Selig brushes off calls for expanded instant replay

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Poor umpiring and high-profile blown calls have been one of the biggest storylines of the playoffs so far, but commissioner Bud Selig made it clear today in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that he has no plans to expand instant replay:

I don’t really have any desire to increase the amount of replay, period. This goes on every time there’s a controversial call. I understand the Phil Cuzzi call and others. But frankly, I’m quite satisfied with the way things are. We need to do a little work, clean up some things. But do I think we need more replay? No. Baseball is not the kind of game that can have interminable delays.

The first round isn’t even over yet and we’ve already had Phil Cuzzi ruling Joe Mauer’s double a foul ball, Jerry Meals ruling Chase Utley’s foul ball fair, and C.B. Bucknor botching multiple calls at first base. And let’s be clear about something: Those are not, as Selig puts it, “controversial calls,” because that trivializes the issue by implying that they were something other than flat-out wrong.
We’re not talking about inconsistent strike zones or bang-bang plays being ruled the wrong way, although certainly those are issues that Selig should be looking to address as well. No, we’re talking about blown calls in hugely important situations. In every case instant replay could have corrected them within minutes, but Selig wants us to be satisfied with the idea that “baseball is not the kind of game that can have interminable delays”?
So, bad umpiring and incorrect calls are acceptable as long as they’re really quick? And since when is baseball worried about delays? Nearly every playoff game is running well over three hours at this point, with expanded commercial breaks and snail-like pacing, so spending a few extra minutes to review plays that can make or break a team’s season seems reasonable. If the umpires are unable or unwilling to get these calls right, they need help.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.