Why the MLB’s new batter’s box rule might actually work to speed up games

09/04/2015 § Leave a comment

I give you Adrian Beltre:

Major League Baseball has introduced a whack of new rules this year, aimed at speeding up games, which are on average more than 30 minutes longer now they were in the 1970s. Much of the lengthening has taken place in the last decade. Some of that is TV, some of it is pitchers facing hitters more patient than their predecessors and taking more time to deliver those pitches.

Pitchers and hitters must now be ready to play right when commercial breaks end (a easily-visible clock gives them a countdown), but the bigger influence will surely be preventing batters from taking both feet out of the batter’s box. They won’t be wandering about between pitches. It’ll be a matter of seconds for each at bat, but those all add up.

Twice already this week Adrian Beltre has caught himself before wandering from the box. Players will face fines if they don’t respect the rule, the Commissioner’s Office says.

I think it will work.


Confirmed: in a winter of upheaval at least one Oakland ball player still has a sense of humour

11/01/2015 § Leave a comment

Sean Doolittle, star relief pitcher in 2014 for the Oakland A’s has seen a lot of teammates be made former teammates this off season.

Josh Donaldson. Jeff Samarzdjia. Jon Lester. Nick Punto. Brandon Moss.

Doolittle is making the best of it:

It sure looks like the Flyers broke the NHL/NHLPA CBA ban on December 26 travel

03/01/2015 § Leave a comment

The NHL/NHLPA CBA is pretty clear: teams can’t travel or do team-sponsored things on December 24, 25 or 26.

Even if you have a game on the 27th, you can’t travel. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet is reporting the Flyers broke the rule, and there’s plenty of evidence that suggests he’s right.

16.5 (b) December 24, Christmas Day, and December 26 shall be off-days for all
purposes, including travel, and no Club may request a Player’s consent to practice on such days
for any reason, provided, however, if December 26 falls on a Saturday and the League has
scheduled NHL Games on such date, December 23 may be substituted as an off-day for all
purposes, including travel, instead of December 26.

The team says they waited till midnight to fly (which is passive aggressive enough in itself):

Except publicly-available data about the Flyers’ charter tells us it sure looks like they did:

(The link shows Delta 8949, the Flyers’ charter designation, leaving Philly at 8:42 pm on Boxing Day and landing in Nashville an hour and 42 minutes later.)

Penalties for CBA violations aren’t clear, though the league nailed the Kings for 100 large for letting suspended Slava Voynov participate in a team practice.

The Oilers defence was a raging brushfire on opening night

10/10/2014 § Leave a comment

Don’t believe me?

As Chris Boyle, who knows a thing or two about goaltending. The Flames beat the Oilers 5-2 on Thursday night, and by Boyle’s count, four goals were about completely distressed defensive play:

It was a game that Calgary had no business winning, as the Oilers recorded an overall Fenwick of 62.7 per cent (60.7 per cent FenClose). The Flames didn’t have much of the play but they did plenty with what they had. And the Oilers helped them along quite well, as we can see.

To quote Ari Gold: “That’s awful.”

“Merkle’s boner” – a video tribute from Keith Olbermann

23/09/2014 § Leave a comment

Yes, yes, I’ve used him before, but since this is the 106th anniversary of the famed play, a video look back from the voluble ESPN broadcaster, from a year ago:

(h/t Tom Hawthorn)

On Ray Rice, what were they thinking?

08/09/2014 § Leave a comment

It’s the question I thought this morning.

How did the Ravens or the NFL think they could get away with this. Ray Rice is the issue – but he’s also not really.

The bigger issue is that the league thought they could simply shove this under the rug. It was a PR problem. It wasn’t a human problem or a legal problem.

Ray Rice knocked his fiancee out because they were arguing. Ray Rice is a women-beater. Roger Goodell and the Atlantic City DA and the management of the Ravens thought that was something to hide – and that it could be hidden.

To quote Keith Olbermann, “Roger Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women.”

Ray Rice would just get back on the field, be a key player for the Baltimore football campaign.

Ray Rice just made a mistake and he wouldn’t do it again. Ray Rice was the victim of himself. He lost control. His wife provoked him. And so and so and so and so…

But we all knew already that the NFL doesn’t care about all that. It presents a golden ticket to young men across America, whether they come from good backgrounds or not, and sells a modern gladiatorial spectacle. We love it. Where the fans or the players come from doesn’t matter and aren’t due anything.

Sport is all. That’s it.

There was no need to speak out against the ills of American society. Of a disease called domestic violence. It’s easier to say ‘well, it’s a problem of the poor, we’re just a football league, we don’t do stuff like that.’

Except, it’s not true. Domestic violence happens everywhere, to rich and poor, to black and white. The NFL took a position that was the opposite of leadership. They and the team said, well, basically nothing.

We’d forget Ray Rice. We’d get back to cheering. Who cares what’s in the video.

The brand would survive.

Olberman gave a rant for the ages tonight on his ESPN show. His speech is powerful. It’s considered. And it pulls no punches. He points at everyone, the league, the team’s management and coaches, the Atlantic City authorities, even us, the fans, for abetting this coverup. The powers that be knew of the video – it’s almost as horrifying to think the alternative, that they were too incompetent to find it – and yet didn’t see anything of importance. A slap of the wrist suspension, a ridiculous press conference that was an elaborate session of victim blaming and, apparently, no need for legal action was the outcome.

Ray Rice is now on the outs, not because of what he did, but because the horrifying video made it into the public eye.

It shouldn’t have taken this. And yet here we are.

Did they really think the video wouldn’t get out, sometime. Did Roger Goodell and his crew really think that someone wouldn’t be outraged and wouldn’t find a way to share it? If this video had landed on my desk, you can count on me putting it out. (Last week, we did something similar at The Province.)

So, again, what were they thinking?

An amazing fact about Sam Fuld and Yoenis Cespedes

31/07/2014 § Leave a comment

A jaw-dropping figure from Jeff Sullivan over at Fan Graphs:


Cespedes: 2.9 WAR / 600 plate appearances
Fuld: 2.5 WAR / 600 plate appearances

Cespedes, of course was moved by Oakland to Boston on Thursday at the trade deadline for ultra-primo starter Jon Lester, while Fuld was scooped by the A’s from Minnesota for Tommy Milone.

Now, Sullivan admits that these are two players who do different things and are at different points in their careers – but the fact remains in a win-now universe, this isn’t as drastic a shakeup in the outfield as you might think.

Cespedes is a power hitter, in the middle of his power peak. He’s going from a stadium that hates hitters to one that loves ’em. But he’s also a pretty poor OBP guy – he’s getting on base at just a .303 clip this year.

Fuld goes back to Oakland, the team he started the year with. He’d been a key bench player in Tampa the last three years, coming in as a defensive replacement more often than not. He’s a slightly better threat to get on base than Cespedes and is a better base runner but he’s nothing close to the departed Cuban in the power department.

It’s that defensive value that he brings that is everything in this change. Fuld is the kind of guy you need in the enormous outfield at O.co. Tie him in with the now-white hot rotation that Oakland’s assembled, you understand what Billy Beane is doing.