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)

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.