Sat. Notebook: Challenges, Fielder Divorce, Yankee Walk-Off Rituals, The Ringer, and More

Jose Iglesias now has something in common with Jordany Valdespin and LaTroy Hawkins and it's not pleasant. - Leon Halip

Today's Saturday Notebook has my take on expanded replay and challenges, Torii Hunter talking a little more than he should again as he led the media into discovering that teammate Prince Fielder was getting a divorce, the Yankees having an odd ritual they perform after walk-off homers, a now-popular MLB star decimating Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez in a home run derby when he was only 20 years old, and the GIFs from around baseball that you've come to love.

Jesse already posted about this on Thursday, but MLB announced that they are legitimately planning on extending replay to other facets of the game. Originally the plan appeared to have it in place by the playoffs, but of course we should have realized that it needed approval from the umpires, players, and owners. I am one of the many that is in favor of expanded replay, but I'm frustrated that MLB is making a huge mistake by including challenges from the manager, just like in the NFL.

These challenges give the manager one to use in innings 1-6, and from 7-9 (and presumably extra innings) he receives two more. However, let's say next year that Ron Gardenhire, or whoever is managing the Twins, wants to challenge that Pedro Florimon successfully stole 2nd base in the 1st inning. He ends up being wrong and his challenge is gone. Then in the 5th inning, Joe Mauer lines a double down the left field line and it's erroneously ruled foul. However, Gardy/manager X can't challenge that call because there are no more challenges to be used until the 7th inning rolls around. That is one major flaw that I see, as the goal should be to get as many calls correct as possible, instead of only the ones the manager sees fit.

This is an issue that MLB has once again, where it seems like they're trying to protect the umpires as much as possible. Instead of putting the responsibility on the umpire, it's on the manager to make the decision of what should and shouldn't be challenged. Not to mention MLB polled the managers and they were mostly opposed to challenges, but MLB went ahead with it anyway.

Instead, I would prefer if MLB would stick with the NHL format where there is a centralized video room that can watch the replays from any game, and will call in to the umpires whenever a bad call is made. In this scenario, I imagine it taking just a couple minutes - or, roughly the same amount of time it would take for a manager to argue the call and get ejected. This is why I don't think this will extend games into 3 1/2 to 4 hour territory. Besides, we can see the correct call at home just seconds after the play happened. How exactly is this going to suddenly add half an hour to the game?

Even if MLB remains stubborn and sticks with their initial plan, overall it is still a good change. Getting the calls right should be of utmost importance, even though bad calls certainly are memorable. Yeah, us Twins fans will never forget the umpire that called Joe Mauer's fly ball foul in Yankee Stadium, or the pitcher that threw the 28-out perfect game, but the right call is what matters.

  • Although Torii Hunter was one of my favorite Twins while he was still in Minnesota, there's no denying that he runs his mouth a bit more than he should. I believe I've previously talked about his willingness to say anything to appease a reporter (like throwing Lew Ford under the bus), and he's gone and done it again. While on a radio show earlier this week, Hunter was discussing teammate Prince Fielder's struggles at the plate and pointed out that fans and the media "don't know what's going on in (Fielder's) life." Naturally, the media suddenly had a lead and went to Fielder for the facts, and it turns out that he was going through a divorce that was originally filed in late May. I don't know if the divorce really is causing Fielder's poor season, but it certainly is an interesting storyline... as is Torii Hunter once again talking a little more than he should.
  • Many athletes are superstitious and have particular rituals, but it always has seemed that baseball players are on a whole 'nother level. Taking off your helmet and throwing it to the side after a walk-off home run isn't necessarily a ritual but more a survival tip for when your teammates slap your head in celebration. Fellow SB Nation blog Pinstriped Bible chronicles Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and a few other Yankees and their ritual of collecting the thrown batting helmet after every walk-off home runsince 2009. Why? Because the Yankees often fight for that helmet. For example, Pinstriped Bible has one GIF where Melky Cabrera got Hideki Matsui's helmet at first, only to see A-Rod rip it from the Melk Man's hands. Another, and my favorite, is where Russell Martin chucks his helmet up the 1st base line, as we see A-Rod sprint away from home plate in pursuit of his prize. Although he's come under fire lately for the Biogenesis scandal, it's kind of fun to see someone like Rodriguez act weird in an adorable way every now and then.
  • The 1996 Seattle Mariners had three stars in their everyday lineup in Ken Griffey, Jr., the aforementioned A-Rod, and Edgar Martinez. In order to increase interest in their minor league affiliates, they went on a barnstorming tour of sorts, which included a stop in Appleton, Wisconsin, home of the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The visit was to include an exhibition game between the Mariners and Timber Rattlers, but rain left the field in a soggy condition that convinced Mariners manager Lou Piniella that the exhibition wasn't worth risking injury to one of his stars. However, about 5,000 fans in attendance that day were hoping to go home with some sort of show, so Mariners catcher Dan Wilson came up with an idea: holding a home run derby. The Mariners sent three batters to the plate (two of which were A-Rod and Griffey) and the Timber Rattlers also selected three. Griffey struggled, including a swing-and-miss which earned him some ribbing from his teammates, and eventually a lefthanded Timber Rattler stepped to the plate and put on an absolute show. In fact, he hit so many home runs that Rodriguez could be heard saying, "I ain't got a chance." So who had the ability to wow a man that now has 600+ home runs in his career? None other than a 20-year old David Ortiz.

And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for, it's our GIFs, tweets, videos, and other junk part of the Notebook. I present to you, the Lightning Round.

  1. 2010 was supposedly the "Year of the Pitcher." 2013 is shaping up to be the "Year of the Groin Shot," as both Jose Iglesias (attempting to bunt) and LaTroy Hawkins (one-hopper back to mound) were hit in the nether regions this week. Add it on to Jordany Valdespin from spring training and this is turning into Homer Simpson's favorite baseball season ever. It works on so many levels!
  2. The Twins' Double-A team, the New Britain Rock Cats, won a game earlier this week when the pitcher was attempting to intentionally walk the batter, only to throw a wild pitch on ball four that allowed Eddie Rosario to score the winning run.
  3. Thanks to many baseball cards and photos, I was already aware of the bending a pitcher's arm does when throwing a pitch, but this GIF of Clayton Kershaw throwing a pitch in slow-motion really should put to rest our wonder that so many pitchers get hurt.
  4. Grant Balfour drops an F-bomb on live TV, and Athletics' announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse cannot control their laughter.
  5. Adrian Beltre gets caught in a rundown, and attempts to escape by running into left field.
  6. The music guy for the Diamondbacks accidentally started playing the intro to Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart" while J.J. Putz was delivering a pitch, and it led to Putz spiking the ball into the ground. However, my favorite part is the reactions from catcher Miguel Montero and batter Justin Turner.
  7. And finally, perhaps the one thing we care about most, FSN has announced that they will televise Monday night's New Britain Rock Cats game against the Trenton Thunder at 6 pm CST, giving us all a chance to see Miguel Sano. Let it Sano, let it Sano!
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