Jan 28

Manfred Must Shift From This Issue

That Rob Manfred is even thinking of it should give pause to any baseball fan, or at least one who considers themselves traditionalists.

MANFRED: Shift not an issue.

MANFRED: Shift not an issue.

There’s no such thing as perfection, and certainly baseball is not without flaws. However, use of a defensive shift isn’t one of them. Manfred, who succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner, in an effort to increase scoring is contemplating outlawing defensive shifts.

Baseball defenses have implemented shifts for years, dating back to Ted Williams if not before. Williams was good enough, and smart enough, to beat the shift.

Many of today’s players are not. Many frustrated by the shift have complained and privately lobbied to outlaw it. If Manfred manages to do this he would be rewarding players for incompetence and not being able to do their job.

Run production has gradually declined in recent years and a knee-jerk reaction has it being attributable to an increase in shifts. Funny, but did anybody connected with Major League Baseball ever think that might be because of a decline in steroid usage?

Of course, this logic would be an admission of the steroid era, one of the black marks of Selig’s tenure.

How many runs do shifts take away is debatable, but I’m willing to bet offenses are more stagnant because too many hitters simply don’t know how to hit. They are too preoccupied with pulling the ball and not using the entire field; they aren’t interested in working the count and drawing walks to increase their on-base percentage; and perhaps above all, they are enamored with the home run and don’t care about strikeouts.

So, what’s next if shifts are outlawed? Could baseball legislate what pitches must be thrown on specific counts? Or, how about telling outfielders how deep they can play, or ban corner infielders from guarding the lines late in the game? What about giving a hitter four strikes instead of three?

There are so many things Major League Baseball could do if it wants to improve the product on the field, but banning shifts is not one of them.

All too often, the stewards of the sport remind me of a man who can’t resist poking the coals of a barbeque to fan the flames. It’s really a great sport, with its biggest problem all those trying to needlessly trying to “improve’’ it.

Jan 18

Selig Rewards Wilpon For Not Spending

This blog gets many comments imploring Major League Baseball to force the Wilpons to sell the Mets. I said it will never happen, and the recent move by MLB to name Fred Wilpon to chair the Finance Committee underscores that position.

We should remember while Bud Selig is commissioner, he is first and foremost a former owner. His roots are in ownership and that’s where his sentiment lies.

Selig is tight with Wilpon, always has been and probably always will be. Selig isn’t interested in the Mets increasing their payroll. His position as commissioner has always been to reduce payroll and that’s exactly what Wilpon has done with the Mets.

Basically, Selig rewarded Wilpon for not spending.

Wilpon has run the Mets the way Selig would if he were owner. Wilpon has been a good soldier for Selig, and for that, has been rewarded.

Surprised?

Dec 19

Report Has Selig Getting $6 Million Annually

An ESPN report, although not confirmed by Major League Baseball, has departing commissioner Bud Selig receiving an annual $6 million salary.

SELIG: Nice parting gift.

SELIG: Nice parting gift.

While I have no problem with MLB spending as it chooses, I find it hypocritical as the driving force of Selig’s tenure was to cut player salaries. From free agency to arbitration, Selig – always an owner at heart – acted like he had to pay each contract.

Don’t forget, Selig’s legacy includes forcing the 1994 work stoppage that lead to the killing of the World Series that year. Selig’s hardball stance called for a salary cap and revenue sharing.

The stoppage lasted through the following spring, which featured replacement players.

The damage from this labor conflict lead to bleeding losses by MLB, which it tried to fix with fabricated home run races and the steroid era. Yes, friends, that’s courtesy of Selig and the owners.

Unquestionably, MLB is enjoying its most lucrative era in history and Selig merits some praise in this windfall.

Again, its MLB’s money and it can do with it what it chooses. But, let’s not overlook the hypocrisy in Selig’s tenure. That’s also part of his legacy.

Jan 11

Rodriguez Suspension Reduced; Case Not Closed

As usually is the case with Alex Rodriguez, there is no last word. Just because arbitrator Frederic Horowitz reduced his unprecedented 211-game suspension for violation of MLB’s drug policy to 162 games.

