Author: Craig Calcaterra

Gregg Zaun

Gregg Zaun says young players should be physically abused and hazed by veterans. So they can learn respect.


source: APSome serious tough guy stuff from former big league catcher Gregg Zaun, talking smack about former Blue Jay Brett Lawrie, who he claims didn’t respect his elders. It has all of the fun cliches. Young players, Zaun says, “need to be made to respect the game, the clubhouse atmosphere, their elders.” He says “[y]ou cannot allow these kids to go running amok. You have to “nip it in the bud.”

How do you nip that in the bud? Oh, the usual way: physical abuse and public humiliation. Like Cal Ripken and the veteran Orioles did to the young rookie Zaun back in the day because he “was too talkative.”

I’ll never forget it: I was out in the stretch circle, I played catch with Chris Hoiles every single day, and I lobbed the ball to him — and he was paying attention, but he pretended like he wasn’t. He head-butted the ball and all of a sudden I had what was called “the posse” all over me. Cal Ripken, Ben McDonald, Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles, all of the above. They beat me on my ribcage, physically abused me on my way to the training table. They taped me spread-eagle to the training table, they wrote “rookie” on my forehead with pink methylate, and they shoved a bucket of ice down my shorts. I missed the entire batting practice, and you know what? Phil Regan, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, he did not care, because he knew that what those guys were doing was ‘educating me.’

If I had a dollar for every time Cal worked me over, physically, I’d be a pretty wealthy guy. He still owes me a suit! He told me flat out, he said, ‘You are never to come past this point into the back of the plane, under no circumstances.’ So, I’m in my first suit that I paid for myself as a Major League player, feelin’ real frisky, and Cal says, ‘I need you to come here.’ And all of a sudden I crossed over that imaginary barrier line. He tackled me, wrestled me to the ground. They had just got done eating a bunch of blue crabs in the back of the plane, so there was nothing but mud and Old Bay seasoning everywhere. He throws me to the ground and he tears my suit off of me, and I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he goes, ‘Remember when I said that under no circumstances do you come back here?’ I’m like, ‘Well you just told me to!’ ‘I said under no circumstances, and that includes when I ask you to come back here.’

Note: Zaun says these things don’t happen anymore but “they need to happen more often.”

To which I’d say: no, they don’t, actually. Not at all. And anyone who thinks that physical abuse and various forms of hazing is a proper way to instill respect and a good work ethic, they’d certifiably insane.

Or did I just miss all of those stories about Hank Aaron, Al Kaline and Stan Musial physically abusing and humiliating rookies?

The new pace of play rules aren’t disruptive, make a lot of sense and may actually work

Stepping out

The new rules about batters staying in the box and pitchers being ready to pitch immediately after the commercial break ends have just been announced. You can read all about them here. Here are my initial thoughts:

Outside of increased pitching changes — which really can’t practically be eliminated — I suspect that batters stepping out of the box after every pitch is the biggest driver of slow games. We talk about slow pitchers more often, but they can’t get set and look in for a sign until the batter is ready. Forcing the batter to stay in the box will force him to get ready more quickly which will speed the pitchers up too, I suspect.

I do, however, think there are too many exceptions to the stay-in-the-box rule. As it is, batters are only required to stay in the box only on called balls and called strikes, and I feel like there is no reason why batters should be allowed to step out when they swing and miss or foul one off. Let the umpire decide if the swing was so damn violent that the batter needs some recombobulation time, but otherwise get on with it, ya know?

All of that said, I think starting conservatively is always a good idea when it comes to rules changes. And I do think that even having a limited number of situations in which a batter must stay in the box will encourage a lot more staying-in-the-box than we expect. That’s because I don’t think most batters view stepping out of the box as some strategic choice. Sure, sometimes they’re trying to mess with a pitcher’s rhythm, but not too often, and it’s obvious when they’re doing it. I think it’s mostly just a habit/rhythm thing they do. If we start to change their habits on called balls and strikes, I bet batters just start staying in the box more anyway because that’s the new rhythm. We’ll see.

