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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bubble: financial, not gum. Want to bet?

Miguel Cabrera became the most recent player to receive a contract, obscene in both annual amount and length.  The real estate bubble of recent years seems to be a lesson not learned by owners of Major Baseball League (MBL) teams.

Cabrera had two more years remaining on his existing contract but the Detroit (the city is bankrupt, right?) Tigers decided to change that to ten years, $292 million.  Mike Trout is the only player on this planet for whom a big ten year contract might make a little sense.

Birth dates:
Cabrera: April 18, 1983
Trout: August 7, 1991

See the difference there.  Trout is 8 years younger.  Cabrera will be 31 in three weeks and 41 when his contract expires.

Two other recent contracts are comparably irrational.

Albert Pujols: January 16, 1980; 2012-2021, escalating to $30 million in final year at age 41
Robinson Cano: October 22, 1982; $24 million each season through 2023 age 40

I'm all for the players getting as much as they can.  The players risk their physical well being for our amusement.  The owners risk money but apparently they see no risk at this time.  If the money is there, I want the players to get it, not the owners.  If the players received less, ticket prices would remain the same.  More of the money would flow to the owners.

But the financial collapse of just a few years ago seems to have no relevance to both MBL team owners and 99.9% of those making observations.  I'm not a financial person but my general understanding is that junk like credit default swaps were predicated on housing prices continuing to increase indefinitely.  As long that occurred and the money kept changing hands, everyone was happy.

Media people and team owners are under the delusion that television money will continue to increase indefinitely and that these amazing player contracts will work out.  The teams obviously know that they are really borrowing from future years to pay what amount to bonuses in the early years of the ten year player contracts.  They know that Pujols, Cano and Cabrera will not be worth anything near what they will be paid as they approach 40 years of age.

Some of that futurism may be based on general managers and owners thinking that they will be gone in ten years and that the mess will be somebody else's problem.

Increasing numbers of teams are entering into mega contracts for television money for many years into the future.  So what's the problem?  That money may not be there if people watch less than expected.  How much of those mega millions of TV dollars is guaranteed?  No one really knows.  At least 99% of the people assuring us that the money will continue to roll in do not know.

And even if the TV contracts guarantee the money, they cannot deliver what they do not have.  What if fewer people watch games on TV?  What if they watch but simply buy less?  Advertisers will pay less if the contract allows and if  the contract does not allow, advertisers will simply demand that TV networks change the terms.  What can the networks do then?  Re-negotiate their deals with the teams.  This is not an unreasonable scenario.

But you say that is very unlikely to happen.  Sports is the giant content that continues to grow.  Sports on TV generates the biggest bucks from service providers.  ESPN especially gets big bucks.  The regional sports networks get big bucks.  The sports viewing public is insatiable.  Non-sports fans are stuck with higher bills subsidizing their sports loving neighbors.

But wait ...

Technology may ultimately free the non sports viewer by making content easier to get from the Internet so that they can buy a la carte.  ESPN won't be sucking bucks from people who do not watch their stuff.

Over saturation could already be upon us.  It's not unusual for there to be ten college football or basketball games on TV at the same time on a Saturday afternoon.  And games are being played on more days of the week than ever.  The other day NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban warned the NFL that it was over extending on this very issue.

Finally and perhaps most fundamentally, people may simply watch less through lack of interest.  Yes, even the sports fans among us may tune out.  Why?  In addition to over saturation, games take too long with too little action.  Baseball is the worst but football and basketball also have very real problems.  Reality TV through sports may just bore us with so much inaction.  Fantasy may be more entertaining.

And speaking of action, gambling is the unmentioned elephant in the room.  Baseball is most vulnerable because its does not lend itself to point spreads, which work best for football but pretty well for basketball.  Baseball is stuck with odds that vary a lot depending on the day's starting pitcher.

People watch to monitor their bets!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Marvin Miller is turning over in his grave.

My friend Eric sent me an e-mail with that subject and this in the body of the message:

"Could the player's union be any dumber?"

Here is what provoked it:

MLB, MLBPA agree to enhance joint drug program

More frequent testing, increased suspensions part of new agreement

Marvin Miller was executive director of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982.  Miller transformed the relationship between the players and team owners, which ironically led to unprecedented wealth for both groups.  Apparently a combination of affluence for players and the careless use of social media has contributed to the players turning against each other.  This agreement is an inevitable result.  Future negotiations will be much more difficult for the players on all subjects.

Read the details for yourself but the basic issue is that the players gave something but did not receive anything.  That's a basic dynamic of negotiations.

I discussed this a couple of days ago with a few knowledgeable friends and I made the point that something like this should get a fundamental concession such as an increase in roster size from 25 to 30.  I have long thought that the players would agree to just about anything in exchange for a roster increase.  Instead the players gave up something for nothing.

Also, they did not close a huge hole in the basic agreement: players can be suspended for any number of games without failing a drug test.  The commissioner can do pretty much what he wants.

Further, is this part of a corporate code of conduct?  If so, then all members should be subject to drug testing, including the owners and commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig.  The National Football League (NFL) owner of the Indianapolis Colts was just busted on a drug charge and apparently faces discipline by the NFL commissioner

See my previous post, which I wrote without any hint that the baseball player's union would make this incredible concession:

Crime and Punishment

Crime and punishment.

Alex Rodriguez and Ian Kennedy, a tale of two offenders.  One rich ($28 million) and infamous.  The other poor ($4.3 million) and obscure.  In 2013 both were punished by the Major Baseball League (MBL).  Let's examine the crime and punishment of each.

Rodriguez: violated MBL policy on use of performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids; never failed drug test.

Kennedy: hit two batters (Yasiel Puig, Zack Greinke) in the head in one game: Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 42,844 witnesses in Dodger Stadium, plus team members and media, and TV viewers.  Puig was hit in the 6th inning, Greinke in the 7th, after which Brad Ziegler replaced Ian Kennedy who was not ejected.  Ziegler is mentioned in the Peralta reference below.

Rodriguez: suspended one season (2014); currently serving.
Kennedy: suspended 10 games,one start.

It seems absurd.

Worse offense: steroids or hitting batters in the head ... twice.  Monday, August 5, 2013

Ian Kennedy pitching for Arizona on June 11 hit two Dodger batters, Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke, in the head and served a ten game suspension, which for a pitcher is generally two starts.  However, Kennedy timed the withdrawal of his appeal so that he missed only one start...

former commissioner Faye Vincent just advocated a lifetime ban for a first offense for using steroids...

Priorities are completely upside down in baseball.  Ian Kennedy hit two Dodger batters in the HEAD.  In the HEAD!

Should the Detroit Tigers have been punished for the conduct of Jhonny Peralta? Should the team have taken responsibility?  Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jhonny Peralta was punished then rewarded.  But his team, the Detroit Tigers, was never punished...

It's clear that the contract that Peralta signed with the St. Louis Cardinals struck a nerve: cheating pays.  Arizona relief pitcher Brad Ziegler was among those players complaining and asking for stiffer penalties for players.  However, no one is asking for any penalties for others who also benefit: teammates and team management and ownership.  When those others share the punishment then the situation will change, but not before.

I've been recommending an honor code for some time.

Tony LaRussa managed Mark McGwire (twice). So why is LaRussa a Hall of Famer but not McGwire?  Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tony LaRussa managed Mark McGwire in both Oakland and St. Louis...

LaRussa's career as manager was enhanced by drugs, those used by his players.  How come LaRussa is not held accountable by the baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame?...

No manager wins without good players.  The top two were the Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire...

LaRussa's real bad boy was Canseco who broke open the steroid story by writing a book...

What did LaRussa know and when did he know it?

Ray Chapman by TheDeadballEra.com
via Wikimedia Commons
Ray Chapman:
Born: January 15, 1891 in Beaver Dam, KY
Teams (by GP): Indians/Naps 1912-1920

Final Game: August 16, 1920 (Age 29)
Died: August 17, 1920 in New York, NY (Aged 29)
Buried: Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, OH

Note the proximity of Chapman's final game and his death.  That's because Ray Chapman was killed by a pitched ball thrown by Yankee Carl Mays, who plausibly claimed it was an accident.

How to stop head hunting by pitchers.  Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pitchers are lucky they have not already been replaced by t-ball. To discourage pitchers from hitting batters in the head, punish them. Pretty simple. So far MLB has not seriously considered that. Here is my plan for each occurrence in the pitcher's career: the pitcher is ejected from the game and suspended:
1. a week;
2. a year;
3. forever.
Intent should not be considered.

Faye Vincent and I basically agree on punishment but we have very different ideas on which crimes fit the ultimate punishment.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When did catchers start to squat?

At least one catcher (Muddy Ruel) was NOT squatting at late as 1925.  See the previous post:

Catchers once stood upright and roamed the earth much like their human counterparts.  Wednesday, March 26, 2014

June 1, 1925 ...  the catcher ... stays in an upright position the entire time.  He never squats.

The catcher is also considerably further back from the batter and the umpire is also separated from the catcher and not touching him as he would be today.

I tried a quick Google search but did not find an answer.  I had thought that Yogi Berra (1946-1963, 1965) may have started catching in more of an upright position.  I searched and found a couple of posed photos of the young Yogi clearly squatting:

I decided to try Bill Dickey (1928-1943, 1946), who "taught all of his experiences" to Yogi, and I found mixed images, some squatting, some standing but not quite erect:

Mickey Cochrane (1926-1937):

In the Time cover photo Cochrane has the in-between position.  That's ten years after Muddy Ruel is seen standing.  In anther photo Cochrane is demonstrating but not all the way down.

This was not intended as an exhaustive examination.  Please add comments to this blog with information that address the issue.  Thanks.

Mickey Cochrane
cover of Time Magazine 1935

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Catchers once stood upright and roamed the earth much like their human counterparts.

Protect Joe Mauer from himself: eliminate the catching position.  Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The following reference is not about the catcher but the still image and video are stark reminders that the position has devolved into a primitive form.

Baseball Researcher: Some Very Fortunate Footage  MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2014

There's no question about the identity of the man with the bat. His powerful upper body, his grip at the very end of the bat (unusual for the time), his distinctive stance and swing. It's clearly Babe Ruth...  that action is from June 1, 1925, at Yankee Stadium...  catcher Muddy Ruel

Muddy Ruel was 5' 9", 150 pounds; 29 years old; 1915, 1917-1943.

Drift to the bottom of that post in the Baseball Researcher blog and watch the video.  Now watch it again, but this time try to concentrate on the catcher.  He stays in an upright position the entire time.  He never squats.

The catcher is also considerably further back from the batter and the umpire is also separated from the catcher and not touching him as he would be today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Do all pitchers tip all pitches?

Four possibilities:

1. No pitcher tips any pitches.
2. Some pitchers tip some pitches.
3. All pitchers tip some pitches.
4. All pitchers tip all pitches.

Which is closest to being correct?

I'm guessing number 4.

With analytics all the rage I wonder how much effort is put into analyzing images of pitchers.

October 18, 2011 San Francisco ball park
by Neurosiensf via Wikimedia Commons
A few weeks ago I heard an interview with Frank Catalanotto (1997-2010).  He said that Curt Schilling tipped some pitches.  As I recall, Catalanotto said that Schilling held his glove differently when he threw his split finger pitch.  Schilling kept a book on hitters.  Catalanotto kept a book on pitchers.

During a recent Yankee broadcast former players Ken Singleton and John Flaherty were announcing.  Singleton was doing play-by-play and Flaherty whatever.  There was a runner on first who apparently wanted to steal and the pitcher threw over.  Singleton mentioned that this was a good indication that the pitcher wanted to throw a changeup.  The base runner has an advantage trying to steal when a changeup is thrown and to combat that the pitcher tries to keep the runner close according to Singleton.  Singleton said it was at least worth guessing at least some of the time and that a changeup in the strike zone could be hit a long way when the batter was looking for it.  Flaherty did not contribute.

With high speed and high definition moving images I would think that teams could analyze pitchers, including their own, in great detail.  It seems to me that different pitches must be throw differently, even if the difference is small.  The real issue is how much of those differences can be determined reliably and is that information actionable?

In addition, the batter must be able to use that information.  Either the batter can be trained to get the information himself while batting or the information must be provided to him in a timely and effective manner.

One traditional but primitive way of conveying information to a batter is to whistle, which, of course, has its limitations and dangers.  It would seem that the best way would be to train batters to discern differences themselves.

For that teams would need to provide batters not only with the information but also images of the pitchers motions from the perspective of the batter in the batter's boxes, both left and right.  I don't know how well that can be done.

Most video of pitchers is from center field, off center.  That might be enough to determine how a pitcher reveals what he is about to throw but how can an image of that be created for the batter to study by watching it repeatedly so that the batter learns?

