Chat with Jayson Stark
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark will drop in to chat about the MLB season.
Jayson Stark has been a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com since 2000. His regular contributions include the newsy Rumblings and Grumblings column and his tilted look inside baseball's numbers and quirks, the Useless Information Department.
Send your questions now and join Stark Friday at Noon ET!
Jayson Stark (12:02 PM)
Happy October, gang. I've only got a half-hour to chat today. So we'd better get going. And sorry, no trivia today!
Lardin (Hartford, CT)
I am all for instant replay but there is no way judgment calls like Check swings and Balls and Strikes will be reviewed. So can everyone stop claiming the Texas/Tampa game and Twins/Yankees games would have ended differently with instant replay? The Giants/Braves game is different, that was a terrible call..
Jayson Stark (12:05 PM)
You're exactly right. In all the replay talk I've heard or been involved in, there's never been any scenario where balls and strikes would be reviewable. But checked swings are an interesting area. Talked about this last night on Jason Smith's radio show. Jim Riggleman, who manages the Nationals, has a theory that the benefit of the doubt on virtually all checked swings should go to the pitcher - because if he fooled the hitter enough to get him to start to hack, he deserves the call. I don't see us getting to that point. But it would at least help clarify a call no one seems to understand.
Jonathan (washington DC)
I understand the need for baseball to institute instant replay. it's past due. but i hate that so many people are using the missed checked swing and the missed strike 3 as examples of reasons why replay is needed. they wouldn't (and shouldn't) even be reviewable. now, buster posey's steal should be reviewable. of all the bad calls yesterday, that's the only one that should be used as an example for expanding replay.and, to be fair, the umpire in the Rays-Rangers game did ask for help from the first base umpire.
Jayson Stark (12:07 PM)
I didn't get to discuss the Posey call in the previous answer, so I'm glad you brought this up. I think we're going to see an expansion of replay next year, but I don't expect it to include calls on the bases. Most likely, it would involve fair/foul calls and that's it. But when I did my survey of managers a couple of weeks back, several of them loved the idea of having a fifth umpire in the booth at every game. That way, if there was clearly a missed call, the umpire in the booth could signal the field immediately, and calls like that could be fixed within seconds. Baseball really needs to look at this, and last night is one more example.
John (Turnersville, NJ)
Are the umpires worse than ever, or does the technology just make it seem so? The missed call on Posey was obvious without reply.
Jayson Stark (12:10 PM)
I don't think umpiring is worse than ever. But the scrutiny has never been heavier. That's one element. And in general, I'd like to see the attitude and occasional arrogance of umpires addressed asap. This postseason is a great example. Umpires need to take into account how important these games are, the emotion involved, the way lives and careers can be changed by the outcome, and not eject managers for legitimate beefs. Embarrassing. Also, Amy Nelson has an interesting news story today that says players want a summit this winter with umpires to address their increasing concerns with umpiring. I advise everyone to read it.
Blake (Saint Paul)
Why would MLB put Wendelstedt on the Twins/Yankees crew with their known and public history against each other (at one point Wendelstedt told reporters Gardy could come to his clinic so he could learn what a balk was)? Seems like a recipe for an incident. After 2009's post season you would think this would be the last thing MLB would want.
Jayson Stark (12:11 PM)
That's another great question. It's not as if the history between Ron Gardenhire and Hunter Wendelstedt is some kind of big secret. A quick Google search would have given MLB all the evidence it needed that this was a dumb assignment. Couldn't agree more.
Jason, What about allowing each manager one "challange" each game, with an NFL style booth review. (no reviews of balls/strikes of course). If theres only one per game, it also creates an element of strategy that will be a big hit on Talk radio....
Jayson Stark (12:13 PM)
This is an idea I've advanced myself. Personally, I prefer to have that extra umpire in the booth. But the advantage of the challenge system is that it ensures we'd never have more than one or two calls reviewed a night, because managers would save their challenge for The Big Call. In my poll, the managers were really split on which system they prefer.
Jason, I have a rules question. Shouldn't Phillips have been out for interference because his bat hit the ball in fair territory? If a swing impeeds a catchers ability to make a throw on a steal, it is interference. If a batted ball hits a runner in fair territory (including the batter) he is out. Why should this be any different? It seems like if that is legal every time someone hits a swinging bunt they should chuck there bats at it.
Jayson Stark (12:13 PM)
I've had several people raised that question, on this chat, on email and on Twitter. I don't know the answer to be honest. I'll investigate when I get to the park.
The Buck (SF)
Do you think Posey is the Rookie of the Year? He is a rare talent and has hit several big ones this year. He goes to the slate with power, and can throw out would be thiefs. His strength is deceiving as well. He has hammer strength
Jayson Stark (12:16 PM)
I had a rookie-of-the-year vote, and while I'm not allowed to tell you officially whom I voted for, I did write a column saying he was the rookie of the year. He's not just the rookie of the year for me. He's practically the MVP. Since he arrived in the big leagues, the only players in the National League who matched or beat his batting average and slugging percentage were Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Holliday. And then you add in his defense and leadership. He's had an amazing year. And to win a ROY award THIS year, you'd need to have an amazing year, because this is the deepest crop in one league I can ever remember in the same season.
Jayson, it's clear to me that TV cameras do a far better job at seeing the action than the umps on the field can. Why don't they just leave the plate umpire down there and figure out a way to call fair/foul/safe/out from the booth? Can have a fun voice such as Foghorn Leghorn saying "Yeeeeeeer OUT!!!" But seriously, isn't it about 19 times out of 20 that all us viewers at home are instantly saying "hmm looked like he got him" and then are proven correct?
Jayson Stark (12:19 PM)
Any mention of Foghorn Leghorn is guaranteed to get posted in my chats. Keep that in mind down the road. Now back to your question, I don't think it's quite that simple, Pete. But the technology is unbelievable these days. Derek Lowe told me a couple of weeks ago it's time to use the K Zone to call all balls and strikes. He said: "You throw a pitch. Then you turn around and look at the big K Zone on the scoreboard. If it says, 'Strike one,' it's 0-1. Next pitch." My advice to him is: "Good luck on that." But I do think it's absurd that as far as technology has advanced, baseball makes so little use of it in such an important area.
I have heard the "fifth umpire" idea before, and everyone agrees that it's a great concept, but it never gets any further. What is the hold-up? Is it the embarrassing number of calls that would get overturned? Is it somehow an insult to the other umpires?
Jayson Stark (12:21 PM)
First off, there would not be an "embarrassing number of calls that would get overturned." In studies by ESPN and MLB, an extremely low percentage of calls are missed by umpires. We just focus on those one or two a night that exaggerate the actual number. But we've seen how one or two calls in a huge game can change everything. So it's time for baseball to look at this more seriously. I think the only hold-up, to be honest, is that Bud Selig has had almost no interest in expanding replay until now. I think we'll get there, but it's going to take a long time, because Bud moves more slowly than a Molina brother on stuff like this.
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
Hey Jayson, have you ever seen a game pitched like Roy Halladay did against the Reds?
Jayson Stark (12:26 PM)
Sorry for the delay in posting this question. Saw it earlier and wanted to get back to it. I've said several times that I really believe that's the best game I've ever seen pitched. Now here's why: I was at the Jack Morris game, and the Morris game obviously was more important than this game. Ten shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series? Amazing. But that's different than this. I've never seen a game before where so many good hitters were fooled on every pitch. Seriously. If you have a chance, go back and look at that game. Those guys had no idea what was coming or what direction it was going. Every pitch cut or sailed or dove or disappeared, and they did nothing but take one funky swing after another from beginning to end. I've seen bigger strikeout games. I've seen other no-hitters. But I've never seen a guy just toy with every hitter, on every pitch, like that.
MW (GB, WI)
I realize this might be sacrilege, but if it's really true that the only things a pitcher can truly control are strikeouts, walks, and homers, then by one measure Lincecum's performance was even better than Halladay's, wasn't it (both walked only one, neither gave up a homer, and Tim struck out 6 more batters)? Not to take away from Doc at all - just saying that the fact that Lincecum's performance can even be legitimately compared to the no-no is astounding.
Jayson Stark (12:28 PM)
That's really a fascinating debate. Been getting emails about it all morning. I think, given the historical significance of Halladay's game, you'd give him a slight edge. But the fact that Lincecum struck out nearly half the hitters he faced in a game like this was astonishing. I know he didn't pitch a no-hitter. But if I had to pick a word to describe him last night, it would be "unhittable." I know I'm getting ahead of myself. But if both these teams advance, how tremendous would a Lincecum-Halladay Game 1 NLCS match-up look? Think anybody would watch that one?
Who do you see pitching for the reds, if they avoid the sweep, in game 4?
Jayson Stark (12:29 PM)
Dusty hinted yesterday he'd go with Travis Wood in that game, depending on how the next two go. After the way that guy has carved through the Phillies this year, that's sure the way I'd go.
Jayson, when you say that it's not that simple do you mean politically speaking or what? I think Lowe has it right and I don't see why utilizing better angles that HD TV present, or tennis technology to judge fair/foul/Homers harms the game in the slightest. Honestly the fact that ALL THREE games yesterday were DIRECTLY affected by bad calls really turns me off. Yay, Yankees sweep Twins again with help of umpires, whoopie... can't wait for Sunday.
Jayson Stark (12:30 PM)
I don't think anybody except you wants to turn the entire game over to technology. That, for me and everyone else I've spoken to, is too extreme. But to ignore the fantastic technology that's available right now makes no sense, either. Does it?
ask the umpire who blew the call in the world series at first base during the kc vs st louis series. if he's in favor of instant repay/ i bet he'll tell you hell yeah!
Jayson Stark (12:32 PM)
You're talking about Don Denkinger, and he's spoken about this in the past. He's said he wished he had replay available to him. And I do, too. What baseball misses in this argument is that those of us who want more replay don't want to use it to embarrass the umpires. We want to use it to help the umpires, to save them from having to live with the 25 years of scorn Don Denkinger has lived through. Why? When we have technology that would enable us to get calls that important right, why are we ignoring it?
Jayson Stark (12:33 PM)
OK, sorry about this, but I only have time for one more. Busy time of year!
Just want a little love for the Rangers, who are as talented as any in baseball (except for top 3 in Philly), yet don't seem to get any respect. This morning on the radio, it wasn't the great pitching of Lee and Wilson, it was the approach of the Rays that has them in this hole. It wasn't the fact that the Rays can't hit, much less score, it was the checked swing by Young that shoulda been a strike. C'mon, the Rangers deserve some credit--
Jayson Stark (12:34 PM)
Josh, that's just not true. The Rangers are getting their share of love. But the demise of the Rays, the team that won the AL East and had the best record in the league, is a major story. There are two teams playing, and they're both big stories. If the Rangers keep doing what they've done so far -- and I think they have a great shot to get to the World Series -- their lovefest is coming. I promise!
Jayson Stark (12:35 PM)
Thanks, everybody. Let's hope we have no major umpiring monstrosities today. Baseball in October deserves to have the spotlight on the players, not the umpires. Seeya down the road in Chat Land.