As for the rules about pitchers warming up more quickly, the addition of a clock for those purposes and the requirement that everyone be ready togo after the commercial break is over: that’ll be more initially disruptive, I bet. But given that it’s about preparation and not actual game play, I suspect that they’ll adjust to it fairly quickly and it’ll just become a new normal.

In the short term, yes, some batters will complain about not being able to step out (I have David Ortiz in the pool) and some pitchers will claim about being rushed in their warmup routines. But all-in-all these are pretty minor changes to players’ routines that could, if my above suspicions prove accurate, speed up the game fairly significantly.

Major League Baseball, the MLBPA officially announce new pace-of-play rules

Adjusting gloves

We heard last night that it was going to come down today, and today it comes down: Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have jointly announced additions to the sport’s pace of game program, which will be effective in Spring Training, the regular season and the Postseason. They have likewise announced a series of modifications to the instant replay system.


The pace of game program will require that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs. This amendment/reemphasis of existing Rule 6.02(d) allows batters to leave the box if the following events occur:

  • The batter swings at a pitch;
  • The batter is forced out of the batter’s box by a pitch;
  • A member of either team requests and is granted “Time”;
  • A defensive player attempts a play on a runner at any base;
  • The batter feints a bunt;
  • A wild pitch or passed ball occurs;
  • The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the pitching mound after receiving the ball; or
  • The catcher leaves the catcher’s box to give defensive signals.

Which, yes, are a lot of situations. Essentially, called balls and called strikes are the only occurences after which the batter must stay in the box.

In addition to the batters box rule, there will now be a stricter timing of between-innings breaks and pitching change breaks during the game. Specifically, timers will be added that will measure the time during these breaks. One timer will be installed on or near the outfield scoreboard, and a smaller timer will be installed on the façade behind home plate near the press box.  Immediately following the third out of each half-inning, the timer will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and from 2:45 for nationally televised games.  An MLB representative attending each game will operate the timers from the ballpark and will track the following events:


Time Remaining Activity
40 Seconds PA announces batter and begins to play walk-up music
30 Seconds Pitcher throws final warm-up pitch
25 Seconds Batter’s walk-up music ends
20 Seconds-5 Seconds Batter enters the batter’s box
20 Seconds-0 Seconds Pitcher begins motion to deliver pitch

Pitchers can still throw the usual number of warmup pitches if they get it done before the 30-second warning comes, but they will be deemed to have forfeited any pitches that they are unable to complete prior to the 30-second deadline.

The new rules — both for batters and pitchers — will be enforced through a warning and fine system, with discipline resulting for flagrant violators.  No fines will be issued in Spring Training or in April of the 2015 regular season. This enforcement mechanism was decided on after players objected to ball-and-strike penalties or other sanctions that could affect the outcome of the game.


In addition to the pace of play rules, there are some changes to the replay system as well. Managers may now invoke instant replay from the dugout and will no longer be required to approach the calling umpire to challenge a call.  Managers may hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home plate umpire that he is considering a challenge.  A decision can be communicated verbally or with a hand signal.  To challenge an inning-ending call, managers will be required to leave the dugout immediately in order to hold the defensive team on the field.

Other alterations:

  • Whether a runner left the base early or properly touched a base on a tag-up play will be reviewable.
  • A manager will retain his challenge after every call that is overturned.  Last year, a manager retained his challenge only after the first overturned call.
  • A manager must use a challenge in order to review whether a play at home plate included a violation of the rule governing home plate collisions.  However, in the event that a manager is out of challenges after the start of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may still choose to review whether there was a violation of the rule.
  • During Postseason games, regular season tiebreaker games and the All-Star Game, managers will now have two challenges per game.
  • Instant replay will not be utilized during 2015 Spring Training, but it will be in place for exhibition games at Major League ballparks prior to the start of the 2015 regular season.

That’s a lot to unpack. But we have over a month and a half of spring training to unpack it all. What say you, readers?