World Series - Boston Red Sox v St Louis Cardinals - Game Three

Jake Peavy rips umpire Dana DeMuth, calls the game-ending play “a joke”



You mad, bro?

Yeah, Jake Peavy is definitely mad about the game-ending obstruction call last night. Speaking to reporters in the clubhouse after the game, the Red Sox’ Game 3 starter was incredulous, calling home plate umpire Dana DeMuth’s ruling that Allen Craig would have scored cleanly from third base but for the obstruction of third baseman Will Middlebrooks “a crying shame” and “a joke” and asked how DeMuth was going to sleep last night:

“Two teams are pouring their hearts out on the field and that’s the call you make … It’s a joke. I don’t know how he (DeMuth) is going to lay his head down tonight … it’s just amazing to me that it would end on a call like that, that’s not black and white. I don’t know what else to say …”

Peavy went on, trying to make this out as some sort of pattern of incompetence on the part of DeMuth and claimed that the only people who could possibly be happy with the call were Cardinals fans:

…He (DeMuth) has already proven that he can not see things correctly in Game 1. (He missed) a pretty obvious (call) 4 feet in front of him … I hope he rests well tonight in his hotel room knowing what he did. That is a joke, an absolute joke. I’m sorry. Go to talk to him and ask him if he feels good and right about his call to end a World Series game on a diving play… it’s just beyond me … I don’t know how anybody can say, ‘Yeah, that’s how it should have ended.’ Go find me one person that’s OK with that call, other than Cardinals fans, because they won the game.”

Sorry, but Peavy is the one who is a joke after these comments. Based on the sentiment of everyone I spoke with at the ballpark last night, everyone weighing in on the call online and on television and, more importantly, based on the clear reading of the applicable rules and reviewing the pay on video over and over, DeMuth did make the right call. He should have slept perfectly well last night.

What’s more — to use Peavy’s construction of the notion — the only people who I can find saying that no, the game should not have ended on that play — the only ones not OK with that call — are Red Sox fans because they lost the game.

Should they be 100% satisfied? No. It is hard to take a game ending on a play like that. But not because it was wrong or controversial, only because it doesn’t jibe with what we usually expect in terms of game flow. No clean RBI base hit. No pitcher retiring a batter. No one pumping their fist and going out for high fives. There’s a weird dissonant feeling when games don’t end the way they usually do and thus Red Sox fans having a bad taste in their mouths is totally understandable. But there was no miscarriage of justice here.

I’d ask Peavy to put the shoe on the other foot and ask how anyone besides Red Sox fans would feel if the call were made differently. If DeMuth ruled that Allen Craig was out even though he was interfered with by the fielder. To be sure, that is the call Peavy is disputing: the judgment that Craig would have scored but for the collision at third. That was DeMuth’s judgment call (third base umpire Jim Joyce called interference, and Peavy isn’t disputing that with these comments).

If that were the case it’d be close to intolerable. Both because it would clearly have been wrong — a gimpy Craig almost scored cleanly as it was — but because there would have been no way to fix the call to anyone’s satisfaction. Are Joe Torre and Bud Selig going to overturn it the next morning and retroactively award Game 3 to the Cardinals? Hardly. For P.R. purposes having a World Series game decided from a hotel suite in Downtown St. Louis at 2AM Sunday morning would have created an uproar and Selig would never have had the guts to do it, even if it would be the only way to truly fix the error. No, they would have stopped short of that and we’d be left with a clearly blown call standing and, possibly, deciding the outcome of a World Series.

It was less than satisfying aesthetically, but justice was done here. Dana DeMuth’s call was not a “joke.” And by the light of day this morning, I would expect that Jake Peavy — the emotion of the moment having passed — will realize that he was out of line with his comments last night.

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.