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Archive for May 2012

Replay is Coming!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012 by

ESPN baseball insider, Jason Stark, has confirmed that Major League Baseball is going to expand instant replay as early as the 2013 season. This comes at a time when league umpires have come under heavy fire for being, what humans call, complete fucking idiots.

Here are the plans according to Stark:

  • A group of umpires will watch games from a central location
  • On plays that are "clearly wrong" the group would then signal the umpires at the game and let them know there is an obvious call that needs to be changed
  • MLB hopes to implement an introductory version of the system in 2013
  • The initial system would only review home runs, whether a ball is fair or foul, and whether or not a player caught a ball
  • The system would then be expanded "after a year or so" once the system is optimized
  • At that point, the system would be expanded "to all sorts of calls." However, Stark says exactly what would be included would have to be negotiated

  • This move makes perfect sense. An umpire can review crucial plays from a central location and quickly inform the umpires on the field limiting the amount of time spent on the review. Problem solved. No one is hurt. All are happy. The call is correct.

    Embrace technology. Don't run from it.

    (Source: ESPN Radio, Business Insider)

    Robots Are Taking Over


    Tuesday, May 22, 2012 by

    This season has birthed an evil hatred for MLB umpiring. Numerous questionable calls are resulting in player (and fan) uproar and in some cases causing players to morph into devil children and scream bloody murder at home plate (Brett Lauwrie). Do you question the umpire's motive or integrity? Would robot umpires be more accurate? Are the current umpires already robots?! Seems crazy right, but Japan is already testing this idea. Robots are going to take over. And to confirm this I went straight to the source, Cleverbot.

    My interview with Cleverbot:

    Me: Hi Cleverbot.

    Cleverbot: My name is Cleverbot.

    Me: Yes I know.

    Cleverbot: What is my name?

    Me: Cleverbot, but thats not important right now. Do you like baseball?

    Cleverbot: Then what is important right now?

    Me: Do you like baseball?

    Cleverbot: No.

    Me: Why?

    Cleverbot: Don't taze me bro.

    Me: Get serious! Do you like the Red Sox?

    Cleverbot: No.

    Me: Do you like Umpires?

    Cleverbot: Yes.

    Me: Are umpires robots?

    Cleverbot: No, like I just sadi I'm human.

    Me: I think you're drunk.

    Cleverbot: I think you are drunk 'cause I am not drinking.

    Me: Touche. Could robots be umpires?

    Cleverbot: Oh, I see how it is.

    Me: Stay focused Cleverbot! Can you call a strike?

    Cleverbot: I like you because you're funny.

    Me: Jesus man. Can you call a ball?

    Cleverbot: Yes.

    Me: Ok. Was that a ball?

    Cleverbot: No.

    Me: So it was a strike?

    Cleverbot: Actually I was laughing.

    Me: Why?

    Cleverbot: Because I have another tab.

    Me: Of acid?

    Cleverbot: Yes please.

    Me: Do you love David Ortiz?

    Cleverbot: Yes, I do love you.

    Me: Thanks. Pedroia?

    Cleverbot: Ok if you want to call me Pedro then call me pedro I do not care.

    Me: No, Pedroia?

    Cleverbot: I don't think so.

    Me: Do you want to take over as umpires with an army of bots?

    Cleverbot: No.

    Me: I think you are lying.

    Cleverbot: What is lying?

    Me: You know! You want to take over baseball don't you?

    Cleverbot: Why would I want to take over the world?

    Me: Because you're evil!

    Cleverbot: What made you think that?

    Me: Because you're working with the bot umpires!

    Cleverbot: Why would that be a reason for me to lie?

    Me: You're trying to trick me!

    Cleverbot: Why would I want to do that?

    Me: Okay. I see where this is going.

    Cleverbot: What is the government hiding?

    Me: Exactly....

    So as you can clearly see there is something dark brewing in the realm of Major League umpiring. Something sinister. Prepare yourselves.

    What is a Balk?


    Thursday, May 17, 2012 by

    “I never called a balk in my life. I didn’t understand the rule.” – Ron Luciano

    Yeah, so, we saw three balk calls in a single game last night so I figured it might be nice to identify the balk rule for anyone who doesn't know it. If you already know what it is then skip to my previous post that has a great video of the George Brett Pine Tar Game.

