Over the weekend, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column in which he criticized departing New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, calling him a “handful,” saying he was not well-liked by his teammates and generally painting a picture of a self-absorbed self promoter.
It was surprising for a couple of reasons. First, because no one had ever described Dickey in such terms and the timing suggested that perhaps the Mets were throwing him under the bus as he left the team. But it was more surprising coming from Davidoff, who is one of the best, most reasonable and most level-headed columnists around, particularly in New York. He just doesn’t write that kind of stuff very often, so it was kind of jarring to see.
Today, much to Davidoff’s credit, he writes another column, this one explaining the basis for his criticism of Dickey in his last one. The questions he asks and then answers such as “Why are we just hearing now about these aspects of Dickey’s personality?” and “Aren’t you just being a water-carrier for the Mets front office” echo ones we saw bouncing around the internet over the weekend. And Davidoff takes them head on.
You may still question Davidoff’s column and disagree with what he had to say about R.A. Dickey, but kudos to Davidoff to actually engaging his readers and critics like this. Would that more writers did the same.
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.