MLB yelled at the Red Sox for replaying a close play on the Fenway scoreboard

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In the bottom of the sixth of the first game of yesterday’s Sox-Yankees doubleheader, David Ortiz was doubled off first base when Adrian Gonzalez flied out to Andruw Jones. It was a close play and, on first glance, it looked like Mark Teixeira was pulled off the bag when leaping for the relay throw.

So, just as you as a fan would hope for, the people who operate the video board at Fenway Park ran a replay. Even though it seemed to show that the right call had been made, the crowd booed because, hey, the home crowd is gonna boo such things.

But get this:

The Red Sox received a call from the commissioner’s office complaining that the video board at Fenway Park replayed a controversial umpire’s decision during Saturday’s game. As a rule, teams are instructed not to replay close calls, for fear that it might incite the crowd … The umpires are believed to have lodged a complaint between innings to MLB, which subsequently contacted the Red Sox.

This is stupid cubed. It’s stupid that there’s any kind of a rule in which teams should not show replays of close calls, it’s stupid that the umpires complained when this stupid rule was not honored and it was stupid when MLB contacted the Red Sox to complain about the stupid umpire complaint regarding the stupid rule.

We already know that umpires’ skins are so thin and their insecurity so great that they cannot countenance official instant replay, but I had no idea it was so thin that they could not countenance merely showing a call that may or may not have been messed up to fans in the seats. The same replay that thousands or, in national games, millions of people watching on TV are already seeing.

And Major League Baseball, what’s your excuse? The stated purpose of the rule — inciting the crowd — is silly. This is not South American soccer. The only riots at major league ballparks in living memory involved disco and ten cent beer, not bad umpire calls. I think baseball fans are mature enough and security at ballparks is sufficient to withstand showing a botched umpire call from time to time.

And what is baseball losing by not allowing such things? A better in-game experience for fans who won’t, after a close call, wonder if the call was correctly made and think to themselves — as I do from time to time — if I would have been better off watching at home.

Oh, and some transparency and public accountability for umpires too, but I don’t think that’s very high on baseball’s agenda, so forget I mentioned it.

(thanks to Bigleagues for the heads up)

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”