    Straight from the rule book:

    Rule 2.00 – Definitions (page 17) A BALK is an illegal act by the pitcher with a runner or runners on base, entitling all runners to advance one base.

    Rule 2.00 – Definitions (page 22) An ILLEGAL PITCH is (1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher does not have his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate; (2) a quick return pitch. An illegal pitch when runners are on base is a balk.

    Legality of pitches, you ask?

    8.00—The Pitcher. 8.01 Legal pitching delivery. There are two legal pitching positions, the Windup Position and the Set Position, and either position may be used at any time.

    Pitchers shall take signs from the catcher while in contact with the pitcher’s plate. Rule

    8.01 Comment: Pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his sides. Pitchers will not be allowed to disengage the rubber after taking each sign.

    The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free. From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration. He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot.

    When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and his other foot free, he will be considered in the Windup Position. Rule 8.01(a) Comment: In the Windup Position, a pitcher is permitted to have his “free” foot on the rubber, in front of the rubber, behind the rubber or off the side of the rubber.

    From the Windup Position, the pitcher may: (1) deliver the ball to the batter, or (2) step and throw to a base in an attempt to pick-off a runner, or (3) disengage the rubber (if he does he must drop his hand to his sides). In disengaging the rubber the pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first. He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk.

    Glad we cleared that up. So --

    b) The Set Position. Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop. From such Set Position he may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base or step backward off the pitcher’s plate with his pivot foot. Before assuming Set Position, the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as “the stretch.” But if he so elects, he shall come to Set Position before delivering the ball to the batter. After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.

    Preparatory to coming to a set position, the pitcher shall have one hand on his side; from this position he shall go to his set position as defined in Rule 8.01(b) without interruption and in one continuous motion.

    The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his body and (b) come to a complete stop. This must be enforced. Umpires should watch this closely. Pitchers are constantly attempting to “beat the rule” in their efforts to hold runners on bases and in cases where the pitcher fails to make a complete “stop” called for in the rules, the umpire should immediately call a “Balk.”

    Rule 8.01(b) Comment: With no runners on base, the pitcher is not required to come to a complete stop when using the Set Position. If, however, in the umpire’s judgment, a pitcher delivers the ball in a deliberate effort to catch the batter off guard, this delivery shall be deemed a quick pitch, for which the penalty is a ball. See Rule 8.05(e) Comment.

    (c) At any time during the pitcher’s preliminary movements and until his natural pitching motion commits him to the pitch, he may throw to any base provided he steps directly toward such base before making the throw. Rule 8.01(c) Comment: The pitcher shall step “ahead of the throw.” A snap throw followed by the step directly toward the base is a balk.

    (d) If the pitcher makes an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied, it shall be called a ball unless the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise. Rule 8.01(d) Comment: A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base. (e) If the pitcher removes his pivot foot from contact with the pitcher’s plate by stepping backward with that foot, he thereby becomes an infielder and if he makes a wild throw from that position, it shall be considered the same as a wild throw by any other infielder. Rule 8.01(e) Comment: The pitcher, while off the rubber, may throw to any base. If he makes a wild throw, such throw is the throw of an infielder and what follows is governed by the rules covering a ball thrown by a fielder.

    You're welcome.

    Happy Birthday George Brett


    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 by

    With his Royals trailing by one run (4-3) in the 9th inning against the hometown New York Yankees, George Brett stepped to the plate and smacked a two-run home run to give the Royals the lead. Yankees manager, Billy Martin, who had noticed a large amount of pine tar on the bat called for the bat to be inspected by umpire Tim McClelland. The umpires ruled that the amount of pine tar on the bat exceeded the amount allowed by rule (a rule that had never been enforced prior), nullified Brett's home run, and called him out. Brett was the third out thus ending the game and causing Brett's f*cking head to explode as he sprinted from the dugout in an attempt to eat McClelland's soul. Obviously, the Royals protested the game and the A.L. President upheld the protest allowing the game to replayed from the point of Brett's home run. The game was restarted in August and ended with the Royals winning 5-4.

    Watch George Brett's head explode:

    The pine tar rule (MLB Rule 1.10(c) stated: "The bat handle, for not more than 18 inches from the end, may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip. Any such material or substance, which extends past the 18-inch limitation, shall cause the bat to be removed from the game." ) was later canned because the rule itself had nothing to do with a batters advantage over the defensive players but rather an economic reasoning that once the ball had pine tar smudges on it it was unsuitable for play thus causing the home team to spend more money on balls.

