Speed Read: Time To Expand MLB Instant Replay?

In the wake of the awful call at home plate on Monday night that ended the A’s 14-13 win over the Twins (go here if you’re not familiar with the play), the sports media world was spinning yesterday with varying opinions on the idea of expanding instant replay. I guess it was only a matter of time until a call was blown so egregiously at home plate that some people have decided that umpires basically can’t be trusted to get anything right anymore.

Twins lose on bad call

(Yeah, that’s not really even close)

Neil Velleman of TMR ZOO makes a pretty good case for expanding replay to cover close calls on the bases, as long as there’s a challenge system that is used in sports like football and tennis. Heck, every play at the wickets in important cricket matches is reviewed instantaneously using video technology to determine whether a runner is safe or not (this is analagous to using replay on the bases in baseball). I guess it is inherently silly that the whole world knew Michael Cuddyer was safe when he slid into home plate, and umpire Mike Muchlinski was the only one who didn’t see it. I’m all for letting officials use their best judgment in situations that require interpretation, but these kinds of plays aren’t really “judgment calls.” A player is either out or he isn’t, and if there’s a better way to determine that, why wouldn’t it be considered?

cricket

(Even these guys have replay)

The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE’s Gwen Knapp says that baseball shouldn’t act hastily to enact replay based on one bad call, even though last year’s hastily-enacted system seems to work pretty well.  The SACRAMENTO BEE says that even David Stern has given referees latitude to use replay, and that in matters of clear right and wrong there’s no reason not to use the information you have available.

On the flip side, I can see the argument that we’re heading down the slippery slope of not using on-field umpires at all. There are automated systems in place now that can call every pitch a ball or a strike. If similar systems can be developed to determine outs on the bases and call balls fair or foul, why would we need umpires at all? You could also argue that if the bad calls are evenly distributed, everyone will benefit from them at some point. Sure, the Twins were victimized at the worst possible time, but they also shouldn’t have blown a 12-2 lead in the first place.

I just don’t want replay to ever extend into youth baseball, for the sake of future umpire baiters everywhere. I’m still proud of that time I really sold a tag at home plate with my glove when the ball was sitting like three feet behind me and I got the call. And, actually, the more that I think about it, I’m not sure I’m into this whole replay thing. What, is Ozzie Guillen going to argue with a machine? (well, he’s a bad example I guess)

Ozzie Guillen

Right after the All-Star break, the Phillies went to Miami for what was billed as a crucial four-game series that might swing the momentum in the NL East toward the Marlins and make the race wide open again. But after sweeping the Fish and taking the first two from the Cubs, the Phils have won 10 games in a row for the first time since 1991, and now look like they might be re-asserting themselves as the team to beat in baseball.

I’m not sure that Pedro Martinez is going to make all that much of a difference, but the idea that they could land Roy Halladay can’t make other NL teams very happy. And one of the biggest reasons for the team’s recent resurgence is Jimmy Rollins, who has decided to wake up after napping through the first three months of the season. Rollins is hitting .375 with a 1.039 OPS in July, which has still only managed to bring his average up to .238 for the year. But with all of the home runs the middle of the order is hitting, it sure can’t hurt to have their lead-off guy on base once in a while. Rollins homered last night, and Jayson Werth’s three-run shot in the bottom of the 13th won the game and kept the Phillies 6 1/2 games in front of second-place Atlanta.

Jayson Werth walk-off

The Dodgers blasted the Reds last night to win their fourth in a row and stay safely ahead of Philly in the race for the best record in the NL, but may have to go without Manny Ramirez for a couple of days after he was hit on the hand with a pitch. X-rays were negative, but he’s listed as day-to-day. Unfortunately, it might mean that he’ll miss his own bobblehead night, which is tonight at Dodger Stadium. Kaiser Permanente, the health-care provider that was originally the sponsor of the giveaway, has decided to withdraw its support because of his positive drug test.

Manny Ramirez

The Red Sox continued their offensive woes last night, losing to the Rangers 4-2 and dropping a full game behind the Yankees, who beat the Orioles 6-4. Even worse for the Sox, Tim Wakefield has been put on the DL because his back is in too much pain to toss a 65-mph floater.

Now, here’s some links to help you pass the time while you wait for that solar eclipse:

• It’s a good thing TMZ got that Michael Jackson death report right, because they were way off on UFC fighter Kimo Leopoldo, who isn’t actually dead. Kimo confirmed his non-death to YAHOO!: “I knew I wasn’t dead.” Well, as long as he knows, that’s good enough for me.

• UNI WATCH says Ivan Rodriguez just decided to change his uniform number to 77 out of the blue the other night. He had to abandon his #7 when he was traded to the Yankees (that Mickey Mantle guy wore it) and now can’t wear it in Houston because of Craig Biggio. So I guess he decided two 7s were better than one. It worked for Ray Bourque (once, anyway).

Ivan Rodriguez #77

• And you thought we’d seen the last of Ed O’Bannon. Yeah, well think again, mojambo.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin owes the state of California more than $22,000, according to the BIG LEAD.

• MLB TRADE RUMORS says the Nationals aren’t even close to signing Stephen Strasburg, but also maintain that they won’t be conducting any negotiations through the media.

Tyler Perry is sending all of those kids who were kicked out of that swim club in Pennsylvania to Disney World.

Mark Cuban is firing back at Ross Perot Jr.’s lawsuit, saying that he “must be desperate from the losses he has suffered from Victory and his hedge funds.”

• Why will the UFL go the way of every other wannabe competitor to the NFL? They’re banking on people actually wanting to see J.P. Losman play.

J.P. Losman

(The next Tommy Maddox?)

• More proof that soccer’s struggles in America has everything to do with the level of competition in our pro league: a friendly match between Chelsea and Inter Milan drew 81,000 fans to the Rose Bowl last night.

• Model/actress Katie Price, who goes by the name “Jordan,” is apparently a really big star in the U.K. And now that she’s split with husband Peter Andre (someone else who people over there are familiar with), she says she wants to go the WAG route and “do” Frank Lampard and Cristiano Ronaldo. Think she’s got a chance?

Katie Price Jordan

Should MLB expand instant replay to include plays on the bases?

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Speed Read: A Handy LeBron Coronation Program

The 82-game NBA season ended with a gentle thud last night as the Bulls failed to secure the sixth spot in the East while the Spurs latched onto #3 in the West.  The Great Bennydini will be angered by this turn of events.

The Great Bennydini (Benny the Bull)

However, you can now express your joy in the NBA’s second season with your own SPORTSbyBROOKS NBA playoff matchups in convenient chart form:

Eastern Conference

  • #1 Cleveland We’ll Be Shouting ‘BOOBIE!’ as Much as Possibles vs. #8 Detroit Ballast Jettisoners
  • #2 Boston Can We Borrow a Dead Guy’s Knee for KG Like We Did for Curt Schillings vs. #7 Chicago Sixteen Guards and Whaddya Gets
  • #3 Orlando Dwight Hasn’t Figured Out a Costume Change to Make Him a Point Guard, Toos vs. #6 Philadelphia So Glad We’re Paying Elton Brand $18 Million in 2012-2013s
  • #4 Atlanta Name Three Players vs. #5 Miami Name Twos

Western Conference

  • #1 Los Angeles Kobe Clubs Baby Seals with Portuguese Water Dogs Wrapped in Veals vs. #8 Utah Deron Williams Falls Asleep Every Night Clutching a Copy of His Tear-Stained Contract After Failing to Find an Out Clauses
  • #2 Denver You’ve Got to Be Kiddings vs. #7 New Orleans Seriously, Aren’t These in the Wrong Orders
  • #3 San Antonio Flashbacks vs. #6 Dallas Hey, At Least We Haven’t Traded for Shaq Yets (Note: the above series has been moved to CBS and the Hallmark Channel as per FCC regulations around programming for the elderly.)
  • #4 Portland Maybe Next Years (But Don’t Tell Joel Przybilla’s Grandma We Said So) vs. #5 Houston There’s Also a Regression Analysis to Prove Shane Battier Makes the Best Damned Mojitos in Texas

As always, it’s the gift you didn’t even have to ask for.  Or didn’t want to.

Major League Baseball tried yet again yesterday to provide another round of gifts to Jackie Robinson, who has been feted nearly as often as Frank Sinatra since his death. Yesterday, every player in baseball wore number 42 in his honor to avoid the embarrassment of 42 wearer infighting last year.

Jackie Robinson

However, since MLB continues to be a bit short in providing affection through monetary donations, at least a couple players did their best to pursue great achievements on Robinson’s day.  Tim Wakefield took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in Oakland before noted hater Kurt Suzuki ended the fun with a base hit.

Ian Kinsler followed up on this attempt with his own success: 6-6 at the plate with a cycle attached.  If the opposing team last night (the Orioles) happened to be your sleeper team this year, you may want to check just how deep that sleep is.

Speaking of deep sleep, former Illinois governor (and current Illinois chew toy) Rod Blagojevich apparently didn’t feel it necessary to stop at meddling with the affairs of Tribune Co. when he didn’t get his way.  He also sent a note to Cubs manager Lou Piniella to recommend a lineup change in 2007.

Rod Blagojevich

S’funny; we don’t remember Blago being so receptive to a lineup change at the state level earlier this year.  Perhaps he isn’t a big fan of having his moves micromanaged by impotent whiners who never held the position dictating his actions from afar when they’ve never been in the trenches, y’know?

Speaking of, what say we peek around the Internet with a gentle tap-tap-tapping of bullets on your window pane while you consider the effects of an on-campus bar in Redmond, WA, on Windows 7 development

  • Congratulations on playing all 82 games this season, Grant Hill.  Also, congratulations on getting your wife, Tamia, a spot at All-Star Weekend and various local charity events in Arizona.  Strong season all ’round.
  • Now that the WALL STREET JOURNAL has a sports section, expect to see sabermetric notions exposed to a larger audience.  That might explain why the guy in the cubicle next to you suddenly wants to talk about batting the pitcher eighth.
  • Best of luck with the dissertation, PhDribble.
  • Presumptive #1 NFL draft pick Matthew Stafford will be on Jimmy Fallon’s show Thursday, but Fallon won’t bring him out until three other picks have been introduced.
  • We suspect the last time an angry bear was used to sell hockey tickets involved Bruce Vilanch and the Los Angeles Kings, but this isn’t so bad, either:

Now that the non-playoff teams have been determined in the NBA, who will end up the winner in the Blake Griffin sweepstakes?

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17-Year-Old Girl Makes Japan Pro Baseball Debut

Back in November, we brought you the news that a professional baseball team in Japan had signed a 16-year-old pitcher. Which may not sound like much…until you learn it was a girl. Well, now she’s made her pro debut.

Eri Yoshida

Eri Yoshida faced two batters and struck out one of them in her debut with the Kobe 9 Cruise of the new Kansai Independent League. She entered in the ninth inning of her teams 5-0 win over Osaka in front of a crowd of more than 11,000 at the Osaka Dome. Yoshida, a five-footer who relies on her knuckleball, walked the first batter she faced but then settled in.

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Japanese Schoolgirl Signed By Pro Baseball Team

That weird smell hovering in the Los Angeles air for the past few days? Turns out it wasn’t the smoldering remnants from blocks of burnt down houses. It didn’t even come from America, actually. The stench came from Japan, and it was the smell of fear. You see folks, a whole lot of male Japanese ballplayers have been spending the last few days messing their pants, because they’re about to get embarrassed by a girl!

Eri Yoshida

The above photo is of Eri Yoshida. She’s 16 years old, throws a mean knuckleball - her favorite player is Tim Wakefield - and she just signed a contract with the Kobe 9 Cruise, a professional team in an independent Japanese baseball league. She will become the first-ever woman in Japan - and, as far as I know, the world - to play side-by-side with men. This is a big deal.

