Oct 27

Obstruction Play Handled Perfectly By MLB

In the 109 years the World Series has been played, never has a game ended with a runner scoring on an obstruction play until Saturday night. Let’s hear it for Major League Baseball falling for the flawed reasoning that “you don’t make that call to end a World Series game.’’

Well, why not? It that’s the rule, and that’s what happened, then call it as such. There’s a reason why that rule is in place, so make the correct play. Baseball and its fans deserve as much.

Obstruction play handled perfectly. (AP)

Obstruction play handled perfectly. (AP)

Major League Baseball and its umpires handled everything superbly, with third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately making the call that gave the Cardinals a 2-to-1 Series lead.

The rule dictates “intent’’ is not relevant in making the call, nor should it be. Will Middlebrooks did not get out of the way in time, and consequently Allen Craig stumbled over him and was thereby awarded home.

It just happened to come in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 3, giving the Cardinals a “stumble off’’ victory.

Middlebrooks kept saying after the game that “I had nowhere else to go.’’ It’s surprising how many players, in all sports, don’t know the rules of the games they play.

“Just to go over the rule quickly, obstruction is the act of a fielder obstructing a runner when not in the act of fielding a ball. It does not have to be intent,’’ crew chief John Hirschbeck said. “There does not have to be intent, OK? Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner. That’s basically the rule.’’

No, that’s not basically the rule. It is the rule.

Middlebrooks could not come up with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s errant throw. Fact. He could not get out of Craig’s way. Fact.

Joyce made the correct ruling, and also a fact, Major League Baseball’s umpires did not hide behind a press release or pool reporter, but had all the principles involved accountable to answer any and all questions.

There weren’t too many complaints as to how the play was hoped, and I would hope MLB learns from that and lets its umpires be more open in addressing significant calls.

Major League Baseball did make the decision to review the rule regarding the issue of intent, but here’s hoping they don’t allow Saturday night’s controversial ending put the burden of having its umpires now judge intent.

Previously, the decision was simple in that either the defender was in the way or he wasn’t. Just because one game ended on an obstruction play, don’t make it so the umpires have to read a defender’s mind.

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.

Sep 25

Mets Wrap: Suggesting Sandy Alderson Would Tank To Get Better Draft Pick Is Irresponsible

Why is this even a question to the New York Mets?

ALDERSON: Stupid to suggest he would tank.

ALDERSON: Stupid to suggest he would tank.

Yes, the issue of the protected pick surfaced last season when the Mets considered signing Michael Bourn as a free agent. Major League Baseball wrongly ruled in that case.

However, this time, the issue of draft-pick compensation surfaced in relation to the team winning or losing on the field prior to the playing of a game.

There’s a huge difference, which some writers and/or bloggers are clearly ignorant of knowing. It was ridiculously posted on one website – which has close ties to the Mets – that the author wrote Alderson would rather have the Mets lose to be in better draft position.

This writer has been known to waffle and I question the validity of his “insiders.’’ Personally, I have forgotten more baseball than he could hope to know.

After today’s 1-0 victory at Cincinnati, Alderson said the pick be damned.

“We’re trying to build the credibility of the franchise and that goes beyond where we’re picking in the draft,’’ Alderson said.

Good for him.

I don’t always agree with Alderson, but I do one-hundred percent here. There’s not a doubt in my mind.

Personally, if any blogger or writer suggested Alderson wanted to lose, that’s way out of bounds. It’s libelous because it attacks Alderson’s credibility not only as a general manager, but also as a man.

No major league baseball employee – either player, coach, manager or executive – wants his team to lose. It is extremely distasteful to even consider.

It is why Pete Rose, the all-time hit leader, was banned for life. No, Rose didn’t flat out bet on his Reds to lose, but not betting on them to win is close to the same result.

Alderson would lose his credibility if he admitted he wanted to Mets to lose to gain a better pick. If I owned the team I would fire him on the spot if he had. Even if Alderson thought that way he’d be stupid to admit so.

This entire compensation issue is ridiculous for Major League Baseball to even have because it creates the appearance issue of “tanking.’’ And, draft pick positioning based on anything other than pure won-loss records is shameful and nothing more than a gimmick.

