MLB, 2/5… Artificial Substances in MLB


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Artificial substances… Grass, replay tapes and even drugs… let’s hear what the crew has to say about it all…

1) Recently, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said, “As far as instant replay, it’s always hard to say why something was successful. I will tell you there were really good people who engaged in that project in a really thoughtful way. But to me, the single most important thing was that we had the ability to bring the best technology to bear on that product. We did it and we got it right.”

In your opinion: Did they get right?

MLB Instant Replay Room
MLB Instant Replay Room

 Archie1-300x277Archie: I always hate to admit when I’m wrong, but, for the most part, I think they got it right (I am a traditionalist in a sense that umpires are part of the game). FOR THE MOST part; there will always be some human aspects/angles, or something, that comes to play and instant replay will still not please everyone on every call.

For instance; playoffs, two seasons ago, when the Braves got hosed by a bad call on the “infield fly rule.” That was an opinion and instant replay is NOT allowed to correct that call.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: To say they got it right is some strong wording, but, few would argue that it’s completely right. It wasn’t a failure last season, but, it wasn’t a ringing success either.

47% of all manager challenges were overturned, and, most challenges took about a minute, so that was a success. But, there are still some issues overall.Replay-Breakdown

So, did MLB get it right? Nah. Can’t say they did. Are they on the way to getting it right? Yeah, I think we can say that.

meJoe: Not really… not yet.

It takes much too long as far as I’m concerned for them to make up their minds in the studio and get back to the umps. In fact, that’s my problem with replay in football, too. If, the evidence is not obvious… and incontrovertible… within a minute or so of examining the tapes then let the call stand as was called on the field of play. If, they can reconcile that issue then I’m ok with replay. I’m all for getting calls right but there has to be some limit to how much technology is to be allowed to take over the game. Baseball is a sport that is played by people and officiated by people… I for one don’t like. nor do I want, all sorts of technological so-called enhancements introduced into the game. Sorry, I like my baseball natural… pure and simple.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I say kinda sorta.. I absolutely hate the idea that a manager can challenge a call. ITed Barrett think that alone takes away human error from the game, which many times the umpire does get the call right. There are times where they miss a call, but hey..shit happens.Suck it up. I have no problem with the Home Run replay, if the umpires need to confirm for assistance.

I would even be okay with a challenge scenario during the post season only. The regular season is long enough, we don’t need challenges every game. 

2) Jered Weaver went from 199 pounds to 224 pounds during the offseason. He said the goal was to get bigger and stronger so that he can pitch deeper into games next year. Think that will prove to be the fact, or, do you think it will have the opposite effect?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Pitchers are not linebackers that have to beef up to stop human tractor-trailers. Stronger muscles do not always equate to stamina. In fact, stronger muscles can and often do put more stress on tendon and bones thus causing more rotator cuff, tendonitis and other tissue related injuries.698089164x356

I guess my bottom line is I do not accept that it will allow him to go deeper into games.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Don’t know to be honest. Typically gaining weight doesn’t necessarily mean less injury risk, and it usually leads to a decline in performance, but I guess this is something you got to wait and see on. If Weaver bulked up, and performs well then yeah it worked. If he burns himself out because he’s not properly conditioned, then it will be a mistake.

meJoe: In my opinion bulking up does not help a pitcher develop more stamina so that he can go deeper into games. Pitchers need to do cardiovascular exercises to build up stamina not bulking up. cardio-vs-strength

I have read that pitchers should be careful of which weights they use, and, that too much bulking of the upper body can only damage pitching potential. Pitchers need flexibility. Power comes from the legs and trunk and is transferred through the arm in almost a whip-like motion. Many great pitchers never lift weights at all, or do so very little, instead focusing on their legs and core.

And, to tell the truth, I am suspicious of his reasoning for being bigger and stronger. Nuff said.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I think only time will tell. Did he gain 25 pounds of muscle? Or did he gain it in the bread basket? If he added some muscle weight I think that can help his endurance, but if he is going to need a burrito in the fourth inning, then he will have problems. So I really won’t give an opinion as I have seen it work, as I have seen it backfire. 

3) On January 29, David Scheonfield wrote in his ESPN blog Sweet Spot… “The incessant pitching changes slow the game down and have helped cause the decrease in scoring… So let’s add a rule that a reliever has to face at least two batters (I’d even be in favor of three), unless the inning ends. For those worried about a pitcher faking an injury: Fine, if a pitcher leaves with an injury, he’s ineligible for the next three games and you can’t replace him on the roster.”
What’s your opinion here? Does MLB need such a rule? Or, any variation?

Archie1-300x277Archie: MLB opened a new era of pitching with the whole “relief specialist” and we just have to live with it now. Why would we restrict one manager from using all available assets when his team needs them the most?bullpen-pitchers

I for one am tired of hearing how slow the game is and how we need to speed it up. I can see where some rule changes can be made to speed things up, but, changing or substituting players in the game just cannot be one of them.

Nomar Garciaparra was a human rain-delay every at bat with his constant readjusting of his batting gloves after every pitch. Let’s stop stupid shit like that before we start trying to dictate to managers how often they can change pitchers.

Each team has a certain number of players. IF a manager wants to use a pitcher per batter then so be it; he will eventually run out of pitchers and be stuck with last man standing.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: No. I am not in favor of such a rule. That rule would take away some of the tactical beauty of the game. I like to see the specialist reliever come into the game and see if he can get the batter out. That scenario leads to a heightened drama in a close game.

meJoe: My first reaction is it’s worth thinking about. But, after some thought, I changed my mind.

Right now there is some talk in baseball about restricting the overshift in baseball. I think that’s a bad idea. I don’t like the overshift but its a strategy that is used and it’s up to batters to learn how to go the opposite way of the overshift to beat it. We don’t need a rule to prohibit the strategy we need smarter ball players to overcome it. relie pitcher

I believe the same thing needs to be done to stop the constant parade of relievers coming into games. We don’t need more rules but we need batters that can hit and beat up on the pitchers so that the manger will run out of alternatives and be stuck with the last stumblebum on his roster to pitch and wind up getting his ass handed to him or be forced to learn to use his staff more effectively.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I could get on board with them testing the theory. I don’t like the idea that a pitcher has to sit out X amount of games after injury. It is too little league, and we are not the NFL here people. But having pitchers face at least two or three batters? I think I could get on board with this if at least it is just a trial mode.

4) When a player is suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, in MLB its front pagesteroid_sports_ news and it causes uproar from the media and the fans. But, if, it’s a player in the NFL, NBA or NHL, it’s relegated to the back pages. Why? Or, is the question better phrased why is baseball held to a higher standard than the so-called major other sports?

Archie1-300x277Archie: One word; media. The BBWAA has made it an issue.

IMO the NFL expects guys to be ready to get their game on and don’t worry so much about how their “strengthening program” gets them there. I do not believe the NBA has a more of a recreational drug problem than that of steroids. The NFL, well let’s face it; beefy boys on ice don’t skate as fast.

Did the baseball writers dig the long ball, too?
Did the baseball writers dig the long ball, too?

I for one still contend that when the steroid problem began it was due to all the hype about “the long ball”. Beat writer’s made daily pages with all the heroic feats of those jacking the long ball. NOW, they write about how they cheated the game and stained the record books. And, for the latter, are vindictive and holding out players from the HOF because of it.

And, to the current topic, those same beat writers that write for the BBWAA, they STILL like to hammer those that get caught and use them to justify their current stance for NOT voting for guys like Bonds and Clemens. In my book it is an insult to the game and the record books that both of them are not already voted into the Hall of Fame.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Some will think it’s because baseball is “America’s Pastime”, but, I think, it has a lot0 to do with the fact that some big and popular names in the sport got involved in doping. No other sport, to date, saw its stars ensnared in doping drama, nor, were there congressional hearings on the subject.

meJoe: I don’t have an answer for this question. Or, maybe I should say my answer is I don’t know why it seems that baseball is held to a higher standard than the other so-called major sports.

One thing I can think of is that people have a more idealized feeling about baseball’s records than the other sports but I’m not sure if that’s really a valid argument.

Another thing I think is that we fans can sometimes be snookered into believing things because the media says it often enough and we start to believe it’s so. But again, I’m not so sure that’s valid either.c5541661d5692cb3271935dfef31d702

What I will say is that in other countries where baseball is not as prominent, and, in regards to other sports… such as soccer, Australians Rules football, rugby, cycling, track and field, etc… the  testing for drugs… all drugs… is a lot more stringent and the penalties are a lot tougher. There is  very lttle wiggle room for atheltes as there is in America and the so-called major pro sports.

The point being that I think MLB has tougher rules regarding drugs, especially PEDs, and, that may be a reason baseball gets more notice than the other sports… it draws the attention to itself because of how it governs itself regarding drug use in relationship to the othe American pro sports. ny_a_alderson1x_600

Steve-01-288x300Steve: It all has to do with the publicity that baseball has drawn to it.