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Speed Read: Rays Blast Sox, On Cusp Of WS Bid

The last pitcher to win a postseason game after a 15-day layoff was Red Ruffing of the 1939 New York Yankees. And Ruffing can rest easy (well, that’s not too difficult since he’s dead) because Tim Wakefield’s attempt to match that feat last night didn’t go particularly well. The Rays became the first team to ever score more than nine runs in three consecutive LCS games when they stomped the Sox 13-4 at Fenway last night to move within one victory of the World Series.

Red Sox losing

Some might say, though, that the Sox have the Rays just where they want them. In 2004 and 2007, the Sox trailed by at least a 3-1 margin in the ALCS before coming from way behind to win the series and then sweep the World Series. While it’s certainly not impossible for the Sox to pull this off again, Manny Ramirez is not walking out of that dugout anytime soon and Mike Lowell is officially not available for the rest of the playoffs. Dan Shaughnessy is being very reasonable about all of this, as usual.

But the real story here is the Rays, the former laughing stock franchise that looks like it might be the best team in baseball not only this year, but for years to come. The ST. PETE TIMES’ John Romano is reveling in the moment, and reminds us that the Rays would be the first team in the free agency era to reach the World Series with the lowest payroll in its league. One guy is trying to capitalize while things are going well. According to THE HEATER, the guy who owns EvanLongoria.com is trying to sell it for $25,000 (thanks to YOU BEEN BLINDED for the tip). It would probably be a great place for Longoria to further advance his views on Dominicans, but he’s reportedly not interested in purchasing the domain.

How bored were Sox fans on Tuesday night? Stephen King was curled up with his book by the third inning:

Stephen King

(not tonight, Steve, not tonight)

Tony Gonzalez is a little miffed that he didn’t get moved prior to yesterday’s NFL trade deadline. Jay Glazer is naturally very pleased with himself that he got this scoop. Gonzalez pretty much unloaded on Chiefs GM Carl Peterson for not dumping him for a third-round pick. Gonzalez then took the time to say that even though he was desperate to get away from Kansas City, he’s committed to the team now that he has no choice in the matter.

It was a slow day yesterday on the police blotter. All we got is Sebastian Telfair getting suspended for three games for his 2007 arrest for speeding, driving without a license, and handgun possession. It’s the first trifecta of Telfair’s career.

Finally, the Flyers got their first point of the season last night by taking the Penguins to overtime, but they lost their third consecutive game to begin the season. That’s no wins since the Sarah Palin ceremonial puck drop, for those of you scoring at home. Let’s go to the links:

• As if it isn’t hard enough to drive a race car at 150+ miles per hour through the streets of Surfers Paradise in Australia, I’ve learned that drivers have to turn a blind eye to hundreds of topless (and even fully nude) women who watch the annual Indy Car race from the balconies of the upscale community’s many high-rise apartment buildings. It’s become the Aussie equivalent to Girls Gone Wild and is so notorious that there are commercial DVDs of the debauchery available for purchase online.

edited Indy Car girls gone wild

But now it looks like the authorities are making a point of trying to limit the “action” at this year’s race, which happens on October 26th. According to GOLDCOAST.COM.AU:

INDY organisers have released a code of conduct for race fans staying in apartments within the track precinct.

The document was drawn up following raunchy scenes on balconies, including nudity, at last year’s race.

It says that guests ‘need to ensure the behaviour on the balconies does not offend the general public.’

It’s all very unfortunate, since now the spectators will be forced to just watch a bunch of cars drive in a circle for three hours. And let’s just all give thanks for a minute that this kind of thing hasn’t taken hold at NASCAR tracks around the country:

white trash girl

• When is dirt not just dirt? When it’s official game-used dirt from the San Diego Padres’ home stadium, Petco Park. In that case, it’s actually worth less than dirt. (Thank you, GASLAMP BALL)

• I just about passed out reading this TUCSON CITIZEN story about Arizona baseball player Brad Glenn, who severed nerves and ligaments in his hand when he accidentally put it through a glass coffee table (but I’m one of those people who nearly faints during a blood test). Glenn decided to return for his senior season after being drafted by the A’s this summer, and now he might not be able to play at all next year.

• Utah is the #1 football team in the country, according to one voter in the Harris Interactive Poll. Lya Wodraska of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE says that the voter is anonymous because the Harris Poll doesn’t require public disclosure of ballots. And, as far as I can tell, the Harris Poll doesn’t publicly disclose its rankings either. It’s supposedly one-third of the BCS formula but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this poll anywhere. Tulsa might be #1 as far as I know.

• Everyone got so caught up thinking Northwestern was the sleeper team in the Big Ten this year that nobody but THE HLOG seems to have noticed that Minnesota is 6-1 and already bowl eligible, after this weekend’s 27-20 upset of Illinois. The Gophers were 1-11 last year.

• BEYOND THE BLUESHIRTS has the thoughts of a clearly devastated Jaromir Jagr concerning the death of his teammate Alexei Cherepanov.

• SQUAWKING BASEBALL notes that the Mets are having some remorse about the price of their luxury suites at the new Citifield. Not in the way you think, though. The Mets didn’t have any problem selling them, they just now think they didn’t charge enough for them. The suites went for $250,000-500,000. But the suites at the new Yankee Stadium started at $600,000 and also sold well.

• In this NY DAILY NEWS story about Derek Lowe’s impending free agency, John Harper says that Frank McCourt won’t be able to keep guys like Lowe and Rafael Furcal around if the Dodgers end up signing Manny Ramirez to a new contract.

• FOOD COURT LUNCH has the deep, dark confessions of the Indianapolis Colts.

• I’ve seen a lot of long blog posts, but this one just might be the longest. THE GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS (which is a long blog title too, for that matter) has written a paragraph about every Division I basketball team. All three-hundred-and-whatever of them. Even teams that barely qualify, like St. John’s.

With the Rays’ success this year defying all expectations, what next sports development would be least surprising?

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AARP Visitors’ Program in Effect at Fenway Park

Numerous states have instituted a Silver Alert program similar to Amber Alert programs to help find aged adults with various forms of dementia who wander off without supervision. Radio stations, television broadcasters, pharmacy billboards, etc. would put out pictures and descriptions that would help bring the wayward elderly back home.

Little League batter

(This is what every batter looks like to last night’s starters)

Surprisingly, no such program exists in Arizona. Also, there’s no analogue in Massachusetts. Therefore, an ancient 44-year-old Arizonan was able to stumble away from his home and end up at Fenway Park in Boston at the same time as a 41-year-old trickster who thinks he can throw his knuckles. And that’s how Tim Wakefield and Randy Johnson ended up on the mound last night.

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Red Sox Will Do Anything to Avoid Book Report

You’re a professional athlete. A baseball player, let’s say. You’re stuck on a 19-hour flight to Tokyo for business after a brisk protest and exhibition game. The doctors tell you to stay awake through the whole flight so the jetlag isn’t as bad. How do you entertain yourself for nearly a full day?

Jonathan Papelbon Red Sox mic karaoke

(Someone’s going out the airlock if this happens, Papelbon)

Bring DVDs with. Play poker. Lots of poker. Hell, order a three-foot-long portable poker table with the team logo on it and plop that sucker down right in the middle of the plane. Dear God, anything to avoid having to open a book.
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Mirabelli Released by Red Sox; New Caddy Found

Doug Mirabelli must feel like a mistreated little puppy again today, having just been released by the Red Sox. The Sawx have drop-kicked the big catching animal three times now (2004, 2006, 2008), only to rush back to him, scratch behind his ears, and make his tail thump excitedly. Hell, they sent a police escort for him last time. What’s a boy to think?

Doug Mirabelli

This year’s girl, Kevin Cash, apparently knows how to make knuckler Tim Wakefield happy and is a much younger model. Also, Jason Varitek is saved from the embarrassment of six passed balls per game, which sounds painful on numerous levels.

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