Oct 06

Ump Holbrook Blows Call To Cost Braves; MLB Needs Replay

Chipper Jones was right, the Braves didn’t lose to the Cardinals in the wild-card play-in game because of umpire Sam Holbrook’s horrendous infield fly call. Then again, it didn’t help and this game will forever be known as the “Infield Fly Rule Game.”

Jones made a critical error and the Braves committed three overall, but they had a chance to overcome them when they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Or so, everybody but Holbrook thought.

Another historic bad call.

Andrelton Simmons lofted a pop-up to left field – measured later at 225 feet from home plate — which landed perhaps ten feet behind retreating shortstop Pete Kozma and incoming left fielder Matt Holliday. Neither could have reached the ball with an all-out dive.

Kozma veered off at the last second, as if Holliday had called him off.

The rule states an infield fly would be called if the defensive player could have made the play with “an ordinary effort,” and must be made in a timely manner to inform the runners of the out and to allow them to advance at their own risk after tagging up.

Kozma’s feet never stopped moving, and when he veered off he actually ran away from the ball. This action alone is enough to show he had no intention of deceiving the runners, who never retreated to their bases.

That Holbrook, the additional umpire down the left field line, made the call directly in front of him should tell you Kozma was so far out that it wasn’t an ordinary play. It should have been the third base umpire’s call, but these guys rarely change a call. They don’t want to show up their partners.

In addition, Holbrook made the call late, with the ball on its downward flight.

All this can be seen on replay.

Later, Holbrook saw the replay and lamely defended the call, saying: “Once that fielder established himself, he got ordinary effort. That’s when the call was made.”

Trouble is, Kozma never established himself. He never stopped moving and his last movement was away from the play.

Don’t know what Holbrook was looking at either time. Other umpires have blown calls and at least had the class to admit they missed the call. Not Holbrook.

The Braves’ appeal to MLB was denied by executive Joe Torre, as was expected. With the expanded playoffs, there’s no time to wait another day to resume play if the appeal was granted. Never mind getting it right.

Torre’s decision was based on that it was a judgment call, but this was bad judgment by Holbrook. Plain and simple, he blew the call and not one analyst said otherwise. In fact, an ESPN poll had 69 percent respond this was an even worse call than the interception at the end of the Seattle-Green Bay game.

That’s hard to believe.

I understand the concept of an umpire’s judgment, but this was bad all around. Holbrook had no sense of what was going on. The rule is designed to not deceive the runners, but both Holliday and Kozma were so far away from the ball they never had the chance. Kozma’s actions alone would dictate this not being a normal call.

The technology is so good today that instant replay should be expanded to allow blown calls not decide playoff games. I’m tired of seeing games decided by incompetence. Not when there’s a vehicle for getting it right.

Play was stopped for 19 minutes as the grounds crew cleared the field of litter thrown from the stands. There’s no excuse for such behavior. There’s also no excuse for such a bad call.

 

Dec 14

More Bay watching ….

The Mets believe they’ll get a handle on the Jason Bay landscape toward the end of the week. One thing is clear, the Mets’ initial offer of $65 million over four years won’t be enough to get it done.

If their offer is the Mets “real” evaluation of Bay, then they’ll have to overpay to get the 31-year-old outfielder. A guaranteed fifth year could get it done, as Bay’s agent has said there’s a fifth year offer from an unnamed team on the table.

The Mets prefer Matt Holliday, but he’s a Scott Boras client and it will be closer to $100 million to get him. The Red Sox are also considering Holliday. Boston’s offer is a four-year, $60-million package. The Red Sox say they won’t go higher, but that seems like posturing to me.

The Mets haven’t heard from Bay on their offer. GM Omar Minaya said he’s also going to look at his non-tendered options, which include Cincinnati’s Jonny Gomes and Oakland’s Jack Cust, who hit 20 and 25 homers, respectively last year.

Another power option – and a cheaper alternative to bringing back Carlos Delgado at first – is San Francisco’s Ryan Garko.

Dec 07

If money were no object ….

If the Mets didn’t have to worry about the cost factor, then all right, go for Matt Holliday and John Lackey, get Jason Marquis, too. It doesn’t work that way. The Mets, which contrary to popular opinion, aren’t a cheap organization.

You don’t build stadiums and have the one of the highest payrolls in the game if you’re cheap. But, the Mets are proceeding with caution on the dollar front. None of the big three – Holliday, Bay and Lackey – will be at Citi this summer in the home whites.

Not happening.

Nov 20

Let the frenzy begin ….

Today is the first day teams are able to negotiate with free agents. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely coincidental that Commissioner Bud Selig came out with the announcement several teams lost money.

The market is open.

The market is open.


I don’t believe it for a second. I don’t because the owners have always cried poverty yet continue to spend. The owners have also never been willing to let a neutral third party audit their books. Then again, you could cook the books any way you want.

The three top free agents are John Lackey, Matt Holiday and Jason Bay.

Bay has already turned down the Red Sox, but you knew that was just posturing for the market to open so there’s competition to drive up the price.

The Mets say they will spend and I believe them. I just don’t believe they’ll spend enough to land Holliday or Lackey. I would be stunned to see either as a Met. But, I also don’t believe they aren’t willing to make a splash.

Regardless of whether the market came back to them or not, the Mets did bring in Johan Santana and signed him to a $137.5 million extension two winters ago. Last year, they spent $36 million for Francisco Rodriguez.

In previous seasons, they spent for Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. Remember, their payroll was on the MLB’s highest. The problem, is they haven’t gotten the return on their money.
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Nov 17

What’s the Holliday market?

Is the market for Matt Holliday shrinking?

With recent reports the Yankees and Angels, thought to be two of the more financially resourceful teams interested in Holliday supposedly turning their attention inwards, the market remains in flux.

HOLLIDAY: What is the market?

HOLLIDAY: What is the market?


The Yankees would like to retain their own free-agents, which would include left fielder Johnny Damon. The Angels, meanwhile, said their interest is re-signing John Lackey and Chone Figgins. Prior to today’s report in the Los Angeles Times, the Angels appeared lukewarm in wanting to bring back Lackey.
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