Bobby Valentine would welcome automated ball and strike calls

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Bobby Valentine got ejected arguing balls and strikes on Sunday. Yesterday he was asked about it and went on for some time about how insufficient human umpires are when it comes to calling the balls and the strikes.

He didn’t quite call for robot umpires at first. After talking about how bad it was that umpires can’t get the calls right and after decrying  the “human element,” he said “let the humans do it somehow.”  But then he was pushed a bit:

Reminded that humans are bound to make mistakes in whatever job, Valentine responded: “Don’t make it their job, then. The rule book doesn’t say that the game will be played and arbitrarily ruled.”  Valentine said umpires are “well-trained and very good at what they do. But I think it’s almost impossible to do what they do. So why do we ask them to do the impossible?

He went on to note how these days pitchers throw stuff that has all kinds of crazy late movement that is often invisible from an umpire’s point of view, adding “They can’t see it. They’re humans. We’re asking humans to do a feat that a human can’t do.”

This is probably the closest I’ve heard any active umpire call for automated umpiring of any kind. Indeed, most even stop short of calling for more replay, even right after their teams are boned by a bad call and they all but implore the league to do something about it.  It’s almost as if there is some diktat imposed on managers by the league to avoid talking about such things.

If there is one, though, Valentine certainly ignored it here, even as he tried not to. He’s one guy who would welcome automated ball-and-strike calls. I bet he won’t be the last.

Phillies to induct Bobby Abreu to Wall of Fame

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The Phillies announced on Wednesday that former outfielder Bobby Abreu will be inducted into the team’s Wall of Fame this summer. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 3 as part of the club’s alumni weekend festivities.

Abreu, 45, went to the Phillies in a November 18, 1997 trade with the then-Devil Rays that sent shortstop Kevin Stocker to Tampa. Abreu somehow only made two All-Star teams while in Philly. Overall, he hit .303/.416/.513 with 195 homers, 814 RBI, 891 runs scored, and 254 stolen bases in 1,353 games with the Phillies. Abreu ranks sixth all-time among Phillies in career Wins Above Replacement (47.2), fourth in on-base percentage (.416), seventh in slugging percentage (.513), second in OPS (.928), 10th in runs scored (891), fourth in doubles (348), second in walks (947), and seventh in stolen bases.

Perhaps Abreu’s most noteworthy accomplishment as a Phillie was winning the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park in Detroit. Abreu hit 24 home runs in the first round and finished with 41 total, both records at the time. That is his most noteworthy accomplishment as, through no fault of his own, the Phillies never made playoffs during his tenure from 1998-06.

Abreu’s tenure came to an end on July 30, 2006, when the club packaged him with pitcher Cory Lidle and sent them to the Yankees in exchange for Matt Smith, Carlos Monasterios, C.J. Henry, and Jesús Sánchez. Obviously, not a trade that worked out well for the Phillies. Abreu played through his age-40 season, spending time with the Angels, Dodgers, and Mets along with the Yankees. He retired with 60 career WAR, per baseball Reference, as well as a .291/.395/.475 batting line, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBI, 1,453 runs scored, and 400 stolen bases.

Phillies fans have always criminally underrated Abreu. He was viewed as lazy and uncaring, in part due to racism and in part due to a perceived aversion to outfield walls. Abreu’s induction into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame is a long time coming, but it will also likely spur a lot of debate on sports talk radio in the months leading up to it.