I can’t decide if the resumption of the Alex Rodriguez hearing today means that we’ll hear less silly p.r. spin from the lawyers because they’ll be busy with substantive casework again or if it means we’ll hear more because, rather than seek out the media each day, they’ll have to walk by them as they go in and out of MLB’s offices for the hearing. Guess we’ll see!
Anyway, things do get going again today. As we’ve noted in recent days, a couple of the bigger issues A-Rod’s team is going to try to push are (a) the provenance of much of MLB’s evidence; and (b) putting Bud Selig on the stand.
The former issue involves MLB’s investigative methods. Specifically, whether it knowingly obtained stolen Biogenesis evidence to build its case and whether it used other underhanded and extreme tactics to gain the cooperation of witnesses. A-Rod’s lawyers are trying to tell a tale of an out-of-control MLB, hellbent on nailing A-Rod to a wall and willing to do anything to make it happen. MLB, of course, is saying it did nothing wrong. All of that is sexy. It’s quite possible, though, that none of it matters, as the the arbitrator may only concern himself with what evidence is in front of him, not whether it got to him via sleazy means.
As for Selig on the stand: it seems unlikely, but clearly A-Rod’s team would like to make the league sweat.
The hearings will last all week and through the weekend, with the arbitrator saying he wants it done before Thanksgiving. The ruling, however, may not come out until a month afterward.
MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that umpires Bob Davidson, Bob Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke have retired.
Davidson, 64, was known as “Balkin’ Bob” for his tendency to call pitchers for balks. Davidson has also made a name for himself picking fights with players and managers, as well as unnecessarily escalating situations.
Hirschbeck, 62, didn’t quite have the reputation Davidson had, but he had a couple of notable incidents on his profile as well. Last year, when ejecting Twins slugger Miguel Sano, Hirschbeck said, “Get the [expletive] out of here.” In 2013, he threw a drum of oil on a fire that very easily could’ve been snuffed out with Bryce Harper.
Joyce, 61, was a well-liked and well-respected umpire who will go down in history for one mistake. On June 2, 2010, Tigers starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game. Indians second baseman Jason Donald hit a weak grounder about halfway between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera went to his right to field it and flipped to Galarraga covering first base. It was a close call, but Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe, ruining Galarraga’s perfect game. To both Joyce’s and Galarraga’s credit, both handled the mistake with the utmost class.
Craig also wrote in detail about Joyce a few years ago. It’s worth a re-read.
Tim Welke, 59, actually announced his retirement last year, but I guess it wasn’t made official until recently. He underwent a left knee replacement procedure in January last year and then had his right knee replaced five months later.
CNBC, citing Reuters, reports that Facebook and Major League Baseball are in discussions to stream one game per week.
Streaming is becoming more and more ubiquitous as it’s a more convenient way for people to access media they like. MLB Advanced Media, which handles MLB’s streaming service, is worth several billions of dollars. Last year, Disney paid $1 billion to purchase a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, the independent company MLBAM launched for its streaming.
Millennials and “Generation Z,” in particular, are driving the streaming trend. Forbes, citing the Digital Democracy Survey in 2015, reported that 56 percent of millennials’ media consumption was done via computer, smartphone, tablet, or gaming device. Those 30 years and older rely on television to watch film and TV shows at a clip higher than 80 percent.
Twitter is already in the sports streaming arena. It streams MLB, NFL, and NHL games as well as the PGA Tour.