Some serious high road avoidance was taken by Thom Loverro of the Washington Times earlier this week. In his column he basically decided to call former National Michael Morse stupid:
Michael Morse wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box in the Washington Nationals clubhouse when he was here. Nice guy, good for some laughs, but if the clubhouse ever had to show up for a collective IQ test, let’s just say it would be a good time for Morse to take one of his many trips to the disabled list.
Why does he get called dumb? Because Morse reiterated his displeasure at the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg two years ago. And, apparently, because Morse said nice things about the fans in San Francisco compared to the fans in Washington.
Obviously people have different opinions about the Strasburg thing, but I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence like Loverro says it is. No matter what you may have done in that situation, there is no set of hard facts or evidence that suggests you were 100% correct. Personally I’d love to have pitched Strasburg in the playoffs, but I have no guarantee that’d he’d do better or that he wouldn’t have hurt himself. Loverro thinks differently and thinks anyone who disagrees with him is a dolt. He has no definitive evidence to support his case either.
But more than just classless for calling Morse dumb, Loverro’s column is plain wrong too. He says the Nationals are better off without Morse. This despite Morse putting up way better numbers playing mostly left field than the Nats’ primary left fielder in Bryce Harper’s absence — Nate McLouth — has. And Adam LaRoche missed time at first too. Think having Morse cover for those two might have been a good thing for the Nats?
Just a weird bitter column written, apparently, as a sop to those fans who took personal offense to Morse not saying Nats fans were the best ever. Which is a really silly basis on which to waste column inches.
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: