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Place Your Mets: Johan Santana Throws First No-Hitter in Mets History

It’s time to place your Mets (bets).

The New York Mets finally have their first no-hitter in franchise history. And it only took 51 years, 8,020 games and three ballparks to do it.

Left-handed pitcher Johan Santana will have his name etched in the record books thanks to a milestone performance on Friday night, tossing the 275th no-no in major-league history. The two-time Cy Young winner had to make a career-high 134 pitches to finish the job.

“Amazing. I mean, coming into this season I was just hoping to come back, stay healthy and help the team.”

As always, each no-hitter or perfect game comes with two criteria: a questionable call, and “the catch.”

The questionable call was actually correct. In the sixth inning, former Met Carlos Beltran—back at Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him last July—ripped a grounder down the third-base line that actually hit the foul-line chalk, indicating it was a hit. Third-base umpire Adrian Johnson, however, incorrectly ruled it a foul ball. Everyone seemed to have something to say about the missed call.

“I saw the ball hitting outside the line, just foul,” Johnson said.

“It was in front of his face, and he called it foul. I thought it was a fair ball. At the end of the day, one hit wasn’t going to make a difference in the ballgame. We needed to score more runs and we didn’t do that,” Beltran said.

“There’s times when one play makes the whole difference, one calls makes the whole difference. And tonight it was that call,” Santana said.

The following inning, we got “the catch.” Yadier Molina drove a ball deep to left, but Mike Baxter made a fantastic catch before running full speed into the outfield wall. The Queens, N.Y. product was forced to leave the game with a shoulder contusion.

Regardless, after more than a half-century of misery, the Mets finally have their first no-hitter. Only the San Diego Padres, born in 1969, seven years after the Mets, are the only MLB team without a no-hitter.

New York has come close on multiple occasions, though. Since 1962, they’ve had 35 one-hitters. Ten pitchers had thrown no-hitters before coming to the Mets, and seven had thrown no-hitters after leaving the Mets. The Mets themselves had been no-hit six times. 

Tom Seaver is the only other Met to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning, and he did so three times without being able to finish the job. Seaver came within two outs of a perfect game in 1969 and fell one out shy of a no-hitter in 1975, the previous time a Mets pitcher had made it into the ninth without yielding a hit. Not even Nolan Ryan nor Dwight Gooden accomplished the feat, though all three threw no-hitters after leaving the team.

The 33-year-old Santana faced a plethora of question marks entering the season. He missed all of the 2010 season recovering from shoulder surgery, and upon his return he faced doubts that he could once again return to form. The $137.5M contract he signed after coming over from the Twins might as well have been money sent down the drain.

”Coming into this season I was just hoping to come back and stay healthy and help this team, and now I am in this situation in the greatest city for baseball.”

But he proved all his naysayers wrong. Not only did Santana accomplish the feat, but he may also have made history by joining White Sox right-handed pitcher Phil Humber as trade-mates to have thrown a no-hitter—in the same season.

Santana made just his 11th start following the surgery Friday against the Cardinals, and he was supposed to be limited to 110-115 pitches, according to manager Terry Collins.

It’s very exciting. But if, in five days, his arm his bothering him, I’m not going to feel very good…I just couldn’t take him out. I just couldn’t do it. So, we’ll wait five days and see how it is.

Santana received a standing ovation as he headed out to the mound for the ninth inning. He made quick work of OF Matt Holliday and OF Allen Craig. With 27,069 screaming fans on their feet, Santana got World Series MVP David Freese on a 3-2 count before his foul tip was caught by catcher Josh Thole. Santana pumped his left fist, slammed it into his glove and shouted as Thole showed the ball to plate umpire Gary Cederstrom and then went running out toward the mound.

It’s an honor. When I came into this team in 2008, I came here to help this team win a championship. We have been through a lot of things. But, I’ll never give up…I know how much this means to New York and to the New York Mets. It’s something I’m proud of and I’m very happy to be a part of it.

The Mets rushed out of the dugout and mobbed Santana as security guards tackled a fan who ran onto the field near home plate. Santana then raised his right arm and saluted the crowd in celebration, as “No-Han” was displayed on the Citi Field screen.

”Finally, the first one. That is the greatest feeling ever.”


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Say It Ain’t So Jimmy Baseball!: Should-Be Hall Of Famer Jim Edmonds Retires

Outfielder Jim Edmonds has announced his retirement from baseball after 17 major league seasons. The 40-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals with an invite to training camp, but he felt that the progress he was making from offseason Achilles surgery was not where he wanted to be at this point in time.

St. Louis team doctors told Edmonds the injury was so severe that he would not be medically cleared to play, and he could hurt himself even more.

It’s a shame, really, because “Hollywood” remained a very productive player last season, even after sitting out all of 2009. He hit .276 with a .342 OBP and .504 slugging percentage in 272 plate appearances for the Brewers and Reds.

“Although I feel that I can still play and contribute, the risk of permanent injury is too much for me to chance,” he said. “As much as I regret this announcement, I feel that it is for the best.”

Jimmy Baseball left a long-lasting, positive impression on baseball, and without question will go down as one of the greatest center fielders in the history of Major League Baseball. He should also be a future Hall of Famer.

“He was just an unbelievable clubhouse presence and an unbelievable player—the best center fielder I’ve ever seen. He had that extra level,” said Chris Carpenter.

While Edmonds has never won an MVP award, his numbers speak volumes about his rare ability at the dish. The four-time All-Star finishes with a career .284 batting average, a .376 OBP, a .527 slugging percentage and a .902 OPS, to go along with 1,949 hits, 1,251 runs, 393 home runs, 1,199 RBIs and 998 walks.

It’s rare to see someone reach the 400 home run club, but Edmonds’s near-1,000 walks showed how he was so great at just getting on base. In fact, he has a higher OPS and more homers than recent Hall of Fame inductee Jim Rice, but his numbers are incredible when comparing him to fellow position players.

Most importantly, however, he has a World Series ring (Cardinals, 2006) as well as eight Gold Gloves, the third most of any center fielder all-time. Whether it was robbing Brad Ausmus in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS or making what is simply known as “The Catch” at Kauffman Field (or even his walk-off homer in Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS), “Lassie” is unquestionably one of the greatest defensive players to ever play the game.

Like many great players, Edmonds’s career was shortened because of injuries from making defensive plays. The aggressive outfielder often ran into walls and made extremely difficult catches, often with his trademark back-to-the-infield run with his head in the air looking for the ball. These highlight reel catches began back when he was a California Angel, but he didn’t truly cement himself as one of the all-time greats until he became a St. Louis Cardinal.

