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YES Network’s Michael Kay blasts Robinson Cano for not hustling

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Leading off the top of the eighth inning with his team trailing the Padres 6-3, Robinson Cano weakly grounded out to second baseman Logan Forsythe, who handily threw him out at first with plenty of time to spare. Cano lightly jogged down the first base line before turning back towards the dugout.

Michael Kay, leading today’s broadcast on the YES Network, took a few minutes to take Cano down a few pegs, criticizing the superstar for not going 100 percent down the line. Shortstop Derek Jeter was brought up, as usual, as the paragon of hustle. The camera panned to him as he reverently stood on the top step of the dugout, sitting out the second of two expected games off due to a calf injury. During the break between innings, Kay tweeted this:

The instinct to praise Jeter for his hustle while he continues to battle injury after injury is interesting to me, since the hustle is one of several reasons the future Hall of Famer has battled so many injuries recently. The same goes for Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, one of a handful of players known for going 100 percent down the first base line now matter how routine of an out it is. Utley has battled lower-half injuries dating back to 2010.

One must do some risk-reward math when talking about the need to bust it down the line every time. There is a non-zero chance that the infielder makes an error attempting to make the play at first base, but there is also a non-zero chance that Cano injures himself going too hard down the line. The benefit is that, in those rare times an error is committed, you get a free base or two you wouldn’t have otherwise had. The consequences, when a player is injured, are manyfold: A) you may lose the player for X amount of time: it could be a day, or a week, or the rest of the season; B) you have to use a less-qualified player in his stead for as long as he is out; C) you risk losing more than one game; and D) in the case of the player not missing time, he still may compensate for his injury, increasing the risk for other issues, or he may simply play hurt, reducing his effectiveness.

The smartest players are the ones who don’t seriously run on routine outs. What little benefit there may be is far outweighed by the injury risk.

As for Kay, he is doing a good job of giving Cano a reason not to continue his career with the Yankees as he is eligible for free agency after the season. Why play for a team whose broadcasters, and subsequently the fan base, think you’re lazy and don’t care about the outcome of the game?

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: