Tag Archive | "Roberto Alomar"

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 7) – Wren not zen, a Ray of darkness and Frank malaise sets over Orioles

Posted on 23 June 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 7 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend who loves the team.)

 

7. Wren was not Zen: A Ray of darkness and a Frank malaise casts franchise adrift

 

“He called me and told me the pitching coach should be the manager’s prerogative. We tried his prerogative. It didn’t work. I don’t think he ever got over that.”

 – Peter Angelos (re: Davey Johnson) in  December 1997

 

WHEN THE DAVEY JOHNSON VS. Peter Angelos divorce letters finally hit The Washington Post – after two weeks of “he said, he said” – the newspaper literally just published the two faxes next to each other and let the fans and sportswriters read between the lines – the children, in this case the fans, were left behind in the nasty public divorce.

Angelos and Johnson simply let the peanut gallery and sportswriters pick a side after the split. And, now, just four years after buying the Orioles and seeking his fourth manager, Angelos was beginning to lose his initial honeymoon popularity and Johnson would be become a martyr to the team’s fan base for years to come.

Davey Johnson had his own demons entering the relationship and had a well-established, anti-establishment, competitive arrogance that he brought into every room. But, most folks around the 1986 New York Mets’ magical World Series run would tell you that the manager whose nickname was “Dumb Dumb” was actually always the smartest guy in the room. And Peter G. Angelos was developing a well-earned reputation as a supreme meddler, an intimidating life force and a bad guy to work for in Major League Baseball. He was making the antics of George Steinbrenner circa 1978 look like a sick, reprised role in Baltimore.

In the spring of 1998, with Johnson still unemployed after walking away from a $750,000 job and the third year of his

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 6) – Wire to Wire, champagne and the Dumb Dumb divorce

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 6 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 4 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

6. Wire to wire, champagne and the Dumb Dumb divorce

 

“There is no threat he’s going to lose his job. He has a contract that is binding, and I plan to fulfill the conditions of that contract. One thing is for certain: I have never said that Davey (Johnson) would be fired. I have never said he had to get to the World Series to keep his job. Yet the focus of this is on me. That I don’t understand. None of this has come from Peter Angelos.”

 

Peter G. Angelos – October 24, 1997

 

IN 1997, SOMEHOW, AMIDST ALL of the chaos, drama and incredible mixed emotions of the fan base toward the emerging megalomaniac, micro-managing, all-powerful Peter G. Angelos, the one thing that remained constant was his ability to buy the best baseball players in the world and get them to the field at Camden Yards.

All the team did was win games in 1997. The team started 4-0 and had a winning record in every month of the season. They went wire-to-wire in first place, finishing 98-64, and a runaway winner of the American League East.

Other than Mike Mussina having a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning on a warm night in May and Roberto Alomar spending parts of the second injured, most every aspect of the team on the field was perfect. The Yankees finished 96-66 and were forced to visit the loaded Cleveland Indians and lost in the ALDS. The Orioles were dispatched to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, where they quickly won a pair of games in the thunderous Kingdome, only to lose Game 3 at Camden Yards before Mike Mussina vanquished Randy Johnson in Game 4 to lead the Birds back to their second straight ALCS.

Once again, all of the sins of Peter Angelos seemed to be forgotten. The Orioles were four wins away from the World Series. It had been a magical season, bringing back memories of the Earl Weaver teams of the 1969 to 1971 era when great pitching and defense won championships.

The Orioles had defeated the Indians in 1996 and the Cleveland disdain for all things Baltimore had grown exponentially as the Ravens played into their second fall under Art Modell. But the O’s couldn’t get the job done against the Indians, who won four one-run ballgames in the series, including a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 6. Mike Mussina threw eight innings of shutout baseball before watching Armando Benitez give up an 11th inning home run to light-hitting Tony Fernandez to extinguish the Birds’ dreams of its first World Series since 1983.

The series with Cleveland was a classic, but one that went the wrong way for Orioles fans.

Despite the success on the field, the turmoil behind the scenes was palpable if mostly

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 4) – The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

Posted on 09 June 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 4 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

4. The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

 

“I don’t think any boss, anybody in charge should ever criticize subordinates publicly. That is even in this business here that Frank Sliwka operates [at The Barn in Carney]. If he has a problem with one of the employees I think he should take them in the back room quietly and tell should tell him or her what he objects to. I don’t think anyone should publicly chastise an employee. When you’re a boss you keep that kind of thing to yourself. And that’s what I said to Davey Johnson. And I’ll repeat it again and I’ve told him that since then. He’s a great manager. He’s a great guy. I love him like a brother and we get along fine. Except I’ve said to him, “If you have to criticize someone, you take him in your office, shut the door and let it be between you and the player.”

 – Peter G. Angelos on WWLG Budweiser Sports Forum

March 1997

THERE COULD BE NO ENCORE for an act and a night as emotionally charged as the Cal Ripken 2131 night at Camden Yards in September 1995. Once again, there was no postseason baseball in Baltimore for the 12th consecutive year and Angelos, aided by the immortal Iron Man streak and the intense, family-like local passion for baseball, had enough revenue coming into the franchise to afford any baseball player he wanted in the marketplace. The club was swimming in money vs. its MLB foes. Plus, given his pro-player stance in the contentious labor dispute, many believed the Orioles would be a haven for free agents who wanted to sign with an owner who saw their side and wanted to win and put the best team on the field.

Looking ahead to the 1996 season, Peter G. Angelos was obsessed with one thing: bringing a World Series to Orioles fans.

Immediately following the 1995 campaign, Angelos fired manager Phil Regan and “accepted the resignation” of Roland Hemond, who was actually forced out, along with Frank Robinson, who was glad to leave the Orioles at that point and wound up working for commissioner Bud Selig in the MLB office.

Angelos was clearly running every aspect of the Baltimore Orioles at this point and was quite brazen in the media regarding his daily involvement. He bragged that he had enough time to run a law firm that was netting more than $15 million per year in personal income for him at the time and a MLB team on the side. Now with all of the “baseball people” gone except for his self-appointed farm director Syd Thrift, Angelos needed a new manager and a new general manager. He had already developed quite a reputation in the insulated, incestuous world of baseball men and lifers. He had owned the team for less than 24 months and had already pissed off every one of his 27 MLB partners, upstaged Cal Ripken on the biggest night of his life on national television and chased off two managers and a total of five baseball men: Roland Hemond, Frank Robinson, Doug Melvin, Johnny Oates and Phil Regan. Together they spanned three generations of baseball and touched virtually everyone in the industry with their true stories of an owner who called a manager into his office and demanded – among other things – which third basemen would be in the lineup on any given night.

A year earlier Davey Johnson, a former Orioles second baseman and World Series champion as manager of the 1986 New York Mets, was interviewed by Angelos and his internal committee that included Joe Foss and team lawyer Russell Smouse, but they instead selected Phil Regan, who they thought would be a hot commodity the previous year and whom never was given much of a chance under Angelos.

Johnson, who had a storied reputation for being snarky, cunning and anti-authority, took a shot at Angelos 12 months earlier when he didn’t get the job: “I heard they wanted an experienced manager and a proven winner. That’s why I interviewed for the job. But I guess that’s not what they wanted, right?” he told the media when he was clearly disappointed that he wasn’t selected in October 1994.

Now, after a disastrous year on the field in 1995 under Regan, Johnson’s name surfaced again and Angelos wasted no time in complementing the decorated yet difficult managerial prospect stating, “His baseball knowledge is impressive, and his strong background with the Orioles came through.” Johnson, meanwhile backtracked from any contentiousness in an effort to get the job: “I enjoyed meeting Peter,” he said. “You read stories about the Big Bad Wolf, but he was really nice.”

On October 30, 1995, Johnson was named manager of the Baltimore Orioles, the club’s third skipper in just 18 months under the Angelos regime. “This is a move in the direction of producing a winner,” Angelos said. “We are committed to building a winner in Baltimore, and Davey is a vital part of that effort. He has a winning attitude. He’s a very down-to-earth, forthright baseball professional with an extensive knowledge, and his record clearly establishes that.”

Was Johnson still sore about being passed over the previous year? “I do have a lot of pride, but I don’t have a big ego,” Johnson said. “Maybe I was hoping they’d offer the job so I could say no, but I discarded that idea in about two seconds because Baltimore represents my baseball roots. I thought it was a good fit a year ago, and I still do.”

Angelos allowed Syd Thrift to represent the Orioles at the MLB meetings in Arizona while he remained in Baltimore to interview a bevy of candidates to be the next general manager. Kevin Malone, a former Montreal Expos general manager, and Joe Klein, who had local roots and had been the GM of the Detroit Tigers, were considered to be the front runners but much like with every baseball decision made by Angelos, time wasn’t considered a pressing concern.

And despite most legitimate general managers wanting the opportunity to hire a field manager, Angelos did it backwards. The new manager, Davey Johnson was sent off to the MLB winter meetings along the farm director, Syd Thrift. Both were encouraged by Peter Angelos to recruit an appropriate general manager and working partner that would bring the Baltimore Orioles a World Series title.

In Phoenix, Johnson tracked down former Toronto general manager Pat Gillick, who was his old minor league teammate from

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Drew’s Morning Dish — Thurs., May 2

Posted on 02 May 2013 by Drew Forrester

ESPN is hilarious.

I swear, they’re better at making PR for themselves than Donald Trump does for…Donald Trump.

On Monday, just hours after the Jason Collins-is-gay story broke, ESPN had a showdown of sorts between staffers Chris Broussard, a Christian, and LZ Granderson, an openly gay male.

Remember, ESPN organized this, it wasn’t something the two men decided to do and asked ESPN for permission to make it happen.

ESPN thought it was a good idea to have an openly CHRISTIAN person engage in a debate about homosexuality with an openly HOMOSEXUAL person.

So, they booked them each for an appearance on ESPN in the early afternoon on Monday.

Broussard spoke about the Jason Collins announcement from his own, Christian point of view.  We know, naturally, where that path is headed.  He condemned the lifestyle of Collins – and Granderson, too, for that matter.  Granderson followed up with his own defense of the gay lifestyle since, HELLO!, he leads that lifestyle himself.

There was nothing at all offensive or derogatory or in any way out of line said by either guy, to me.

In fact, much like professional wrestlers, these two men – Broussard and Granderson – are professional friends and have discussed the idea of homsosexuality on numerous occasions when sharing a flight or a drink or a meal.

So…what happened?

ESPN quickly apologized, saying “We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news.”

Interesting.

First off, you brought the two employees on the air, knowing full well they had opposite views on the subject.

Then, you apologized because it became “a distraction”.

OK.

And, if you don’t mind me asking, just how did it become a distraction?  Because a Christian man condemned a gay man’s lifestyle as “a sin”?

It makes sense now.  ESPN invites a Christian man on the air to get him to comment on a gay athlete.  Then, when the Christian man criticizes the gay man’s lifestyle, it’s a “distraction”.

Wait, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

It would be akin to asking the guy who started Morton’s Steakhouse to engage in a debate with the local leader of Vegans-Are-Us.

When the Morton’s guy said, “I think you non-meat-eaters are nuts…sink your teeth into a nice filet and you’ll see what I mean”, would he be deemed a distraction too?

ESPN got what they asked for when they had Broussard and Granderson on the air.  They presented opposing views – which they knew they’d get – and it was done in a decent, respectful manner.

But — because a lot of America is now more afraid of God and Christianity than they are sympathetic to the gay community, it’s deemed a “distraction” when religion meets personal choice.

LOL at ESPN.

Afraid of their own shadow…

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I said it yesterday and haven’t changed my mind today.

I wouldn’t have voted for Roberto Alomar for the Orioles Hall of Fame.

He played three years in Baltimore, and one of them was a jake-effort in 1998.  Alomar was a terrific baseball player, perhaps the best 2nd baseman I’ve seen in the last 20 years, and while he was – in my opinion – a rightful selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he does not belong in the Orioles Hall of Fame.

Robby Alomar had two very good seasons in Baltimore and was part of two winning teams.

That’s it.

Who’s next, Nate McLouth?

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It all starts tonight for the Caps as they host the Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Washington.

Let’s see which team shows up for Adam Oates.

If it’s the “new” Caps, they’ll win 4-2 and get the series off to a good start.

If the “old” Caps are still going to display their usual playoff stink, they’ll lose tonight, 2-1 in OT, and the tide of the series will immediately shift to the Rangers.

My guess?

The old Caps show up.

They seemingly always do.

I hope I’m wrong.

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If you haven’t heard Rick from Reisterstown call the Derby for us on the air, tomorrow morning at 7:45 am is your chance.

It’s worth the price of admission.

And since it costs you nothing at all to listen, you can probably figure out the punch line.

Trust me though, you’ll laugh.

If you make it through the whole thing, that is.

 

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles concluding the opening month of the 2013 season by tying a franchise record with 16 wins in April, here are 10 thoughts to ponder as May begins:

1. Jason Hammel leads the club with four wins, but we’ve yet to see the 2012 version of the de facto ace show up this season. That’s not to say the right-hander hasn’t been one of the Orioles’ better starting pitchers, but the two-seam fastball that led to his renaissance last season hasn’t shown nearly the same bite through six starts this year. Despite a 3.79 earned run average, Hammel is averaging just 5.9 innings per start and his 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings is down dramatically from the 8.6 rate he held last season. Always possessing strong breaking stuff, Hammel needs to find a better feel for his two-seamer in order to make the rest of his repertoire more explosive. There was little debate that 2012 was a career season for Hammel prior to the knee surgery in July, but the Orioles didn’t actively pursue an impact starting pitcher with the thought — wise or not — that they had a pitcher with top-of-the rotation stuff. They’ll need better from Hammel over the next five months of the season.

2. Chris Davis’ historic opening-week start gained the most attention, but the free-swinging first baseman also collected 16 walks in April. His nine home runs have garnered plenty of press as opponents are pitching the left-handed slugger very carefully since the beginning of the season, but the walk totals have led many — including me — to praise Davis for an improved level of patience at the plate after he walked only 37 times during the 2012 season. However, the 27-year-old is seeing just 3.79 pitches per plate appearance after averaging 4.00 pitches per trip to the plate a year ago. Part of this can be explained by Davis’ strikeout rate decreasing (one every 3.5 at-bats compared to one per 3.0 at-bats last year), but it also indicates his walk numbers may not be sustained as his bat inevitably cools off at different points in the season. Regardless of just how much more patient Davis has become at the plate or not, it’s difficult to dispute how much of a force he’s become since the beginning of last season, making his acquisition in the Koji Uehara deal in 2011 a brilliant one by former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

3. The decisions to let go of Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders weren’t the problem, but electing not to replace them is looking more and more like a mistake. Anyone who expects the former Orioles first baseman to continue hitting .300 like he did in his first month with Cleveland will likely be disappointed, but his eight home runs would look very good in the Baltimore lineup right now. Considering Orioles designated hitters batted .144 and posted a .502 on-base plus slugging percentage in April, Reynolds occupying that role or first base — with Davis handling the other — would be a major boost to the lineup. Meanwhile, Saunders pitched a complete game against the Orioles on Monday night but has been abysmal away from Safeco Field (12.51 ERA) so far. As I said during the offseason, letting go of Reynolds and Saunders was fine if the intention was to upgrade each of their spots and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expressed the desire to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and a veteran starting pitcher. However, neither of those goals were accomplished and that could continue to plague the Orioles throughout 2013.

4. Zach Britton turned in a poor 2013 debut, but his quick demotion sends the wrong message to the organization’s young pitchers. No one expected the 25-year-old left-hander to have a long leash given the higher expectations in Baltimore these days, but I can’t subscribe to the idea of sending down a pitcher who you hope will fit into your future after only one rough start. This creates the impression that young pitchers looking for their chance in Baltimore need to be perfect, which isn’t a mindset conducive to being successful. I also wonder what kind of message it sends to Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, who gave their recommendation for Britton to be the next call-up after Josh Stinson’s failed start last week. A spot start for an organizational depth guy like Stinson or even a journeyman like Freddy Garcia is fine, but if the expectation all along was for Britton to only receive one chance, the club would have been better served leaving him in Norfolk and not messing with his head. Again, allowing six earned runs in six innings was far from acceptable, but it wasn’t the type of disastrous outing that warranted an immediate exit.

5. It’s safe to say Nolan Reimold has yet to adjust to his new role as the club’s primary designated hitter. Reimold has two home runs, five RBIs, and a 1.029 OPS in 29 plate appearances as the club’s left fielder, but the 29-year-old has posted an ugly .477 OPS with one homer and two RBIs in 52 plate appearances while serving in the DH spot. The problem for Reimold is the remarkable play of Nate McLouth, who has been more productive at the plate and is better defensively in the outfield. Manager Buck Showalter can’t justify taking McLouth out of left field, so Reimold needs to adjust to his new role, which can be difficult for individuals accustomed to being in the game as a defensive player. The good news for Reimold is that he’s remained healthy after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, but the Orioles must get better production from the designated hitter or will need to begin looking at other options for the role. It’s fair to acknowledge he’s still regaining strength and is adjusting to not having quite as much range of motion in his neck after the surgery, but Reimold would be the first to tell you he needs to be better at the plate.

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Alomar to be inducted into Orioles Hall of Fame

Posted on 01 May 2013 by WNST Staff

Former Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar has been elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame, the team announced today. Former Orioles scout and baseball operations executive Don Pries will be inducted as this year’s Herb Armstrong Award winner. Alomar and Pries will be honored at a luncheon at Oriole Park sponsored by the Oriole Advocates, founders of the Orioles Hall of Fame, on Friday, August 2. The induction ceremony will take place prior to the Orioles’ game against the Seattle Mariners that night.

Alomar spent three seasons with the Orioles from 1996-98, compiling a .312 batting average, 50 home runs and 210 RBI in 412 regular season games. His .312 career average with the Orioles is the highest among all players in franchise history with at least 1,200 at-bats for the team and he ranks 9th all-time in slugging percentage (.480).

In 1996, Alomar set a franchise record with 132 runs scored, 4th-most in the American League, and also led the team in batting average (.328), hits (193), doubles (43) and on-base percentage (.411) to help the Orioles to their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons as the American League Wild Card. He set team records for home runs (20, 22 total) and RBI (84, 94 total) as a second baseman in a single season. In the playoffs, his 9th inning, two-out single tied the American League Division Series Game 4 against Cleveland and his 12th inning home run won that game and the series for Baltimore.

Alomar won Gold Glove Awards in 1996 and 1998, a Silver Slugger Award in 1996 and was elected to the All-Star Game in each of his three seasons in Baltimore, including Most Valuable Player honors in the 1998 All-Star Game in Colorado.

A 12-time All-Star and 10 time Gold Glove winner who also played for the San Diego Padres (1988-90), Toronto Blue Jays (1991-95), Cleveland Indians (1999-2001), New York Mets (2002-03), Chicago White Sox (2003, 04) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2004), Alomar was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the first player to be enshrined as a Toronto Blue Jay and is one of 12 Hall of Fame members who played for the Orioles and were inducted for their on-field accomplishments.

Pries worked for the Orioles for seven years from 1968 through 1974 as an area scout (1968-69), Director of Player Personnel (1970-72) and Assistant to the General Manager (1973-74). He oversaw the Orioles’ farm system and worked with General Manager harry Dalton during the most successful time in club history, when the team went to the playoffs five times, winning three American League pennants and a World Series in 1970.

Pries left the Orioles after the 1974 season to help Major League Baseball design a computer system for the MLB Scouting Bureau, benefiting all teams. In 1987, he became Director of the Major League Scouting Bureau and a year later created the Scout Development Program, a curriculum designed to teach all facets of scouting. Since its inception, more than 1,000 people have completed the program and more than 75% of those are currently employed or have worked in Major League Baseball. Pries played 13 seasons in the minor leagues and managed for five years before beginning his off-field career as a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960. He also scouted for the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A’s prior to joining the Orioles.

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Kill the Umpire

Posted on 05 June 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

They call him Blue because of the color that he wears (or wore) on the field, but the name Blue speaks to more than just that. You refer to him as Blue instead of by name because you don’t know his name, and shouldn’t care to. “Blue” speaks to his anonymity, as the best umpires are the ones that you never notice. “Blue” works on another level too, as (pun intended) when we do get to know their names it’s because blue, or more often blew, has entered the picture.

Fans don’t pay to see (or know) the umpires and generally when we learn Blue’s name it’s because he screwed something up. We remember Richie Garcia because of the call he blew in the “Jeffrey Maier Game” in the 1996 ALCS. We know the name of Jim Joyce for the call that he blew at first base as Armando Galaraga and the Tigers secured what should have been the final out of a perfect game. We know the name of John Hirschbeck because of the spittle (and whatever else) that Roberto Alomar blew at him on an ominous night in Toronto in 1996. And we know the name of “Cowboy” Joe West for the vocals he blew on his album “Blue Cowboy”. All things considered, fans would likely prefer that all 5 were simply anonymous “Blues” again.

 

The other funny thing about Blue is that, at the end of the day, he may simply be a remnant of a bygone era, a token who remains relevant and necessary simply because that’s the way that things have always been, and for possibly little other good reason. As the world calls Major League Baseball to task for its failure to take better advantage of the technology at hand and implement a more encompassing replay system, perhaps we can look at the whole matter as another symptom of baseball’s inability to get out of their own way or to simply embrace the present and take legitimate steps to make the game itself better…and more fair.

 

In an era of technology in which replay has pervaded the landscapes of nearly every major professional sport and sporting league, in an era where the NFL implemented, refined, scrapped, debated, revived and continues to refine their own replay policies, baseball finally and begrudgingly implemented an archaic replay policy of their own, specific only to home run calls, without uniform camera angles from ballpark to ballpark and one involving a parade of umpires vacating the field to convene in a secret room in the bowels of the stadium for the last month of the 2008 season and beyond. (Furthermore, in typical baseball fashion, the move was seemingly done in response to Alex Rodriguez being denied a homerun before his own steroid revelations, as baseball clamored for the day he’d write Barry Bonds out of the record books.)

 

So here we are, in the year 2011, with high definition technology in every ballpark, and a better view of the games from your living rooms (even without the benefit of replay) than you could possibly have from any spot amidst the action. Historically, MLB has seemingly always been a step or two behind the times, and in this case there’s no difference. As baseball looks squarely back into the barrel of the instant replay debate, it’s evident that they should already be way past that point. Baseball should, by now, be looking to get rid of the umpires altogether. The next time the huddle of umps retreats to the video room to look over a homerun call, someone should lock the door behind them and tell them to stay there. Let them stay there until they get it right, or so that they can get it more right more often.

 

The biggest, and most effective argument against replay seems to be that it will slow the pace of an already lethargic game to the point that even more fans will be put off by its lack of tempo. While that, especially under current practices, is probably true, it’s conceivable that eliminating the umpires altogether, or at least their presence on the field could and should actually speed up the game dramatically.

 

Start with the home plate umpire. Every umpire’s strike zone it seems is a little different, and old baseball logic says that as long as the umpire is consistent throughout the night the size of his strike zone shouldn’t matter, and hitters will adjust. How often though are umpires consistent throughout the night? QuesTec proved (to some degree) that cameras and computers could measure strike zones. Argue its accuracy all you like, but there’s little denying its consistency or its potential to improve. Every broadcast it seems has an instantaneous pitch tracker to show fans the arc and location of a pitch as it crossed home plate. While likely not perfect, they are consistent, which is all we ask of good umpires anyway.

 

Furthermore, pitch trackers, set up to a uniform standard in every ballpark will never expand or squeeze the strike zone based on human nature and game situations. The computer won’t be affected when pitchers or batters roll their eyes when close calls don’t go their way, and who in the hell is going to waste time arguing with the computer? (Which by the way makes about as much sense as arguing with an actual ump as they rarely if ever change those calls anyway.) It’s also unlikely that the computer would issue any 3-ball walks like we’ve seen on a couple of occasions in MLB this year, as the umpire in the control room wouldn’t require a coordination with the scoreboard operator, his counter could be the stadium scoreboard.

 

MLB could mandate video boards in uniform locations in every stadium that would relay calls made from the video booth and could easily add accompanying audio to play over the stadiums’ PA systems, as umpires really aren’t required to say very much anyway. Likewise uniform camera angles could be mandated to insure good replays of homerun and fair/foul reviews. Calls on the bases could be made in a similar way, on video boards with accompanying audio calls, “safe at first”, “out at second”, relaying calls made quickly, easily and much more accurately from the video room.

 

Once play is stopped and the ball is ruled dead, umpires could review any video of controversial plays, and in cases where calls are fixable without compromising the action or game situation (like the Joyce and Meals calls) they could fix them; all done quickly and without a parade of umpires retreating off of the field to deliberate.

 

If baseball really wanted to speed the pace of games, then they could require umps to enforce the 12-second rule in which the pitcher has to release his pitch from the time he receives the throw back from the catcher. Twelve seconds may be a bit quick, and therefore the rule is never enforced, and umpires have enough to look out for without putting the stopwatch on pitchers too. The computers though…

 

Since we’re already blowing the lid off baseball, albeit for the betterment of the game, and digitizing, mechanizing and computerizing the whole thing anyway, why not go for broke? Get ready for the blasphemous part for purists…a clock in baseball?!?!?!?!?

 

Put up a shot clock; make it 15 seconds, with a buzzer at the end if the pitcher is still holding the ball. If he steps off, reset it. If he steps off too much, warn him. If the buzzer goes off, call a ball. If the batter wants time out, he can raise his hand and wait for the audio/visual acknowledgment that timeout is granted. Once it is, put a 10 second clock on him too. When 10 seconds is up the pitcher is free to pitch. Pace quickened…problem solved.

 

At the end of the day it sounds pretty simple, and to some degree overdue. Will there be issues to consider? Certainly. That’s what spring training and Triple-A are for. Stage some of those games at big league ballparks, using the installed technology and test it out and refine it. The human element argument is past its time, and fixing these things would enhance the game, and it’s meaningful components without prolonging it. It could draw fans (if for no other reason, than simply for its inherent spectacle) and by insuring the attention isn’t focused on those who are supposed to remain anonymous anyway, might showcase the game in a way that would keep them.

 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, as there are people’s livelihoods and an Umpire’s Union to consider here too, killing the ump doesn’t actually eliminate him, it simply removes him from view, and notice and scrutiny. It restores his anonymity and provides him a better means to be right more often. Manning the video controls is by no means a one-man job, and umpires would have specific call designations and areas of responsibility on which to focus. It’s also certainly not a practice that could be emulated at lower levels of baseball, and is only conceivable at the Major League level. They don’t get a fresh ball for every pitch at baseball’s lower levels either.

 

In the wake of the latest rounds of ump bashing, it makes sense for baseball to again begin to investigate ways to restore Blue to anonymity, as he’s supposed to be…and oh by the way, to try and make sure that calls are made more accurately in the first place.

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Some Free Advice For Sean Payton, Ravens, Orioles HOF, More

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

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The Reality Check Starting Nine Players We'd Take As Our Tag Team Partners

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The Reality Check Starting Nine Players We’d Take As Our Tag Team Partners

Posted on 28 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

Starting next week, “The Starting Nine (Ten)” will go from becoming about fantasy baseball topics to being about fantasy baseball. How about that?

Our final fantasy topic Wednesday on “The Reality Check” was “Players We’d Take As Our Tag Team Partners.” We did that because-as you know-WrestleMania 28 is this Sunday. Wait. You didn’t know that? I don’t think we’re really going to be friends.

These are “modern era” guys. But you knew that since you were listening to the show.

Glenn Clark’s Nine (Ten)…

Pitcher-Nolan Ryan

Catcher-Jason Varitek

First Baseman-Walter Young

Second Baseman-Luis Sojo

Third Baseman-BJ Surhoff

Shortstop-David Eckstein

Outfielder-Lenny Dykstra

Outfielder-Deion Sanders

Outfielder-Adam Dunn

Designated Hitter-Jose Canseco 


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The Reality Check Starting Nine Players We've Most Enjoyed Watching in Our Lifetime

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The Reality Check Starting Nine Players We’ve Most Enjoyed Watching in Our Lifetime

Posted on 22 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

Our third edition of “The Starting Nine (Ten)” Wednesday centered around the subject “Who are the players you’ve most enjoyed watching play baseball in your lifetime?”

Was I supposed to follow up with something else here? Umm…let’s dance! (Oh, and bear in mind that I’m 28 years old and Ryan is 24.)

Glenn Clark’s Nine (Ten)…

Pitcher-Randy Johnson

Catcher-Ivan Rodriguez

First Base-Frank Thomas

Second Base-Roberto Alomar

Third Base-Chipper Jones

Shortstop-Derek Jeter

Outfield-Kenny Lofton

Outfield-Ken Griffey Jr.

Outfield-Ichiro

Designated Hitter-Harold Baines

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