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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MLB cancels game less than 90 minutes before start.

Just before I posted my previous message I checked the MLB web site: game on. Now the game has been called. How many fans had already left for Yankee Stadium? How many fans had already arrived in the pouring rain? It was obvious that it would rain during the entire time that the game would be played. The only question was whether MLB would stage another Saturday night travesty as it did seven days ago. Why wait so long to do the only intelligent thing? MLB has nothing but disdain for fans who attend games in person. Those fans have been loyal to a fault. One day that will change and MLB will be unable recover. It will be too late. MLB will stage a big game in bad weather and the ballpark will be empty.

Another Saturday night travesty.

Game six of the Yankee - Angel ALCS is scheduled to start at 7:57PM Saturday night, only a little more than an hour from now. It's been raining all day here in New York and the forecast is for rain to end about 4AM. Sunday's weather is supposed to be good, dry and relatively warm at close to 60 degrees. Monday's forecast is comparably good. The Word Series is set to begin Wednesday. So why is MLB, Inc. so intent on forcing the teams to play tonight? MLB has a couple of days wiggle room. The quick answer is television. However, when you think about it, what is the real advantage? Would the broadcasting network, FOX, and MLB make that much more money if games six and seven were played on Saturday and Sunday rather than Sunday and Monday? Does ad revenue collected drop that much on Monday? Is that how it works? Does anyone actually know? Does MLB have any integrity? MLB is presenting itself in a very negative light. MLB does not care about the fans with tickets to tonight's game, many of whom must have expected that the game would be postponed. MLB does not care about the players. MLB does not care about the viewing audience, which will get a watered down product. MLB should be ashamed. The shame is that MLB has no shame.

Instant replay: forget the damn flag!

Some rocket scientists are suggesting that MLB use an NFL style red flag approach for instant replay. See my previous post. By the time the flag is thrown we've already watched the replay on TV. Here's my newest twist: just show the replay on the big screen in the ballpark. Then the umps can correct themselves immediately. There, that was easy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Instant Replay instantly.

Last night's Yankee - Angel playoff game may have set a new low for the umpires. There were three calls that were embarrassingly incorrect. The crew chief apologized for the two that he made. All of us watching the game on TV and apparently also those in California attending the game judged by the amount of booing knew very quickly that umpiring mistakes had occurred. Here's the quick, easy, cheap solution: Let the TV announcers alert the umps that they blew a call. Heck, they are alerting the viewing audience already. Why not let the umps know it? Just push a button. The button could light up a red light on the scoreboard and/or communicate to the umps more discreetly through a hand held device that the umps carry for this purpose. Then the umps would go to a TV near a dugout and watch the same replays that everyone at home is watching. Bingo! The mistake can be corrected in a few seconds. Much better than the current system: a manager arguing for an unlimited time and the call remaining incorrect. You know who should be demanding this the most? The umps. They are the ones who now look like fools. Their only recourse is instant "instant replay".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Great playoff game or another travesty?