“He had an unbelievable career. He was just a great personality with tremendous baseball talent,” said John Mozeliak. “He could fill a highlight reel. The impact he had during his tenure here—we won a lot of baseball games. He was a key part of that. His legacy with the St. Louis Cardinals will end up being in line when you think about historic names.”

Edmonds is one of just seven center fielders in baseball history with more than 350 homers—the others are Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones, Duke Snider and Joe DiMaggio. He also ranks among the top 10 center fielders of all time in RBIs, walks, slugging percentage, OPS and extra-base hits.

Add it all up and Wins Above Replacement (WAR) on places Edmonds as 68.3 wins better than a replacement-level center fielder for his career, which is the seventh-highest total of all-time, where he sits between Griffey (78.5 WAR) and Snider (67.5).

Ultimately, if you believe the Hall of Fame should probably include the 10 best center fielders in baseball history (it should), then it needs to make room for Jim Edmonds.

“Jimmy was amazing out there. I always said, I don’t think there could be any better center fielder to read the ball better than Jimmy,” said Albert Pujols. “He always tried to make everyone around him better. That’s why he won so many Gold Gloves out there.”

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San Francisco Giants’ Heroics: Champs Bring First World Series To the Bay

The San Francisco Giants won their first World Series with a 3-1 Game 5 victory over the Texas Rangers. It was the first title for the Giants franchise since 1954, four years before they moved from New York.

Giants SS Edgar Renteria, who was talking retirement just five weeks ago, tells teammate Andres Torres that he’s hitting the long ball. And he did just that. In the seventh, Renteria took a Cliff Lee 2-0 cut fastball for a ride, a three-run home run that silenced the 52,045 in Arlington. His heroics were awarded, as he was named World Series MVP in a 3-1 World Series-clinching victory.

“I got confidence in me, but I was joking like I’m going to get it out. But it went out. I got confident, looking for one pitch. So he threw the cutter and it came back to the middle of the plate,” Renteria said.

Renteria’s heroics are nothing new, though. His 11th-inning walk-off RBI single for the Florida Marlins won Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, and he became only the fourth player in MLB history to drive home the winning run in two clinching games, joining Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.

The Giants won the way the best teams do—strong, young pitching. They also received a ton of support from what many deem “castoffs and misfits,” which was essentially a collection of short-term rentals, releases and waived players from around the league. No Giants player ranked in the top 10 in any significant statistical category during the regular season.

It didn’t matter that the Giants weren’t headlined by a big-name superstar, as they had a handful of unlikely saviors throughout the postseason—Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez and now Renteria.

“For us to win for our fans—it’s never been done there with all those great teams—that was a euphoric feeling. All those (former players) were in the clubhouse so many times and they were pulling for these guys to win. They helped us get here,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Much credit is due to RHP Tim Lincecum, better known as “The Freak.” He out-dueled Lee (how often does that happen?) not once, but twice. He went eight strong, gave up just three hits and two walks while striking out 10. He’s now able to add a World Series trophy to his two NL Cy Young awards.

“You know what it is? It’s called being a gamer. Walking into the clubhouse today, the guy’s as loose as can be, joking around. Same old Timmy. You’d have no idea he had the opportunity to go out and win Game 5 of the World Series and win us a World Series championship. You saw it from the get-go. He had swing-and-miss stuff all night. Cruz hit a pretty decent pitch out. And he bounced back and got us out of there,” said Buster Posey.

The question now is can they do it again? A team consisting of castoffs and misfits wasn’t supposed to get this far in the first place, but now, it’s quite possible that a repeat is in the cards.

With an offence that ranked 17th of 30 teams in the bigs with just 697 runs scored during the season, this unlikely championship team has proven that there is no blueprint to success in the MLB.

Around the fanbase, it has proven that baseball is one of the greatest sports for playoff unpredictability, where the best team doesn’t always win, but rather, the one that happens to be playing best at the time.

Taking a look at this team’s roots, there is a ton of homegrown talent. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, for example, are two of the club’s few homegrown position players, whereas the pitching staff was created predominantly through the draft—Madison Bumgarner went in the first round 10th overall (in 2007), Lincecum, 10th overall (in 2006), Matt Cain 25th overall (in 2002), Brian Wilson (24th round in 2003) and Jonathan Sanchez (27th round in 2004).

As for their “castoffs and misfits,” a lot of their bats came from second or third markets—so much credit is due to the club’s scouting.

When all was said and done, it came down to their starting pitching. Lincecum defeated Lee in Games 1 and 5, while their other young starters, Cain and Bumgarner, won Games 2 and 4. The trio did an incredible job of putting the Rangers bats to bed—the heart of the order, OF Josh Hamilton, DH Vladimir Guerrero and OF Nelson Cruz, who homered their way past the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in the postseason, were a combined 7-for-54 in the Series, which includes Nelson’s solo shot that got the Rangers their only run in Game 5.

Wilson retired those three batters in order in the ninth, finally punching out Nelson at 9:30pm CT, initiating a celebration 56 seasons in the making.

One has to love the story behind this team—specifically, for Wilson. It’s the same routine for the creator of “Fear the Beard”—after recording the final out of a ball game, the closer turns away from the plate, crosses his forearms in front of his chest and quickly looks toward the sky. It’s an MMA-style signal that he says he adopted to honor both his late father, who passed away from cancer when Brian was only 17, and his Christian faith.

“This one was the most special, sure. It showed that hard work really does pay off. That’s what my dad always taught me,” he said.

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Rangers-Giants World Series 2010: An Unlikely and Unpredictable Matchup

So awesome. So. AWESOME!

There’s something special about playoff baseball that just kicks so much ass.

The intensity goes through the roof! It doesn’t matter which team is playing, the ante is always higher the later and later we get into fall.

Last round, I went 0-2, dropping me to 3-3 this season. Good, I’m glad.

How unpredictable has this postseason been? Who knew the Rangers and Giants would be playing in the World Series as they send the Phillies and Yankees—the last two teams to win the Series, as well as the last two teams to participate in the last two seasons—home empty-handed?

I sure as hell didn’t. I said from day one, Phillies over Yankees in the WS. Glad I’m wrong. These playoffs have been incredible to watch. Fortunately, it’s the World Series. Unfortunately, playoff baseball is ending in 4-7 games.