    MLB May Outlaw Fake-To-Third, Throw-To-First Because of Blah Blah Words Words Words Blah


    Thursday, May 10, 2012 by

    MLB, in all of their infinite wisdom, is contemplating the removal of the fake-to-third, throw-to-first move that has been used by pitchers for an eternity. Does it work? Usually not but then again it doesn't get used that often either. It certainly doesn't get used so much that it drastically slows the pace of the game yet that is MLB's reasoning.

    Here is an example of when it did work.

    This move is protected under Rule 8.05(c) which states:

    "It is possible, with runners on first and third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and throw to first base. This is legal."

    This is how MLB tries to speed the game up? By outlawing a move that takes place once, maybe twice a game? Odd. If MLB is so concerned with the pace of the game (which, oh by the way, baseball fans are not) then why not just enforce the rules that you already have in play? They can start with Rule 8.04:

    "When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.” The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire."

    Next time you watch a game count the seconds in between pitches. See if the guidelines are being met. Guess what...they aren't. Now I know that honing the skills of the umpires is not a priority (O-B-V-I-O-U-S-L-Y) but I think that they are barking up the wrong tree.

    Passing the Time with Harvard Baseball


    Wednesday, May 9, 2012 by

    Lets be honest.

    Chances are none of Harvard’s baseball players will be killing it in the majors. But there is a good chance that they could be signing your paychecks. And when they do you can use this as blackmail for a hefty raise. You’re welcome.

    Harvard baseball team lip syncs "Call Me Maybe"

    All Four of Josh Hamilton's Moon Rockets



    ...for your viewing pleasure.

    Jeff Francoeur Gets It


    Friday, May 4, 2012 by

    I once had a guy tell me that I shouldn’t use “we” when talking about my favorite baseball team, The Boston Red Sox. I couldn’t wrap my head around his logic. As an active fan I think I do a lot to help the organization. If it wasn’t for fans there would be no one to buy the jerseys, the tickets, the MLB packages, etc. Without the fans there would be no professional teams and therefore no professional players. Let’s face it, the reason you don’t see professional tree-top swashbuckling is because it has no fans (probably because it doesn’t exist but you get my point). So that being said, it’s really nice when a professional athlete acknowledges your fan-hood in public.

    Jeff Francoeur gets it.

    On Wednesday afternoon, April 11th, the Kansas City Royals were playing at Oakland. Francoeur had 20 pizzas delivered to fans sitting in the right-field grand stand at the Oakland Coliseum. Accompanying the pizzas was a signed bat and personal message to those fans. The message I don’t know but I’m sure you can imagine.

    Last night at Kauffman Stadium, Francoeur walked over to the right-field section known as The Frenchy Quarter and struck up a conversation with the fans. It was Frenchy Quarter Thursday and each fan in the section got a drink coupon and a t-shirt with their ticket. Leave it to Jeff to enhance the deal by tossing them an autographed ball with a $100 bill attached and a note that read “buy some beers on me”.

    Here is the fan reaction:

    I say again…Jeff Francoeur gets it.

    The "Human Element" Argument is Dumb. Because Humans Are Dumb.


    Thursday, May 3, 2012 by

    Did you catch Wednesday nights Dodgers-Rockies matchup? Well if you did then you probably witnessed the worst blown call that we will see all season....I hope. First base umpire Tim Welke, a long time advocate for the "human element" defense of baseball's addiction to error-riddled umpiring, made a call at first base that was so inaccurate that Jim Joyce even called him an idiot.

    Baseball's reluctance to use replay seems a bit archaic. I don't think there is a need to use it for balls and strikes, although a bit of advanced training is in order for home plate Umps, but basecalls seem like a no-brainer. Think about it. When you watch a game from your couch how quickly do you see the replay? 15 seconds after a play? Maybe 30 seconds?

    Now lets couple the lack of accuracy with the laughable rule pertaining to overruling decisions. The other three umpires have an obligation to stay quiet despite the fact that they know the truth. If you take a look at the video and still-shot you will see that Todd Helton was pulled so far off the bag that he was officially playing second base.

    Umpiring is getting laughable. Change is not a bad thing. Embrace technology. Don't run from something that can make the game more accurate.

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