Bud Selig

Major League Baseball to drop the lawsuit against Biogenesis, Bosch

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The New York Daily News reports that, now that A-Rod has dropped his appeal and is accepting his suspension, Major League Baseball is going to drop the lawsuit it filed last March against Biogenesis, Anthony Bosch, Juan Carlos Nunez and multiple other defendants.

Which, of course, just continues to underscore how legally baseless a lawsuit that was and how its putative purpose — legal redress against drug dealers who caused damage to the league by enabling the breach of the Joint Drug Agreement an the Collective Bargaining Agreement — was total baloney. Major League Baseball filed that lawsuit for the sole purpose of gaining leverage in an effort to suspend Alex Rodriguez and the other Biogenesis players. Now that that has been done, there is no purpose for the suit.

Which may mean Major League Baseball was successful. That it did what it set out to do. But it doesn’t change the fact that its filing of that suit was a ridiculous misuse of the legal system. A legal system, the purpose of which, is to redress legal injury, not to be used as a cudgel in an employment dispute. Major League Baseball asserted that its contracts were breached. They were not. It asserted that it suffered financial damage as a result. It did not. This was akin to your employer filing a lawsuit against the guy who sold you a bag of weed in order to suspend you from work for violating the office’s drug policy.

If that happened people would freak out at the overreach. Here: no one seemed to care. Indeed, not too many people — including the MLBPA, much to its shame and now its relative powerlessness — complained about this when this suit was filed last March. Not too many people will complain about it now. When the history of Biogenesis is written, people will likely credit Bud Selig and Major League Baseball for bold action and, ultimately, success. After all, the only visible victim of it is A-Rod and everyone hates him.

But it doesn’t change the fact that that success came as a result of a comical misuse of the legal system. And now, with the suit’s dismissal, Major League Baseball is acknowledging that.

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)
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)
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: