Invasion of the Job Seekers

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Everyone who goes to the Winter Meetings knows who the Job Seekers are. They’re the black and navy suit-clad twentysomethings wearing badges that actually say “Job Seeker” on them. They’re there for the Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities job fair. They pay a couple hundred dollars for the privilege of applying for a shockingly small number of low-paying jobs somewhere in professional baseball. You see them sitting for interviews at various tables in and around the hotel. You see them walking around in packs, trying to get up the nerve to talk to managers, assistant general managers and broadcasters. If you’re wearing a badge of your own — like “media” — you see them look down at it as they pass you by and then quickly move on when they realize that you can’t help them become the next general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

I’ve always been fascinated by The Job Seekers, but I’ve never actually sat and talked to any of them at length. Jeb Lund did, however, and he wrote a wonderful story about The Job Seekers and the odds and absurdities they face over at SB Nation. The odds?

When I walk away to talk to the next guy, or girl, or the next one after that, I’m struck by how many broadly impressive resumes are here. They often have wildly divergent credentials, but all sound perfectly reasonable — insistent, almost — as qualification for any baseball job. Worse, their end goal of running a baseball team means that they are all trying to fast-track to one of only 30 such jobs in the world. To put this in perspective: There are three times as many available United States Senate positions, and the qualifications for them are vastly lower.

The absurdities? Dealing with John Kruk, for example. Or paying over $1,000 when it’s all said and done in order to maybe — maybe — grab a $17K a year internship that probably has you moving to Idaho or somewhere like it.

It’s a great read. Go check it out.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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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.