Reggie Jackson made headlines recently for saying in a Sports Illustrated interview that Alex Rodriguez’s numbers should be questioned because of performance-enhancing drugs and Kirby Puckett, Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton, and Phil Niekro shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.
That predictably caused a mini-uproar and he reportedly apologized personally to several of those offended parties, but today he issued an official statement–through the Yankees–apologizing in public to the whole group:
In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players. This was inappropriate and unfair to those players, some of which are very close friends of mine. I think there are ways to speak from the heart without hurting people, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t take greater care in expressing my views.
I have been proactively reaching out to make personal apologies to those within the Hall of Fame community that I offended, and to the Yankees organization for any disruption that I caused in the clubhouse. I continue to have a strong relationship with the club, and look forward to continuing in my role with the team. As always, I remain dedicated to the great game of baseball.
There’s been some hair-splitting about whether the Yankees telling Jackson to stay away from the team on their recent road trip qualified as a “ban” or just a request to let things cool off, but either way it’s pretty easy to connect the dots and assume that Jackson’s apology comes as a stipulation for his getting back into the team’s good graces.
It’s also worth noting that his apology doesn’t actually involve taking back anything he said about Rodriguez or the various Hall of Famers–two of whom are deceased–but rather focuses on the mistake being naming names and going public with his thoughts. Since the statement came through the Yankees presumably they’re satisfied with the wording and overall tone, and Jackson will resume his duties as “special advisor.”
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.