Nothing is ever easy in Bud Selig’s America. Nothing other than stacking dollars as your franchise equity makes you increasingly rich, that is. In Bud Selig’s America, it always seems to be a case of one step forward, one step backward, and one step sideways into a inescapable morass of misery and bad PR.
Yesterday, MLB announced its approval of an overhauled replay system. Hooray, the plebes shouted! A step in the right direction, the scribes noted! A welcome change from the biggest lumbering dinosaur in the sporting world, the cynics tutted.
But, as always when Bud and the boys get their fingers in the pie, it isn’t so simple.
Rather than proceeding with a clear “get the calls right” mandate, baseball seems wary of the wrath of the umpires union and followed a “make this process as pointless as possible” mandate. To wit:
The replay will include up to three challenges that mangers will be provided during a game, one in the first six innings, and two beginning in the seventh inning through the game’s duration. If a manager is successful with his replay challenge, he will not be charged with a review.
If a manager exhausts his three challenges, and umpire crew can make a review of its own only to determine home run calls, a rule that will be grandfathered in with the new regulations.
Challenges, really? Look, I realize the NFL makes money hand over fist but is this really the best avenue to ape their monolithic style? Challenges?
Tony LaRussa told us that after polling MLB Managers most did NOT want MGR's to have challenges. Did it anyway because they felt best way
— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) August 15, 2013
This replay system still must pass through approval by both the players and the umps, so there is a certain amount of retooling or revamping that could occur between now and actual implementation. And it IS an improvement over the current system, he stated obviously.
I tend to agree with Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs: the focus appears more on the “time of game” concerns rather than the “butchered calls” concerns. Which, as does everything, comes back to consumer confidence. MLB hears the steady stream of complaints regarding the length of games and heeds them just as closely as worries about the integrity of the game.
If expanded replay — handled as ham-fistedly we would expect — is the carrot for baseball fans, the latest chapter in the ARod/Biogenesis saga is the stick.
Which is juuuuussstttt delightful! Just when it looked as though this odious mess couldn’t get any worse, now we have suggestions that ARod “obtained and leaked documents” implicated Ryan Braun and his teammate in New York, Francisco Cervelli.
Law-talkin’ Craiggers has more insight as to what this might mean for Rodriguez, while I will just throw my hands up in disgust…again.
This scandal continues to dominate the baseball discussion, which is such a total bummer I can’t even deal. For all the amazing, exciting things going on in the baseball world, Alex Rodriguez is easy money and the coverage reflects it. The coverage shapes the conversation and the conversation among “casual fans” shapes the leagues desire to stamp it out once and for all.
Sigh. So rather than celebrate a (tiny) step in the right direction with video replay while admiring the exploits of the Pirates and A’s and Jose Fernandez and Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw and Matt Harvey and Miguel fucking Cabrera, more ink is spilled over a two-bit rat with millions on the line. Worst. Make it go away.
And the rest
Here’s a worthwhile question to ask: did PEDs actually help Alex Rodriguez? [Sweetspot]
Always worth digging into Parkes’ take on the subject [Fanatico]
The San Diego Padres, where opposing pitcher highlights happen
Branch freaking Rickey, y’all. A must for history buffs. [CBC Archives]
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 15, 2013
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 15, 2013
Wil Myers loves snakes, I assume.
Wil Myers Face pic.twitter.com/vsJvMLqOI1
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) August 16, 2013
Next level home run celebration [Big League Stew]
John Farrell on bullpen management [WEEI]
Kolton Wong is movin’ on up to the big leagues, joining the St. Louis Cardinals to play…somewhere? [Cardinals.com]
— NOT BUSTER OLNEY (@TRIPPINGOLNEY) August 16, 2013
You know how you read about the term “regression” from time to time, usually when the author means to use “decline”? Regression isn’t shorthand for “gets worse”. Take Mike Trout’s batting average on balls in play. He hits tons of line drives and his one of the fastest runners in baseball, he is going to post very high BABIPs for the next little while.
Take a look at his BABIP for this season. It has gone up as the season’s progressed. Up and up and up. Weird. Awesome.