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Sports Then and Now



How to Improve the Game of Baseball in an Instant 0

Posted on November 25, 2012 by Rick Swanson

 

Executive VP of Baseball Operations argues that instant replay would slow down the game of baseball.

Joe Torre was recently quoted saying this about instant replay: “The thing is our game is a little unique. There’s not a lot of time stoppage, so to make sure that if we do implement replay … you’re [not] going to slow this game down and you’re going to upset the rhythm of the game.”

The only way for instant replay to work if it is done in an instant.

Baseball has never used a clock in the game but if they use it for instant replay, it would really speed up the game.

If each replay was limited to 30 seconds and if each team only had two challenges per game, the game would only be increased by a minute or two at the most.

No more arguing with the umpire. If the manager has to toss out a red ball across the foul line to signify a challenge he won’t waste time getting all upset with any umpire again.

The way to make this work, is to only give the manager five seconds to decide if he wants to use up a challenge.

After five seconds if the red ball is not tossed across the white lines, then everyone gets to see all the replays.

There is no need to stop showing them in the park, because the manager did not object, so why should fans be upset if the call was bad or not?

The burden now lies with each team, to decide if they want to dispute any call.

If each team has only two challenges a game only two minutes would be added to the game. (If the team wins both challenges they would continue until getting one wrong.)

This only works if the umpires stay on the field, and watch the giant screen with all in the park at the same time.

After 30 seconds all four umpires would give their decision one at a time. If the verdict is tied two and two, then the one who made the original call gets to decide.

The technology is available on every big screen in every park in MLB.

Why can’t everyone look at the same play again?

Why is baseball afraid to show replays on big screens in every park?

Fans would be able to watch along on the big screen while umpires decided the fate of their call.

All every fan wants to see every call be correct. Nobody wants to see a perfect game erased, because of a bad call by an umpire.

Baseball and instant replay were meant for each other, but as stated earlier the key word is instant.

Next we need to show every pitch to everyone in the park, to make the umpires follow the rules of the sport.

Baseball: The Timeless Sport With A Clock 0

Posted on November 24, 2012 by Rick Swanson

If baseball is going to use a challenge rule with instant replay, the best place to find guidelines is with tennis.

Since 2006 the electric line call, known as the “Chase Review” has been used at the US Open.

Tennis has tried electronic line calling since 1974, but since 2006 the technology has been created by a system known in tennis as the hawk eye system.

Each player is allowed three incorrect challenges per set.

The average length of a challenge is about ten seconds.

In tennis, everyone in the stands is allowed to see the review and then the call stands.

In baseball we should use the hawkeye cameras to follow the ball at all times.

We also need to let everyone in the park see the hawkeye instant replays.

The amount of challenges is something that baseball is going to need to decide.

If we put it at three wrong challenges per game, will teams use it too often?

Since you have only five seconds to decide whether to challenge a call, then we need an official clock in each park.

If baseball started using a clock, we could also shorten the length of the games.

If we had a clock for replays, then we would have a clock to follow MLB rule 8.04, which reads:

Rule 8.04  When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.” The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.

The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays.

A clock would be used for replays set at 30 seconds. A clock would be used for challenges at five seconds, and a clock would be used for pitchers rule 8.04 at 12 seconds.

We could even use the clock for the time spent between innings. Cut it down to 90 seconds, and we could cut another 18 minutes off the entire length of a game.

Baseball has prided itself as a timeless sport, but as we move into the future, a clock will be the new innovation we will use for the good of the game.

Remembering the 1914 “Miracle Braves” 3

Posted on June 23, 2012 by Dan Flaherty

(Editor’s Note: This story was originally printed on Boston Sports Then and Now)

The “Miracle Braves” of 1914 shocked the baseball world and made history when they won the franchise’s only World Series title in Boston.

The Atlanta Braves come back to their roots this weekend, as they come to their original home in Boston for a weekend series in Fenway Park with the Red Sox as interleague play continues. It’s been a long time since the Braves graced the sports world of the Hub, having relocated first to Milwaukee in 1953 and then to Atlanta in 1965. The fact the franchise left a baseball-crazed town tells you they never rose above playing second fiddle to the Red Sox. But in one glorious year the Braves gave the city a season to remember, one that still lives in on baseball lore for its miraculous turnaround and shocking World Series upset. With the franchise back visiting this weekend, BST&N looks back on 1914 and the year that belonged to Boston’s “Miracle Braves.”

Boston’s NL team was managed by George Stallings, on his third team in six years and looking for his first pennant. It was Stallings’ second year in Boston and his best player was second baseman Johnny Evers, closely followed by outfielder Joe Connelly. The latter led the team in most key offensive categories, while the former had such an exquisite balance of offensive and defensive prowess, that he won the American League MVP in the award’s fourth year of existence. The pitching staff was top-heavy, as most were in those days. Three pitchers—Dick Rudolph, Bill James and Lefty Tyler—combined to make 107 of the team’s 154 starts, and averaged over 310 innings apiece.

This talent alone wasn’t enough to make Boston a contender coming out of the gate though, and after the season started in mid-April, the Braves promptly lost 18 of their first 22. On June 8, they had fallen 13.5 games back of the pace being set by the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Reds. Lest you think the turnaround was imminent, the Fourth of July saw the Braves get swept in a doubleheader by the Brooklyn Dodgers, leaving them at 26-40, a good fifteen games back of the Giants and firmly buried in the cellar, with five games separating them from even reaching seventh in the eight-team National League.

It was the offense and winning close games that would key the dramatic turnaround about to start. The Braves would finish second in the National League in runs scored, while the pitching was in the middle of the league. They were third in home runs—back in this era, 62 led the league, so no one was making a living going deep. The Braves, showing they were firmly in line with what would become Boston sports tradition, were slow as molasses—at least relative to the competition. They stole 139 bases, last in the NL. This speed-oriented era saw 239 steals lead the league. There’s nothing in the overall statistical numbers that suggest a pennant-winning team, but one number does stand out. It’s the 33-20 record the Braves posted in one-run games, something that would ultimately give them a huge advantage over the Giants, who languished at 18-25.

Fate was not only smiling on the Braves, but by August, Fenway Park would be too. The old South End Grounds, the team’s regular home had been torn down and it wouldn’t be until the start of the 1915 season that Braves Field would be set to open. So at a time when Boston was closing the gap—they got the margin to nine games by the end of July and moved up to fourth place, and then swept three from the Giants in the Polo Grounds on August 13-15 to move within 3.5—they’d also be sharing space with their American League counterpart, who’d won the World Series just two years prior.

Read the rest of this entry →

Is the “Oriole Magic” Back To Stay? 6

Posted on June 10, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Late game celebrations have been a regular occurrence for the Baltimore Orioles is 2012.

If you are under the age of 35 you may find it hard to believe, but for nearly two decades, the Baltimore Orioles were the class of Major League Baseball and terms such as “The Oriole Way” and “Oriole Magic” were just as familiar to baseball fans as “Red Sox Nation” is today.

With the 2012 season now nearly a third of the way complete, it is way too early to declare Baltimore “back” among the upper echelon teams in baseball, but for the first time in quite a while the future in Baltimore does appear to be promising.

Following back-to-back extra inning victories over the Philadelphia Phillies, the Orioles sport an impressive 34-26 record and are right in the mix of the highly competitive American League East.

The hot early start is definitely a reason for fans of a franchise that hasn’t posted a winning record since 1997 to be excited, but this is not the first time in the last 15 years that Baltimore has teased fans into June.

In 2005 the Orioles had a 42-28 record on June 21st and a two game lead in the AL East. A 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays the next day started a stretch in which Baltimore lost 11 of 14 games and 60 of their final 92 games to end with a 74-88 record and 21 games out in the standings. Read the rest of this entry →

Will Bud Selig Ever Go Away? 52

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Dean Hybl

It appears that the prayers of baseball fans will not be answered as Bud Selig is sticking around for at least another three years.

Like a veteran player who doesn’t know when to hang up his jersey, looks like Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is determined to stick around as long as possible. Though it was originally announced that 2012 would be his final season as commissioner, Selig has now changed his mind and will remain in his role until at least the end of the 2014 season.

Shockingly (or maybe not), major league owners voted 29-1 to extend Selig’s contract for two additional years to ensure that Selig will be commissioner at least past his 80th birthday at a reported salary of $22 million per year.

Given his hubris, it seems very likely that Selig will do everything he can to remain in control of the league at least through the 2016 season as that would ensure he passes Kenesaw “Mountain” Landis for the longest tenure as commissioner in league history.

What seems strange is that while ownership considers Selig to be a great commissioner, many outside the owner’s boxes look as Selig as the epitome of all things bad about baseball.

While football had already started to eclipse baseball as “America’s Pastime”  when Selig took over as interim commissioner in 1992, he seemingly has spent the last 20 years doing everything he can to ensure that baseball never gets close to retaking that title.

At the time, Selig was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and like the other owners in the game had tired of a commissioner whose focus was on the integrity of the sport, rather than supporting the owners and their desires.

When the owners fired Commissioner Fay Vincent, they installed Selig on an interim basis and within two years he was spearheading a battle with the players union that would eventually ensure that the World Series would be missed for the first time in 90 years.

While both sides can certainly take some of the blame for missing the World Series and the subsequent agreement that ensured that teams willing to over-spend would have a significant advantage over other teams moving forward, the fact that Selig was running the show for the owners makes him culpable for that disaster.

Between 1950 and 1994, only four teams (two of which were expansion squads) registered 10 or more consecutive losing seasons (1953-1962 Chicago Cubs, 1953-1967 Kansas City Athletics, 1969-78 Montreal Expos and the 1977-1990 Seattle Mariners). Since 1994, five teams have reached that dubious plateau (1993-2011 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1993-2004 Milwaukee Brewers, 1994-2005 Detroit Tigers, 1998-2007 Tampa Bay Rays and the 1998-2011 Baltimore Orioles). In addition, the Kansas City Royals have been below .500 in 16 of 17 seasons (2003 being their only exception), the Cincinnati Reds have been below .500 in 10 of the last 11 seasons (2010 being their only winning season when they won the NL Central) and the Colorado Rockies have had a losing record in 10 of the last 13 seasons.

Yes, there have been small market teams like the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s that have enjoyed occasional success, but the A’s have not had a winning record since 2006 and the Twins lost 99 games last season to illustrate that even small market teams that are able to build winning programs do not have the same ability to reload that is afforded to teams with greater revenue streams. Read the rest of this entry →

Major League Baseball’s Wild Card Wednesday 17

Posted on September 28, 2011 by Anderson Melvin

Jacoby Ellsbury and the Boston Red Sox have hit a lot of walls during their attempt to secure a 2011 playoff spot.

Popular alternative-rock band, Green Day, had a platinum hit single titled “Wake Me Up When September Ends” off of their American Idiot album in 2005. While the song may have debuted in June of 2005, it has become popular now more than ever. At least in the cities of Boston and Atlanta.

Sheer misery, agony, and torture wouldn’t even begin to describe the pain that the fans of these two historically reputable teams have had to endure over the past twenty-seven days. The month has been a, for lack of a better word, curse to the Red Sox and Braves, something Boston is far too familiar with and something Atlanta wants no part of. September has handed the Braves and Red Sox a combined 36 losses and taken near double-digit leads in both wild-card races away from each team.

On the other side of the equation, there’s the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals. With a lot of the talk coming from how poorly the Red Sox have played, much credit is due to Tampa Bay, who has gone 16-8 since being down 9 games to Boston on September 2. The Rays have baseball fanatics around the country wondering how they’ve managed to battle their way back into a tie with Boston for the wild-card. The answer is simple. They believe they can win it.

“There’s a real strong believability about what we’re trying to accomplish right now but when you get to this point, you really want to finish things off,” said manager Joe Maddon.

Rays players, fans, and coaches are all going to need to keep that belief up for one maybe even two more days if they want to make it to the postseason. Read the rest of this entry →

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