There was a time when the umpires and Major League Baseball didn’t get along that well when it came to labor stuff. Then, one day, the umpires union had the brilliant idea of mass resignations as a means of attempting to create bargaining leverage. Major League Baseball happily accepted the resignations of the umps it didn’t like but had no real power to fire, re-hired the ones they did like and went on its merry way. Since then: ump-league labor peace.
So you will not be shocked that, for the fourth time since that ill-advised gambit, the union and the league have reached a new labor deal with little muss nor fuss:
Major League Baseball owners and the World Umpires Association, the exclusive bargaining representative of all full-time Major League Umpires, have both officially ratified a five-year labor agreement, the parties announced today. The pact covers the 2015-2019 seasons.
I figure we’re two or three more cycles until institutional memory of 1999 is wiped out and someone with the umpires union gets it in their head that they have any real power in this relationship. Until then, smooth sailing.
Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
Who helped build three World Series champions in Pittsburgh? Joe L. Brown, that’s who. The son of the comedian Joe E. Brown — himself famous for uttering the “Well, nobody’s perfect!” line from “Some Like it Hot” — reigned as head of the Buccos from 1955 through 1976.
Brown took over for Branch Rickey and helped turn the Pirates from laughingstocks into champions. Then, when that 1960 championship teamed proved not to have enough momentum, he reloaded throughout the 60s, resulting in the 1971 championship team. That group kept the high level of play up, getting restocked with fresh talent on a regular basis, and winning multiple NL East crowns. After Brown retired, that group held together through the 1979 championship.
Bill Madlock credited Brown with creating the “Fam-a-lee” of that Willie Stargell and Sister Sledge would make famous. Maybe he didn’t help them gel the way Stargell did in the clubhouse, but there would be no talent there to gel if it weren’t for Joe L. Brown.
To be followed in, say, early March with a “Dontrelle Willis released by ___” post and subsequent “Dontrelle Willis signed by ____” post come June. We may overlook the “Dontrelle Willis released by ____” post in September, as those tend to get lost in the shuffle:
He has not pitched in the bigs since 2011. He has not been a good big league pitcher since 2006.
Jayson Stark reports from the front lines of the pace-of-play war:
Under a new proposal by Major League Baseball, pitchers would be required to finish their warm-up pitches and be ready to make their first pitch of an inning 30 seconds before the end of all between-inning commercial breaks, sources told ESPN.com.
Similarly, hitters would have to be in the batter’s box, ready to start their at-bats, 20 seconds before the end of each break.
There would be the same amount of commercial time, but less of the messing around with warmup pitches and walkups and all of that. Back from commercial and — bam! — game play.
Which would be a good idea, I think. It would have way more impact on TV production crews, I reckon, than the players or game itself. Fewer crowd shots over the scoreboard and less time for introductions of relief pitchers and things with stat overlays as we wait for the warmup pitches to be completed. As Stark notes, it’ll also squeeze the time available for kiss-cams and other on-field nonsense at the park.
Which, in addition to the 10-15 minute game time savings Stark mentions MLB officials believe this will create, make it a win-win, right?
All last season, the only way you could see Dodgers games in the Los Angels market is if you were a Time-Warner subscriber, because that’s the only cable carrier in the area that carried SportsNet, the Dodgers TV network. Most people in Los Angeles are not Time-Warner subscribers, however, so most L.A.-dwelling Dodgers fans could not see their team.
While there is potential movement on all of this [see note below], Bill Shaikin and Meg James of the Los Angeles Times report today that it’s unlikely that things will be different by the time Opening Day rolls around, leaving Dodgers fans in Los Angeles stuck with either radio or nothing for the boys in blue.
That note: the movement I mentioned stems from the pending Time-Warner/Comcast merger which would, presumably, mean that SportsNet would eventually find its way to way more subscribers in Los Angeles. As the article notes, however, federal approval of that merger is not set to be determined until just before the season starts, and various regulations prevent the parties from negotiating deals while approval is pending, so it’s unlikely that the merger changes the prospects for L.A. people to see Dodgers games until at least after the season starts.
And, of course: NBC is a Comcast company and I work for NBC, so I’m not going to say anything substantive about any of that apart from link this informative article for your edification and enjoyment.