Manfred Threatens To Make Baseball So Fast Our Heads Will Spin

Rob Manfred is fired up about pace of play, and as of today he’s officially kicking ass and taking names. First he came out and said there won’t be any substantive rule changes to baseball in 2017 due to “lack of cooperation from the MLBPA.” Just putting the damn players’ union on notice.

Manfred then channeled his inner Trump and threatened to make unilateral changes before the 2018 season. Executive orders are so hot right now.

And finally after his afternoon of threats, it seems the league and MLBPA agreed on a change after all.

Finally we get to see the end of the oh-so-terrible four pitch intentional walk. Instead of being forced to watch the pitcher spend 20 seconds throwing four actual pitches, we’ll get to watch two managers and the entire umpire crew spend two minutes trying to figure out how to send an electronic walk signal to MLB’s Replay Office in New York. I can’t wait for all that speedy chaos. By 2018 Manfred will have the game moving so fast our goddamn heads will be spinning.

Manfred really loves stupid rule change proposals. If he’s so fed up with the MLBPA’s opposition to new rules and his inability to quickly implement changes, maybe he should consider a rule change challenge system and a rule change implementation clock. Put a little unnecessary structure around this futile pace of play initiative.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about Manfred’s BS pace of play crusade. But I will say this. ‪I want to know exactly when the next significant rule change announcement is coming. I don’t care if it’s a slight change in the strike zone or a stupid pitch clock. I want to know when it’s coming so I can somehow arrange to be shopping at a Pottery Barn with Goose Gossage at the time of the announcement.

I want to be there when Goose finds out Manfred made a minor tweak to his precious game and then watch him destroy $10,000 dollars worth of pottery. I want to watch as mall security restrains an enraged Goose and carries him out of the store in a straight jacket with his veins bulging out of his neck. That would make it all worth it.

Manfred Wants To Change Baseball For The Children

It appears King Manfred has decided that baseball is too boring to be played the way it’s been played for over a century. He issued a royal decree for all the land to hear. He addressed all the lords of the league aka the owners about potential changes to the game for consideration in the offseason. Apparently Commissioner Manfred feels the quality of play is down in 2016, and he wants to make changes to attract a younger generation of viewers. In other words Rob is begging us to think of the children. Won’t somebody please think of the children!

Here’s what clown Manfred wants to do:

Limit Pitching Changes: Apparently Manfred is tired of waiting for managers to make all their situational pitching changes. So he wants to limit the number of permissible pitching substitutions. I’m sure the player’s union will love the idea of the owners eliminating available MLB pitching jobs. I’m sure the agents and all the executives that handle these arms with the utmost care will love the idea that managers might feel compelled to leave pitchers in a game longer because they aren’t allowed to freely substitute someone else into the contest. This idea is terrible and won’t happen. Flush it down the toilet. Next.

Stop Shifting: Let me get this straight. Team executives used advanced analytics and spray charts to identify where players typically hit balls and made an effort to position their fielders in ways that minimize balls put in play. As a result we’ve supposedly seen batting averages drop. In most sports when a team utilizes a strategy to take advantage of something, other teams are expected to modify their play to adjust to the strategy. In baseball, the teams and players are so dead set on keeping things the way they’ve always been that they are considering banning the strategy rather than adapting to it. You know what will stop shifting? Hit the ball the other way! Bunt when the team abandons half the field. And don’t give me the “That’s easier said than done” BS. The old time baseball morons are just pissed that all the front office nerds are exploiting something in the game, and they don’t want to tell their top hitters to bunt because they’re too damn proud to make the adjustment. Just do it and force the opposition to abandon the shift.

20 Second Pitch Clock: All the other sports are about time and clocks. But not baseball. That’s what makes baseball unique. I totally agree that hitters spend too much time screwing around in the batter’s box, and pitchers spend too much time walking around the mound. But we need a freaking clock to stop that culture? Get out of my face with that crap. I thought baseball loved unwritten rules and mandates? If we want to stop the dillydallying, then tell the umpires to throw people out of the game if they take too long. Tell the umps to do their job and keep the games moving. Manfred even said, “And, quite frankly, the data shows that people don’t violate the 20-seconds. With or without a clock. It’s a reminder that moves things along.” So he’s admitting the clock does nothing and players just need an occasional reminder to keep playing.

Here are some of my thoughts:

Before Manfred starts making all these moronic “outside the box” changes that he probably got from some baseball consulting firm, why don’t we make a few obvious changes that will improve the game and their precious pace of play.