Last night the New York Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4-3 in 13 innings in game two of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Since I am a Yankee fan I should be happy, however the game embodied everything that I dislike about current MLB, Inc.
- too long: FIVE hours ten minutes
- too much dead time featuring Yankee starting catcher Jose Molina getting the plate umpire to call time out on what seemed like every other pitch to confer with a Yankee pitcher on that complicated topic of what the heck to throw
- TERRIBLE weather: freezing cold the entire time and pouring rain for the second half of the game
- stupid managing: Yankee Joe Girardi AGAIN wasting his best relief pitchers in a tie game: Joba Chamberlain retired one batter to end the seventh with bases loaded; Phil Hughes retired two batters in the eighth inning, which Chamberlain should have pitched; Mariano Rivera wasted the day before to "save" a THREE run lead in the ninth even though neither Chamberlain nor Hughes pitched in game one then brought in to retire the last batter in the eighth of game two, then pitching the ninth and tenth (gee, what a surprise that a tie game would go into extra innings; Joe Girardi was certainly surprised or else he's simply retarded).
So what was proved? What was affirmed? Beats me, which is one reason that I was not enthused. Plus, I finally went to bed about 45 minutes after midnight and watched the recorded ending this morning. My reaction during the game was often:
- Get back in the damn box!
- Throw the damn ball!
- Not another meeting!
- You just talked to him!
- What could you possibly be thinking about?
- Get back in the damn box!
- Throw the damn ball!
- Not another meeting!
Ad nauseum!
The weather appeared to be so bad that it was a violation of both the Constitutional prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" and the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and the definition of torture. Edgar Allen Poe could have written about the diabolical dance of dead time between pitches.
Maybe we should have the Red Cross make decisions on playing conditions instead of feeble minded MLB commissioner Bud Selig, the 75 year old boy wonder.
The manager and pitching coach may visit the mound once an inning to speak to a particular pitcher but the catcher apparently may visit as often as he wants. The plate umpire NEVER denies time out to a catcher. Never. And almost never to a batter. The manager may enter the playing field to argue every call except balls and strikes yet MLB will not allow instant replay because it would slow down the game and interrupt its flow. On disputed plays it's much quicker to have an ump, either on the field or off, review the video image precluding the need for the manager to go onto the playing field. Neither football nor basketball allow the head coach to go on the playing area and interrupt play to dispute a call except for the NFL procedure to exercise the limited number of challenges allowed and even then only to throw the red flag.
It's a race to the bottom to decide who has the least common sense:
- fans for showing up
- fans for staying, although about half appeared to have left by the end of the game
- umpires for making no attempt to speed up the game
- players for playing
- players for making no attempt to speed up the game
- managers for making no attempt to speed up the game; could they make more pointless visits and pitching changes?
- MLB, Inc. for not cancelling, starting earlier, not calling the game when it started to pour, etc.
You would think that MLB players would make working conditions a priority when negotiating the collective bargaining agreement.
Why didn't MLB make a roof a requirement in the many new ball parks built in the last twenty years? MLB knew that television contracts were more important to it than anything else and MLB was increasingly catering to the television schedule. So why not take a simple precaution and guaranty the TV networks optimum playing conditions?
Finally, what the heck were the New York Yankees doing with $1.5 billion dollars that they did not include a roof on their new park?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Experts say replay is OK but not for balls and strikes.

I am tiring of the basic stupidity of baseball. Several expert types in recent days have said that it is not possible to use technology to call balls and strikes. The experts include:
- Yankee manager Joe Girardi
- ESPN: PTI loud mouths Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon
- ESPN talker and former New York Times writer Buster Onley.
Have people of such an opinion been on this planet in recent days? The technology Pitch TRAX was used by Cable TV channel TBS for all the playoff games so far this season. It is already in place and working ... better than the plate umps. Read my previous post on this:
Balls and Strikes without an umpire.
Boring baseball establishment types and dull fans: Wake the heck up!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If I could change only one rule ...

Start the count on 3-2 and limit the batter to three swings.
If you think it through you will see that it fixes much of what causes MLB to be so uneventful and boring. Dull baseball fans could keep all the rest of the lousy rules and procedures for which they lack the imagination to improve.
The initial reaction to my rule change is that the burden would be on the pitcher. Think it through. The batter must put the ball in play, not merely stay alive by fouling off pitches. As soon as the batter takes a strike he is out. As soon as the batter misses a pitch he is out. If the batter fouls off three pitches, he is out.
1. Each AB would be a maximum of three pitches.
2. There would be fewer pitching changes.
3. Pitchers would probably throw mostly fastballs not those silly Bugs Bunny pitches that are often out of the strike zone.
4. There would be fewer meetings. What's there to discuss?
5. Batters would have much less reason to step out of the box.
6. Bunting would decrease.
There is no downside. Watching the pitcher work to set up the batter is boring and silly since there is so much dead time between pitches. Each pitch is a separate event with no flow from pitch to pitch. How do you get a batter leaning when the batter can barely remember what the previous pitch was?

Monday, October 12, 2009

New ideas on playoff structure.

