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Mark Melancon thinks Lewis Brinson ‘disrespected the game’

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The Marlins and Giants have some bad blood with each other. On Monday, closer Hunter Strickland had a meltdown, blowing a save after allowing three runs to the Marlins in the top of the ninth. Lewis Brinson drove in the tying run with a single. He could be seen flipping his bat and yelling something in excitement on his way to first base. Brinson ended up advancing to third before Strickland was pulled from the game. On his way out, Strickland started yapping at Brinson. In the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger and broke his hand. The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a first-pitch fastball, which led to Dan Straily hitting Buster Posey.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Giants reliever Mark Melancon went on KNBR’s Tolbert and Lund to talk about Brinson’s behavior. Here’s what he said:

My perspective was that he was disrespecting the game. I’m all for being excited and being happy you got a base hit there. There’s nothing wrong with that. But holding the bat out too long and flipping the bat, then rounding first and continuing to jaw. To me, it looked like he was looking right at Strickland. That’s just showing a guy up and it’s not needed. You know? Be happy, celebrate with the team. Do it right. But don’t rub it anybody’s face. That’s not the right way to go about it.

For what it’s worth, Strickland didn’t say much about the incident after Monday’s game. Via KNBR:

If players celebrating upsets the Giants so much that one of their players gets angry, punches a door, and breaks his hand, perhaps it’s unhealthy for them to focus on such behavior. Take a new philosophical approach so that your players don’t unnecessarily wind up on the disabled list for long chunks of time.

Brinson is 24 years old and hitting .180 in his first full major league season. Of course he’s going to be pumped up when he gets a big hit. Let the players have fun rather than policing their behavior. Maybe it’ll help bring fans back to the ballpark.

Tony Clark thinks front offices have too much of an impact on baseball

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Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post spoke to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, who said he feels that front offices have too much of an impact on the game of baseball. Clark said, “You hear players saying it’s even hard to recognize how the game is being played. If those on the field see it and experience it, then those who are watching it will notice, too. It’s not to suggest I don’t like home runs or strikeouts or walks. I like all those things. But I also like more of the strategy and the dynamics that have always determined the outcomes in our games.”

Clark continued, “The decisions that are being made are changing the game. When you’re in a climate where the decisions about how the game is being played are being made less by the players who are playing and the coaches and managers who are coaching and managing it, we find ourselves in a climate that seems to be focused in on what everybody’s calling the three true outcomes: the home run, the strikeout and the walk. I would argue that there are two true outcomes: whether you win or you lose. … I’m not saying data is a bad thing. I’m saying it’s morphed our game and its focus quite a bit.”

Clark also discussed tanking, saying, “This isn’t a player problem. It’s reflective, I believe, of very deliberate business decisions. Players as a whole compete on every pitch and every at-bat. Our industry is predicated on competition from the top down. … What it appears that we are seeing in that regard is teams withdrawing from that competition for seasons at a time. It becomes challenging when it’s more than a couple of teams that are going that route, whereby you have a considerable chasm between those that are competing at one level and those that are competing at another.”

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021, so the union and the owners will have three more years of talking about these issues before they are concretely addressed. The tanking issue seems like it will almost certainly be addressed.

Clark’s concern over the impact of front offices may not be misplaced, but it’s difficult to envision any kind of rule making a difference. Limit what data teams can access? Centralize the data? The “scienceification” of baseball, if you will, was an inevitability, an evolution. In order to go in a different direction, the game will need to evolve again. Trying to tamp down data usage in baseball is akin to playing whack-a-mole with various ways with which teams will find advantages over other teams.

Major League Baseball could try to cut into the ever-increasing three true outcomes rate by changing certain things about the game without touching the data. Back in 1969, the pitcher’s mound was lowered to encourage more offense. In a similar vein, to encourage more doubles and triples and fewer home runs, stadiums could be adjusted to have the fences back to a certain distance (e.g. at least 340 feet down the lines, 410 in center). The pitcher’s mound could be moved back a few inches, lessening the impact of higher velocity, which has been a big factor in the ever-increasing strikeout rate. There are surely other ideas that smart people can come up with to bring the game towards a more active, enjoyable experience. We still have three years to go so we’ll certainly be seeing some interesting suggestions.