Phillies tried to talk Billy Wagner out of retirement

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Billy Wagner retired after the 2010 season despite coming off one of his best years, saving 37 games with a 1.43 ERA in 69 innings for the Braves, and Mark Hale of the New York Post reports that the Phillies recently tried to talk the now 40-year-old left-hander out of retirement.

Wagner declined, telling them: “I do not have an itch. I’m done. I’ve got a major role on a JV baseball team. I’m JV baseball coach.”

According to Hale the contact with Wagner came shortly after the regular season and well before the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal.

It’s unclear if the Phillies viewed Wagner as a closer or as a setup man, but the best left-handed reliever of all time hinted that several other teams also reached out to him during the season. His agent had been instructed to turn down all offers.

Wagner pitched for the Phillies in 2004 and 2005, throwing 126 innings with a 1.86 ERA and 59 saves.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.