In addition to pitchers tipping there is also the spin of the ball, which must be different among various pitches.  That cannot be hidden.  If batters can be trained to see that from individual pitchers, then the batter should increase his chances of success quite a bit.

Base-out situations might also provide information, both aggregate and individual.

Catchers and infielders may inadvertently provide information.  Some catchers tend to call for fastballs when they think a base runner is about to attempt a steal.  They may lean too soon and/or too far awaiting the pitch.  Middle infielders are giving open/closed mouth signs behind their gloves to each other.  I've long thought that was especially vulnerable to intercept but I don't now whether the information can be used in time.

Traditional thinking on this is that some batters do not want to know what is coming.  I think this is nonsense.  I think some batters had been misled and therefore did not trust the information.  That needs to be rectified.

I really think that all pitchers tip all pitches and its just a question of using technology to figure it out and apply the information.

Keith Hernandez remembers the 25 inning game but not what followed.

This is a cautionary tale of baseball memory.  We're so sure we remember correctly but often it's not so.

Oct. 3, 2010 by slgckgc via Wikimedia Commons
Monday I was sort of watching the Mets exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Actually, I was switching between that and the replay of the Yankee game against Toronto from Sunday.  Keith Hernandez does color commentary for the Mets.  He played for the Cardinals and later the Mets.

The play-by-play announcer mentioned a 25 inning game between the teams in 1974.  Bob Gibson started for St. Louis; Gibson led the league in home runs allowed in 1974 and threw only 109 innings (ERA 5.04) in 1975, his final season.  Hernandez was a Cardinal rookie playing in only his seventh game; in the 12th he PH for SS Mike Tyson and flied out to right.  Hernandez said that he remembered the game well and that early in the morning they had to take a bus to Philadelphia to play later that day and that the game went 17 innings.

I looked it up:


As you can see the 25 inning game in Shea Stadium New York started on Sept. 11, 1974.  The Cardinals played another game there Sept. 12; Hernandez 0 for 1.  On Sept. 13 the Cardinals played a 17 inning game in Philadelphia; Hernandez 3 for 7, plus a walk.

The Cardinals won all three as the start of a six game winning streak.  Hernandez was pretty close but not right.  He lost that middle game.  In his mind the two Met games merged.

It's a small point but easily verifiable.  Maybe the Met announcer corrected Hernandez later while I was watching the Yankees or snoozing.  Maybe not.  It's easy to check now.  They could have done it on the spot.  It took me about a minute.

How his Cardinals got to Philadelphia is not specified.  Maybe Hernandez got that right.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mitch Williams, here's how to protect pitchers from being hit in the face.

Previous post:

Mitch Williams has the solution to pitchers being hit in the face: let them do it to batters.  Monday, March 24, 2014

According to Mitch Williams pitchers get hit in the face because they are not allowed to throw inside.  Really, that's what he said...

Williams insisted repeatedly and vociferously that pitchers should be allowed to pitch inside, a euphemism for hitting batters.  Williams never actually stated that pitchers should be allowed to hit batters...  Williams stated that the result has been that batters "dive out over the plate" and pull outside pitches that smash pitchers in the face.

Mitch Williams is a moron.  If the MLB Network had any standards Williams would have been fired long ago.

Deaden the ball and resuscitate baseball. It's supposed to be a game of hitting, fielding and base running.  Saturday, March 22, 2014

Aroldis Chapman is the most recent pitcher to be hit in the face.  It happened in an exhibition game in Arizona March 20, 2014...

Deaden the ball.  The game was not intended to be played with rockets.  It originated much more like modern slow pitch softball.  Baseball is supposed to be a game of hitting, fielding and base running...

the average speed for fastballs has increased each of the last five seasons to about 91.5 miles per hour (MPH).

91.5 mph!  Released from about 50 feet from home plate!  Are we nuts?

Deaden the damn ball before someone gets killed: player, ump, fan.

Bring back the pitcher's box. And get rid of the stupid mound.  Thursday, March 20, 2014

All pitchers should be required by rule to RELEASE the ball from the same distance, not start from the same distance.

The pitcher should be required by rule to stand far enough behind the release line so that he accomplishes this...

100 years of stupid rules is enough.

Getting hit with the ball.  August 18, 2009

August 15, 2009 ...

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head by a line drive. The 34-year-old Kuroda was not wearing a helmet. The ball blasted off Kuroda's head into the seats behind first base...

This morning on ESPN radio I actually hear Mike Greenberg say something semi-intelligent about the pitcher getting hit in the head: MAYBE the pitcher should wear a helmet. Wow! MAYBE!  ...

Chicago Cubs coach Alan Trammell
throwing batting practice behind the protective screen
 June 28, 2009 By weesh187 from Washington, DC
via Wikimedia Commons
Everyone should wear catcher's gear.  Saturday, July 5, 2008

OK, the outfielders probably don't need it, especially if MLB implements my suggestions about padding the walls. However, the infielders, certainly the pitchers need this protection. I can remember when Eddie Giacomin tended goal for the New York Rangers hockey team with nothing on his head. Even the NHL (National Hockey League) woke up. Today all players wear helmets and face masks. Infielders are taught to get in front of ground balls to block them in case of a bad hop. Bad hops happen often. Have you seen the rockets that batters blast at these unprotected players? Catcher's gear is exactly what they need. Yes, including the face mask. If they do not start wearing this gear, pitchers will need the screen that is used in front of the pitcher during batting practice.


- deaden the ball and/or bat
- move the pitchers back to a common release point
- helmet and/or facemask
- screen like that used during batting practice; hey, if that's what it takes; rules can be adjusted.

Those are essential, logical and fair.  They're also practical.

Oh, and for the Mitch Williams solution of "throwing inside":

How to stop head hunting by pitchers.  Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pitchers are lucky they have not already been replaced by t-ball. To discourage pitchers from hitting batters in the head, punish them. Pretty simple. So far MLB has not seriously considered that. Here is my plan for each occurrence in the pitcher's career: the pitcher is ejected from the game and suspended:
1. a week;
2. a year;
3. forever.
Intent should not be considered.

Mitch Williams has the solution to pitchers being hit in the face: let them do it to batters.

According to Mitch Williams pitchers get hit in the face because they are not allowed to throw inside.  Really, that's what he said.

Occasionally I regret writing a blog post describing Mitch Williams as a moron:

Mitch Williams: MLB network embarrassment  March 25, 2011

On March 23, 2014 Williams earned that again.

