Jan 16

Expanded Instant Replay Is Approved By Owners

A new era in baseball is upon us after the owners today unanimously approved expansion of instant replay at their meetings in Arizona. Considering the constant criticism of umpiring today, I’m all for this decision.

It might have to be modified somewhat in the number of challenges allowed to managers, or even if the decision to review might come from an umpire in the replay center, similar to how replays are automatically reviewed in the NFL after scoring plays and turnovers.

Currently managers are allowed only one challenge through the first six innings. After that, the umpires would initiate the challenges. If the umpires can challenge after the seventh inning, then why not before then?

Of all sports, baseball might be the most conducive to replay because much of the action is located at fixed positions, such as the bases and plate, the outfield fences and foul lines.

In addition to home runs, replay will be applied to:
• Ground-rule double

• Fan interference

• Stadium boundary calls

• Force play*

• Tag play

• Fair/foul in outfield only

• Trap play in outfield only

• Batter hit by pitch

• Timing play

• Touching a base (requires appeal)

• Passing runners

• Record keeping

What won’t be reviewable is the “neighborhood plays’’ at second base, which really would be the easiest to review.

MLB executive and former manager Tony LaRussa, who helped design the new system, estimated up to 90 percent of potential calls are reviewable.

“We’re really [targeting] the dramatic miss,’’ La Russa said, “not all misses.’’

One of the potential flaws in this system is managers could use challenges as a way to stall for time to allow a reliever to get ready in the bullpen. However, managers have found ways to stall for over 100 years, so perhaps that’s not such a big deal in the long run.

What I’m not crazy about is limiting the number of challenges, because after all, there could be more than one play that is close enough to be reviewed.

Given that, I wouldn’t mind having the umpire crew in the replay center in New York, buzzing the crew chief to say a play is under review.

However, this is better than what we’ve had in recent years.

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

 

Dec 09

Joe Torre Goes Into Hall Of Fame; Joined by Tony La Russa And Bobby Cox

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -  Joe Torre hoped it would happen, but he never dared think it would. The former New York Mets player and manager, who later carved his legacy as four-time World Series manager of the Yankees, was selected to the Hall of Fame today by the veteran’s committee.

The announcement was made at the Walt Disney Swan resort hotel in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Torre will go in with fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox. All three won over 2,000 games and World Series titles. All three are incredibly deserving.

TORRE: Former Met goes into Hall of Fame.

TORRE: Former Met goes into Hall of Fame.

Also deserving, but left out were Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whom Torre said, “changed my life for giving me that opportunity,’’ and Marvin Miller, the former director of the Players Association.

As much as friends told Torre – who currently works in the commissioner’s office – his nomination was a given, he never let his mind wander there.

“That’s what they said when we were up 3-0 against the Red Sox, and looked what happened,’’ said Torre of the Yankees’ infamous collapse in the 2004 ALCS. “As much as I would have like it to happen, I never obsessed over it.’’

Torre has little to say about his time with the Mets other than, “I started with the Mets when they weren’t spending anything,’’ and that he wasn’t the manager for two weeks when the club dealt Tom Seaver to Cincinnati.

Torre, a lifetime .297 hitter, finished his playing career and was named manager shortly thereafter.

Torre, who managed the Mets, Yankees, Braves and Cardinals, won 2,326 games, fifth all time, along with six pennants. He wore his 2003 World Series ring.

While he credited Steinbrenner for the opportunity, he saved his greatest gratitude for his players.

“You can’t win the Kentucky Derby unless you are on a thoroughbred,’’ Torre said of the team that won titles in 1996, 1998-2000. “They had so much heart and backbone.’’

Cox, a former Yankee, managed Toronto and Atlanta, and won the World Series.

“When you’re voted into the Hall of Fame, your life changes,’’ Cox said. “Hopefully, two guys who helped get me here – Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux – will be there with me. … They are the guys who got me here.’’

Glavine – a former Met – and Maddux are 300-game winners, traditionally an automatic ticket to Cooperstown.

La Russa began his managerial career at age 34 with the Chicago White Sox, and blossomed to dugout stardom with Oakland and St. Louis.

“The best way to describe the feeling is `stunned,’ ’’ said La Russa. “I’m not sure I will ever feel comfortable in that club.’’

ON DECK: A trade the Mets should make.

Sep 19

What Can The Mets Do When They Have So Little To Trade?

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets were more likely to build via the trade route than by making a big splash in the free-agent market. Amidst the Ike Davis flap, one must wonder what pieces the Mets have to trade.