Behold the schedule…in all its glory:

Game 1: TEX@SF – Oct 27 7:57pm
TEX: LHP Cliff Lee
SF: RHP Tim Lincecum

Game 2: TEX@SF – Oct 28 7:57pm
TEX: LHP C.J. Wilson
SF: RHP Matt Cain

Game 3: SF@TEX – Oct 30 6:57pm
SF: LHP Jonathan Sánchez
TEX: RHP Colby Lewis

Game 4: SF@TEX – Oct 31 8:20pm
SF: LHP Madison Bumgarner
TEX: RHP Tommy Hunter

Game 5: SF@TEX – Nov 1 7:57pm
SF: RHP Tim Lincecum
TEX: LHP Cliff Lee

Game 6: TEX@SF – Nov 3 7:57pm
TEX: LHP C.J. Wilson
SF: RHP Matt Cain

Game 7: TEX@SF – Nov 4 7:57pm
TEX: RHP Colby Lewis
SF: LHP Jonathan Sánchez

Game 1. Cliff Lee. Tim Lincecum. I’m not making this up. And if there is a god, we get to see this again in Game 5.

It’s going to be a *terrible* series for TV, but for baseball fans and enthusiasts, they’ve been salivating over it for days. Neither the Giants nor the Rangers were supposed to get this far, but both have proven they deserve it. The Giants are gunning for their first championship since 1954, while the Rangers are going for their first one ever. Both crowds are going to be bananas.

How’s this for karma? Coming into this season, the Giants have not won a World Series Championship in 52 seasons. The Rangers went 49 years without even a postseason series win, let alone a World Series appearance. These two teams account for two of the top four clubs with the longest World Series Championship droughts. Add them up, and what do you get? 101, the number of years the Cubs have been waiting. That damn goat!


We BeLEEve!

I’m going to throw some stats at you, just to show you how unfair this is.

In eight postseason starts, Cliff Lee is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Only Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson have a lower ERA among pitchers with at least five starts in the postseason.

He’s the first pitcher ever with three straight postseason games of at least 10 strikeouts. He has five 10-strikeout games in his postseason career; one more and he’ll be the only one ever with six, passing legend Randy Johnson. Lee had 30 strikeouts in between walks, another postseason record. There have been eight postseason games in history in which a pitcher has struck out 10 and walked none; Lee has four of them.

This dude is dirty. He’s got a solid fastball, jams hitters inside, and has an outstanding curve and cutter. You know he’s throwing strikes, but you can’t do anything about it. Lee will be on more than full rest for Game 1 (as per all starts), but can he go on short rest if he has to, something he’s never done in the postseason?



The Giants’ starting pitching is very good, but with one “Giant” hazard (so to speak): Jonathan Sanchez.  He lasted only two innings in Game 6. If he’s again caught up with the different release points of all his pitches, he’s going to be wild and will walk/hit a bunch. Such an issue is non-existent with the Rangers’ No. 3 starter, Colby Lewis, who dominated the Yankees twice in the ALCS.

Both teams had solid pens in the regular season, but the Giants get the edge in the postseason (the Rangers imploded against the Yankees, and the Giants relieved seven innings when Sanchez was pulled after two-plus).

RHP Brian Wilson became the fourth pitcher to win or save four games in one postseason series. His postseason game plan has been low, outside fastballs until he gets two strikes, followed by a breaking ball strike. He’s been lights-out.

Both teams have great lefty relievers, but the Giants will need help from their righty setup men—they were good in the regular season, but were unsteady by the end of the NLCS, thus, Lincecum’s relief appearance in Game 6.


How did THEY get here?

Many people are asking how the Giants got here.

Statistically, they don’t belong—they’re not a good defensive team. They aren’t patient at the dish, and they don’t steal.

They’ve got good pop from No. 1-8 in the order, but is that it? They don’t get many hits, but the ones they do get are key, critical base knocks at exactly the right time.

Proof? They’ve won six games by one run in this postseason, tying a record for the most one-run wins in a single postseason. But that’s exactly the way their team is built—the team is primarily composed of castoffs and misfits from other teams. As third-base coach Tim Flannery says, “They’re Street Fighters.”


Oh…well then, who invited THEM?

The Rangers’ offense has been the primary reason why they’ve gotten to the Fall Classic. In this postseason, they have hit 17 home runs and stolen 16 bases. They’ve homered in 11 consecutive postseason games, one short of the record set by the Astros in ’04 . They beat the Yankees four times by at least five runs, the second team ever to do that in a seven-game series.

They’ve got a ton of pop, too–OFs Josh Hamilton hit four bombs in the LCS, and Nelson Cruz has five this postseason.

The big thing that I’ve been stressing for years is finally being showcased—speed wins ballgames! Take Rangers’ SS Elvis Andrus for example. He runs constantly. Even if he doesn’t steal, his speed intimidates pitchers and throws them off their game, as they constantly have that stolen base threat staring right at them. Andrus even scored on an infield ground out while at second base. And it doesn’t end there: Cruz, Hamilton, Kinsler, Murphy, Francoeur and Young are all good-to-excellent runners, just to name a few.

This team runs the bases exceptionally well, and they’ve even managed to turn C Benjie Molina into a (more) aggressive runner. And what does poor pitcher concentration lead to? Poor pitches. And what do poor pitches lead to? See Hamilton and Cruz, above.

Finally, the Rangers have scored 59 runs in 11 postseason games. They scored 36 runs against the Yankees in the ALCS. San Francisco has scored 24 runs this entire postseason.


Cody Ross 4 Prez

Fate, destiny. Whatever you want to call it, it’s thrown around a lot. But the Giants can certainly make a claim for being the team of destiny.

It’s hard to explain, but sometimes when the bounces go your way, the bounces go your way. And when they don’t, they don’t—you can’t do much about that, either.

The Giants have been lucky to get a lot of little benefits throughout the 2010 postseason. Case in point: Game 6 of the NLCS against the Phillies, where Andres Torres got a perfect bounce off the center field wall to stop Jimmy Rollins from scoring.

If you’re talking destiny, let’s look at Cody Ross’ story—he’s claimed on waivers because the Giants didn’t want him to go to the rival Padres, essentially a blocking claim. He drove in seven runs in 73 at-bats with an over-crowded Giants’ outfield. Then he hit four home runs, two in one game off Roy Halladay, and drove in eight runs, slugging .794 in the postseason with a .362 average against changeups.  I defy any rational explanation for this.