Fix Replay: Umm the replay review process is pretty pathetic. 90% of the time I watch the replay on my couch, make the correct call, and then I wait 5 minutes for the umpire to make the correct call. How can it possibly take so long for a central team in New York to relay the correct calls to the umpiring crew in each game? It’s absurd. If you want to implement a 20 second pitch clock, how about you implement a clock for these freaking umpires. Get the damn calls right and get them right immediately! It takes 10 seconds.

7-Day DL: The Mets literally spend half of their season playing shorthanded and debating whether players should be placed on the 15-Day DL. Now the Mets are an incompetent organization. There’s no denying that. But the truth is a minimum 15-Day DL rule is absurd. The minor leagues have a 7-Day DL. MLB needs that same rule. The Mets would still find a way to mishandle injuries with a 7-Day DL but at least the rest of the league would benefit.

Keep Juicing The Balls Up: Manfred says baseball is slow and boring, but home runs are way up in 2016. In July, the league was on pace to hit the most home runs since 2000. Home run totals rivaling the steroid era? What’s happening? Well it’s simple. They juiced the balls. They won’t admit it, but that’s what they did. And you know what? That’s genius. Fans love dingers. Kids love dingers. I would much rather MLB publicly announce they are juicing the balls to increase home run totals. That makes the game more fun and then the players aren’t sticking needles in their asses to entertain the fans.

Expand The Rosters Damnit: Don’t limit reliever substitutions. Expand the rosters. Let teams carry 30-35 guys. 162 games is an insane number. If they aren’t going to shorten the season then the teams need more troops to make it to the finish line. Sure this probably waters down the quality of the average roster. But who cares? The stars will get the rest they need and more players get the opportunity to play on the big stage.

Give Us The DH: I’ve written about this before. I love watching Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon crush bombs, but it makes no sense for the AL and NL to have different rules. If the Mets had the DH, Yoenis Cespedes would have been able to rest his quad injury and contribute with his bat. If the Mets had the DH then the Jay Bruce/Cespedes/Curtis Granderson/Michael Conforto “logjam” would be resolved in two seconds. Juan Lagares would be able to play center field and bat 9th. I realize this opinion is unpopular among NL fans, but I’m ready to adopt the DH. The Mets are built on pitching, and I wan’t to protect the arms. And honestly the Mets would probably wind up DH-ing their pitcher half the time anyway.

Decide On The Damn Rules: The league spent half the season inconsistently enforcing the takeout slide rules at second base. Thor was instantly tossed for throwing a retaliation pitch at Utley earlier this year, and then at other times teams were simply warned for the exact same behavior. Maybe Rob Manfred should work on consistently enforcing the existing damn rules before implementing new ones.

All-Star Game: Get rid of the World Series home field advantage thing in the All-Star Game. It’s completely ridiculous. The team with the best regular season record should receive home field in the Fall Classic. Period.

Cut Spring Training: Spring Training is way too long. Cut it in half.

T-Shirt Cannon With Money: Many teams shoot T-shirts out of a cannon during games. Well how about they stuff money in one of the T-shirts during a few games a year? I’m talking big money. 10 grand. Something insane. You want to draw more people to the ballpark? Then randomly launch cash prizes into the stands. And also hire extra security so fans don’t attack each other for the prizes. Actually a cash T-shirt battle royale in the stands sounds a little dangerous. Maybe they should just award the cash randomly based on your seat number? All I know is I want the Mets to pay me 10 grand to come watch their games. Make the check out to The Metssiah.

Loosen Up On Content Sharing You Jerks: If MLB wants to attract a younger audience they should probably stop protecting their precious content so much. If you share a freaking video or a home run clip without the expressed written consent of the stupid league they have MLB secret agents busting down your door. I’ve been an MLB.TV subscriber for like 10 years. This season my account was accessed on two devices at the same time in different states. As a result of that they temporarily shut down my account, accused me of password sharing, and threatened to ban me from using the service. Do you realize how insane that is? I’m scared to even share this story on the internet. I’m worried Manfred and his goons are going to break my knee caps as I leave my house to go to work one day. Let people share content and share MLB.TV passwords. You want more people to watch right? Then don’t threaten people for sharing a video of a home run.

That’s All I’ve Got: I like baseball. I don’t want to change it. And quite frankly they don’t have to make any changes to reclaim market share. Baseball is going to win the war of attrition against football. It won’t be long before the NFL is shutdown by the courts because of all the concussion and health related litigation. Once that happens, the children will come crawling back to boring old baseball.