On the MLB Network there was a program with two former players, Mitch Williams and Harold Reynolds, and an announcer and a writer, Tom Verducci.

They discussed the recent incidents of two pitchers being hit in the face with line drives: Aroldis Chapman of Cincinnati and Matt Moore of Tampa.

Deaden the damn ball before someone gets killed: player, ump, fan.

Williams insisted repeatedly and vociferously that pitchers should be allowed to pitch inside, a euphemism for hitting batters.  Williams never actually stated that pitchers should be allowed to hit batters.  But he complained that batters now wear armor and are not afraid because pitchers are warned my umpires about throwing at batters.  Williams wants pitchers to throw inside with impunity in order to intimidate batters as he seems to think occurred in some undefined old days.  Williams stated that the result has been that batters "dive out over the plate" and pull outside pitches that smash pitchers in the face.

Do I need to dissect the shear stupidity of this?

Maybe we should arrange a seance for Williams with Herb Score who led the American League in strike outs in his first two seasons, 1955 and 1956, but was smashed in the face by a line drive hit by Yankee shortstop Gil McDougald Tuesday May 7, 1957 in Cleveland Stadium before 18,386 fans.  The ball was fielded by third baseman Al Smith who threw to first baseman Vic Wertz retiring McDougald.  Score got an assist.  Score was replaced with two out in the first inning by Bob Lemon who won 2-1.  Score did not pitch again in 1957 and his career ended in 1962 at age 29.  Score was never the same dominating pitcher again.

Was Herb Score hit because the batter was not afraid of him?  Is that why McDougald hit the ball straight up the middle?

Carl Mays via Wiki Commons
Maybe we should also have Williams talk to Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman who was killed by a pitch thrown by Yankee pitcher Carl Mays Monday August 16, 1920 at the Polo Grounds in New York.  Chapman died the next day.  Mays may have been sincere in claiming that it was an accident.

I am revolted by the prevalence of the caviler baseball attitude about it being OK for a pitcher to hit a batter.  That it's OK to "plunk" a batter in the torso.  Drilled or smashed would be accurate descriptions of a baseball travelling at 90 miles per hour (MPH) crashing into a person's torso.  Pitching inside deliberately means that the pitcher is being irresponsible enough to not care if his accuracy is off just a bit and that inside pitch hits the batter.  That's depraved indifference, murder two in New York.

Some batters wear some plastic protection.  PLASTIC!  Not armor.  Would Williams put that plastic on his body and shoot a gun at it?  How about throw a ball at it? It's NOT armor.

And what about the others on that MLB Network program?  Reynolds agreed with Williams!  I guess that neither former player was familiar with the concept that many batters try to hit the ball where it is pitched:
- outside to the opposite field
- inside pull
- middle: up the middle.

On what planet did these guys play?

To buttress the contention of Williams they showed an interview with Aroldis Chapman through an interpreter in which Aroldis indicates that he should pitch inside more so that the batters will pull more and he will not get hit.  Maybe he should throw the ball slower than 105 MPH so that batters have more control.  Also, let's consider that Aroldis was hit in the head just a few days ago.  He's got an excuse for saying something silly.

The writer Verducci simply gave up stating that players cannot be protected from everything so just do nothing.

The announcer suggested a protective facemask but Williams brushed that off.  At least twice the announcer told Williams that LeBron James had recently scored 62 points in an NBA game wearing a facemask.  Williams insisted that it was impossible for a human being to pitch while wearing a facemask.

Mitch Williams is a moron.  If the MLB Network had any standards Williams would have been fired long ago.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Allow players to re-enter games.

A hundred years ago baseball rules were pretty much what they are today, certainly much more so than either football and basketball.  Baseball is older and more set in its ways.
Houston bullpen 2006 by Fabiopao from Wikimedia Commons
Since codes were set in 1950, here is the lone significant baseball innovation: the designated hitter (DH) and the National League/Conference has yet to embrace even that pathetic attempt.  It should have been a designated fielder who does not bat with all eight batters required to also play the field.  The old American League got it backwards.

My position for some time on implementing re-entry has been to maintain the batting order (players are locked into a spot in the batting order) but I'm open to other ideas.

The basic reasons to oppose are based on people being too dumb and lazy to consider any change.  Generally, the initial impulses are:

1. Invoke accusations of blasphemy.

2. State that there is no practical way that it could work.

3. Insist that it will slow down the game.

Ah, number three is the last refuge of the baseball curmudgeon.  Here's the thing: the other sports do not have changes made by some fat old guy in a costume waddling out onto the playing area and treating it like a conference room filled with victims awaiting a Power Point presentation.

Just make the damn change!  No meeting.  No warming up.  In fact when a player is injured, you're required to replace him ASAP, not wait to determine whether he can continue without coming out.

Somebody is reading this and having conniptions imagining perpetual changing of batter and pitcher into eternity with no resolution.  Back and forth with no pitch being thrown.  Enough already.  We'll devise implementation rules.  The main point is to allow players to return, not dwell on how and/or why this should not be done.

Baseball fans delude themselves into imagining that baseball is special because it is so primitive that the extreme limitations cause the very few moves to be so much more compelling.  Grow the heck up.  It's just dumb.

Baseball managers make almost no significant decisions in the first half of a game.  The only one possible is to remove the starting pitcher and the manager does that only under extreme duress.  He might as well send the starting lineup to the plate umpire by e-mail and show up in the fifth inning.

About half the players do not play in most baseball games.  Among 12 basketball players there may be a rotation of eight with a few others who see limited duty.  In football of almost 50 players, only the backup quarterbacks will not be expected to play.

In baseball four of the five starting pitchers do not play.  A couple of relief pitchers may not be available.  The backup catcher will be held back.  So in addition to not being allowed to re-enter games, very few bench players are even available for substitution.  This makes the lack of re-entry even more absurd.

Allow players to re-enter games.  Once that concept is accepted, then we can work on how to implement.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Deaden the ball and resuscitate baseball. It's supposed to be a game of hitting, fielding and base running.

Aroldis Chapman is the most recent pitcher to be hit in the face.  It happened in an exhibition game in Arizona March 20, 2014.  Salvador Perez was the batter.  Chapman was born in Cuba, Perez in Venezuela.

Aroldis Chapman March 12, 2010
By SD Dirk on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons
Chapman is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds.  Chapman has been a relief pitcher for Cincinnati Reds the last four seasons.  He's been an All Star each of the last two seasons.  He may throw the ball faster than any pitcher ever.  Chapman's nickname is the Cuban Missile.  Ironic.