Stories like Ross’ are so incredibly rare in every other sport—there’s no way the 11th man on an NBA team ends up as the best player in any playoff series—but in baseball, it happens constantly. He’s been the reason why Giants have made it this far. Key hits at the right time. Oh yeah, Ross wanted to be a rodeo clown as a kid.

But, Cody Ross isn’t going to hit a home run every night. The unlikely NLCS star is great at breaking up no-hitters, but nobody else is getting on base in front of him. All four of Ross’ home runs have come with the bases empty.


Final Thoughts

The true winner: Benjie!

The rotund backstop gets a World Series ring regardless of whether he wins or loses. Talk about having your “bases” covered! He is about to become the first catcher in baseball history to appear in the Fall Classic against a team he played for earlier in the season.

Molina, with the Giants since 2007, played 61 games for San Fran in 2010, was then dealt to Texas for RHP Chris Ray and a minor leaguer, then played 57 games for Texas during the regular season.

He’s also been solid in the postseason, batting .333 with two homers and seven RBIs in nine games. He belted a three-run shot against the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS that helped propel them to the big dance.

Ray, a reliever who pitched well for both teams, could also end up with a ring regardless who wins, although the Giants haven’t put him on their playoff rosters. Does Molina hold a wild card when it comes to knowing the Giants’ pitching tendencies?

The team of destiny is the Lone Star. I’ve doubted them from the beginning, and they continue to make me look stupid. This ends now. I keep looking for a reason to think the Giants are going to win, and I keep coming up empty. This is going to be an outstanding series, an absolute thriller, but Texas comes out on top.


Pick: Rangers in 7

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The Rebuilding Continues: Looking Ahead at The Jays’ 2010 Offseason

Now that the Jays have hired John Farrell as their 12th manager in franchise history, the team can now begin looking into their offseason plans as they look to continue rebuilding in 2011.

The team was fortunate to come away with 85 wins last season, surprising just about everyone. They also surprised everyone by leading the league in homers.

Fortunately, most of their core is locked up, such as LHP Ricky Romero, DH Adam Lind and 2B Aaron Hill. They also have a number of players under control who have yet to amass six seasons of big league experience, such as RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Morrow, SS Yunel Escobar and RHP Jesse Litsch.

That said, this team is full of question marks. This can be broken down into three categories: the Bautista decision, the bullpen bind and their corner-infield predicament.


Bautista Bomb!

News flash: OF Jose Bautista has some pop. His 2010 breakout season was foretold by no one, but the 30-year-old’s future in Toronto is very much in the air. At the moment, it appears as though the Jays would like to work out a three- or four-year deal with the third baseman/right fielder to stay in Toronto with a reasonable salary.

Bautista, however, could take a one-year deal or go through arbitration to see if he can get a bigger payday. Based on his numbers, Bautista would see somewhere around $6.5-7.5 million from the arbitrator.

The potential contract offer will come down to whether both sides can agree on a number in both years and term that will land Bautista less than a 54-homer guy would normally be worth, but a lot more than a guy with 17 home runs a year would make. If neither side is lenient, Bautista is as good as gone.

In all likelihood, Bautista will open the 2011 season with a Jays uniform. Where he plays is yet to be determined, as he’ll likely have to wait to see what GM Alex Anthopoulos does in the free agent market, if anything.

My question is this: is Bautista a fluke? There’s no question that he won’t come close to 54 homers again (my prediction is 25), but will there be a regression like there was for Hill and Lind?

Both players still put up good homerun numbers, but that, as well as all their other stats, slipped significantly. Are Hill and Lind for real? Can they bounce back in 2011? Can we expect Bautista to have a similar slip statistically?


Infield Corners

Current 1B Lyle Overbay, 33, is a free agent coming off a disappointing season. Toronto is currently thin at first basemen, but all signs point to Lind, who played 11 games at first base, taking over the position.

Luckily, their options are not limited, as the 2010 free agent pool is especially generous this year. Big names like Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff, Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee are all set to test the market.

The Jays certainly won’t sign any of these players to a long-term deal, but some may accept a short-term deal to get see if they can bounce back statistically in the hopes of signing a bigger contract the following season.

Across the diamond, 3B Edwin Encarnacion sits at third base. The Jays hold arbitration rights over him, but the club could elect to walk away from the soon-to-be 28-year-old, despite hitting 21 homers. Encarnacion is poor defensively, and it’s unclear if the club would be willing to pay him over $4M in arbitration, especially since they sent him down to Triple-A twice last season.

Letting Edwin walk, though, means that Bautista is stuck at third, whereas his value is higher in right field because of how strong his defensive play and throwing power/accuracy is. If they choose to keep Bautista, their best option is to try and groom a new third baseman, such as Brad Emaus. On the market, the free agent third basemen are headlined by Adrian Beltre, but aside from him and maybe Mark DeRosa, the pool is shallow.


The Bullpen Bind

Toronto’s three major relievers from last season—LHP Scott Downs, RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Kevin Gregg—all enter 2011 with doubt.

According to Cot’s contracts unofficial Elias Rankings, both Downs and Frasor will be “Type-A” free agents, meaning that teams that sign them would forfeit their first-round draft pick to Toronto, and the Jays would get a sandwich pick between the first- and second-round in the draft from MLB.  Gregg projects to be a “Type-B” player, meaning that the Jays would only receive the sandwich pick.

Both Downs and Frasor will need to be offered arbitration for the compensation to be awarded, so it’s almost a guarantee that this will occur. Whether they accept it, however, is an issue on its own—they can either accept the one-year deal with the Jays or walk away and test the free agent waters.

Of the two, Downs is almost guaranteed to decline arbitration to become a free agent. His value is currently sky-high: a lefty reliever who can pitch equally well to lefty and righty bats, and also has the ability to save games is something that’s highly sought after.

Few teams forfeit draft picks for a late-inning reliever, but many teams are currently just a solid bullpen arm away from becoming serious World Series contenders—namely, the Yankees and Red Sox. Downs will almost assuredly receive an offer from both clubs, as well as from about half the league as well.

Frasor, however, isn’t in the same boat. He’s coming off a below-average season and lost his job as the team’s closer early in the year. At the moment, his interest on the open market is unclear, and you can expect fewer teams to come calling if they’re forced to lose a draft pick to sign him. Because of this, Frasor is likely in Toronto for at least one more season.

Finally, we get to Gregg, in which the Jays have two options. As to which route they can take—they can sign him for $4.5 million for 2011 or lock him up for 2011 and 2012, which would cost the club $8.75 million over the two seasons. Gregg saved 37 games last season, but isn’t the prototypical “closer” that most teams look for.

