Toronto Baseball Guys
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
  See Jim, Everything does Even Out

Wow, the Jays just had their tail feathers handed to them by the Red Sox over the weekend. That’s shocking! Who could have ever envisioned a 2-10 team littered with perennial all stars eventually getting it right? I’m not sure how much more surprise my fragile psyche can handle right now, so please think twice before letting me know that:
a.) JP Ricciardi just congratulated himself in front of the media
b.) Rance Mulliniks came through in the clutch
c.) the Leafs missed the playoffs
d.) Juan Rivera doesn’t seem to care

Yeah, that was an awful trip, but these things balance themselves out over the course a season. Fortunately, Travis Snider won’t keep OPSing 0.495, but unfortunately Yunel Escobar won’t manage to maintain this 0.976 clip either. A lot happens over 162 games, and eventually the Jays will find themselves in their rightful position as a 75 win team.

The “even out” is one of the best parts about baseball, sometimes it’s driven by luck, sometimes it’s energy level, and sometimes it’s just fate. Mind you, my favourite instances of balance are those that are umpire induced. Umpires are human, they do their best to make the correct call in a split second with 50 players, 30, 000 fans and a nation wide television audience breathing down their necks. Most of the time the umps get it right, and when they don’t they fix it.

The Jays have already experienced two prime examples this season:
a.) In the 14 inning game against the Angels, the Jays lost an inning after having a run negated when Yunel Escobar was ruled by third base umpire Bob Davidson, to have interfered with Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo. By all Jays’ based accounts it sounds like this was the wrong call. I have no opinion on the play since I never saw it. I chose to stop watching for two reasons:
i.) I can’t physically stay up late enough to see an extra innings night game taking place on the West Coast. Seriously, why can’t we just get rid of the West Coast teams? What’s the point of them? “Commissioner Bud” you’ve got three options: begin contracting all teams outside of the Eastern time zone, force all teams to play their games so they begin at 7 pm EST, or just call Lex Luther and have him extend his plan to redefine the pacific coast line.
ii.) I also stopped watching because I knew it was going to get ugly. In the third inning of that game, Jose Bautista was credited with throwing out Torii Hunter at third base. This was a blown call in the Jays’ favour, and it was only a matter of time before Davidson made up for it. Why’d you have to wait another 10 innings Bob?

b.) The second example came from Friday’s game in Boston where Adam Lind bounced a ball off the top of the right field wall in the foot wide space between the foul pole and the line painted on the wall beneath the foul pole. Maybe I’m just a simple caveman blogger, but why aren’t the line and the pole in line with each other? There was absolutely no way to make a correct call here. The line and the pole contradict each other for all instances of balls falling between them. Any ball outside the foul pole is foul, and any ball inside the foul line is fair. The umpires went under cover to review the play and decided that, rather than put their lives at risk, they should go with the option that would satisfy the home crowd. So they turned Lind’s homer into a foul ball. In the bottom half of the inning first base umpire Paul Nauert called Carl Crawford out even though all replay angles showed that he was safe. Red Sox manager Terry Francona flew out of the dugout enraged at the call, but calmly returned the to the dugout after hearing a brief statement from the Nauert. Why didn’t Francona argue the blatantly incorrect call? He understands the “even out”.

Whether it’s hitting batters, pitchers getting shown up, or umps blowing calls, baseball has a natural system of checks and balances. Having said that, I am curious to see how baseball ends up ruling on the issue of voting known PED users into Cooperstown. In extrapolating from the case of Mark McGwire, it seems like baseball might move towards keeping the “users” out. That seems like an awfully short sighted idea:

Each time details of positive tests surface, we are shocked, the player suggests the test is wrong, and if they ever finally admit to it, they claim that it was a one-time mistake. These tests don’t catch everything, especially if the timing is off, and especially if the league doesn’t have a testing policy. Players will point to their never having been caught before as evidence that they were clean at all other times. Players that have never been caught insist that they were always clean. I’m pretty sure that the majority of MLB players’ pants are on fire when it comes to discussion on this topic.

The truth seems to be that there are way more cheaters out there than we know of. I suspect that an injection needle was as much a part of the standard MLB uniform as stirrups and jock straps. Yet HOF voters seem intent on trying to punish just the poor suckers who were caught, while letting the just-as-dirty-Carl-Lewis’ of the league ride their high horses right through the front doors of Cooperstown

There was no official policy on PEDs, there was no testing program and there is certainly no public knowledge of exactly who “used” and who didn’t. Let them in based on their stats, the only delays on admission should be levied on those who lied to the media, and insisted that they never used. For each time a player looked a fan, official or member of the media straight in the eye and insisted they never used PEDs, the player should be penalized with an extra year’s delay before entering the hall. Rocket Roger look on the bright side, maybe now you'll be able to celebrate your induction with your great-grandchildren.
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