Combining some of my previous ideas on restructuring MLB playoffs here are some new ones that might actually appeal to MLB decision makers. One objective is to reward the teams with the best regular season records. Currently all playoff teams are treated as equals. They do not deserve to be, so that should change. Achieving a better record over the 162 game regular season deserves more reward than a possible third home game in the five game division series. The Yankees in 2009 won 17 more games than their opponent Twins. The Yankees should get much more than that one extra home game. They should get a bye. The only reason these silly playoff rounds exist is for MLB to make more money. OK, but the structure should be much more fair.
Eliminate the stupid wild card.
1. Reduce the number of divisions from three to two, east and west in each league; 7 or 8 teams in each division and play many more games in division.
2. Increase the number of playoff teams 50%, from four in each league to six, three in each division.
3. Reward the team with the best record in division with a bye, i.e., it does not play in the preliminary series.
4. Have teams 2 and 3 in each division play a three game preliminary series; game one in the home park of team 3, games 2 and 3 in the park of team 2.
5. In the five game division series, play game one in the park of the winner of the preliminary three game series; play the remaining four games in the park of the team with the best regular season record, i.e., the team that already won the division in the 162 game regular season.
After that it's pretty much the same as now. Don't want to be too radical here. This structure has these advantages over ideas being tossed around:
1. The regular season remains 162 games with the owners squeezing every last penny out of it.
2. More teams qualify. More money. More money.
3. It is more fair and easier to understand.
4. Geographic concentration would boost rivalries, reduce travel time and cost, and reduce time zone differences.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Warm weather clothing ... for players! And heaters!

OK, Bud Selig seems intent on keeping to the schedule, which the network makes up at the last minute to get the most viewers ... and the most money. How about allowing players to dress for the conditions? Jackets would be nice.
Electric heaters, too. No, not just in the dugouts, on the field beside the players. Each player should bring his own personal heater out on the field. A nice big one should be stationed near home plate and another big one near the pitcher's mound. Hey, how about putting the heaters in the ground? Yeah, that makes the most sense. Fielders play in the same locations 90% of the time, pitcher and batter 100% of the time.
Yeah, that's it. Heaters! That makes sense, especially, since MLB has no sense. Now if MLB could just make the fans comfortable. One more reason to watch the games at home.

Bad weather: reschedule!

Feeble minded MLB commissioner Bud Selig apparently intends to allow/force fans in Denver Colorado to sit for over four hours in sub-freezing temperatures tonight, probably in snow, to watch their home town Rockies play the Philadelphia Phillies. What a jerk. Bud, you should be embarrassed. Obviously, you are not.
Either you are incapable of making an intelligent decision about this or you made such a bad deal with the televising network, that media powerhouse TBS, that you are precluded from making an intelligent decision. Either way, you are a disgrace to MLB. Give back the $17 million that your fellow owners pay you each year.
In addition, the players will be exposed to terrible conditions, which may increase the chance for injury and poor play, which will undermine the integrity of the game. Forget the steroids, fix the weather.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Balls and Strikes without an umpire.

Cable TV channel TBS is showing the MLB division series playoff games. A technology called Pitch Trax immediately represents each pitch on the right side of the screen on a small image of the strike zone. Each pitch in an at bat (AB) is numbered and remains on the screen for the entire AB. Viewers know immediately whether a pitch is a strike and then see the plate umpire's interpretation. I side with the tech call every time over the umpire.
So if MLB has this system in place, what the heck is it doing with an umpire making the calls, using the same basic technique that was used 100 years ago? How stupid is that? Pitch Trax ALREADY exists, so why not use the technology to call balls and strikes and move the pathetic plate umpire out of harm's way to a position behind the pitcher from which he can preside over the AB like the chair umpire in a major tennis tournament.

Chairs on the field.

OK, maybe just stools but you get the idea. Initially, I was thinking about the poor plate umpire. Get a stool out there for the plate ump! What about the three base umpires? Sure, stools for them. Heck the ball boys and girls get stools.
Then I thought, why not the outfielders? They stand around all alone. Let them sit down during pitching changes, meetings, even between pitches. Why not the infielders, too? Sure, get those stools out there. The only comfort that fans now get that players do not are seats. Players and media people get air cooling and heating. Fans don't. Get some seats out there on the field!

Selig cannot imagine changes to playoff system.

During yesterday's ill fated interview on ESPN radio MLB commissioner Bud Selig was asked about adding another wild card team. He's stuck in old thinking. Buddy said
- no team wanted to shorten the regular season
- players did not want a single play-in game
- adding another round of playoff games would push the World Series well into November.
November baseball: hey, more rain and cold. MLB does not seem to care about the comfort of fans attending games now so why not?
MLB could:
- give top team a bye
- have teams four and five play a one game play-in game; everybody is in love with Tuesday's Detroit-Minnesota play-in game; they could have two of those each season.
To emphasize the point made yesterday, not counting the play-in game, through 162 games Yanks had most AL wins (103), Texas was out with 87 and Detroit and Minnesota had 86 and the play-in game to reach 87 and a division title. Plus, Boston (95 wins) must travel to California to play the Angels (97 wins). Teams should be aligned geographically to avoid needless travel. If that series goes the maximum five games the Red Sox will travel from Massachusetts to California to Massachusetts to California. And like most industries now, MLB is bragging about how "green" it has become. And there's a three hour time difference. In round ONE!
Obviously, this is a lousy system but few mentioned Texas or the travel because they've become desensitized since 1994. The system is not fair and glorifying the stupid wild card is really stupid. See my original radical baseball post from what I wrote on June 9, 2006:
3. Four leagues, no divisions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MLB commissioner Bud Selig is a moron!