Perez is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds.  Perez has been a catcher for the Kansas City Royals the last three seasons.  In 2013 Perez was on the All Star team and was awarded a gold glove.

The day after being hit Chapman spent 2.5 hours in surgery to repair a broken bone above his left eye and have a titanium plate inserted to stabilize the fractured area.  Supposedly he may be able to pitch again in 4 to 6 weeks.

Rockets.  The baseballs today travel like rockets.  They smash into things and people.  Let me reiterate some safety recommendations that I have advocated in this blog.

1. All fielders within 150 feet of home plate should wear catcher's gear or equivalent.

2. Bring back the pitcher's box. And get rid of the stupid mound.  Thursday, March 20, 2014

While I didn't mention it in that post two days ago, there is the added safety benefit of moving all pitchers back to the same distance from home plate.  The taller a pitcher, the closer to the plate he will tend to release the ball.

3. Deaden the ball.  The game was not intended to be played with rockets.  It originated much more like modern slow pitch softball.  Baseball is supposed to be a game of hitting, fielding and base running.

Instead baseball has devolved into a battle of power.  In 2001 two 37 year old power players set all time season records:
- Barry Bonds: most home runs and best home run rate (homers per at bat).
- Randy Johnson: best strike out rate.

What the heck?

With the crackdown on the use of performance enhancing drugs, including steroids, Major Baseball League commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig has reduced the number of players hitting 30 or more home runs, which has reduced the number of walks.  Fewer walks is a good thing and fewer victory lap home runs isn't so bad either.  But the power has steadily increased among the pitchers.  Strike outs have increased and the average speed for fastballs has increased each of the last five seasons to about 91.5 miles per hour (MPH).

91.5 mph!  Released from about 50 feet from home plate!  Are we nuts?

Deaden the damn ball before someone gets killed: player, ump, fan.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring training: make it stop!

Last night I tuned in to an exhibition game between the Yankees and their rivals, the Boston Red Sox.  It was played in the Red Sox facility, which has a really good replica of that ridiculous left field wall in Fenway Park.  I hardly watched.

It's so boring!  Derek Jeter didn't play.  Jacoby Ellsbury didn't play.  Alex Rodriguez didn't play.  Oh, wait.  A-Rod has been sent to his room for a season.  Maybe his guardian will let him out early.

Taken May 8, 2009
by Keith Allison via wiki commons.
I did see Francisco Cervelli hit his fourth home run in these exhibition games.  Wasn't he one of those 12 players who were suspended 50 games in August 2013 rather than the 211 games A-Rod was suspended?  I never quite understood that.  Am I the only one who thinks that Cervelli is juiced in 2014?  And this season Cervelli is only trying to become the backup catcher, not the starter as he was in 2013.

These spring exhibition games will seem even more absurd after the Dodgers play REAL games that actually count towards the regular season competition for entry into the 2014 tournament.

Dodgers down under. What the heck, mate?  Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bring back the pitcher's box. And get rid of the stupid mound.

When baseball was climbing out of its primordial slime a pitcher's box was born on flat earth.  In the beginning there was no mound.  The pitcher was required to release the ball from behind a line that originally was 45 feet to some undefined part of home plate.  Most modern fans know that the current distance is 60 feet, 6 inches but do not know that the distance is measured to the back of the plate, not the front as common sense would generally suggest.  So today's pitchers are even closer to the batters than we realize.

In 1863, you know when the Battle of Gettysburg took place during the Civil War, the pitcher's box was defined as 12 feet (parallel to a line between first and third base) by three feet (parallel to a line between home and second base).  The shallowness of the box eliminated the running start and pretty much any significant windup.  Remember, pitchers then were required to pitch underhand, which has the benefit of putting much less stress on the arm and shoulder than throwing overhand at 90 miles per hour (MPH) along with a multitude of trick pitches.  The idea was to put the ball in play, not stand around watching the pitcher and catcher play catch waiting for the batter to either strike out or walk.

In 1867 the box was redefined as 6 by 4.  In 1869 the box became 6 by 6.

The Pitcher's Area
By Eric Miklich

The pitcher's area became a pitcher's box for the 1874 season. For the first time the rules specifically stated that the pitcher's position was to be marked by a 6 foot by 6 foot box. Each corner of the box was required to have a 6 inch by 6 inch flat iron plate placed in each corner. The pitching distance, still 45 feet, was specified for the first time to be from the front line of the pitcher's box to the center of the home base, which rested on the intersection of the third and first base foul lines...

In 1877, home base was moved entirely in fair ground ...

The back line of the pitcher's box was moved two feet closer to the front line for the 1879 season making the Pitcher's Box 6 feet by 4 feet...

In 1881 the NL increased the pitching distance from the front of the pitcher's box to the center of home base to 50 feet...

More fiddling occurred over the years.  The pitcher's box died in 1893.  Why?  Beats me.  The configuration became pretty much what we have today with a distance of 60 feet 6 inches but still on flat ground.  No mound.

So there was a pitching area from 1863 through 1873, then a pitcher's box from 1874 through 1893.  But no mound.

Whitey Ford 1953
By Bowman Gum
via Wikimedia Commons
Let's consider two lefthanded pitchers.  Hall of Famer Whitey Ford was listed as 5 feet, 10 inches tall.  Randy Johnson SIX feet, 10 inches tall.  Both were required by rule to pitch from the same distance.  But Johnson could step forward and release the ball much closer to home plate than Ford.  In what galaxy is that fair?  All pitchers should be required by rule to RELEASE the ball from the same distance, not start from the same distance.

The pitcher should be required by rule to stand far enough behind the release line so that he accomplishes this.  It would be similar to the restrictions of the batter's box.  A tall batter like 6 foot, 6 inch Dave Winfield had to deal with the same size box as did 5 foot, 5 inch Freddie Patek.  Why is it different for pitchers?

Why Is There a Pitcher's Mound in Baseball?
Dan Peterson

According to baseball historian Bill Deane, the idea for a mound was claimed by an 1880s pitcher, John Montgomery Ward. From 1903 to 1968, baseball rules limited the height of the mound to 15 inches ...

the mound was lowered to ten inches in 1969

Interesting but it doesn't explain why there is a mound.  Ward wasn't even a pitcher most of his career.  He pitched in almost 300 games but mostly played other positions from 1878 to 1894.

Why are pitcher's mounds higher than the rest of the baseball field? sports.stackexchange.com/questions

The elevation on pitcher's mound was made in order to return some advantages to pitchers that was lost due to extending the pitcher position.

