Mike Schmidt: “Michael Young could retire tomorrow, and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame”

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Mike Schmidt is the best third baseman to ever play the game of baseball. That does not make him qualified, however, to judge talent, it seems:

“Michael Young could retire tomorrow, and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s probably two Michael Young years away from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

To be fair, I’m not sure if Schmidt is saying “he deserves to be a strong candidate” or “because Young is inexplicably thought of as being better than he is, he will be a strong candidate whether or not he is truly deserving.” If the latter, it’s pretty astute, because I think that Young will get a fair amount of Hall of Fame support. At least enough to last on the ballot for a few years. Unlike, say, Lou Whitaker, who is a better Hall of Fame candidate on the merits than Young is.

Beyond all of that, I don’t think Schmidt saying that Young is a Hall of Fame candidate is as silly as his comparing him to Derek Jeter:

“… he’s a little like Derek Jeter. Is he not? If he played in New York, imagine what people would be saying about Michael Young’s career. Somebody would have mentioned the Hall of Fame a long time ago.”

Maybe Young would have benefited from playing in New York, but Jeter would have been a Hall of Famer if he had played for the East Nowhere Blue Sox. I know people in Texas like to think of Young as “the Rangers Derek Jeter,” but that has never washed for me. Maybe there’s a core of truth to it regarding some perception of his intangibles or what have you, but Jeter is so clearly the superior player the comparison seems to obscure far more than it illuminates.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.