Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux, Tony La Russa to have blank caps on their Hall of Fame plaques

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A few years ago Wade Boggs caused a stir when it was suggested that he had an agreement with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to have a Devil Rays cap featured on his Hall of Fame plaque. Either because of that — or by virtue of a grand coincidence — the Hall took the choice away from the players and decided that it, with an eye toward properly representing the players’ history it, and not the player, would make the final decision.

One caveat to that: the Hall still seeks player input, and the option of a blank cap remains on the table. One presumes this is so in the event that it truly is too difficult to assign one cap to a player given comparable historic legacies with multiple teams. Or, perhaps, if the player had a serious falling out with his most historically significant team at some point. Gotta have an out, right?

Well, two unexpected inductees have taken that out. From the Hall of Fames plaque announcement today:

In conjunction with the Hall of Fame, the six members of the class of 2014 have made their selections for the logo inclusion on their Hall of Fame plaque: Bobby Cox – Atlanta; Tom Glavine – Atlanta; Tony La Russa – no logo; Greg Maddux – no logo; Frank Thomas – Chicago White Sox; and Joe Torre –New York Yankees.

It seems pretty nuts to me that Maddux will not be in a Braves cap. While there are multiple ways to measure the value of a career, one must tread into the land of lunacy to come up with an argument that Maddux’s contributions to baseball as a Brave were rivaled by his contributions as a member of any of the other teams for which he played. Cubs included. Heck, add up his Cubs, Dodgers and Padres years and I bet you still don’t  equal his Braves years.

La Russa may be a closer case — he did win a World Series and three pennants with the A’s — but two rings with the Cardinals and nearly twice as many wins in St. Louis than in Oakland suggest that he should be a Cardinal on his plaque.

I assume that the deciding factor in both cases was Maddux and La Russa not wanting to play favorites. And I suppose that’s awfully nice and diplomatic of them. But really, if the Hall of Fame is not going to give the inductee final say, I’m not certain it should be weighing their preferences all that heavily either. Especially when such preferences, with all respect to the feelings of these two guys, skew ahistorical.

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:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.