By elevating their delivery point, pitchers can gain momentum as they stride down towards the plate. This forward motion adds speed and a downward angle to the ball, making it more difficult to hit.
off course there are another speculations like this one:

That the mounds evolved as a matter of grounds-keeping practice, for better drainage and water absorption. After overhand pitching was legislated in 1884, pitchers undoubtedly found the mounds to be an advantage: the downward weight-shift and momentum enable them to generate greater velocity on their pitches.

That's what I had long thought, that it was a practical grounds-keeping function, but much more mundane.  When a hole needs to be filled, extra dirt is brought to the hole.  The next logical step is to bring extra extra dirt in order to eliminate trips.  While you're at it, why not put some of that extra dirt on top of the old hole.  This hole will appear again soon when the pitchers resume digging in.  So now the starting point for the pitcher is a little higher.  Hey, we pitchers like it up here.  Add even more dirt.  One team copied another and finally it had to be regulated, hence the mound.

But that doesn't make it a good idea.  Even in slow pitch softball, are there leagues in which the league batting average is .500?  In football we expect passers to complete half their attempts.  In basketball we expect the same of shooters.  In baseball we insist on a 70 percent failure rate for batters.  What the heck?  Are we baseball fans stupid?  We not only go along with all sorts of silly illogical, unfair stuff but we embrace it.

100 years of stupid rules is enough.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dodgers down under. What the heck, mate?

The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season but they tested the west by playing 15 games in Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ during their final two seasons in Brooklyn.  The trolley (google it) dodgers were abandoning their roots.  But now they are on to the continent island nation of Australia.

Brooklyn Dodgers manager Walter Alston
with Philadelphia Phillies manager Mayo Smith
before a 1957 game at Roosevelt Stadium
Major Baseball League (MBL) commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig is starting his final historic season by having the first American team game played south of the equator.  The National Football League (NFL) has been playing games in London, England in recent seasons and the MBL has had some teams start in Japan.  But now a game will be played on its third continent.  But Why?  How many baseball caps can be sold by the Dodgers playing two games in Sydney?

The original Star Trek TV show started in 1966, ten years before Selig got himself appointed a director at the Hall of Fame.  Selig was only 32 in 1966 and apparently he was imbued with Star Trek fervor, maybe a becoming a Trekkie.   In Star Trek "the bold crew of the giant starship explores the excitement of strange new worlds, uncharted civilizations, and exotic people" and goes "where no man has gone before" but within the prime directive, which prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations.

Introducing MBL games into Australia might be considered a violation of the prime directive.  But Selig seems bent on globalization.  He created the World Baseball Classic (WBC).  I think it's supposed to be based on the World Cup for soccer, which I do not follow because soccer is the last remnant of the international Communist conspiracy.  The WBC has been held three times with these winners:
2006 Japan over Cuba
2009 Japan over South Korea
2013 Dominican Republic over Puerto Rico.

No USA.  No Australia.  So what the heck are the Dodgers doing there?

At least Selig had the sense to match the Dodgers against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Aussies might relate to that team name better than Rockies or Marlins or one of the other many make believe teams that have been hatched in recent decades.

Well I just checked Wikipedia and learned that baseball down under may date back to the 1850s.

In December 1888, an American, Albert Spalding, brought his Chicago White Stockings and a team of U.S. all-stars to Australia, as part of a world tour. Sydney Cricket Ground hosted three games...

the national team entered World Championship competition in the late 1970s ...  winning the silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens ...

Several Australians, however, have attracted the attention of American scouts and have gone on to play in the major leagues in the United States and Japan.

Although baseball remains a fringe sport at adult level, it has experienced explosive growth at the youth level in the 21st century.

Who knew?  I'm guessing, not Bud Selig.  Relief pitcher Grant Balfour was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

I wonder if playing south of the equator changes baseball.

Do curve balls spin in the opposite direction and turn into screwballs?

Do hitters run to "third" base instead of "first"?

Do U.S. players become disoriented when the they first arrive and lose their equilibrium?  Is everything upside down?

distribution of boomerangs in Australia
based on Martyman maps
released under the GFDL
By SuperJew via Wikimedia Commons
Maybe scouts are touring the country looking for people who are really good at throwing the boomerang.  A boomerang pitch could be awesome.  Hey, it could finally eliminate the dopey catcher position, which I advocate.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lefties need not apply. Or why are there two batter's boxes?

We're so stuck in our thinking that we don't even consider just how odd it is that baseball is so asymmetrical.  Aside from the utter absurdity of the non-uniform playing areas, why the heck are there two batter's boxes?
Computer generated picture of Aristotle
By Kolja Mendler Benutzer:Klingsor via Wikimedia Commons

And if there are going to be two, why doesn't the righty batter run to "third" base?

A year ago I did a lot of research on handedness.

1. You really can't switch how you throw.

2. Almost all righty batters throw righty.

3. Only about 42% of lefty batters throw lefty.

Most lefty batters are opportunists, taking advantage of two things:

1. 72% of pitches are thrown by righties, which is good for a lefty batter, bad for a righty batter.

2. Lefty batters are closer to all the bases, not just first base.

Most switch hitters throw righty.

The most significant deviants:

Rickey Henderson: threw left, batted right.  This is especially odd since Rickey crouched at the plate and tried to draw walks so that he could steal bases.  He must have been able to bat lefty, which should have helped him get on base even more.

Lance Berkman: threw left, batted both.  OPS batting righty: .777; lefty .995.  What the heck was Lance doing?  He should have just batted his natural lefty.

There should be only one batter's box, the one for righties.  It's the only accommodation for handedness among the three American team sports.

By practice, the catching position, which should be eliminated, is restricted to righty throwers.  I've never understood this.

Second base, third base and shortstop are also restricted to righty throwers.  This is understandable given that the rules require the batter to run to "first" base.

Lefty throwers are already relegated to the outfield or first base, unless, of course, they are willing to play part time as pitchers.

So why not complete it and eliminate the lefty batter's box?

If you want to make an allowance for lefty throwers, have the batters run to "third" base.  Making third base first base would change the handedness advantage for fielding positions second, third and short.  Only lefties need apply ... but they must bat righty like everyone else.

There, that seems like a logical compromise, which makes baseball much more logical and fair, two bedrocks of America.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring training games are even more boring than regular season games. Here are suggestions to fix that.

