WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK By “Bull” Allen. February 23, 2019:
Hello there everybody. Bull Allen here standing on the green green grass of home: legendary Al Lang Field of Springs Past for the first games of the 2020 Grapefruit League season.
I’m smoking a White Owl Wallop slowly watching the blue smoke rise in memory of the way I used to care about this game . I’m drinking a Balentine Ale remembering the feeling of baseball past, and sick about the Houston Astro cheating.
The ruling by the Commissioner of Baseball, Robert Manford says even if we caught you, it’s all right to cheat. Saying he is not going to punish the Astros for cheating in 2017, (and probably 2018 and 2019, too.
Manfred needs help.
What is curious is no one has pointed out the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
The Cheating Astros as they will be forever be known just as the Chicago White Sox of 1919, are forever known as the Black Sox, eerily the Black Sox were exposed 100 years ago for throwing the 1919 World Series. (Baseball is so cyclical.)
The Black Sox were the eight players in the 1919 World Series who were bribed by gamblers to throw the series to the Cincinnati Redlegs so gamblers could clean up. (The White Sox were the strongest team in baseball at that time, again an eery coincidence, heavily favored to win the series with heavy money on them.)
According to Wikipedia, which cites the book, “Eight Men Out” : The issue of the 1919 Series came to the public eye in September 1920, when, after allegations that a game between the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies on August 31 had been fixed, a grand jury was empaneled in state court in Chicago to investigate baseball gambling.
Additional news came from Philadelphia, where gambler Billy Maharg stated that he had worked with former boxer Abe Attell and New York gambler Arnold Rothstein to get the White Sox to throw the 1919 Series. Al Cicotte and Joe Jackson were called before the grand jury, where they gave statements incriminating themselves and six teammates: Williams, first baseman Chick Gandil, shortstop Swede Risberg, third baseman Buck Weaver, center fielder Happy Felsch and reserve infielder Fred McMullin. Williams and Felsch were also called before the grand jury and incriminated themselves and their teammates.
Through late September, the 1920 American League season had been one of the most exciting on record, with the White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees dueling for the league lead. By September 28, the Yankees were close to elimination, but the White Sox and Indians were within percentage points of each other.
On that day, however, the eight players, seven of whom were still on the White Sox, were indicted. They were immediately suspended by White Sox owner Charles Comiskey. The Indians were able to pull ahead and win the pennant, taking the American League championship by two games over Chicago.
Part of the reason the 8 players took money to throw the series was because Charles Comiskey, owner of the Pale Hose was a cheap owner, who thanks to the old reserve clause, now defunct, could pay his players what he wished. He also had the best ballpark at the time, the original Comiskey Park
When this came to light, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, just appointed the first Commissioner of Baseball, suspended the 8 Black Sox for life from playing major league baseball. Let me repeat that: Landis in his first year as Commissioner, gave the Black Sox 8 lifetime suspensions. Even though they appealed for reinstatement serveral times, they were denied.
The lifetime suspensions worked. There were no more instances of players throwing games. Signs went up in stands around baseball saying “No Betting.” (Gamblers –bookies frequently attended baseball games.)
There were no more thrown games. Unless you account for the New York Giants under Leo Durocher, a known cheat and thief and consort with showbiz and gambler types. Durocher was gotten rid of by the New York Yankees because Babe Ruth caught Durocher stealing the Babe’s money from his Yankee Stadium locker and beat up Durocher severely.
In 1951, Durocher devised a scheme to steal signs from the Polo Grounds clubhouse with a binocular and buzzer system in the Polo Grounds bullpen. The book, “The Echoing Green,” explained the system. The Giants went 47-7 in their last 54 games in 1951 and took Brooklyn in the 3 game playoff 2 games to 1, with homers off Ralph Branca. Yet when this game to light, there was no effort to strip the Giants of that pennant.
So Mr. Manafort has suspended the Astro General Manager and Astro Manager for a season. He has not punished one Astro on the roster. Not one.
Manafort’s excuse was he needed Astro cooperation to prove the cheating.
Well. He also said the union would most likely fight suspensions of the Cheating Astros. He gave the players a plea bargain.
We know what Kenesaw Mountain Landis would have done. Every player on the roster would be suspended for life if they did not confirm the cheating.
All would have been thrown out of baseball for life. Or better, Landis could take away the franchise from the Houston owner. The owner is ultimately responsible for the performance of his team and therefore by not knowing this was going on, baseball should relieve him of ownership of the franchise. And take the team from the city.
Landis would strip him of the investment. It is unfortunate Judge Landis did not strip Charles Comiskey of the White Sox. What happened was 30 years of horrible White Sox teams because Comiskey, like Clark Griffith and Connie Mack were penurious owners who built franchises into contenders, then sold their players off to other teams.
Houston players do not pay for their shattering the image baseball has always enjoyed–integrity– except in the steroid scandal in the 1990s.
The swaggering of the Astros since the cheating was announced is very similar to the way corporate titans are let off the hook, and defend obvious wrong doing. Wall Street. Big Pharma. “Non-Profit” Hospitals come to mind.
Houston fans are the losers. They have to live with the fact their team cheated their way to the championship. As the WFAN host Chris Moore said yesterday, you don’t want the World Champion in your sport to cheat, “it’s like the high school validictorian had the answers to the test.”i
Another bad decision by Manafort tragically ironic in retrospect is making a deal to bring major betting organizations to involve baseball in the online gaming craze.
Well the Cheating Astros have thrown that out the window. Manafort’s pragmatic plea bargain has put baseball integrity up for sale. It’s open season on setting up outcome bets; who will hit the most homers; who will win home run derbies; over and unders. All such betting is easily fixable.
The Players’ Association has betrayed the integrity of the game for not suspending those players without pay for at least a year, perhaps two for the prime of their earning years, or taking away their major league pension.
If Manafort had suspended for life, this maybe would have gone to court, but the President of this country would probably pardon them anyway.
But Manafort could have done that: “all right boys if none of you will identify who operated the system, the whole team will be suspended from Major League Baseball for 3 years. That would cost the players millions, far more than the world series winning share of 2017 which was $438,901.57. Why would they cheat?
Since my last spring training article, there has been little, if any detailed explanations of the new rule changes: the 20 second pitch rule; the step-out–of-the-batter’s box rule, and the three batter minimum pitching rule, as well as the obvious flaws of the electronic ball-strike calling, as well as the flawed replay of plays.
Of course the real Yankees are playing the Torontos, but pitchers will be supposed to deliver each pitch within 20 seconds, as we wrote you about last season. However the “working” sports press and Major League Baseball did not explain the details of how the pitch clock will work, and what situations it will be in effect.
The “working sports press” have not explained the pitcher must face three batters minimum rule in effect this season. Please. Do a little work and hold baseball accountable for explaining this rule.
Since no one in the “working” sports press asked major league baseball, I asked John Bailey to check out what the rules were.
Mr. Bailey called the Major League Baseball Communications Department, asking for details on how and when the 20 seconds-to-pitch rule would be enforced, or whether it was going to be in effect all the time in every situation. To their credit, they immediately responded to his email request
Bailey sent me a statement from Michael Teevan,Vice President, Communications for Major League Baseball that read as follows:
“We expect to have more detailed information on the plans for the pitch clock during spring training in the days ahead. I’ll let you know when we do.”
So yours truly will be watching closely, because there are a lot issues for a pitcher to take care of in those 20 seconds. Here are just a few:
- Does the 20 seconds start when a pitcher gets the ball back from the catcher? Or when he steps on the pitching rubber. (My guess is when he gets the ball back from the catcher.)
- Can the pitcher step off the rubber once he gets on it? (My guess is no—if he can he could violate the balk rule (moving to the plate then stopping).
- Does the pitcher get a fresh 20 seconds when he gets a base runner, or is the 20 seconds time limit to pitch not in effect. This is important because with 20 seconds to pitch in effect, the pitcher can throw over to keep the runner close only once, and if he throws over twice, he will have to rush his pitch. It also means to the runner that once a pitcher throws, the base runner can take a huge lead and walk to second (a tremendous advantage for the runner). If the 20 seconds to pitch is waived after there are baserunners, then the pitcher maintains advantage over the runner. Also, if you keep the 20 seconds during runners on situations, the defense is strengthened by the runner not having to be held on, but double plays will be reduced because runner at first gets bigger jump. This will mean a lot more runs, in my opinion. Innings will last longer. More blowouts will happen early.
- How will the pitch clock go off? A siren. A buzzer? Or is it umpire’s judgment. This will impair umpire’s judgment of the pitch he will not be set if watching the clock. Hence more messed up strike calls might happen. Or will the second base umpire or first base or third base umpire clockwatch, which could district the man in blue from a pickoff play.
- I suggest that a catcher may be directed to make more pickoff throws to first with runners on: to third, second, or first, to allow the pitcher to concentrate on his pitch in the 20 seconds. I guarantee that will prolong the innings. Trick plays, (sneak-ins behind the runner(s) may happen to curtail extensive leads (after a throw over).
- Can the catcher call time during any 20 second period to check signals, discuss pitches. If the catcher is not allowed to do that, it really gives advantage to the batter.
- Is a pitchout considered pitching the ball? A pitchout can be used to pickoff a runner taking an extend lead (after a pitcher throws over once during the 20 seconds). Protecting the vulnerability against the steal will increase pitchout activity and may inadvertently prolong the inning, not shorten it.
Just some thoughts that should be kept in mind while watching these spring games.
Now this season, any pitcher coming into relieve in the middle of the inning has to pitch to at least three men (effectively eliminating the lefty-right pitch change if you have three right hand hitters in a row, or three left hand hitters in succession coming up).
Lot of questions on this one:
Can the reliever coming in call for an intentional walk, dodging a lefthand hitter or right hand hitter to get at a same side as throwing arm batter?
Can he intentionally hit a batter to put him on with bases empty, thus getting thrown out of the game, allowing the manager to bring in a same side thrower to face a right-hand batter,/left hand batter depending whether a right-hander, left-hander would be coming up after the hit batter? And then the manager of the team batting can call for a pinch hitter for the batter suddenly even upped with a same side pitcher. This new rule is going to cause longer delays.
If a pinch hitter is announced, and the already-waved in from the bullpen pitcher suddenly fakes an injury and can’t pitch, will the umpire allow him (the pitcher)to be replaced?
This hit the batter intentionally thing can be used when you’re trying to stop a rally even with bases full.
You have a 4-run lead and Ruth Gehrig and Meusel are coming up. a righty pitcher brought in to face Ruth with bases loaded, can either hit Ruth, forcing in a run, then if the pitcher is thrown out, or if the righty intentional walks Ruth, forcing in a run to meet Gehrig (a lefty hitter) , the thrown out pitcher then can be replaced by a lefthander to face Gehrig.
Have any of the geniuses in the baseball lab even thought of this?
Made a ruling that you can’t do these obvious subterfuges? Faking injuries is a form of cheating and we will see it in these situations, I’ll bet
Now the electric eye calling of balls and strikes. In the league where the system was being tested, Frank Viola the old Met was thrown out of a game when he protested a strike that was called on a ball that bounced in front of the plate and crossed the plate. This is proof the electronic strike zone machine does not see three dimensional depth of the pitch.
Bull Allen getting ready to Join Red, Phil, Harry, Suzyn and John in the gondola and watch what happens.