July 13, 2019


During the All-Star break, the Atlantic League All-Star Game started to do MLB's bidding by using a new robotic umpire system. The home plate umpire wore an earpiece. A person in the press box would relay to him whether the pitch was a ball or strike based upon a computer evaluation.

The home plate umpire then relays the call to the players and fans in attendance in his normal manner. Under this robotic call rule, the umpire can also override the call.

The last item makes the rule stupid. If the umpire can override the call, then why have a man in the press box make the first call? 

MLB is all about speeding up the game. But using a computer strike zone actually delays the call of each pitch. Currently, an umpire's call is nearly instantaneous. Now, it has to be relayed from above. Even if it a 5 second delay per pitch, that adds another 17 minutes to the game.

But there is no agreement that the new technology is accurate.

The strike zone system, provided by MLB, was created by Trackman, a sports data firm. Software in the press box relays the call to a smart phone, which relays to the bluetooth earpiece the umpire wears. A square array well behind home plate monitors the strike zone.

MLB's executive vice president of economics and operations Morgan Sword told ESPN it was "an exciting night for MLB. One of our focuses is not to replace the umpire. In fact, we're trying empower the umpire with technology. The home plate umpire has a lot more to do than call balls and strikes, and he's going to be asked to do all of that. We're in touch with our umpires' union, and this is the first step of the process."

Recall, that the umpires hated the replay rule because they felt someone was watching over their shoulder. Replay challenges are limited and do not affect judgment calls. 

Balls and strikes is a judgment call. The strike zone is different for every batter. Can a single radar device behind home plate actually get the x, y, z coordinates of a 95 mph fastball more correct that nature's fastest video capture device, the human eye?

MLB executives continue to try to push "new" ideas on the sport. It makes them feel better about themselves. The concept to change rules for the sake of change is maddening at times.

For example, another new MLB being tested in the Atlantic League is allowing a player to steal first base. As can now be done when a third strike is not caught cleanly, the new rule allows the batter to try and take first on any count if a pitch is not caught cleanly.

Any past ball or wild pitch can allow the batter to take off for first base? What if the batter leaves the batter's box and stops - - - is he out? What if there is a runner at first base who does not run to second? What if there is a dispute on whether the ball near the dirt is caught or hitting the batter? (Normally the ball is called dead).  Such a new rule merely complicates the game to a degree to confuse the casual fan.

MLB needs to stop tinkering with the rule book and let the players play the game.

July 11, 2019


Since the baseball commissioner is in denial about the juiced baseball, the All Star break gives us pause to think about the bigger issues in the game.

Baseball's overlords are still trying to dramatically tinker with the game. 
So the next big push will be realignment and expansion.

For baseball purists, more the original game will be lost.

The AL and NL will be merged into one large league
after two more expansion teams enter (Las Vegas and some other cow town, like Nashville).

The divisions will be realigned geographically for owners to save costs
like the NHL did. The NHL reshuffle also was created by networks to standardize game start times, especially on the Eastern time zone.

If this was to occur, here is how things could line up:


West Coast Division: Seattle, Oakland, San Fran, Angels
South West Division: Dodgers, Arizona, San Diego, Las Vegas
Mountain Division: Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas City, Nashville
Midwest Division: Cubs, White Sox, Milwaukee, St. Louis


Northeast Division: Toronto, Boston, Yankees, Mets
Great Lakes Division: Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati
Mid-South Division: Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta
Southern Division: Tampa, Miami, Houston, Texas

162 game schedule: 150 games in conference; 12 games outside conference (playing a division 6 home and 6 away games).
Divisional winners seeded by season wins in best of 7 game series.
Conference championship decided by best of 7 series.
Conference champions best of 7 World Series
Team with most season wins = home team.
Realignment and expansion would mean DH would be mandated for all games.

Natural regional rivalries would be enhanced under this plan. Conference games would be stressed over long distance coast-to-coast travel.

July 8, 2019


It was reported that the Cubs made the same basic offer to both Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish.
Arrieta wanted more money so he left for a disappointing free agency. Darvish signed with the Cubs with disappointing results.

How different would it be if Arrieta stayed with the Cubs? No one knows for sure.

Since leaving the Cubs, Arrieta has started 48 games, thrown 276.1 IP, giving up 107 ER, 97 BB with a 1.335 WHIP. His record is 18-17.

Since joining the Cubs, Darvish has started 24 games, thrown 137 IP, giving up 76 ER, 70 BB with a 1.365 WHIP. His record is 3-7.

Since leaving the Cubs, Arrieta's WAR is 4.1.  Darvish's Cub WAR is 0.4.

You really cannot say that Arrieta is "ten times" better than Darvish, but he had been more durable. Durable until he left his last start with elbow issues. It appears he has bone spurs which will require surgery so he will be out for an extended time period.

The rehash of this debate continues because the Cub front office continues to frustrate fans by not signing and developing starting pitching prospects. Zero. Adbert Alzolay was sent back to the minors have a weak start.

At the start of the season, many sports reporters questioned whether the age of the starting rotation would bite the Cubs. With Cole Hamels on the DL and Kyle Hendricks coming off the DL, the lack of rotation depth is clear. Spot starts by Tyler Chatwood will not cut it in the second half. Montgomery is not the same pitcher he was two years ago.

During the cross town series, Cub fans complained about the Quintana trade as Eloy Jiminez rocked a homer and Dylan Cease made his first career MLB start. Again, the Cubs made that trade because they needed to win then with a veteran arm. As the White Sox rebuild progresses,  the eventual Cubs tear down comes closer on the horizon.