The middle of horrendously boring spring training is as good a time as any to review:

Constitutional amendments for team sports.  Friday, June 8, 2012

12. No pre-season games.

13. The entire season including playoffs may not exceed 180 days.

Chief Wahoo appears on a Cleveland Indians advertising sign
in Winter Haven, Florida, March 30, 2007
At the team's new spring training grounds in Arizona,
the logo is not prominently displayed.
By Josh Hallett via Wikimedia Commons
Those two relate to spring training.

If the Major Baseball League (MBL) insists on playing games during its training period, these should apply:

1. Experiment.  I've already recommended an Experimental League.  Since that has not been created, at least loosen the rules in the practice games.  For instance, allow players to return after being removed.  Allow do-overs.  Example: let the same player bat twice in a row, if both managers agree or if a certain number do-overs have not been exceeded.  Try new rules.

2. Count the games in the regular season.  If there is no experimenting, start the regular season in warm weather locations.  Some teams have training ball parks that have the same basic dimensions and configuration as their home parks.  There are no longer sad old minor league quality parks.  If they're keeping score, the score should count.

Do you think the new commissioner will embrace any of this after Allen Huber "Bud" Selig passes the baton in 2015?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Red Sox become Yankees. Yankees becoming Red Sox? Not so much.

Babe Ruth, Waite HoytHerb PennockRed Ruffing, Wade Boggs.  All Hall of Fame players.  All except Boggs established their credentials with the Yankees.

Ruth played on Red Sox championship teams in 1915, 1916 and 1918; Babe set a World Series (WS) record of 29.66 consecutive scoreless innings pitched; in his final Red Sox season Ruth set the season home run (HR) record with 29 in 1919.  Ruth hit 659 homers with the Yankees and set the season HR record three more times.  Babe played on Yankee championship teams in 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932.

Hoyt: Two years with Boston: 10-12.  Ten with the Yankees: 157-98; WS winners 1923, 1927, 1928.

1933 Goudey baseball card
via Wikimedia Commons
Pennock pitched on the same Yankee championship teams as Ruth: 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932.  With Boston: 62-59.  Yankees: 162-90; 5-0 in WS.

Boston sent several other players to the Yankees in the 1920s, including:

Bullet Joe Bush: 15-15 with Boston WS winner in 1918; 46-39 in four years.  With Yanks for three pennant winners: 1921-1923; won 26 games in 1922; WS 1923.

Joe Dugan played 84 games with Boston to start 1922, then 60 with the Yankees as their starting third baseman 1922-1928 .  WS winners: 1923, 1927, 1928.

George Pipgras was acquired from Boston in 1923, although he had not yet played for the Red Sox.  Into 1933 Pipgras was 102-73 with the Yankees; he won 24 in 1928.  WS winners: 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932; 3-0 in WS.  Traded back to Boston during the 1933 season and pitched through 1935; 15-11 with Boston.

Ruffing lost 25 and 22 games with Boston and was traded to the Yankees during the 1930 season at age 25.  He won 20 games 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939; all won the WS as did the Yankees in 1932 and 1941.  With Boston: 39-96.  With the Yankees: 231-124; 7-2 in WS.

Sparky Lyle was traded to the Yankees for Danny Cater.  Lyle won the Cy Young award with the Yankees in 1977.  Yanks won WS 1977, 1978.

Mike Torrez won the final game of the 1977 WS in Yankee Stadium then joined the Red Sox in 1978.  Torres gave up the home run to Bucky Dent in the extra tie breaking game in Fenway Park in 1978 and lost the pennant to Ron Guidry and the Yankees.  Boston manager Don Zimmer later became Joe Torre's bench coach on Yankee WS winners years later.

Boggs played five seasons (1993-1997) with the Yankees, 602 games, 2,600 plate appearances; tournament 1995, 1996, 1997.  In 1996 Boggs played in four of the six WS games and rode a police horse in the celebration following the final game in Yankee Stadium.  Ironically, Charlie Hayes was at thrid base and caught a foul pop for the final out.

Going the other way: Elston Howard, 1963 AL MVP with the Yankees, was traded to Boston during the 1967 season in time to play 42 regular season games and all seven World Series games.  Howard then played another 71 games in 1968 and then retired.

David Cone pitched 135 innings in Boston in 2001 at age 38.  He pitched on Yankee championship teams in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.  David Wells pitched in Boston in 2005 and 8 games in 2006 at ages 42-43; Yankee championship teams in 1996 and 1998.

Most recently after winning with Boston, free agents Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury switched to the Yankees.  Damon then started on the 2009 Yankee championship team.  Ellsbury joins the Yankees for the 2014 season.  Even Kevin Youkilis gave the Yankees a shot in 2013; only 28 games.

Yankee WS winning managers Joe McCarthy and Ralph Houk later managed less successfully for Boston, never winning the WS.

Ed Barrow managed Boston 1918-1920.  He became general manager of the Yankees in 1921, starting one year after Babe Ruth switched.  Barrow held that position through 1939, four years after he let Ruth return to Boston ... the Braves.

Friday, March 14, 2014

MLB Network: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch in the 1976 movie Network just before his death, was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it anymore.  He was the mad prophet of the airways and when he wanted to quit he was reminded of his importance by the network chief executive: because you're on television, dummy.

All three major American team sports (baseball, football, basketball) have a powerful professional league, which has two powerful media forms: television network and website.

How much are our views of those sports are influenced by the leagues themselves?

Is A-Rod suspended from the MLB Network or does he have to start A-Rod Network to get equal time?  Sunday, January 12, 2014

Yesterday former MLB player Harold Reynolds was all for MLB commissioner Allan Huber "Bud" Selig on the MLB Network.  See the thread there?  Reynolds works for Selig...

How objective are any of the people identified as working for the MLB Network?  That includes writers and announcers.

Should Alex Rodriguez start his own network, the A-Rod Network?  Could he find former players more sympathetic to his situation?  Writers?  Announcers?

Peter Finch as Howard Beale
Does Bud Selig personally hand out paychecks at the MLB Network?  Saturday, February 8, 2014

He might as well.  It might as well be called the Buddy Network.  Since there's no A-Rod Network, it's no wonder that all the commentary is pro-Selig and anti-Rodriguez...

Selig's TV network employees, who had formerly worked in the players division of Selig's company, were unanimous, as they always are, that their boss was right.

So whatever your baseball beef, maybe you should get mad as hell.  Maybe you should go to your window, open it up and scream:

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

Are they screaming in Cooperstown?