Mr. Manfred’s Neighborhood Play

I already posted about the new takeout slide rule yesterday. Ruben Tejada Rule. Chase Utley Rule. We can call it whatever the hell we want. As I said yesterday, I see it as nothing but a pointless rebranding of the already muddied takeout slide rules. And we are going to spend 162 games debating if the runner made an “attempt” to touch the bag and an “attempt” to hold on to the bag. It is ridiculous, and we are in arguably the same position as last October.

But today, all I am reading about is how the masses are appalled by the fact that the league published the new slide rule while simultaneously making the existing “neighborhood play” reviewable. The neighborhood play allows an infielder to record a force out at second base during a double play without technically touching the bag. It historically existed to protect shortstops and second basemen from takeout slides. And now that it can be reviewed by instant replay, it essentially means the league will enforce the actual rule of staying on the bag to record a force out. As a result of this change, Terry Collins said, “Someone is going to get their clocks cleaned.”

MLB continues to blow my mind with their myriad of unwritten rules like the neighborhood play. So we literally just made a play reviewable that doesn’t technically even exist by rule. And it only existed in the first place because the league refused to make a real rule addressing takeout slides. It literally exists because runners consistently crush middle infielders on takeout slides, and in order to give the infielders a chance to survive, everyone agreed off the record that they don’t have to touch the bag while turning a double play. You know what else we could have done all this time? Maybe release a “no crushing the middle infielder on takeout slides” rule. Does that work? Has anyone in MLB ever heard of writing down real rules that make sense?

And you know the best part? This new slide rule does not ban takeout slides at all. In fact, the league has openly talked about how they want them to remain a part of the game.

Let us recap: 1) Real rules exist that say fielders need to stay on the bag to record a force out. 2) Unwritten “neighborhood play” rule exists and says the opposite. 3) Now instant replay can be used to ensure the unwritten neighborhood play rule will no longer be enforced. 4) Slide rules now exist that define a legal slide and an illegal “roll block”. 5) The league does not want to discourage legal slides to break up a double play.

It is so simple everyone. Now, the league just wants middle infielders to stay on the bag, and they only want double plays to be broken up by runners that legally “take the fielder out” of the play. Get it?

As I said yesterday, the rule deliberation is pointless because the only way this works is if the league bans takeout slides through enforcement. They just have to consistently call the runners out. If they consistently side with the infielder then the practice will die out. And once the actual rule is established by virtue of the calls made during the games, hopefully somebody grabs a pen and writes it down.

Wilpons Lose 300 Million; Payroll is Rising?

 I swear to God when the Mets traded Darrell Ceciliani to the Blue Jays earlier this week for “cash considerations” my brain instantly went to the same basic place it’s gone for almost 8 years now. I just imagined the Wilpons rummaging for coins lost in their sofa or running a yard sale, flipping a bunch of DVDs, Jeff’s old toys, and worn Mike Piazza t-shirts. At this point it’s instinctual for Mets fans to rant about how cheap the Wilpons are and how their financial situation is destroying the franchise. But right now we really can’t complain about their notorious frugality. They said they would raise payroll if we had a chance to win, we got to the World Series, and they raised payroll. This doesn’t mean I trust the Wilpons to write checks forever, but it does mean that at least right now we can’t say their financial losses are impacting the team.

That being said, what the hell is going on? They lost close to 700 million with Madoff when you include the money they had to pay the investors they swindled. They have close to a billion in loans against the team. And now their real estate fund has lost over 300 million dollars?  Yet payroll is going up. All the talk today is about how the Mets are finally spending like a big market franchise. Sandy even said “I think it could happen” in reference to signing all the young starters to long term deals.

Meanwhile Fred Wilpon’s portfolio continues to hemorrhage cash. And by the way he’s not just losing money on random shit. Real estate is his supposed bread and butter. It’s how he originally made his fortune.

I would like to know what the Wilpon family has on the league. I really really want to know. When a guy loses hundreds of millions of dollars while simultaneously chairing the MLB Finance Committee it makes you wonder what deep dark secret he stumbled upon in the past. I mean did Manfred and Selig invite the Wilpons over for dinner years ago at their remote country house and when Jeff went to the bathroom he stumbled upon some underground Kiss The Girls-esque torture chamber?

Everyone always chalks it up to “well he’s good friends with Bud Selig!” First of all, Bud Selig ripped the Dodgers out of Frank McCourt’s hands because he spent a few million bucks on divorce lawyers instead of team payroll. Yet when it’s comes to the Wilpons and their near billion in debt and losses, MLB is an open piggy bank. Just handing out loans to the Mets left and right. I highly doubt that’s explained by “friendship”. And second, Bud Selig is retired. He’s gone. Rob Manfred still keeps the MLB credit line open for the Mets and lets these mooks manage all the finances of the league.

But you know what? I’m done asking questions. If they spend millions on the team while simultaneously losing and owing people billions then great. Fine by me. As long as they are ready to spend the billion dollars it’s gonna take to retain Harvey and these pitchers. Or maybe they will all take 3 year deals with an opt out and a promise from Fred to help them pick out a house in a great location. You know, whatever seals the deal.

What Happened to Banning Takeout Slides?

utley ruben slide

It wasn’t too long ago that Yankee mole and MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre sat at a podium shortly after Ruben Tejada had been demolished by Chase Utley‘s filthy takeout slide during Game 2 of the NLDS. At that press conference Joe babbled on and on about the play all the while failing to offer coherent sentences explaining the definition of a legal slide or what exactly constituted the “neighborhood play” under the rules.

At that time Joe (i.e. The Head of Rules) said he was “digesting” the legality of the slide (probably as Ruben was digesting his hospital food), but he assured fans that Utley would be appropriately disciplined and that MLB owners would discuss potential rule changes during the offseason. Well as we all know, Joe failed to live up to his first promise when he handed Utley a meaningless 2 game suspension that wasn’t even implemented during the series.

However, last week Major League Baseball owners had a chance to make good on the second promise when they met Wednesday and Thursday at some retirement community in Florida for their annual meetings.

And it wasn’t just the rules around takeout slides up for discussion. These rich old coots had a lot to cover including:

  • The DH being used in the National League
  • Discipline for players facing investigations for alleged domestic violence incidents
  • Cardinals hacking scandal against the Astros
  • The “flaws” associated with instant replay review

Anyway after two full days of discussions, the owners had the following to show for it:

  • DH in the NL – No change
  • Domestic violence discipline- No decision
  • Cardinals hacking scandal- No decision
  • Instant replay review- No change
  • And finally on takeout slides…No change

Wow!!!! Talk about unbelievable progress. These guys can really cover some ground in between shuffle board matches.

So there was absolutely no progress whatsoever made on any of the issues on the agenda. After dirty takeout slides ended the season for both Ruben Tejada and Pirates star rookie Jung Ho Kang, the league has decided rather than at least clarify the existing rules it’s better to just let this one play out. Thus ensuring that next season we will almost certainly experience multiple takeout slide related injuries and an equal amount of umpire crews just shrugging and hoping to reach a representative at the MLB Replay Call Center in New York. “Representative!! Rep-re-sentative!!”

In regards to implementing the DH in the NL, Commissioner Manfred offered this incredible insight, “It is the single most important feature that defines the differences between the two leagues.” Ummm wait, wait, slow down. So the DH is something that is different between the American League and the National League? Ok I think I understand. So the rules are not the same right now. Got it. He then added “The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo.” Gotta love the old status quo.

And by the way, the most hilarious part about the NL considering the implementation of the DH is the main reason behind it. They want to prevent injuries to pitchers. So we have second basemen and shortstops breaking legs and baserunners getting concussions on takeout slides, but we are more concerned about pitchers pulling their hamstrings as they run to first base. Well either way the important thing is that the league decided to do nothing.

The proposed “enhancements” to instant replay, centered on the owners’ desire to change the practice of overturning “safe” calls when it’s determined that the runner has in fact lost contact with the bag. I can’t even begin to try and offer you an explanation for why they want to stop umpires from getting these calls right. I’m guessing it has to do with their favorite pace of play debate. And quite frankly with so many of these owners on the verge of death, I can understand why they are prioritizing speeding games up.

Now it’s not fair to criticize the owners on everything. They did have a few major accomplishments including moving this year’s trade deadline to August 1st to avoid having it on a Sunday and the appointment of salty Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts to the MLB small council. He will join current Master of Coin Fred Wilpon as another esteemed member of the committee.

And before it was all said and done the focus of the meeting turned to revenue sharing (i.e. a great debate about how the owners planned to split the tab for the entire event).  Obviously Fred Wilpon got up to use the bathroom when the tab was being settled only to return with promises of “getting it next year”.