Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

MLB approves sale of Seattle Mariners, John Stanton to take over


HOUSTON (AP) Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of a controlling stake in the Seattle Mariners from Nintendo of America to a group of minority owners led by Western Wireless Corp. founder John Stanton and retired Microsoft executive Chris Larson.

The sale was announced in April and approved Thursday. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the deal will close Friday or Monday.

This will be the first transfer in control of an MLB team since Ron Fowler led the purchase of the San Diego Padres in August 2012.

Stanton will take over as control person from current chairman Howard Lincoln, who is retiring. The Mariners anticipate a seamless transition in management.

Mariners chairman emeritus John Ellis said “there’s not a soul, other than the people retiring, that will be impacted, because all of these same partners are still involved,”

Nintendo of America, under the direction of Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, bought the Mariners from Jeff Smulyan in 1992. Under Nintendo’s ownership, the Mariners moved from the Kingdome to Safeco Field in 1999.

Rob Manfred wants a pitch clock in the big leagues

Associated Press

Bob Nightengale reports that Commissioner Rob Manfred wants the majors to adopt a pitching clock, the sort of which they have in the minors.

The minor league clocks give pitchers 20 seconds to deliver a pitch. They were quite successful at reducing the length of games in Double-A and Triple-A in their first year last year, resulting in a 6-16 minute reduction in game times across five separate leagues at those levels.

Before the 2015 season, and before the minor league experiment in 2015 and thus far in 2016, I was concerned that a pitch clock would be a visual distraction and that baseball should, perhaps, experiment with less-intrusive means such as, you know, enforcing existing rules. For example, it could enforce the never-enforced Rule 8.04, which already calls for a pitcher to deliver the ball within 12 seconds when no runner is on. Major League Baseball has not hesitated, however, to make new rules or new innovations in the past several years rather than enforce existing rules, especially if those existing rules are to be enforced solely by an umpire. Indeed in almost every case — from the replay system, to the plate blocking and slide rules, to the rules regarding finances and draft picks and bonuses — baseball has eschewed taking the shortest distance between two points and has, instead, implemented mildly-to-majorly complicated solutions to whatever it considers to be problems.

While all of this remains a theoretical concern for me with respect to how baseball solves problems, I’m somewhat less concerned about that with respect to pitch clocks than I was a year and a half ago because there is actually a track record of some success with them in the minors. Still, the only reports of the pitch clock in the minors we heard were of game times. We have not, as far as I have seen, heard much in the way of feedback from the players as to how it affects them and whether or not they like it. That would be useful information.

Whatever the case, Manfred coming out and saying this will necessarily put the ball in the union’s court, so we will likely soon start hearing major league players’ views on all of this.

Dave Stewart, Tony La Russa and the laughingstock that is the Diamondbacks front office

Getty Images

ESPN’s Keith Law wrote a column today (Insider only) ripping the Diamondbacks’ front office under Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart, whom he says have undertaken a “Reign of Error” in Arizona.

This is not your typical “Dave Stewart shouldn’t have traded Dansby Swanson or Touki Toussaint” or “The Dbacks never should have signed Zack Greinke” kind of thing. Law accuses Stewart and La Russa of basic incompetence, arguing that they have a limited understanding of the draft, bonus pools and the international signing rules and that they seem to have a poor grasp of the players in their own system, all of which has cost the club dearly.

And then there’s stuff like this:

Stewart’s unfamiliarity with the rules hasn’t just applied to the international pools. According to multiple sources, in early 2015 he tried to make a trade with another team that would have violated MLB rules, and the GM of the other team had to explain to him that such a move was not allowed.

Law says that La Russa has been no better, pointing out comments he made about Shelby Miller which “were totally inappropriate for a club official to make, whatever he was trying to imply.” He says “[t]here are good, competent people in the Diamondbacks’ baseball ops department, but they appear to have no sway over the decisions La Russa and Stewart are making.”

It’s one thing to take issue with the decisions a front office makes. It’s a totally different deal when the matter is incompetence rather than poor judgment. Law is clearly making both arguments here and, if his sources on the matter of incompetence are correct, it’s a pretty damning indictment of the La Russa-Stewart regime.

Not that I expect this to be the end of it. Given La Russa’s recent track record when it comes to criticsand given his past displeasure, however misguided it was, with Law himself — I would expect a sharp retort from the Dbacks brass about all of this.

Someone get me some popcorn.