suspend Rodriguez for life. Previous reports have only suggested such a move is possible.

A lifetime ban would almost certainly cause Rodriguez to appeal the discipline. HardballTalk’s source says that Major League Baseball is aware that the arbitrator who would hear the matter – Fredric Horowitz – may not uphold a lifetime ban in light of the fact that Rodriguez has never been subject to discipline for PEDs before and because going all the way to baseball’s most severe sanction would be extreme for first-time discipline.  The league believes, however, that even if he were successful in having his sanction reduced on appeal, Rodriguez would ultimately be given a severe suspension, on par with what it is currently offering Rodriguez: 150 games or greater. The league is confident that Rodriguez would not prevail on the basic matter of culpability if he appealed.

Major League Baseball was unable to comment, citing the pendency on the ongoing investigation. Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, did not return calls seeking comment.

The source says that Major League Baseball is unwilling to agree to a suspension of Rodriguez in the 100-game range, demanding much more time off, even in the context of a settlement. The league, according to the source, believes that it has “compelling evidence” of significant malfeasance on Rodriguez’s part, including use of performance enhancing drugs, steering other players who sought to take PEDs to the Biogenesis clinic and his attempts to obtain and possibly destroy evidence from the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez and his attorneys, the source says, strongly dispute allegations of steering players to Biogenesis and attempting to destroy evidence.

The source says that, those disputes aside, Rodriguez is “in for a world of hurt.”

The source says that discipline is most likely to be leveled against Rodriguez, be it in the form of a settled-on or unilaterally-imposed sanction on Friday. Major League Baseball is expected to announce discipline for all of the other players connected to Biogenesis on that day as well.

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)
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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: