The umps have signed their new deal

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Though the deal was reached several weeks ago, the new contract between Major League Baseball and the umpires was finally ratified and signed by the men in blue late last night.  Rob Neyer was looking at it and found the provision on buyouts for older umpires to be quite interesting, seeing it as a means to force out the dead wood. The comment from the umps’ lawyer on it: “The retirement issue was important to several umpires who are thinking
about it. The provisions of this contract
will allow them to do that comfortably in the near future.”

Yeah, that’s what I’d say too if a bunch of my guys were about to get forced out.

Of course, it’s not like there’s going to be a ton of drama with umpire labor issues in the foreseeable future, what with the brilliant ploys of the last umpire’s union, which cost 22 of the guys their jobs. These guys are eminently replaceable, they know it, and they should be pretty darn happy to have the great, high paying jobs that they do, so what’s a few forced retirements between friends?

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.