A-Rod’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, went on ESPN radio yesterday and reminded people that his client is not the first one to be linked to PEDs:
Of course this is a reference to David Ortiz.
A lot of people are trying to make this comment out as uber-controversial or a “shots fired” moment or something, but that seems silly to me. It’s been nearly five years since Ortiz was reported by the New York Times to have tested positive for PEDs during the 2003 survey testing. He claimed surprise and innocence at the time and made noises about wanting to get down to the bottom of it all, but we never really did get down to the bottom of it.
I have no idea what caused David Ortiz to test positive in 2003, but (a) the union has a list of all of the people who tested positive on that survey testing and if he were wrongfully reported to be on it, they would have corrected it years ago; and (b) regardless, no excuses or explanations like the one Ortiz gave has ever been accepted at face value by the sporting press or most fans. So for anyone to claim now that accusing Ortiz of PED use is somehow controversial or out of bounds is ridiculous. It’s about wanting to slam A-Rod and Tacopina, not about actually being offended at such an allegedly provocative comment.
And, of course, there is a lot of truth to what Tacopina was getting at. While his client is and perhaps always will be a pariah, a lot of guys with PED use in their past are not, and it’s rarely if ever about drugs they took as opposed to whether they were well-liked before or whether they had the nerve to try to defend themselves in a strenuous way.
People like David Ortiz and Andy Pettitte. People hate A-Rod and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. I totally understand why and don’t begrudge those differences of opinion at all. But let’s not pretend that Tacopina said something shocking yesterday.
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.
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: