Oct 24

Game 1 Of World Series Overcomes Bad Call, But Raises Issues

Maybe Jon Lester cheated in Game 1; maybe he did not. It makes for an interesting fodder and falls in line as to what is reviewable and what is not regarding expanded instant replay beginning next season.

Overturning a call by replay such as Dana DeMuth’s horrible one last night is not allowable within the current structure, and the Cardinals would have a legitimate beef had the umpires convened to watch the replay on a monitor.

Getting it right. (Getty)

Getting it right. (Getty)

However, one umpire – in this case, five – overturning a bad call is permitted and the umpires absolutely handled it properly in agreeing with Boston manager John Farrell for DeMuth to get a second opinion. Umpires should be applauded for seeking help. They shouldn’t think they are being shown up, but that the crew is working in concert.

Raised from last night’s first inning is the method of a manager challenging a call. Currently, the challenges are limited, but that’s not an efficient or fair format.

Whether a central monitoring system established in New York similar to how the NHL’s format is in Toronto, or have a fifth umpire in the press box who can buzz down to the crew chief seems preferable than the manager challenging from the dugout.

For one thing, an executive monitoring upstairs has an immediate picture of the play and can contact the crew chief. The manager, in this case Farrell, instantly knew it was a bad decision and bolted from the dugout as if he had a jetpack.

All plays won’t be that way and it is easy to envision a manager challenging based on his player’s reaction to the call. Players aren’t always right, they often go by emotion, and challenges could be wasted early. Presumably, this could be offset with a direct link to the dugout from the press box, similar to how a NFL coach is buzzed to throw the challenge flag.

Having an immediate set of fifth eyes would likely take less time and improve the flow of the game. Major League Baseball is always moaning about game length and this method is better. Presumably, under the new system everything but balls and strikes would be under review, which is the way to go.

Today’s umpiring is flawed, but I don’t know if it is any worse than what we had 10, 20 years ago. However, the technology is so much better and points out things missed in earlier decades. That should lead to a system that in the interest of fairness, the camera/review format should be the same for a Tuesday night June game in Milwaukee as it is in the World Series. Granted, there are more cameras for the Series, but having a designated number of cameras in specific locations can alleviate this.

More cameras and establishing a better review system costs money, but I don’t want to hear it. This is a multi-billion a year industry. There’s plenty of money to invest in getting it right.

What would have been fascinating was to mike the umpires the way FOX did Joe West in the ALCS. To hear that conversation between the five umpires in Game 1 would have been priceless television.

Fortunately, they got the call right, which is the ultimate objective. I can only imagine DeMuth assumed Pete Kozma made the transfer and was only watching his feet. That leads to a fair criticism about umpiring and assuming the outcome of a play. DeMuth was in position and looking at the call; he just didn’t make the proper decision.

If the intent is to get the play right, then why is there such thing as a neighborhood play, which surfaced earlier in the playoffs? If it is allowed in the interest of player safety, then modify the sliding rules. We also see too many instances of a runner called out simply because a throw beat him to the bag. These calls frequently show an umpire out of position.

But, and this is most important: Baseball is more black-and-white than other sports. Either a player is safe or he is out; it is either a strike or it is not.

That purity should be emphasized in spring training as it is in the World Series. I’m tired of hearing the phrase, “you just don’t make that call in the World Series,’’ just as I was Sunday when I heard “you don’t make that call in overtime on a 56-yard field goal attempt.”

Why the hell not? Out or safe; fair or foul. Just get it right. If it is a rule, then apply it equally regardless of situation.

That should also include balls and strikes, as the idea of each umpire having his own interpretation of the rules is ridiculous. This isn’t figure skating in the Olympics when the Russian judge screws the American skater with prejudice. The rulebook lists a definition of what is a strike. Just get it right.

Luckily, regardless of how the play was ruled, Mike Napoli doubled in enough runs to where it wouldn’t matter to the helpless Cardinals. The Cardinals played a terrible game, and fortunately for all involved, DeMuth’s call added drama but did not decide the outcome.

As for whether Lester used a substance on the ball or not won’t be known. Under expanded replay we could only hope the observer in the press box would have the authority to order the crew chief to examine a pitcher’s glove if he sees something on the monitor. Presumably, the umpires will have their eyes on Lester when he pitches next in St. Louis.

The fans have the right to believe what they see on the field is legitimate, which is why MLB has such stiff penalties on gambling and performance-enhancing-drugs. There should be a similarity when it comes to on-the-field cheating. Doctoring the ball isn’t gamesmanship, it is cheating and the penalty should be severe.

 

 

 

 

Apr 15

Can’t anybody here play this game?

My title is one of Casey Stengel’s most memorable quotes and is applicable to how this season has started for the Mets. Yesterday’s doubleheader loss, coming hours after Terry Collins’ closed doors meeting, was a study in bad baseball.

CASEY: What would he think of this?

It made me wonder what would have happened had the Mets not focused on fundamentals during spring training.

From the outfield defense – what were you thinking Scott Hairston? – to Brad Emaus butchering a  ball at second, to the Daniel Murphy’s inexplicable baserunning, to the lack of clutch hitting and pitching, the day was a complete washout.

They were competitive, but still lost. The Mets have not learned to put away a team – they lead in every game of the four games they lost to Colorado – from either an offensive or pitching perspective.

Talent-wise, we knew going into the season that the Mets didn’t have enough to compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NL East, but I, like most, bought into Collins’ emphasis on fundamentals.

It just hasn’t happened, and had they been able to execute fundamentally on defense and at the plate, they might have overcome some of their pitching weaknesses. It hasn’t happened that way.

What was Murphy thinking trying to go to third from second on a ball hit in front of him? He clearly lost track of the outs. How hard is it to count to three? Hairston’s effort on that fly ball was weak. A veteran like that needs to show more.

Bottom line: Game 1 never should have come down to David Wright’s fly ball to the warning track.

As much as baseball is a team sport, it is also an individual one. Before each pitch, a player should know what his responsibilities should be. And, prior to each at-bat, he should know what his objective should be, such has hitting a fly ball or advancing a runner.

These guys have coaches to remind them, but their objective is something they should have long since known since high school ball. It’s not Collins or the coaches, it is them. They should know to hit a ground ball to the right side with a runner on second and no outs. They should know not to chase on 2-0 at the plate. They should know where to position themselves and what base to throw to. They should know whether or not they should run depending on where the ball is hit.

And, at the plate, they should have better command of the strikezone and know how to work a walk. Again, not enough walks and too many strikeouts.

These are major league players and they should show more beyond their skill set.

And, I haven’t begun to think about the pitching, which has been atrocious. By the way, my confidence level on D.J. Carrasco tonight in Atlanta isn’t good. When Tuesday’s game was rained out and the Mets knew they had a doubleheader yesterday, and definitely when Chris Young was pushed back, they should have held back one of their minor league starters.

The bullpen was taxed already, even prior to the doubleheader, and realistically they will go deep into their pen with Carrasco pitching (considering he’s one of the relievers). Also, with Mike Pelfrey not showing much so far and Young’s arm tender, they will use everybody this weekend.

Not a good job anticipating by Sandy Alderson and Collins.

However, after yesterday’s lost afternoon, the one thing that separates itself from the bad baseball was the use of Francisco Rodriguez in the second game. With the game out of reach, and knowing Rodriguez’s contractual status of needing 55 completed games for his $17.5 million to kick in, why would the Mets let him finish a game in a non-save situation?

It made no sense whatsoever.

 

 

 

 

Jun 10

Mets Chat Room: A long day at Citi Field.

Maybe the Mets will score for him today. The Mets, winners of nine straight home games, haven’t been supportive of their ace.

Games #59/60 vs. Padres

Johan Santana has been marvelous, throwing 15 straight scoreless innings over his last two starts, but having nothing to show for it. In his last start, he threw seven scoreless at San Diego, but the Mets went on to lose 5-1 in 11 innings.

Santana’s ERA over his last five games is 0.74, but the Mets have given him two or fewer runs in four of them. Santana has four victories, but with a little support he could have eight. Easy.

Santana will start Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader at Citi Field and Jon Niese will start the second game.

Continue reading

Apr 05

April 5.10: Chat Room, Game #1, Opening Day, vs. Marlins

There should be no pressure on Opening Day, but that’s not the case with Jerry Manuel, who was thrust under the microscope the day after the 2009 season ended when COO Jeff Wilpon said he expected better things this season from his manager and GM Omar Minaya. And, with 16 of their first 22 games at home, there an even greater sense of urgency to get off to a fast start.

And, that fast start start has to come without Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, and with a suspect rotation.

“We need to get off to a good start but what we need more is consistency and so to merely focus on a good start is not enough,” said Manuel, who knows a slow start could doom him before the All-Star break.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be the case, but the Mets were 70-92 last season following two late-season collapses.

The season is underway, so let’s talk about it. I plan to blog the games with you as I have the last three seasons, and hope this time we’re talking late into October.

Here’s today’s line-up vs. Josh Johnson of the Marlins:

Alex Cora, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B,
David Wright, 3B
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Gary Matthews, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LP

Don’t forget to go to the previous thread to post your favorite Opening Day memories.