A lot of drama over a foul tip in Kansas City yesterday

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Many are talking about this as the latest act in the season long run of The Umpire Follies, but I think it’s something more fundamental.

The upshot: in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Royals-Angels game, Jeff Francoeur swung at a pitch with two strikes on him. Home plate umpire Marty Foster called him out on strikes. But wait! Francoeur argued that he fouled the ball off and should live to take another hack. Foster, eventually, consulted second base umpire Tim Welke who backed Francoeur, saying he saw the ball tipped. Foster reversed himself.

This set off an argument from Mike Scioscia, who claimed that Foster wasn’t allowed to consult another ump on that call for a second opinion. Scioscia — who had multiple run-ins with Foster all weekend — was ejected. After the game, Ned Yost actually agreed with Scioscia that Foster couldn’t consult Welke:

Royals manager Ned Yost had a different angle on the play, but believed that Foster shouldn’t have been able to check with Welke on the play.

“It was a foul ball,” Yost said. “I told Marty, he said he didn’t hear it. I said I heard it; he goes ‘Well I’ll check.’ You’re not allowed to check, so Mike was right in a sense. But one of the umpires did see it.”

Know what? Any rules of umpiring which prevent calls from being made properly, be it due to the lack of replay or the lack of what umpires are allowed to do with replay or situations like this one where umpires are allowed to ask for help from other umps on some calls but not others is stupid.

“You’re not allowed to check?” Christ, man, get the calls right. That’s all fans want. If one umpire sees something and another one doesn’t, what possible justification is there for us to ignore the right call? I’m GLAD Foster consulted Welke. I don’t care what the rules say. Get the calls right.

Scott Boras: Conflict of interest for agent to become GM

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Earlier, Craig wrote about the latest in the Mets’ search for a new general manager. Their list has been pared down to three candidates: Chaim Bloom (Rays senior VP of baseball operations), Doug Melvin (Brewers senior advisor), and agent Brodie Van Wagenen (of Creative Artists Agency).

It’s a diverse list, for sure, which makes one wonder what process allowed them to arrive at these final three candidates. Bloom is new school, Melvin is older-school, and Van Wagenen is… just inexperienced. Van Wagenen in particular is an interesting candidate as he has spent years advocating on his clients’ behalf. As a GM, he would do the exact opposite: he would try to take advantage of his players whenever possible, like every other GM in baseball does (e.g. manipulating service time).

Per Mike Puma of the New York Post, agent Scott Boras thinks there would be a conflict of interest if an agent were to become a GM. Boras, in fact, says he has turned down opportunities to lead front offices. But there is no verbiage saying that an agent must divest himself of his business interests before taking a job in a front office. Dave Stewart and Jeff Moorad are two examples of agents who later went onto the ownership side of the business. Stewart, in fact, moved into the front office after retiring and held various roles in with various organizations until he started Sports Management Partners (renamed Stewart Management Partners). He transferred control of the agency to Dave Henderson before he joined the Diamondbacks’ front office near the end of the 2014 season.

Ownership and labor are in constant conflict, even when things seem peaceful. Ownership wants to extract as much labor as possible as cheaply as possible. Labor wants to be paid for their work as much as possible. Their goals contradict each other and yet they need each other. While not required, usually being deeply on one side or the other — as agents and GM’s are — speaks to one’s personal ethos about the eternal tug-of-war. That Van Wagenen is so eager to switch sides speaks, perhaps, to opportunism. I would be, at minimum, unsettled if I were a client of Wan Wagenen’s at CAA. How might he use the sensitive information he was privy to as an agent to his advantage as a GM?

We have seen the analytics wave take over front offices around baseball. As ownership looks for ever more ways to pocket more cash, Van Wagenen’s candidacy may signal an upcoming wave of agents transitioning into front office roles. Hopefully that doesn’t become the case. There may be no one better equipped to take advantage of labor than someone experienced on that side of the battlefield.