I did not wake up this morning intending to write about the former boy wonder car salesman turned 17 million dollar a year feeble minded MLB commissioner Bud Selig. However, Bud got in my face with some really stupid comments.
Sunday NFL teams were playing game 4 of 16. MLB teams were playing game 162 of 162. Detroit and Minnesota were tied for first in AL Central. I was watching Giants on Fox, Jets on CBS and NFL Red Zone. Detroit was on MLB network. Minnesota was not televised here in New York.
Minnesota was to host a play-in game if tied with Detroit. However, Minnesota's home park was occupied for Monday Night Football on ESPN: Vikings with Brett Favre hosting Favre's former team Green Bay. 21 million people watched that Monday NFL game. MLB decided to have Minnesota play Detroit on Tuesday at 5PM ... on TBS. Not Fox. Not even ESPN. TBS, which is carrying MLB division playoff series. Not in prime time, after 8PM. 5PM on nothing cable channel TBS. Minnesota beat Detroit in 12 innings in case you missed it.
This morning I happened to see Selig interviewed on TV. No, not NBC's Today show. Not even ESPN. On a simulcast of ESPN radio.
Way to go Bud, getting your sport covered!
Then this moron has the nerve to praise himself for what a great idea he had in creating the stupid MLB wild card playoff system. I had written in my first post on this blog about this. To quote myself, June 9, 2006:
Let’s face it when Major League Baseball (MLB) expanded its playoff system in 1994 by splitting into three divisions in each league it did not put much thought into it. MLB just tried to copy basketball and hockey, which had been doing this stuff forever. Some people felt the divisions were good because they allowed more teams to be competitive. No, what made more teams competitive was that in implementing the three divisions MLB DOUBLED the number of teams that made the playoffs. For some reason baseball people did not notice. They could have doubled the number of playoff teams and eliminated the two divisions they already had in each league but that never occurred to them. What mattered was not the number of divisions but the number of playoff teams.
Maybe part of it was some vague idea that there would now be more first place teams. Did they think no one would notice that there were also more last place teams? Or that teams hovering around .500 are not really very good.
The objective should be fair competition. It should not be a random event in which a .500 team happens to be first in a weak division and a .580 team is out of luck.
So now Minnesota flops into the playoffs with 87 wins to play the Yanks who won 103. Hey, Texas won 87, why isn't Texas in the playoffs? Oops, Texas finished second in AL West. Nice system, Buddy. Making it even worse is stupid inter-league play. Yanks play Mets six times. Yanks have been good each of those seasons. How is that fair to the Mets? Most teams play teams in the other league only three times. And why should the Yanks with 16 more regular season wins than Minnesota risk its season in a five game series with only one more home game as reward for the far better regular season record?
What is that last World Series game played in the daytime? Maybe around 1981? Football, both college and NFL, scared MLB off Saturday and Sunday afternoons decades ago. Now, MLB has retreated to a twilight play-in game on TBS.
Not even counting the whole steroids mess, Bud Selig, you are a moron!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Historical stats: one more thing that's killing baseball.

Last night I was telling a friend about my idea of eliminating the catcher. His response was that it could not be done because the historical stats would be impacted.
Aside from the obvious fact that a new statistical paradigm would emerge I was distressed by the unwillingness of an intelligent baseball person to consider meaningful change because of the old records.
Baseball is doomed. The percentage of plate appearances that result in inaction, i.e., walks and strikeouts, increases each season. The percentage of foreign born players increases each season. Both are at about 28 percent. Now we add the unwillingness to disturb ... what? Numbers that have become oppressive impediments.
Too bad. Baseball could be made entertaining again, even dynamic. Instead it continues to slow down with ever increasing dead time between the dwindling numbers of action plays.