His “stuff” isn’t great and is nowhere comparable with other closers who are in or around 30 saves. Until the Jays either sign or develop a closer in waiting, it’s hard to imagine the club at least not picking up one of the options.

Downs would be the best option in terms of getting key outs. That said, he’s too important to simply limit to ninth-inning duties. He needs to be available in the fifth, sixth or seventh when the Jays need a double-play ball or to get a lefty bat out with two on and two out. I’d like to see others get chances—guys like RHP Shawn Camp or RHP Casey Janssen could be given tries, and if all else fails, they can always go with a closer—by committee.



I don’t claim to know everything about baseball, but these are just some ideas. I’ve been high on RHP John Lackey for years, and now’s Toronto’s chance to get him. He’s finally a free agent, and Toronto would be a great place for him to bounce back from an inconsistent 2010 campaign. He wouldn’t necessarily have to be the No. 5 either.

I’d really take a serious look at OF Carl Crawford and OF Jayson Werth. Both guys add power, speed and defensive ability to the lineup, a deadly combination. Take a look at teams like the Rangers, Rays, etc.. They’re all fast teams. Not all their players are fast, but they can, and know how to, run well.

If you can put pressure on the pitcher and make him lose concentration by worrying about you, you’re halfway there. Adding Werth or Crawford means more steals and allows the Jays to be more aggressive on the basepaths since they now have faster options. Neither player would come with a terribly high price tag either.

Speaking of price tags…Mannywood North?

Oh God. Yes, Manny-to-Toronto rumours have started. Again. Manny told on Monday night that he’d be interested in playing for Farrell in Toronto.

“John has tremendous knowledge of the game, a very pleasant man and he trains ballplayers. Toronto has made a great acquisition. Farrell is a manager for whom I would like to play, and Toronto is a team I’ve liked since they had all those Dominican players in the ’80s…I still have a lot of baseball left in me. I think that I can still bat if I keep myself healthy, and it is less probable to have an injury playing as the designated hitter.”

Well, he’s not wrong. Personally, I can’t stand Manny. He’s slow, he’s dim-witted, he’s annoying, he hogs the spotlight and is a clubhouse cancer. I’d rather have Werth or Crawford over Manny any day of the week.

But at the right price, Manny in Toronto (*only* as the DH) would be another great power bat to add to the lineup. He did hit .298, but the 38-year-old slugger had a down season with just nine home runs and 42 RBI in 265 ABs because of knee and groin issues, which are now resolved after he underwent successful hernia surgery. He’s expected to resume baseball activities in mid-November.

It makes sense, though. If Lind plays first, Bautista third and Snider in the OF, the team needs a new DH. It doesn’t make sense for Toronto to use a DH-by-committee whenever someone needs some time off—if there’s a power bat available at a good cost, go for it. The Twins had this with Jim Thome this year, and he worked wonders when Justin Morneau was lost for the season.

Manny still has a season or two of solid offensive numbers left, so maybe Toronto should use them. Since he’s coming off a down-year and recently had surgery, now might be the perfect time to offer him a one-year incentive-laden/performance-based deal to get him to step it up. Plus, he consistently *kills* the ball at the Rogers Centre.

Will Anthopoulos do it? Unlikely. He’s building the team wisely—a young foundation with added veterans where needed. The Jays have arguably the best young staff in the majors, so their starting five is reasonably solid and young.

They’ll need to add some bullpen help and a big stopper for late-innings. I think 2011 is a tad optimistic for the Jays to be seriously competing in the AL East, but 2012 is more reasonable to think they’ll make a splash.

These are the three biggest issues for Toronto. They still need to figure out what’s happening with All-Star C John Buck, as well as finding a fifth starter in the rotation (Marcum, Romero, Morrow and Cecil).

This winter should be one to keep an eye on for Jays fans, as it could be the final steps before slugging it out with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East.

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Billy Wagner Burns Out, Punches Ticket for Cooperstown

One of the MLB’s all-time greats is walking away from the game.

Braves’ LHP Billy Wagner, 39, officially confirmed his retirement from Major League Baseball this week. Wagner’s MLB career came to a close prematurely when he suffered a left oblique injury in the NLDS while fielding a bunt by Giants’ SS Edgar Renteria, then re-aggravated it on the very next batter and was forced to leave the game. Wagner received two injections on October 10th, telling doctors that he wanted to try to return, and that he “didn’t care about the long-term affects.”

He tried to throw on Sunday, but was unable do so without significant pain, and was placed on the 15-Day DL—a stint that may not only end his season, but his career. The belief was that he’d return if the Braves could advance to the World Series—which, as we know, simply wasn’t in the cards. Ultimately, Wagner walks—limps, rather—into retirement from the game alongside his manager, Bobby Cox.

Wagner turns in a fantastic 1.43 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 104/22 K/BB ratio over 69 1/3 innings during the regular season, successfully shutting the door on 37-of-44 save opportunities. As his stats indicate, as well as his presence on the mound, the flamethrower could’ve remained a dominant closer for a few more seasons.

I don’t blame him for leaving, though—a 162-game schedule attacks your body, not to mention being away from home and your family/wife/kids. As of right now, RHP Craig Kimbrel, RHP Takashi Saito and LHP Johnny Venters will compete to assume the position for 2011, and the $7M freed up will allow the Braves to improve in other areas of their game.

Wagner had always been one of my favorite pitchers growing up, so I thought I’d take a look at what he’s accomplished in baseball. He shared a similar body frame as I did (he’s 5’10″, 180-pounds), and watching him throw smoke had me dying to become a fearless, challenging, hard-throwing closer too.

I began researching him, and the first thing that jumped at me was that he’s a *natural* right-handed pitcher, but only started throwing southpaw after breaking his arm twice in accidents. He taught himself to throw lefty by throwing thousands of balls against the wall of a barn, and then fielding the rebounds, rinse and repeat.

As I started watching the MLB as a baseball enthusiast, rather than just as a fan cheering for a team, I realized how rare a talent such as Wagner was. A dominant lefty-closer who was capable throwing a baseball 100 mph, plus a nasty slider, mixed with how hard (not the velocity—call it torque, if you will) was, and still is, a rare commodity. And it was his sheer, utter dominance that made him one of the greatest of all-time.

