Bud Selig talks PEDs, replay and competitive balance

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Tom Verducci has an exclusive interview with Bud Selig and asked him about PEDs, replay, competitive balance and his legacy in the game. Takeaways: (1) he’s definitely retiring after 2014; (2) he denies that baseball turned a blind eye to PEDs; rather he was surprised by it and then the union fought testing; (3) he simply changed his mind about replay; and (4) he’s proud of what has happened to competitive balance in the game.

I think serious issue can be taken with his account of the history of PEDs in baseball. Veducci pressed him a couple of times and it caused Selig to admit some things. And while I have no doubt about Selig’s personal ignorance of PEDs — he tells a story about how he had his pharmacist explain Andro to him — I wasn’t aware that the entirety of Major League Baseball’s knowledge and action with respect to PEDs was contingent on the personal knowledge of an aging and physically-detached-from-the-clubhouse commissioner. Baseball as an institution turned a blind eye and it seems impossible for Selig to deny that.

As for replay, I wish Verducci asked him about why it needs to be a challenge system, but I don’t suppose Selig would have much to say beyond deferring to the expertise of his commission on the matter.

It’s hard to take any issue with Selig’s final summation of his legacy:

if you look at where we were in 1992 in terms of attendance, revenue, popularity, game itself, competitive balance, labor peace, go on and on, I think the last 21, 22 years of baseball have been really remarkably good. But I’ve got to let others draw those conclusions.

That’s undeniably true. We can and should note when good things happen despite bad decisions and when better things could have or may be achieved rather than merely good, but it’s hard to argue that the game is worse off now than it was when Selig took over.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.