Thursday, March 13, 2014


There's OPS+, ERA+, even wRC+.  Is there home run plus (HR+)?

In fact why isn't there a plus for most baseball stats?  Plus compares an individual's average to the league and factors ball park differences.

Of course, we baseball fans will need to stop evaluating home run data simply on totals and start using averages, like home runs per at bat.  We embraced batting average over a century ago.  Since the advent of modern home run hitting in 1920 you'd think we'd have done the same for homers.

We know the Babe hit 60 and Bonds 73 but that doesn't enable us to have a quick way to compare them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Barry Bonds made money for himself and others.

Players knew that Babe Ruth made lots of money but that the Babe helped each of them make more money, too.  In the 1960s golfers knew that Arnold Palmer had lifted golf into an unprecedented era of money, not just for himself, but for all of them.

There are other examples but it's odd that modern baseball players chose to ignore the truism that star players make money for all players.  Fans are interested in stars.  The bigger, the better.

Finally a current baseball player has expressed that.

As Bonds returns, one player thanks him for 'riches'
Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY Sports 4:42 p.m. EDT March 9, 2014

Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Eric Chavez ... who has made some $81 million in his career – says Bonds should be welcomed by players, owners and Major League Baseball itself.

Bonds, McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, he says, made all of them rich...

"Personally, I want to thank them."  ...

According to Forbes, MLB had revenues of $1.5 billion in 1995, the year after the World Series was canceled. In 2013, revenue exceeded $8 billion, and could reach $9 billion in 2014.

U.S. Marshals Service mug shot of Barry Bonds
November 15, 2007 via Wikimedia Commons
Barry Bonds is in training camp for a week with his old team, the San Francisco Giants.  It's the first time Bonds has been with the Giants since his team dumped him after he was no longer worth the trouble of dealing with his declining reputation for using performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids.  Bonds was blacklisted by all teams in the Major Baseball League (MBL).

This despite the fact that, although his legs were shot, Bonds still led the National Conference in both walks and on base average in each of his final two seasons 2006 and 2007 when Bonds was 42.  The Giants refused to give Bonds a new contract.  Bonds could certainly have been valuable as a designated hitter in the American Conference but none of those teams wanted Bonds.

At the time I thought that Bonds should call their bluff and offer to play for free, maybe for $5 million, which he would give to charity.  It would have been worth it for Bonds but he lacked the imagination and/or character to rehabilitate himself, which must be part of why Bonds is now swallowing his pride and ignoring his blacklisting seven years ago.

Doesn't Bonds realize that Hall of Fame support for Mark McGwire has declined in the years since McGwire confessed to using PED and humbled himself by becoming a regular hitting coach?

And why would the Giants bring Bonds back after dumping him when he was still productive?  Are the Giants trying to rehabilitate the team, a team that made a fortune from the deeds and misdeeds of Barry Bonds?

Finally, has any individual increased his family's net worth during baseball's steroid era more than MBL commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig, the Steroid Sheriff?

Monday, March 10, 2014

The quality of mercy is not strained: commute the sentence of Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez could have his full season suspension cut in half with the lesson and message in tact.  If only Allen Huber "Bud" Selig, commissioner of the Major Baseball League (MBL) can put aside his personal animosity.

Commutation Doesn’t Equal a Full Pardon
By ADAM LIPTAK Published: July 3, 2007  The New York Times

A commutation lessens the severity of the punishment. A pardon excuses or forgives the offense itself.

Rodriguez has been quiet since he finally gave up his fight against Selig about a month ago.  If Rodriguez continues to stay out of the public eye, Selig could show some magnanimity and reduce the punishment.  Selig could make Rodriguez eligible to play in the first game after the All Star game.  That would mean that Rodriguez would have been suspended a little more that half a season.

Since the eight Chicago White Sox players who took money to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series were made ineligible for life by the first commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, has any player received a more severe punishment than Rodriguez?
Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
surrounded by baseball owners as he agrees to be Commissioner of Baseball
November 12, 1920, Chicago Tribune via Wikimedia Commons
I don't see any downside for Selig.  He has won.  Rodriguez has been completely vanquished.  Selig could set his own terms, including a confession, which seems unlikely if Rodriguez does not have his sentence commuted.  Who knows, maybe something like that has already been agreed to.

There are a couple of practical considerations.

1. Would the Yankees want Rodriguez back?  I think they would for two reasons.  Right now they seem headed to having Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez platoon at third base, the position held by Rodriguez since he agreed to switch from shortstop when he joined the Yankees for the 2004 season.  By mid-season the Yankees may need Rodriguez both as a player and gate attraction.

Would Yankee captain Derek Jeter, once a close personal friend when Rodriguez played for Seattle, put his arm around Rodriguez as Pee Wee Reese supposedly did to support teammate Jackie Robinson?  Or would Jeter and/or the Yankees not want Rodriguez to distract from Jeter's final season, which may include a farewell tour?

2, Selig would have to be much more clear and assertive in protecting Rodriguez from vigilante acts by other players.

Coward Ryan Dempster should be suspended 211 games for deliberately hitting Alex Rodriguez.  Monday, August 19, 2013

Ryan Dempster is a coward and thug. Apparently like some other Red Sox players he has chosen to view the Alex Rodriguez situation as a personal affront. With obvious malice and premeditated planning Dempster deliberately threw pitches at Rodriguez multiple times in his first plate appearance in last night's Yankee game in Boston. Dempster just missed the knees of Rodriguez on the first pitch and finally drilled Rodriguez in the ribs on the fourth pitch, all of which were at or near Rodriguez. To his credit Rodriguez merely took his base rather than his revenge. Ironically, Rodriguez was the one who showed class. Ryan Dempster should have been arrested. Ryan Dempster was not even ejected by the umpires. Had Rodriguez retaliated as he seemed entitled to do by charging after Demptster, Rodriguez would surely have been suspended.

Dempster retired this year.  In 2013 Selig procrastinated a few days then slapped Dempster on the wrist with a suspension that cost him one start.  When/if Rodriguez ever plays again Selig or his successor next season must provide much more leadership.

It may not be a coincidence that the original punishment of Rodriguez extended through the entire 2014 season.  Subsequently, Selig announced his retirement effective January 2015.  The banishment of Rodriguez meant that Selig would never have to deal with him again.  The return of Rodriguez would be a problem for the next commissioner.

Asking Selig to voluntarily engage Rodriguez again requires uncommon character, which I have yet to observe in Selig.  Maybe Selig should learn from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice".