Craig Calcaterra

Petco Park

Padres issue a second statement following the Gay Men’s Chorus debacle

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Yesterday we told you about Saturday night’s incident at Petco Park in which the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus’ rendition of the National Anthem was headed off by someone in a control room at Petco Park playing a recorded version of a woman singing the National Anthem. The Chorus stood there on the field, doing nothing, and then was escorted off with no explanation given to the crowd and some fans in the crowd jeering the Chorus.

After the game the Padres issued a statement apologizing, but the Chorus was still upset and demanded an investigation into what happened and why. Last night the Padres issued a second statement:

“After a thorough examination of the events that occurred during last night’s National Anthem, we have concluded our internal investigation and have found no evidence of malicious intent on the part of any individuals involved. Based on both the unintentional mistake that was made, as well as the failure to immediately intervene and correct the situation by those who had oversight, we have terminated our relationship with the third-party contractor who was responsible for the error, and taken disciplinary action against our employee who was responsible for the game production on Saturday.

We once again sincerely apologize to members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, their families and those who came out to support their Pride Night performance. The Padres organization is proud of our longstanding commitment to inclusion — within both our sport and our community. We deeply regret that a mistake on our part has called this into question, but accept full responsibility.”

Following the statement, the Padres indicated that the Chorus has been invited back for a do-over:

No word if the invitation has been accepted.

Yasiel Puig made a pretty epic blunder yesterday

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The Dodgers played a 17-inning game against the Padres yesterday. And they won! And Yasiel Puig knocked in the the go-ahead runs in the 17th. Hero, right? Well, in the end, sure. But they may not have had to play 17 innings if he wasn’t daydreaming in the ninth inning.

In the ninth, Puig reached second base following a single and a subsequent wild pitch. Catcher A.J. Ellis came to the plate and looked to bunt Puig to third base, putting him in position to score on a sac fly or whatever. There would only be one out after the sacrifice. Ellis got the bunt down. Yay!

Except . . . Puig didn’t run. He just stood there at second base. Despite the fact no one was covering third after the third baseman charged the ball and despite the fact that he would’ve easily beaten the shortstop over there who had broken to cover. You go on contact with a sacrifice, but Puig just stopped and gawked. Watch:

The next two batters flied out. You can’t assume anything after a certain series of events are put in motion, but it sure would’ve been nice for the Dodgers to have had a base runner on third for the first one of those fly outs.

After the game no one had a great explanation for it. Puig admitted he screwed up. Dave Roberts said he didn’t have a bunt sign on, but it’s common for someone to bunt in that situation and Ellis squared well before the pitch, which should’ve clued Puig in. When the press was in the clubhouse Roberts said he hadn’t talked to Puig about it yet. And, obviously, the Dodgers winning and Puig providing the winning RBIs helped soothe that a good bit.

But boy howdy, that was a first class blunder. One that caused the teams to have to play eight more innings and caused Roberts to have to use his Tuesday starter for three innings on Sunday.

Changes to strike zone, intentional walks could be implemented for 2017

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Over the weekend Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that Major League Baseball’s Competition Committee approved two significant rules changes that could go into effect next year: an altered strike zone and the elimination of the need for a pitcher to actually throw the four pitches now required for an intentional walk.

The strike zone change would be to raise the lower part of the zone to the top of the hitter’s knees. Right now the rule specifies that it extends down to “the hollow beneath the kneecap.” In recent years the zone has, practically speaking, extended even below that, with umpires calling very, very low pitches balls, much to the chagrin of hitters.

The change in the intentional-walk rule would end the practice of requiring the pitcher to actually throw four balls outside the strike zone. Instead, a team could simply tell the ump it wants to issue an intentional walk, and the hitter would be be awarded first base.

The zone change is aimed at reducing the number of strikeouts and putting more offense in games. In the past, however, changes to the zone have led to unexpected results. Small alterations in the 1960s led to first a dramatic increase and then a dramatic decrease in offense. The institution of Pitch f/x review of umpire calls all but eliminated the outside strike many pitchers thrived on in the 80s and 90s and led to great advantages for pitchers who could throw with higher velocity down in the zone. This change may have the theoretic aim at getting the ball up and giving pitchers something to hit, but given how pitchers don’t want to work up, it may simply trade strikeouts for walks, at least in the short term, as pitchers stubbornly but understandably continue to put pitches in places where batters cannot do as much damage, which is down low.

As for the intentional walks: eh, not too big a deal. It’s aimed at speeding up the pace of play, but there aren’t that many free passes given so the time savings will be negligible. Occasionally someone, quite hilariously, throws a wild pitch on an IBB and that will, sadly, be eliminated. So to will the ritual booing of the home crowd when a home batter is intentionally walked. Part of me likes that, in many instances, there is some shame and mild cowardice involved in intentionally walking a batter and it’ll be sad that that element of it is gone, even if it’s not a big deal. I suspect we’ll get used to the new walk rule fairly quickly.

As for implementation, the two changes can’t go into effect unless they are approved by baseball’s playing rules committee, which would meet later in the year. The plan is also being presented to the Player’s Union, but the union does not need to sign off on the changes for them to go into effect next season. Such presentation is something of a courtesy, however, and if the changes are incorporated into the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, they can last beyond next year without further review from the competition committee.

I think the strike zone change is worthy, but I don’t think there are any guarantees it’ll have its intended effect. The walk rule seems sort of pointless but basically harmless. Regardless of how you feel about it, these sort of incremental changes have been a constant feature of baseball over the years, even if we like to pretend that the game is the same as it always has been.