In that regard, the National Football League has it right, while the National Basketball Association forever has it wrong. But, less we forget, that’s David Stern’s league and he’s had it wrong for a long time with a lot of issues. The draft lottery is a cheap gimmick that leads to the appearances of teams tanking and a fixed draft.

It has been that way since the Patrick Ewing draft.

Then again, Stern’s league has had a referee found guilty of fixing games.

Like him or not, Alderson doesn’t deserve the poisonous barb of preferring to lose.

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

 

 

Sep 13

Sandy Still Wary Of Big Contracts, But May Add A Big-Ticket Player This Offseason

sandy alderson

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that soon to be free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, currently with the Cincinnati Reds, “fits the bill” for what the Mets need this winter.

Heyman spoke with Sandy Alderson who revealed some of the things he’s considering as the Mets conclude their third losing season under his watch.

“There’s no question long-term contracts carry risk, and right about the time you’re clearing payroll you can wind up right back where you started if it doesn’t work out. On the other hand, you have some times where you have to roll the dice. I certainly haven’t ruled out a big-ticket item.”

Alderson has already made it well known that adding a veteran starting pitcher was already part of his plan this offseason even before Matt Harvey got hurt, but now it may end up being a top of the rotation starter if Harvey were to have surgery and miss the 2014 season – the season he said would be the year the franchise would begin a run of sustainable championship caliber baseball.

Heyman sounds skeptical about Alderson pursuing a big-ticket item and cited several instances when Alderson chided other teams for handing out large contracts both while general manager of the Mets and also when he was a top executive with Major League Baseball a decade ago.

Based on the needs of the Mets and the strengths of the player, Heyman concludes that Choo looks like the biggest potential target for the Mets this winter. He cites that he’s an excellent corner outfielder with a big on-base percentage, making him a perfect fit.

He says that Mets people have discussed him internally at length and predicts Choo will be the biggest player on the Mets’ radar.

Aug 15

Upon Further Review, Instant Replay Still Has Gaps

It is a start. That’s where we can begin to analyze Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format, which now includes giving managers up to three video challenges per game, with the final decision rendered in the MLB offices in New York.

Theoretically, this would eliminate the hat-flinging, dirt-kicking, bat-and-base throwing tantrums that elevated Earl Weaver and Billy Martin to folk status. I will miss those. Go ahead, Google Earl Weaver umpire fights, especially those with Ron Luciano.

There’s some good to the new system, but several shortcomings must be mentioned:

NUMBER OF CHALLENGES

The system calls for only one challenge through the first six innings and two for the remainder of the game, regardless of how long it goes. It was said on one radio call-in show this afternoon the intent is to speed the game along, which should never be the primary reason for anything. The primary goal should always be to get it right.

Why not allow one challenge every three innings, regardless of how long the game lasts? There’s a sense of proportion that way.

Technically, to allow for full integrity to the process, replay challenges should be unlimited, because getting it right is the only true goal. However, in leaving unlimited replays on the table, all it would take is one ANGRY manager to challenge every play.

WHAT IS REVIEWABLE AND WHAT IS NOT?

As of now nothing changed, just home runs. Balls and strikes will never be under challenge, but so many types of plays should be reviewable.

Unlike football, where the action can happen anytime and anywhere on the field, that isn’t the case with baseball. So much of what happens on a baseball field does so at a fixed location, such as the foul lines, bases and home plate and the fences. Even trapped balls in the outfield would seem easier than football, because there’s rarely an obstructed view.

Why not include everything but balls and strikes? Get it right, so there will never be another travesty as the botched infield fly rule play in Atlanta during the NLDS?

Major League Baseball, if it wanted, could readily identify where most of the contested plays are, and why. MLB has stats on everything and can pinpoint what plays created the most disputes, and getting back to the innings issue, where they occurred in the game. That’s why keying the bulk of the challenges in the last three innings is a misnomer.

What the makers of this rule don’t get is things can explode any time.

THE UMPIRE ISSUE

This gets us to the umpires, whose union had to be on board for this to happen. Hopefully, this format will diffuse many of the player-umpire confrontations.

I’ve always maintained each umpire should be wired for sound they can’t control. This way we know who said the words to ignite the argument.

The accusation against many umpires is they don’t care to improve. There’s a perception they can be lazy and confrontational.

Hopefully, this format will prove the umpires are more right than wrong, but that isn’t the current perception.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos