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Tony Bosch: Alex Rodriguez wanted to start an 800-homer club

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Interviewed by 60 Minutes for Sunday’s show, former drug dealer Tony Bosch says he first met with Alex Rodriguez in 2010 and subsequently gave him numerous performance enhancers and supplements over the following two years, including the banned substances testosterone, hGH and insulin growth factor.

Bosch said upon meeting Rodriguez the former MVP asked him immediately what he gave Manny Ramirez that led to Ramirez’s resurgence in 2008 after joining the Dodgers. Bosch, who allegedly injected Rodriguez himself on occasion, added that A-Rod was driven to become the first player ever to hit 800 homers.

Bosch stated that he loves baseball, but that he had no qualms about supplying players with PEDs, something he did for as long as 10 years. He commented on how he might have been merely leveling the playing field for Rodriguez, since the pitcher, “the guy catching the baseball” and “the guy Alex tags out at third base” were also likely cheating.

Of course, those comments couldn’t have gone over particularly well with the league, which paid Bosch for his cooperation, as well as protected him. The closest thing to a bombshell provided during the interview was that a known associate of Rodriguez was one of several who alledgedly threatened Bosch’s life. Bosch also said A-Rod’s team offered to send him to Colombia and pay him $150,000 to lay low until everything blew over.

Bosch added that beating MLB’s drug testing wasn’t any problem at all. The testosterone troches he gave Rodriguez could be taken in the first inning of a contest and still leave no evidence behind for a postgame urine testing. Nothing, though, was said about Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal. Those three were Bosch clients who all failed drug tests and received 50-game suspensions in 2012. Other clients, such as Ryan Braun and Jhonny Peralta, never failed drug tests but were suspended last season anyway.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig and COO Rob Manfred both did interviews for CBS. Neither was asked why exactly Rodriguez deserved the original 211-game suspension, now reduced to 162 games, when others received 50-game bans. Manfred said Rodriguez attempted to bribe Bosch, which was obviously in poor taste given that MLB was also in the process of bribing him by paying him and dropping a lawsuit against him. Selig said Rodriguez did things that were unprecedented during his 50 years in baseball, but never truly elaborated.

The enhanced suspension is still at the heart of the matter here, and tonight’s interview did nothing to answer the questions about why A-Rod was punished so more severely than everyone else. While no one is shedding tears for the disgraced 14-time All-Star, there’s still no clear reason why he was treated so harshly, other than the idea that it was simply Selig’s whim.

The other thing of interest here is the timeline. A-Rod started seeing Bosch in Aug. 2010, according to the interview, and continued receiving supplies into the 2012 season. It certainly doesn’t seem as though Rodriguez’s performance was enhanced by the partnership, though. His OPS has declined every year since 2007.

2007: 1.067
2008: .965
2009: .933
2010: .847
2011: .823
2012: .783
2013: .771

For what it’s worth, Rodriguez may have gotten a boost immediately after meeting Bosch. He had his best month of the season that September, hitting .295/.375/.600 with nine of his 30 homers.

Also of note: besides Ramirez coming up in passing, no player other than Rodriguez was brought up by Bosch or anyone else during the interview. That even though he said he had been working with players for 10 years.

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: