Dec 13

Keep the Action Alive — a guest post

Our colleague Fred sent this to me and suggested he’d post it as a comment if I didn’t put it in a post. It seems to me it’s likely to get more attention for a longer period if it’s in a post, and it’s worthy of discussion.

Every year there is talk about speeding up the game of baseball. Millennials are different, they don’t want to watch the grass grow during the 25 seconds between pitches or watch the pitcher and catcher play catch.

Players are not playing at their best if they stand around and they are not at their best in extra innings.

Here are some ideas for creating more action in a shorter period of time:

  1. Use the DH in the NL but when the third pitcher enters the game, he goes into the DH spot.
    a. The pitcher who last pitched would thereafter be in the DH spot.

  2. Start all extra innings with a runner on second base. This will shorten the number of extra innings played and keep the game lively in those extra innings.
  3. Use electronics to call balls and strikes. Less arguing and allows hitters to be more aggressive.
  4. Reduce the time between innings.
    a. Five warm up pitches?
    b. Insert more ads during the innings whether it is the announcer reminding viewers that the game is brought to you by X or maybe a graphic somewhere on the screen.

  5. Electronically reduce the strike zone whenever a pitcher takes too much time. The clock would start when the pitcher has the ball and is within 10 feet of the mound. Maybe 18 to 22 seconds?
  6. Expand the strike zone electronically whenever a hitter is not ready to hit within 8 seconds between pitches.
  7. Reduce the strike zone for the next 5 pitches whenever a pitcher puts a pitch more than 6 inches inside and above the shoulders. Less intimidation means more action. The location would be determined electronically.
Dec 07

The Stanton sweepstakes

From Sports Illustrated today:

Stanton is a definite upgrade in leftfield over the combo of Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson, but considering they’ll combine to make around $3–4 million next year, is it worth tacking on Stanton’s contract and potentially hamstringing future offseasons or losing Kershaw to accomplish that?

When it’s put that way, and when I consider that Stanton will be in his thirties for most of the remaining ten years and $275 million of his existing contract, I don’t think I really want him that badly.

Nov 21

Find your sports bar now

Two of the first four Dodgers’ games in 2018 will be on ESPN.

ESPN will televise the Dodgers-Giants opener on Thursday, March 29, a 4 p.m. PT start, and will also showcase the series finale on “Sunday Night Baseball,” a 5:30 p.m. PT start. Both will be exclusive telecasts by ESPN, which means no SPNLA broadcast of either game.

Hmm. Kershaw pitches Opening Day, Hill in Game Two, Maeda in Game Three and Wood in Game Four, I’m guessing.

Nov 12

Personnel departures

Not players, though. It’s only 10 days after the World Series and the Dodgers have already seen three members of their front office depart: Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler has left to manage the Phillies, Assistant Director of Player Development Jeremy Zoll has left to run the Twins minor league system, and as of Monday Vice President of Baseball Operations Alex Anthopolous is expected to be announced as the new General Manager of the Braves.

I suspect it’s easier to find front office talent than it is good-to-excellent players, but it still means a lot of work for the HR Department.

Nov 06

What’s in your baseball library?

Prompted by Bob Hendley’s comment below.

What should be?

I’ve bought three baseball books in the past month:

If you need an overview of baseball history for your reference shelves, I just got this one (used). It’s current through 2004 and it’s pretty good.

If you want a good history of the Dodgers – Giants rivalry through 2003 (so not including the Giants’ three WS championships in the 2000s), this is a good one.

And finally, I added a minor classic: I picked up a used copy of David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49.

My entire baseball collection is cataloged at Library Thing.

What do you have and what do you want to get?

Nov 02

Free agency day

Here’s the most comprehensive list of free agents I could find. Go shopping for ones the Dodgers might want!

Here are the Dodgers who are free agents: Yu Darvish; Curtis Granderson; Franklin Gutierrez; Brandon Morrow; Chase Utley; Tony Watson

MLB has a slightly longer list. It includes Forsythe and his $8.5 million club option and Ethier and his $2.5 million club option.

The following Dodgers are arbitration-eligible: Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Yimi Garcia, Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Alex Wood.

MLB’s story also raises several questions:

  1. Does Seager’s elbow need surgery, and if so, when will he have it done?
  2. Will Honeycutt be back for another season? His contract’s up and he’s 63 years old (I remember him as a pitcher! He can’t be that old!)
  3. What does Adrian Gonzalez want to do and what do the Dodgers want to do with him?

They might very well go after Darvish, despite his horrific failures in the World Series. They will probably try to sign Morrow, but he might be offered more than the Dodgers want to pay. The same goes for Watson. Granderson they’ll let go, and Gutierrez was a failed pickup (due to injury, not performance); I can’t see them keeping him. I doubt they’ll keep Utley unless he wants to coach. They have more use for the 25th spot on the playing roster than to re-sign him for several million dollars just to act as a pinch-hitter and occasional caddy for whoever plays second base next season.

Nov 01

World Series Game Seven, 2017

Astros at Dodgers, 5:00 PM PT, TV: Fox

This really has been one of the best World Series of recent memory. Consider this:

Literally every game of this Series has been a good one. Only once (the Dodgers’ 6-2 victory in Game 4) has the margin of victory been greater than two runs, and that featured a five-run rally by Los Angeles in the ninth.

It’ll be the fourth time in the past seven years the Fall Classic has stretched to the max and the second year in a row. There have been 38 previous Game Sevens, and the Cut Four team at MLB has ranked them all.

Tonight it will be Yu Darvish hoping to erase memories of his awful Game Three start (1 2/3 innings, six hits, four runs) followed by every other pitcher the Dodgers have, as needed. I’d expect to see Kershaw in relief unless Darvish has a fantastic performance deep into the game. The Astros will ask Lance McCullers to replicate his Game Three performance in which he went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs. He could be followed by Keuchel and Morton and any other arm in the Astros’ bullpen.

Today in baseball history:

  • 2001 The first major league game ever started in the month of November is a memorable one when the Yankees, for the second consecutive night, make a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and go on to a World Series victory in extra innings. Tonight’s heroes are Scott Brosius, who hits a game-tying two out two-run homer to knot the game at 2-2, and Alfonso Soriano, who singles in Chuck Knoblauch in the 12th, giving the Yankees a 3-2 victory and 3-2 lead in the Fall Classic over the Diamondbacks.
  • 2010 Edgar Renteria, who drove in the winning run for the Marlins against Cleveland in the 11th inning during Game 7 of the 1997 Fall Classic, joins Yankees legends Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Yogi Berra as only the fourth player in baseball history to collect two World Series-winning hits. The Series MVP’s three-run homer off Cliff Lee in the seventh inning leads to San Francisco’s 3-1 victory over the Rangers, bringing a World Championship to the Giants for the first time since 1954.

Lineup:

Oct 31

World Series Game Six, 2017

Astros at Dodgers, 5:00 PM PT, TV: Fox

The Astros have a 3-2 lead in the Series and, in a rematch of Game Two pitchers, ask RHP Justin Verlander to close it out. The Dodgers counter with LHP Rich Hill. Neither pitcher got the win in that extra-inning affair.

The story of this game may be which starter lasts longest and which bullpen works least.

The Phillies have hired Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers’ Director of Player Development, to be their next manager.

Today in baseball history:

  • 2001 For the first time since Philadelphia A’s Mule Haas hit a game-tying two-run homer in Game 5 of the 1929 World Series, a team comes from behind to tie a Fall Classic game in the ninth and goes on to win in extra innings. Tino Martinez sends the game into overtime with a two-out homer off Diamondbacks’ closer Byung-Hyun Kim and Derek Jeter, dubbed Mr. November, wins it after the stroke of midnight with a full count two-out round-tripper giving the Bronx Bombers a 3-2 victory and knots the series at two games apiece.
  • 2009 Alex Rodriguez’s Game 3 fly ball in the right-field corner of Citizens Bank Park becomes the subject of the first instant replay call in World Series history. The Yankee third baseman’s hit, originally ruled a double, is changed by the umpires to a home run after the replay clearly shows the ball going over the fence before striking a television camera and bouncing back to the field.

Lineup when available.

Oct 29

World Series Game Five, 2017

Dodgers at Astros, 5:00 PM PT, TV: Fox

Lefty Clayton Kershaw goes for the Dodgers and lefty Dallas Keuchel goes for the Astros in a rematch of Game One starters. Kershaw went seven innings, struck out eleven and gave up one run on 83 pitches while getting the win in that game. Keuchel went 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and taking the loss.

Odd statistical note: all eight runs Kershaw has allowed this month have been via the home run.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1942 Branch Rickey, the innovator of the farm systems which helped to build a strong Redbird franchise, resigns as the Cardinals’ vice president. Three days later, the Dodgers will announce the Mahatma has been named president of the Brooklyn club, a move that will help to fill the void created by Brooklyn’s general manager Larry MacPhail’s enlistment in the army to serve in World War II.
  • 2008 The Phillies complete the first-ever suspended game in World Series history, playing three innings at Citizens Bank Park, beating the Rays, 4-3, in Game 5 to win the Fall Classic. The World Championship is only the team’s second in franchise history, and its first since 1980.

Lineup when available.


Turner’s knee must be bothering him. Fortunately Forsythe is a good replacement at 3B.

Oct 28

World Series Game Four, 2017

Dodgers at Astros, 5:10 PM PT, TV: Fox

Down two games to one, if the Dodgers’ backs are not against the wall (the train tracks?) they’re being pushed closer and closer to it. They ask LHP Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 ERA) to stop the Astros’ offensive onslaught or hold it off until they can get their own bats in gear. They’ll have to do it against RHP Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA). Wood pitched 4 2/3 innings of Game Three of the NLCS against the Cubs, giving up three runs and taking the loss. Morton lost Game Three of the ALCS to the Yankees but came back to pitch five two-hit innings in Game Five and get the win.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1981 The Dodgers, after dropping the first two games of the Fall Classic, defeat the Yankees, 9-2, capturing the World Championship in six games. The victory at the Bronx ballpark marks the third time this postseason that Los Angeles has come from behind to win a series, having been down 0-2 against the Astros in the five-game strike-necessitated NLDS, and 1-2 behind the Expos in the NLCS five-game series.
  • 1981 Entering Game 6 of the World Series in the fifth inning, Yankee right-hander George Frazier, relieving starter Tommy John, gives up three go-ahead runs in the team’s 9-2 elimination loss to the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. The 27 year-old right-hander becomes the first pitcher to lose three games in a best of seven World Series, and the second hurler to lose that many in any Fall Classic, joining White Sox southpaw Lefty Williams, who also dropped a trio of games in the best-of-nine series played in 1919.
  • 1995 In Game 6, Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers combine on a one-hitter to defeat the Indians, 1-0, giving the Braves their third World Championship, the first since moving to Atlanta. David Justice’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning off Jim Poole proves to be the difference.
  • 1998

    “It is especially fitting that this legislation honors a courageous baseball player and individual, the late Curt Flood, whose enormous talents on the baseball diamond were matched by his courage off the field. It was 29 years ago this month that Curt Flood refused a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies. His bold stand set in motion the events that culminate in the bill I have signed into law.” – BILL CLINTON, U.S. president commenting on the Curt Flood Act.

    President Clinton signs Curt Flood Act of 1998, revoking baseball’s antitrust exemption for labor matters, but not for matters involving relocation, expansion or the minor leagues. The passage of the legislation by the 105th Congress comes over seventy-five years after the Supreme Court ruled that the sport was not involved in interstate commerce or trade as customarily defined within the context of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

  • 2009 In Game 1, Chase Utley, en route to a record-tying five World Series homers, becomes the first left-handed batter in 81 years to hit two round-trippers off a southpaw in a Fall Classic game. The Philadelphia second baseman, who also set a postseason record by reaching base in 26 straight games with his first-inning walk, goes deep twice off Yankee southpaw CC Sabathia in the Phillies’ 6-1 victory in New York, to match Babe Ruth’s performance in the fourth and final game of the 1928 series.

Lineup when available.