With Congress getting involved, to the amount of star players who are under the microscope. Baseball has more of an opportunity to shine the spotlight on one select player, while as in Football, Basketball, and Hockey you have a group of guys playing together at a high rate of speed. Baseball is slow paced and it gives players more of a chance to be PED suspected. 

5) Long question here so hang in there… Only two MLB stadiums, both in the AL East, use artificial turf: The Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Rogers Centre. Rogers Centre will convert to a next generation Astro Turf in 2010, and, then by 2019, it will convert to natural grass. That means Tropicana will be the only artificial turf field left in MLB at that time… 2019.
Should MLB outlaw artificial turf once and for all, and, then require that Tropicana come up with a plan to replace their field with grass by 2020?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Simply put, why wait until then? This should have been done years ago. There are way too many studies that show Astroturf or artificial turf contributes greatly to too many injuries that do not occur often on natural grass. In a society that demands safer playing conditions for those participating, this is one thing that could be fixed and fixed NOW.

Rogers Centre
Rogers Centre

It is kind of like “If all the commercials against tobacco were completely ignored”.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: By the year 2020, all fields should be natural grass. Astro Turf have a lot of health risks associated with it. From the rubber base some of them used, to the pounding it takes on the knees, turf hurts more than it helps. If Rogers Center will be a grass field by 2019, then the Rays should get natural grass at the Trop. That is if there is a Tampa Bay Rays team or a Tropicana Field by the year 2020.

meJoe: First, I was amazed and somewhat shocked to hear of this fact that there were only two MLB fields that have artificial turf.

Second, since Toronto’s field will no longer have artificial turf by 2019 then whatever can be done to eliminate the artificial turf in Tampa should be done ASAP.

Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field

As far as Tropicana Field is concerned it needs to either be renovated or eliminated. And, preferably the latter would be the most acceptable course of action. Without going into detail, it is not a very good stadium to say the least, and, if MLB made a rule outlawing artificial turf and that helped to get the Trop improved or done away with, then, good. In fact, I would not be opposed to MLB actually having a rule that states any form of artificial turf is not allowed in any stadium from this point and into the future.

But, if, for no other reason than for player safety alone the players union should start pushing for the Trop to be rid of their fake grass.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I think ultimately MLB will require all fields to go to grass, or, at the very least, the artificial grass. It really does help with injuries for the team.

With that being said. Is there even a guarantee that The Rays will still be in artificial turf by 2020? They are likely going to get a new stadium and will surely have grass, being in Tampa Bay.

So, yes, MLB will outlaw it, especially with a new sheriff in town. 


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  1. As someone who’s been to the Rogers Centre three times, I should be able to spell the name correctly, you think? As a quasi-Blue Jays fan I definitely didn’t do right by my people in Toronto.

  2. A full MLBRT plate this time! On the questions discussed:

    1) I have long felt that no sport has instant replay right. In my opinion, all aspects of the game should be in control of the chief official. If a coach or field manager wants an instant replay review of a call, it can be requested. But it should be in the control of the chief official whether to honor the request. A field official may request “advice” from a replay booth (on-field or in a distant location) and might well be inclined to take the advice, but the final review is in his/her hands. A replay could even apply to a judgment call if the official requesting it feels that it would clarify the situation.

    As to keeping the officials “honest,” recall that they are evaluated by their leagues. One of the criteria for determining to keep or let an official go, or to help determine promotion and/or pay increase, would result from an evaluation to how effectively he or she used instant replay.

    3) I go to a more fundamental concern about many things involving pitching — namely the length of the game itself. Baseball, after all, is a derivative of cricket. Like cricket games today and early baseball games, people went to see them as a lark, taking along a picnic lunch and expecting long waits between interesting moments. Granted that today’s game in played in a different environment, but still some franchises are catering to the old style–with “Pepsi porches” and “grand bleachers” sitting on top of little knolls beyond the fences.

    It might be noted in comparison that NFL games have increased in the time taken to play them (mainly due to the great number of commercials). I have not heard any significant number of complaints about that. If there is a good way to shorten baseball games, by all means do it. But to cramp the styles of pitchers or batters can only make the problem worse.

    4) Baseball has always been seen as a “squeaky clean” sport — even though it isn’t and hasn’t been. It is now paying for its own misrepresentation of itself. Can it ever clean itself up to meet the image it has presented of itself? Probably not, but likely can make inroads in at least improving that image somewhat.

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