When you read between the lines from what Alderson has said, everybody is fair game outside of Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler. There might be more arms down below the Mets would find untouchable, and Jenrry Mejia probably isn’t one of them any more.

Let’s examine several of the higher profile Mets as to their trade worthiness:

DAVID WRIGHT: He’s the one that always comes up first, but it appears the Mets will make a play to keep him. He’s their biggest position-player talent, but his contractual situation would make it difficult to move him. Most teams wouldn’t want to pay Wright’s 2013 salary as a rental without having the opportunity to sign him to an extension first. Trading him in the offseason is highly doubtful, but a team with a lot of resources could do something next year at the trade deadline. Signing Wright to the long-term deal he deserves would be pricey and those are difficult to unload. The situation with the Dodgers was a stroke of luck for the Red Sox.

R.A. DICKEY: Dickey is one reason I’m still watching the season and haven’t moved on to football season entirely and Kevin’s NFL picks. Outside of the young prospects, he’s their most valuable pitching chip. He has a movable contract, and even a contract extension would probably be palatable to another team. Even if Dickey wins the Cy Young Award – now appearing doubtful – there’s the specter of the knuckleball and finding a catcher who can handle the devilish pitch. Despite Dickey’s success, too many people in baseball would shy away at such a pitcher. You don’t have to look any further than Tony La Russa’s decision at the All-Star Game to realize there’s prejudice against the pitch.

JOHAN SANTANA: The Mets’ best hope here is if he makes a full recovery and pitches lights out in the first half. Then you might find a taker for the remaining $12 million or so remaining. Even that’s a lot and there’s always the fear of him breaking down again. The Mets got all they could from Santana before he broke down and would be foolish to think they could get anything more in a trade. His value to the team is to come back strong as he did this year in the first half and pitch them into contention for a wild card.

JON NIESE: He’s young, left-handed with a strong arm and affordable. What’s not to like? He’s the type of pitching talent teams are built around. Yes, he would bring something in return, but the Mets covet him and would be crazy to trade him.

JASON BAY: He’s been injured, non-productive and has a ridiculous contract. He’s not going anywhere.

All this makes Davis the most tradable.

Jul 09

La Russa Snubs Dickey For All-Star Start

Tony La Russa has always been noted for over thinking, and his reasoning for not starting the Mets’ R. A. Dickey probably falls into that category, too.

Word out of Kansas City is Matt Cain will go against Justin Verlander in tomorrow’s All-Star Game. All along the reports are an apprehension for using the knuckleballer with Buster Posey.

“Look, I want to start the game. Of course I do,” Dickey said Sunday. “I think any competitor would like to.”

La Russa’s thinking is faulty if he’s concerned about passed balls and wild pitches. They are potentially far more costly later in the game when your offense has less time to make up a run.

Cain and Posey are teammates, so that makes sense. If Dickey follows a power pitcher such as Cain to throw off the AL hitters, that also makes sense. But, if La Russa’s reasoning in fear, that makes no sense.

The official announcement is expected at a 1:30 p.m. ET news conference.
Jul 06

Reasons Why R.A. Dickey Should Start All-Star Game

There are numerous reasons why R.A. Dickey should start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Kansas City, so it’s hard to understand Tony La Russa not naming him for the honor. He knows the rotation schedule of the other candidates, so what’s he waiting for? If he wants to screw with New York area fans, he’d start A.J. Burnett (9-2), right?

DICKEY: Should star All-Star Game (AP)

Here’s some of the reasons why he should start:

1. At 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA, he has the best record of any NL starter. Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (11-3), St. Louis’ Lance Lynn (11-4) – the obvious choice if La Russa was playing favorites – Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels (10-4) and San Francisco’s Matt Cain (9-3 and a no-hitter) are having the best seasons for a starter. But, Dickey’s recent run is of historic proportions. His recent ten-game winning streak is reminiscent of pitchers like Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson.

2. La Russa’s worry about not having a catcher familiar with catching a knuckleball has some merit, but I’m not completely buying it. If he’s worried about a wild pitch or passed ball costing a run, wouldn’t it be better for that to happen in the first or second innings and not late in the game?

3. Dickey is clearly the pitching curiosity of the first half, in either league. Give the fans what they want. Isn’t that what the game is supposed to be about?

There’s not guarantee of how well Dickey will pitch Tuesday. Recent starts against the Yankees and Phillies have not been good, but he’s always long on guts and his story is both inspiring personable.

He’ll only be in for an inning or two, but it should be the first two.