Up next is a date in federal court. After that, who knows? Could this go to the Supreme Court?

Rodriguez won’t let this thing go, and he says it is more than about the $25 million missing 2014 will cost him.

While how Rodriguez has handled himself hasn’t endeared himself to many, and because he previously admitted using steroids prior to MLB’s PED policy, there’s little reason to believe he hasn’t used them since.

That’s not the issue.

The issue, says Rodriguez, is about fairness and his legacy. There is some degree of truth to the fairness argument.

According to the drug policy, Rodriguez’s admission wouldn’t be used against him. And, since there was no failed drug test, where did Bud Selig get the original 211 games. Seems like an arbitrary figure only because it is.

The first offense is 50 games, followed by 100. The first offense doesn’t have to be a failed test, but could be something like being linked to steroids, such as appearing on the Biogenesis list.

Even so, 13 other players, including Ryan Braun, were also on the Biogenesis list as supplied by founder Anthony Bosch. Braun failed a drug test last year, but got off on a technicality. According to the agreement, Braun would get 100 games, but was only tagged for 65.

Everybody else got 50. But, Rodriguez? He got 211.

Selig never explained his reasoning, nor did he seem fit to explain in during the arbitration process. Selig wasn’t obligated to appear, but if he felt so strongly about his decision, he should have been there to tell his story.

Part of that story, undoubtedly, would have been to explain how Selig and Major League Baseball obtained its evidence, which was purchased from Bosch after he refused to relinquish his materials.

Part of MLB’s grievance against Rodriguez was he attempted to do the same, but with the intent of destroying the documents.

So, MLB is punishing Rodriguez for trying to do what it did. Seems highly hypocritical.

How Selig arrived at 211 games is arbitrary and smells of the witch-hunt Rodriguez asserts.

We know the steroid era was borne out of MLB turning its head to what was going on in the game – giving tacit approval to the needle, the clear and the cream – as to put fannies in the seats to watch phony home run races.

It seemed like every time Rodriguez flaunted Selig’s authority it cost him games. There was nothing consistent to how Selig dealt with Rodriguez as opposed to the others given up by Bosch.

This inconsistency, coupled with MLB’s buying out of Bosch, smacks of bias and unfairness. That the arbitrator cut into Selig’s 211 games indicates he felt the original penalty was over the top.

Look, I want steroids out of the game as much as anybody. More than most. But, I want it done the right way and I don’t believe MLB has handled the Rodriguez case the right way.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Oct 26

World Series Return To St. Louis Reminder Of MLB Gimmicks

Can you imagine in the NBA finals with the team holding the home court advantage being allowed to shoot a three-point shot while the other is not? Can you imagine one team in the Super Bowl allowed to go for a two-point conversion while the other is not?

However, Major League Baseball continues on with its inane designated-hitter rule, which is a blatant advantage to the National League. It defines unfairness, and with it also reminds us of some of the issues that takes away from the sport.

Whether you are for the Red Sox or not, you must admit the unfairness of them being denied an aspect of their game that they played with all season.

That’s just one more aspect of how MLB devalues its most valuable entity, which is the World Series. Another is the decision to award home field to the league that wins the totally unrelated exhibition otherwise known as the World Series.

For nearly a century home field was determined on a rotating basis. To go away from tradition to boost the sagging interest of the All-Star Game, brought on by the gimmick of interleague play is part of the legacy of Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner.

This is one of the rare seasons when the teams with the best record in each league reached the World Series. Now that they are here, it doesn’t seem right a gimmick, a fad, could dictate the winner.

Why leave it to chance?  Either both leagues play with the designated hitter or they do not. Stop with the fads and let the best part of your game – the World Series – shine.

And, do it at a time of night that enables tomorrow’s fans, and ticket buyers, to stay up to watch. It’s a great game and everything should be done to take care of it and show it in its proper light, with none of these detracting issues.