Oracle of Delphi

The HBT staff makes its World Series predictions

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If you think about it (and look at it a bit sideways, with one eye-closed), this isn’t a seven game World Series. It’s a best of 169, with the 97-65 Red Sox and 97-65 Cardinals in a dead heat before their final games.

OK, maybe that’s not true. But if it were, it would absolve us from making any sort of prediction, because all of us here at HardballTalk already whiffed on a 169-game prediction. We took the Nationals or the Tigers or someone back in March, so claiming we have some sort of clairvoyance now is disingenuous in the extreme. But, hey, that’s baseball, right? We can know an awful lot about it — and I think we do — yet still have no idea what’s gonna happen. Indeed, some crazy people may argue that that’s what makes it so cool.

But of course, convention is such that people who opine about baseball are supposed to make predictions. And we will. Even though this is one of the more evenly-matched World Series in living memory. Even though anything can happen. Even though Silva is a degenerate Cardinals fan and most of the rest of us couldn’t give a care one way or the other, thereby infusing our predictions with a fun mix of both bias and indifference.

But here goes:

  • Craig: Cardinals in seven because, well, I don’t know and I kinda like their starting pitching. Still not abandoning my pick of the Nationals to win it all. DON’T COUNT THEM OUT!
  • Aaron: Cardinals in six. He didn’t say why, but I’ll assume it’s because he really doesn’t want a Game 7 interfering with his trick-or-treating next Thursday.
  • D.J.: “Cardinals in six games. Carlos Beltran WS MVP (the only way such an outcome is palatable for me).” Mets fans: even more degenerate than Cards fans.
  • Drew: He eventually said Cardinals in six. For a while he didn’t respond to my email asking for a prediction because he was busy posting insane crap like this on Twitter. I’m actually surprised he didn’t pick the Cards in two “because of Ditka” or something. He claims this is an unbiased selection, though, so we’ll take him at his word.
  • Matthew: Red Sox in six. This is quite the improvement over his last Red Sox prediction.
  • Bill: “Cardinals in five.” Please excuse his curtness, though. He’s too busy sobbing over footage of the Joe Carter home run, which happened 20 years ago today.

So that’s that. Given our usual level of accuracy, I think these predictions mean that the 1969 Seattle Pilots will prevail over the 1874 New York Mutals in 11 games, with Brabender going the distance with a two-hit shutout.

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: