Saturday, July 30, 2011

#214: After Review, No More Replay in MLB

---SSL Broadcast #52---

I blame my generation.

It seems as though folks my age (mid-30s) and younger are really driving toward getting MORE instant replay injected into Major League Baseball.

I could not be more opposed to this idea.

Of course, the whole debate has been (re)sparked by a call at the plate in the bottom of the 19th inning at Turner Field in Atlanta. Home plate umpire Jerry Meals called Julio Lugo safe with the winning run, when replays appeared to show Pirates catcher Michael McKenry swipe tag Lugo on the leg as he slid past (and showed Lugo stand up somewhat dejectedly) before getting the favorable call.

Despite what some folks claim, the tag wasn't quite the sure thing. Some screen shots used to demonstrate the point use shots that rely on shadow drops. Seeing the play live, it wouldn't be inconceivable to say that McKenry missed. However, the best argument I heard all week was this: The throw to the plate beat Lugo by so much, if the umpire wasn't quite sure, he should have erred on the side of "out," because generally that's how it works.

But because the safe call determined the game, here come the pitchforks and torches, pretty much with the bottom line to replace umpires altogether with video review. And probably sensors to call balls and strikes.

In one regular season, Major League baseball schedules 2430 games. Instances where games are decided in this manner (perhaps once every few seasons), makes this a 1-in-10,000 chance. This is certainly not grounds to uproot the officiating system currently in place.

Slowing an already-slow game even more will take additional fun out of the game. Fans like to see managers argue calls, see opposing managers and players get ejected, they also like the debate that follows controversy. Removing the occasional controversial call will actually stunt the game in the long run.

I think my generation (and younger) are trying to turn baseball into a video game.

If Major League Baseball is going to invest extra money into something officiating-related, have some sort of advanced training for these umpires, and even then only under certain conditions (game-deciding call, recent history of missed calls or varying strike zone).

The fight against replay begins anew as the main topic of today's program.


- NFL Lockout is over, and the Steelers scramble to sign and waive.

- Pirates play a terrible week of baseball as they try to hang in the playoff race against other contenders.

- Will they make a significant trade deal before tomorrow's deadline? Do they have anybody expendable that anyone wants?


Saturday, July 23, 2011

#213: Don't Give Up the Farm

---SSL Broadcast #51---

I think I lost count somewhere.

This apparently marks the 1-year anniversary of "Steeltown Sports Live" (tomorrow, actually), but it also says broadcast #51. I thought there were 52 weeks in a year. Oh, well. If someone can find the missing show or otherwise quantify that this indeed is only broadcast 51, I'll send you a package of cookies.

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is just over a week away, and the sports talk lines are buzzing, suggesting things like trading prospects like Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and others to get a big bat in the lineup this year.

As much as fans want to win it all right now, it's just not prudent to give up the farm team that has taken a long time to rebuild. You don't give it up for one year.

As a Pirate fan, I am more than willing to watch the team suffer through losing season number 19 if it means that the farm system stays stable. Once I get the impression that the farm system is loaded would I entertain the notion of getting rid of high-slot prospects for a mid-season rental that could push the team over the hump.

Read last week's entry for my thoughts on the possibility of trading Kevin Correia as part of a deal. I'm not saying to get rid of him, period, but he is the most expendable of the current starting rotation that could fetch a decent return if packaged with a couple of middling players. Listen to this week's program to understand why I think this.

- Who, if anyone, do you trade (away and for) if you're the Pirates' brass?

- Pirates success this year lands them on national TV for the first time in a long time.

- The Pittsburgh Power's inaugural season comes to an end.

- Quick thought on United States Women's soccer team goalie Hope Solo and her taking the so-called "high road" by not exaggerating injury.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

#212: First Place Pirates

---SSL Broadcast #50---

"First Place Pirates."

I haven't said this in July since I was a junior in college (in case you were wondering how old I am).

The starting pitching of this crew is the surprise of the baseball season, but only Paul Maholm and Jeff Karstens appear to be the real deal. Their ERAs and their WHIPs are virtually aligned statistically, and Maholm especially is no stranger to 200 innings pitched. They should remain stable. James McDonald hasn't been able to get any consistency going, and Charlie Morton allows too many runners and is already experiencing arm fatigue despite pitching fewer than 100 innings. Kevin Correia, the 11-game winner, is the wild card. His ERA is slightly higher (4.01) than his WHIP would indicate (1.28), so he might actually improve a bit, as WHIP is the superior indicator.

That said, Correia completely tradeable at this point. The major shortcoming of Pirate management in the last decade-plus in trade situations is that they either get rid of a player when his stock is low or they're dumping salary. Packaging Correia with either Matt Diaz or Garrett Jones and maybe a AA prospect could land a middle of the lineup bat and allow for the return of Ross Ohlendorf (who is due for some good fortune after posting a 1-11 record despite an ERA around 4 (Correia is 11-7 this year with an almost identical ERA). It would also free up a spot on the 25-man roster to keep both outfielders Alex Presley and Jose Tabata when he returns.

Disagree if you will, but I think we can all agree that this is a wonderful debate to be having in mid-July.

- Obviously, Pirates.

- Steelers linebacker James Harrison airs his dirty laundry in the press this week.

- The Pittsburgh Power is eliminated from post-season contention by Cleveland.

- A suggestion or two of how to handle collegiate athletics.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

#211: Two-fer

---SSL Broadcast #48 & #49---

Can the All-Star game really be fixed and not damage TV viewership?

I'm a long-time supporter of having at least one representative from each team, but it seems that, oftentimes, there are players who get voted onto the team without having done anything in the current year (i.e. Chase Utley of the Phillies who has been hurt).

A caller in today's show brings up a good idea - but it would never work - would be to take the ballots out of the fans hands, at least initially. The managers of each All-Star team would choose their position players and pitchers, choosing a representative from each team. Then, let the fans fill the remainder of the roster.

In this fashion, you get the visibility in each TV market, and you get the players who are the most deserving statistically. Then, you get the players voted in, like an Utley, who the fans want to see, voted in as a reserve.

With internet voting, this is a practical solution, but it won't ever happen under a commissioner who continues to allow the All-Star game to have significance beyond the game itself.

I was out of town last week, so I'm posting the July 2 and July 9 shows in the same post (July 9, the most recent, will be first).

July 9 topics:

- Andrew McCutchen is not the huge All-Star snub that the Pittsburgh media are trying to paint it as.

- The Pittsburgh Power, despite a lukewarm record, controls its own destiny on the road to a playoff crown.

- Should the Pirates make any trade moves if this success continues?

- NFL Lockout snippints

July 2 topics:

- Jaromir Jagr eschews 2nd chance with the Penguins and signs with their archrivals, who also sign another skater the Pens were interested in.

- Penguins do make some signings, though, to the benefit of the team.

- Pirates continue to surprise.