Among all the pitchers in baseball history with at least 800 career innings, Wagner has the highest strikeout rate. Not bad company, either:

K/9 IP

Billy Wagner: 11.92
Randy Johnson: 10.61
Kerry Wood: 10.35
Pedro Martinez: 10.04
Nolan Ryan: 9.55

Wagner is also the all-time leader in adjusted ERA+ among all lefty relievers with at least 800 innings, and ranks second in all-time adjusted ERA behind another closer who I hear is pretty good:


Billy Wagner: 187
John Franco: 138
John Hiller: 134
Sparky Lyle: 128
Jesse Orosco: 126

All-time ERA+

Mariano Rivera: 204
Billy Wagner: 187
Hoyt Wilhelm: 147
Dan Quisenberry: 147
Trevor Hoffman: 141

While many people will be critical of his postseason failures and locker-room character (particularly with the Phillies), there’s no denying what he’s accomplished on the mound. Of all the impressive stats accumulated over the years, his most impressive might be the 422 saves he leaves behind, good for (an underrated) fifth on the all-time list, just two shy of Mets’ legend John Franco.

Simply put, he’s the greatest left-handed reliever of all time. He sports the highest strikeout rate of all-time, the best adjusted ERA ever by a lefty reliever, the fewest hits per nine innings of all-time and the second-best ERA+ among all relievers behind only Mariano Rivera.

The seven-time All-Star and 1999 NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year leaves after 15 seasons, but it simply doesn’t do justice to just how badass he was. He’s the perfect combination of a lumberjack and a pirate. He eats beef jerky for breakfast. He flosses with shards of bats he’s broken. He’s essentially baseball’s version of Chuck Norris. Also, he had a wicked-awesome beard.

Wagner did not end his career the way many athletes envision themselves retiring—by limping off the field. My hope is that once the World Series hype dies down this winter, we can really begin to look at what a marvel Billy Wagner was. He remains one of the few pitchers in the history of sports to remain dominant throughout their career, and his statistics—first-ballot Hall of Fame worthy, mind you—truly speak volumes about how dominant and consistent he’s been throughout his career.

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And Then There Were Four: 2010 LCS Preview and Predictions

What an incredible LDS highlighted by Roy Halladay’s no-hitter. We saw the Rangers over the Rays in five, the Yankees sweep the Twins, the Phills sweep the Reds and the Giants top the Braves in four.

I went 3-1 in the LDS, with my blemish coming when I picked the Rays. I wish I had do-overs. This year’s LCS looks amazing. We have a classic David vs. Goliath story in the AL, and a mouth-watering pitching dual in the NL. Let’s run it down:


ALCS: New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers

I would absolutely love for the Yankees to get knocked out. It could happen too. The big thing here is that the Rangers will only be able to use LHP Cliff Lee once, since he’s projected to start Game 3. If he starts again, it’ll be on short rest – something he’s never done. Lee has been insane in the playoffs : seven starts, 6-0 record, 1.44 ERA, .185 batting average against and 9:1 K/BB ratio. In five of those starts, he has pitched at least seven innings without a walk.

Lee has four starts in which he struck out 10 and walked none — only four other pitchers in playoff history have done that, with Lee being the only one to repeat said performance. Tuesday night, Lee became the first pitcher to strike out 11 in a winner-take-all postseason game. In the ALDS, he set a postseason series record with 21 strikeouts without a walk.

That said, the Yankees can hit him – he’s 6-4 with a 4.42 ERA lifetime against the Yanks. Keep an eye on Lee throwing inside on righty bats. The Yanks’ rotation is a bit of a mess, but it looks like LHP C.C. Sabathia will go on short rest should the series go seven.

The Bronx Bombers come in as the rested team, but their lackluster starting pitching remains the biggest concern. That said, if LHP Andy Pettitte stays Mr. October, anything is fair game. Call me crazy, but the Rangers are a very similar team build to the Angels of the early 2000’s – they run like crazy.  They’ll make it close, but the Yanks prevail. I pray that I’m wrong, I really do – I’d love to see the Rangers advance given all they’ve been through, but I just don’t see it happening.

Pick: Yankees in 7


NLCS: San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies

What a pitching matchup! Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez vs. Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. Sign me up!

Starting July 31, the Phillies have gone 30-5 in games started by H20. In the LDS sweep over the Reds, the Phils limited Cincy to four runs in three games, and held the highest-scoring team in the NL to a .124 average. Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, and Hamels threw a shutout in Game 3, making them only the second pair of teammates in the divisional era (from 1969 on) to throw shutouts in the same postseason series.

Starting September 1, H20 is 15-1. But, the Giants hit all three of them this year: Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels combined to throw 45 innings against San Fran, and they allowed 51 hits and 24 earned runs (a 4.80 ERA).

Don’t count of the Giants’ rotation, either – In four games against the Braves in the NLDS, Giants’ starting pitchers posted a 0.93 ERA, the third lowest starters’ ERA by an NL team in any postseason series. Lincecum pitched one of the greatest games in playoff history in Game 1 of the LDS: a two-hit, 14-strikeout gem in a 1-0 win.

Lincecum made one start against the Phillies this season, pitched 8 1/3 innings, allowed three hits, two earned runs, walked one and struck out 11. Cain threw well in Game 2 against the Braves, but the bullpen blew it. Sanchez has an ERA just north of 1.00 in his past eight starts. In two starts against the Phillies this season, he is 2-0. In 13 innings, he has allowed only five hits, two runs, walked seven and struck out 13.

LHP Madison Bumgarner is going to come in under the radar, having a 1.43 ERA in his past seven starts.

Let’s take a look at the closer’s situations. RHP Brian Wilson led the NL in saves with 48 and had a 1.81 ERA, walked 26 and struck out 93 in 74 2/3 innings. He tends to throw heat away to get batters to chase, but if he starts running it on the black, he’s nearly impossible to hit off of. In the LDS, he threw four scoreless innings and struck out five.

RHP Brad Lidge has been here before, both pitching well and terrible. Since August 1, though, he’s been “Lights Out” Lidge again. He’s thrown 24 2/3 innings, allowed 10 hits, two runs and struck out 25.

Could this series come down to middle-relief? The Giants’ pen was great all season, but stumbled against the Braves. The opposite is true for the Phils – a poor season with a strong LDS. On an aside, Buster Posey is epic. He’s accomplished so much in such little time. Not enough credit goes out to him.

If the Phils beat the Giants, they will become the first NL team to reach the World Series three years in a row since the 1942-44 Cardinals. My biggest fear is that the Giants’ bats fall asleep. The Phillis bats are too consistent, and I think that’s the difference-maker here. The Giants are the masters of one-run wins, but are they capable of holding the Phillies to a mere one-run lead? I don’t think so. My season-long prediction of Phils over Yankees in the World Series looks like it’ll be put to the test.

Pick: Phillies in 7


Although I’m new to B/R, I’ve been making previews and predictions through my website for each of the big-four sports. You can take a look at my playoff prediction accuracy below:

2007-08: 12-3 (80%)
2008-09: 10-5 (67%)
2009-10: 9-6 (60%)
Total: 31/45 = 69%

2007-08: 11-4 (73%)
2008-09: 9-6 (60%)
2009-10: 11-4 (73%)
Total: 20/30 = 67%

2008: 5-2 (71%)
2009: 4-3 (57%)
Total: 9/14 = 64%

2008-09: 9-2 (82%)
2009-10: 7-4 (64%)
Total: 16/22 = 73%

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Alex Anthopoulos for Rookie of the Year: Grading AA’s Debut Season for Blue Jays

Jays fans have put up with a lot. Former GM J.P. Ricciardi made mistake after mistake, from Alex Rios, to Vernon Wells, to B.J. Ryan, to Frank Thomas. The motto seemed to be “buy high, sell low” in Toronto.

But fear no more. Forget Austin Jackson; forget Jason Heyward. You want a Rookie of the Year?

Cue Alex Anthopoulos.

Shortly after RHP Brandon Morrow’s 17-strikeout performance, I decided to take a look at AA’s offseason moves to see what he’s done in reinventing the Blue Birds. He took the reins on October 3, 2009, so let’s see some of the major moves he’s made:

Signed UTIL John McDonald to a two-year/$3M deal (11-25-09). Johnny Mac is a Gold Glover at every position. Great re-signing for a solid defensive replacement.

Signed SS Alex Gonzalez to a one-year/$2.75M deal w/ club option (11-26-09). Gonzalez was solid with the stick and the leather, and Anthopoulos turned it into a solid trade (see below).

Signed C John Buck to a one-year/$2M deal (12-16-09). Buck has been great behind the plate and made the All-Star team this year, well worth $2M. Anthopoulos didn’t move Buck in July, so while Buck (thumb) is on the DL, he’s hoping that he remains a Type B free agent.

Acquired RHP Kyle Drabek, C Travis d’Arnaud, and OF Michael Taylor from Phillies for RHP Roy Halladay and $6M (12-16-09), then sent Taylor to the A’s for 1B Brett Wallace. Dealing Doc had to be done, so we’ll skip that. Drabek threw a no-hitter in Double-A this year and aside from that has been pitching very well. D’Arnaud remains a highly-touted prospect who should be up in 2012 or so.

Acquired RHP Brandon Morrow from the M’s for RHP Brandon League and OF Johermyn Chavez (12-23-09). Morrow has the best strikeout rate of any starter this year and is pitching very well (at home at least) in his first full season as a starter.

Signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a one-year/$2.75M deal w/ two club options (2-5-10). AA decided that if Gregg could fix his atrocious home run rate from last season, Gregg’s value would return to normal. We’ll see what happens with Gregg this offseason.

Signed C Jose Molina to a one-year/$1M deal w/ a club option (2-19-10). Great FA signing at bargain money.

Signed SS Adeiny Hechavarria to a four-year/$10M deal (4-13-10). Hechavarria has a big league-ready glove and is hitting a little bit at Double-A. He’s seen as an infield version of Alfonso Soriano.

Acquired OF Fred Lewis from Giants for cash (4-15-10). Lewis sported a nice .262/.332/.414 line before getting injured, all at a cheap price. Jays get a replacement leadoff hitter to cover for Marco Scutaro.

Signed RHP Adonis Cardona to a $2.8M deal (7-13-10). Set a record for a Venezuelan amateur with the righty’s deal. Cardona is another high-ceiling talent and a top prospect.

Acquired SS Yunel Escobar and RHP Jo-Jo Reyes from Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Tim Collins and RHP Tyler Pastornicky (7-14-10). AA bought low on the disgruntled Escobar, who has a truckload of potential.

Acquired OF Anthony Gose from Astros for 1B Brett Wallace (7-29-10). This one is probably the iffiest. Wallace has played some games for the Astros, but his value has dropped for years now because of added weight. Once a left infielder, he appears destined to be a first baseman or a DH. Gose, on the other hand, is drawing comparisons to Carl Crawford in Single-A ball.

Draft: The Jays signed all four of their top picks, finally getting RHP Deck McGuire to sign on the dotted line. ESPN’s Keith Law wrote that the Blue Jays had a “strong haul” in the draft.

Blue Jays fans couldn’t ask for more from AA’s first year. He’s aggressively made moves on international FAs and has made some solid, cheap MLB FA signings while picking up solid prospects in trades. His blueprint of high-ceiling, high-potential players appears to be working.

Especially when a team like the Jays can’t compete financially with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees in the uber-competitive AL East, building a team through picks and prospects is the right way to go—just ask the Rays, who were terrible forever (literally) but have quickly become a very talented young team among the best in baseball.

It was surprising to see the Jays hang on to LHP Scott Downs, RHP Jason Frasor, Gregg and Buck at the trade deadline, but those players may bring draft pick compensation after the season because of stellar 2010 regular-season stats. 2011 looks like it’ll be the final rebuilding season for the Jays before making a serious run at the AL East—or the AL Wild Card at least—in 2012.

The youngsters we once knew—Morrow, Shaun Marcum, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Jose Bautista—are now veterans, preparing for one last year of seasoning before trying to guide their team to the playoffs.

For the first time in a long time, the future looks bright in Toronto.

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So Long, Kid: Ken Griffey Jr. Takes Retirement in Stride

It’s the end of an era. George Kenneth “Ken” Griffey Jr., better known as Ken Griffey Jr.—the Kid, the Natural, the Swing—has officially retired from MLB.

Griffey leaves the MLB with a legacy as being one of the most prolific home run hitters and best defensive outfielders in baseball history.

Over a 22-year career, Griff sits fifth on the all-time home run list with 630, 14th on the all-time list in career RBI and 219 hits short of 3,000, with 13 All-Star Games, 10 Gold Gloves and an MVP award, not to mention being tied for the record of most consecutive games with a home run.

Griffey is considered to be one of the few elite players of the Steroid Era to be free of steroid-use suspicion, which makes his accomplishments even better. Unfortunately for Griffey, though, his career was slowed after he became plagued with injuries. Had it not been for these injuries, Griffey was easily on pace to beat Hank Aaron’s home run record and would have become MLB’s home run king.

In 1990 and 1991, Griffey and his father became the first son and father to play on the same team at the same time. On September 14, the pair hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the first off California Angels pitcher Kirk McCaskill, becoming the first father-son duo to hit back-to-back home runs. The duo played a total of 51 games together before Griffey, Sr. retired in June 1991.

Junior also released a pair of video games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System—both of which I continue to play on a regular basis, reveling in its 32-bit glory.

On June 2, 2010, Griffey released a statement through the Seattle Mariners organization announcing his retirement from Major League Baseball effective immediately:

“I’ve come to a decision today to retire from Major League Baseball as an active player. This has been on my mind recently, but it’s not an easy decision to come by. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have played Major League Baseball for so long and thankful for all of the friendships I have made, while also being proud of my accomplishments.

“I’d like to thank my family for all of the sacrifices they have made all of these years for me. I’d like to thank the Seattle Mariners organization for allowing me to finish my playing career where it started. I look forward to a continued, meaningful relationship with them for many years to come.

“While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field, and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back, that I will never allow myself to become a distraction. I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates, and their success as team is what the ultimate goal should be.

“My hope is that my teammates can focus on baseball and win a championship for themselves and for the great fans of Seattle, who so very much deserve one. Thanks to all of you for welcoming me back, and thanks again to everyone over the years who has played a part in the success of my career.”

Sadly, Griffey’s retirement was the right thing to do. He’d had one at-bat in nine days, lowering his batting average to .184. He’d hit 19 home runs last season and none in 108 plate appearances this season. He had a glove, but being forced to DH because of his drop-off in speed and jump, he would never need it to play the field. He wore the familiar uniform and number, but his game had passed, even if the swing remained nostalgic.

Most importantly, he leaves the game with a sparkling name when just about everyone else from his era has been tarnished during the Steroid Era.

He made the right choice. As he fades into retirement, he leaves behind his legacy as the best of his generation. He won’t have the numbers to prove it, or the trophies, or even a single World Series appearance. But put him on a baseball field, level it, and play baseball—the Kid stands above them all.

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Detriot Tigers: Should MLB Award Armando Galarraga a Perfect Game?

Tigers RHP Armando Galarraga missed out on a perfect game against the Indians on June 2, 2010 due to a blown call by first-base umpire Jim Joyce with two outs in the ninth inning. Galarraga was perfect through 8.2 innings and coaxed a grounder to first base out of nine-spot hitter Jason Donald. The throw from Miguel Cabrera was on time, but Joyce missed the call and ruled Donald safe.

The perfecto appeared meant to be, as Austin Jackson had potentially made the play of the year for the first out in the ninth by reeling in an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track.

Galarraga didn’t even make his 2010 Tigers debut until May 16, but he was dominant in his fourth start of the season. He struck out only three, but needed just 88 pitches to complete the game. Jim Joyce immediately apologized, realizing he had blown the call.

Commissioner Bug Selig plans to examine major league baseball’s umpiring system and possible use of expanded instant replay, but will not correct Jim Joyce’s blown call at first base, which prevented Tigers RHP Armando Galarraga from completing a perfect game. His statement read, in part:

“As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night’s game should have ended differently. While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed. Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features. Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties, including our two unions and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which consists of field managers, general managers, club owners and presidents.”

There was no doubt that Donald was out at first—easily by at least half a step—but the fact remains that you cannot go back in time and undo what was done. While Joyce feels regret for blowing the call, it wouldn’t be right for the MLB to go back and change the call. The call was made as a judgment call and cannot be reversed—this is baseball, and human error is a part of the game, and a part of what makes sports so great. Just as umpires make mistakes on balls/strikes, outs, etc., so do managers and players. The same goes for every sport.

There’s no doubt that Galarraga deserves the perfect game. It would’ve been the first of his career and the third of the MLB season—in fact, the third in one month, as A’s RHP Dallas Braden and Phillies RHP Roy Halladay had done it just prior.

I’m glad that the MLB has chosen not to reverse the call—if it’s done now, where does it end? Would all blown calls from the past be under review? It was a terrible call, plain and simple—it isn’t the first and it won’t be the last.

While this circumstance is not commonplace—it is, after all, the 21st perfect game in MLB history—you cannot make an exception to the rule for one case and not for everyone else. Everybody will be crying to have plays reviewed, and before you know it, challenge flags will be issued just like the NFL, and everything will go to instant replay booths like the NHL. Some will argue, “We can’t go back and re-do all blown calls in history, but it has to start now.” While true, the question arises, “Where does it end?” How far back can you go? How can you totally rectify all blown calls in order to right the wrongs?

Many sports have undergone changes over time to improve the game. Tennis has introduced HawkEye, the NFL and NHL have started instant replay and soccer is working on a sensor in the ball to determine if it crosses the goal line. I’m a sports traditionalist and a baseball purist, so I don’t believe that this call should be reversed, or that instant replay should ever be introduced. I understand that sometimes, subjective calls cost games to teams and players, but baseball remains one of the truest sports being played, and I want to keep it that way.

All of that said, Galarraga deserves the perfect game, not just for himself, but for baseball history. Lord knows if he’ll ever come close to throwing another one again. Jim Joyce regrets the decision, he’s aware that he made a bad call. If there was going to ever be a change in a past game, this would be the one here.

Had I been Jim Joyce at that time, I probably would’ve called the runner out even if it was remotely close, just to be a part of MLB history. In addition, a game like this can be totally rectified—since it was the 27th out of the game, all that would need to be done was to call the runner out, give Galarraga the perfecto and have the last batter of the game’s (No. 28) official at-bat removed. This way, all the bases are covered, so to speak.

I realize that I’ve contradicted myself on this, but the truth is that there is no clear-cut right or wrong answer. I believe in human error in every sport, but I believe that this specific circumstance needs to be reviewed. In umpiring school, umpires are told to treat every call like that first one of the game. So let’s say that instead, the blown call was on batter No. 1—this entire ordeal would not have escalated to the level it has now.

If the MLB decides to implement instant replay, it needs to be done with surgical precision. They can’t monitor every baseball game on every day of the schedule, and calls cannot be challenged left and right. There needs to be a perfect balance, and MLB will need to introduce a complex rule that has no loopholes in order for this to work.

Otherwise, leave it be as umpire/human error. It’s gotten us this far. In all likelihood, we will see MLB introduce some form of instant replay over the next five years, much to my dismay.

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