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.

Oct 23

Bloomberg: Mets Valued At $2.1 Billion

Nobody in Major League Baseball, much less commissioner Bud Selig, can be happy about this news. According to “The Daily Ticker,’’ an Internet website that focuses on financial issues, Bloomberg Billionaires is reporting ten teams are worth more than $1 billion, including your New York Mets, who are tied for second with the Dodgers and Red Sox at $2.1 billion.

The Yankees, not surprisingly, are first at $3.1 billion.

imgresThe report was announced as Game 1 of the World Series approached, which has to make MLB executives steaming because their stance has been to always cry poverty. The numbers are 35 percent higher than the annual Forbes figures, which MLB never confirms nor deny. Matt Miller, editor of Bloomberg, said the Dodgers’ sale changed the landscape of how franchises are valued.

“ … You have to value all of the assets when it comes to the teams, you can’t just do revenue from ticket sales, concessions and stadium-type deals and merchandising,’’ Miller said. “Really the driver of this is regional sports networks.’’

That brings us to the Yankees’ YES Network and the Mets’ SNY, whose ratings were down by a reported 31.6 percent. However, it is more about than just the number of people who tune in to watch Gary, Keith and Ron. What the Bloomberg report did not reveal was the formula in which a franchise is valued. It is also hard to come up with a number because the news outlet does not have access to the Mets’ books.

Also reportedly worth over a billion are the Cubs ($1.3 billion), Giants ($1.2 billion), Orioles ($1.1 billion), Angels ($1.1 billion), Philadelphia ($1 billion) and Rangers ($1 billion). With the exception of the Red Sox and Cubs, all play in new stadiums. The Angels play in a refurbished stadium, plus in weather-friendly Southern California.

We’re talking about real estate.

The Dodgers’ sale includes the vast acreage for parking outside the stadium, which is what part of the original attraction was for owner Walter O’Malley when he moved the franchise from Brooklyn.

The Yankees’ value, in addition to YES and the new stadium, is the brand, which includes 27 World Series titles and a relationship with Manchester United, arguably one of the world’s most popular soccer teams. The Yankees also have a marketing relationship with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the Mets have SNY, Citi Field and the land surrounding the park. There are plans to rid the area of the auto repair shops across the street and replace them with hotels, restaurants and a shopping center. While those plans are on an architects’ drawing pad, they exist and presumably there is value in that, in addition to the proximity of a major subway stop, highway and LaGuardia Airport. When you are listed as an attraction, being close to transportation outlets enhances your value.

The first question is undoubtedly, if they are worth that much, then why don’t they spend more money? It is a logical question, but it must be noted the worth is not simply liquid, and there are different sectors other than the baseball operations where the Mets can’t dip into for player acquisition. It also must be remembered there’s the intangible value of being a professional sports franchise in New York City.

Sep 30

Did Collins Deserve A New Contract?

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Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson will address the media at 12 p.m. on Monday, September 30 in the Citi Field Press Conference Room.

He is expected to announce a two-year contract extension for Terry Collins to remain the manager of the Mets. The deal is reportedly valued at $1 million per season and includes an option for  2016.

A fourth straight losing season; another fourth-place finish in the NL East and another .400 something-or-other win percentage – the Mets have not improved this year.

In fact, the majority of MLB betting fans would argue we’ve devolved since 2008, the club becoming preoccupied in the huge vanity project that is Citi Field and the problems we’ve had filling it.

Overseeing three of these four disappointing seasons is Terry Collins, who has not exactly been the revelation we expected when GM Sandy Anderson promoted him in November 2010:

“We were not looking for someone who was an extension of us,” Alderson said back in 2010. “We were looking for someone who was going to be complementary to us. I think that’s what we’re getting.”

Sadly, we haven’t got that. Instead of a complimentary manager that develops the team, Collins has seen players leave, newcomers fail and win percentages drop. The general trend of underperforming year on year has set into the Mets locker room and something must change soon to correct this.

While the Mets played out a meaningless series with Milwaukee this weekend, the top brass thrashed out a new deal for Collins – despite his 224-260 record (by Saturday). The new two-year contract is effectively a 12-month one, for if we don’t improve in 2014 Collins is out the door.

But do we trust him to progress this raw team and save his job – and do we even want him to? Another year is a long time to realize you’ve made a mistake hiring the same guy and, as respected as he is in the majors, Collins has proven he cannot get this team fighting on all fronts.

Sep 21

David Wright Delivers For Mets In Return; Matsuzaka Continues To Disappoint

The New York Mets got what they hoped for Friday night in David Wright’s return, but remain wanting with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Backed by Wright’s first-inning homer, the Mets gave Matsuzaka a 5-0 lead, but he gave up four runs in the fourth inning. Never mind two of the runs were unearned, but a pitcher’s job is to pitch out of trouble.

Matsuzaka not only didn’t escape trouble, but with three walks and four hits in six innings, he contributed to his own demise.

WRIGHT: Welcome back. (MLB)

WRIGHT: Welcome back. (MLB)

Those are not acceptable numbers, and his performance doesn’t even define a No. 5 starter. Aaron Harang has pitched well enough to warrant a spring training invite, but Matsuzaka has not.

Yes, he pitched six innings, and yes, the Mets came away with a victory, but it was a stressful outing and they can’t afford having their bullpen drained once every fifth day.

As for Wright, who played for the first time in seven weeks, he came out of the night sore, but confident: “I want to be able to just flow and react, and I’m not quite there yet as far as the rhythm of the game and that kind of explosiveness that I feel I had before I got hurt.’’

Prior to the game, Wright said he wanted to play in eight of the Mets’ last ten games.

GEE GOES TODAY: Nobody thought it would happen in April, but Dillon Gee will lead the Mets with victories this season. He goes after his 12th victory today and will get another start Thursday against Milwaukee at Citi Field.

Gee’s season turned around with a 12-strikeout game, May 30, at Yankee Stadium.

It was as if switch was flipped.

“I started pitching with more command,’’ Gee said.

HAWKINS GOES FOR MILESTONE: LaTroy Hawkins has 99 career saves, 11 of them coming this season when he assumed the closer role when Bobby Parnell was injured.

At 40, Hawkins still throws in the mid-90s, but more to the point, he still knows how to pitch. Hawkins has been a positive influence in the bullpen and the Mets should bring him back.

They could do far worse.

FLORES TO PLAY SECOND: Wilmer Flores might get more starts at second base in the remaining nine games.

For several years, the Mets struggled to find a position for Daniel Murphy. Ironically, they appear to be trying to replace him with Flores, a player, like Murphy, who had trouble finding a position.

WINTER BALL METS: The Mets are seeking to find winter ball teams for Lucas Duda and Matt den Dekker, both of whom lost at-bats this summer because of injuries.

Duda would get time at first base, a further indication the Mets appear to be moving away from Ike Davis.

As for den Dekker, he could earn a spot next spring if he can hit.

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