New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Mark Reynolds homers in debut, Alfonso Soriano stays red hot as Yankees win

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In the lineup at first base in his first game as a Yankee, Mark Reynolds made it count. Reynolds blasted a two-run home run to left field off of Felix Doubront in the second inning, bolstering the Yankee lead to 3-0. Meanwhile, outfielder Alfonso Soriano continued to stay red hot. The former Cub entered the night with 14 RBI and four home runs in his last three games. Soriano blasted home run #25 on the season (#8 as a Yankee), a three-run shot off of Doubront in the third, bringing the Yankees up to 6-0.

Meanwhile, Yankees starter Andy Pettitte was solid, allowing three unearned runs over six and two-thirds innings. He allowed six hits, walked one, and struck out five before deferring to the bullpen. The combination of Shawn Kelley and David Robertson held the Red Sox offense silent. Joba Chamberlain got two outs in the ninth but loaded the bases in the process, so manager Joe Girardi called on lefty David Huff. Huff retired Jacoby Ellsbury to finalize the 10-3 victory.

Alex Rodriguez, by the way, went 2-for-4 with a walk. Soriano finished 3-for-4 with four runs batted in, bolstering his stats over the last four games to five home runs and 18 RBI, tying the Major League record for RBI in a four-game span. Per ESPN Stats & Info, others to do it include Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Sammy Sosa, Jim Bottomley, and Tony Lazzeri. He has had four consecutive three-hit games, becoming the first Yankee to accomplish the feat since Johnny Damon in 2006, per the YES Network. Since joining the Yankees, he is hitting .320/.354/.667.

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)
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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: