Baseball Toaster The Griddle
Monthly archives: January 2009


WBC tweaks rules slightly
2009-01-29 18:24
by Bob Timmermann

The upcoming World Baseball Classic has announced six rules changes for the tournament starting on March 5.

  1. Pitch counts for each round have been increased from 60 to 70 in the first round, from 80 to 85 in the second round, and from 95 to 100 in the final rounds.
  2. Any pitcher who throws at least 30 pitches in a semifinal cannot pitch in the final.
  3. The MLB video replay rules will be in effect.
  4. Baseline coaches will have to wear helmets.
  5. Teams will have to announcer their starting pitcher at least one day in advance.
  6. The screwball Olympic extra-inning tiebreaker will be used if the game goes to a 13th inning. In the 13th inning, teams will start the inning with runners on first and second. No decision has been made yet though if the rule would be used for the final.


Right and left
2009-01-28 07:41
by Bob Timmermann

The sometimes mighty Casey has retired
2009-01-25 12:29
by Bob Timmermann

Sean Casey has told a Boston radio station that he plans to retire and join a large, unnamed sports network run by a major professional sports league.

Bill Werber, 1908-2009
2009-01-22 18:25
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Bill Werber, who played 11 seasons in the majors, including two pennant winning years with the Reds in 1939 and 1940, passed away Thursday in Charlotte at age 100.

Werber broke in to the majors with the Yankees in 1930. He returned to the majors in 1933 and eventually was sold to the Red Sox. The Reds acquired Werber after the 1936 in exchange for Pinky Higgins. Werber finished his career with the Giants in 1942.

From the AP obituary:

Werber was an avid reader and occasionally wrote letters to baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Werber told Selig he doesn't think women should sing the national anthem, that games today take too long and that he's disgusted with the long hair on modern players.

Back on September 8, 1974, Werber wrote an open letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in the New York Times about whether or not there should be a black manager in the majors. Werber was, to put it mildly, opposed to the idea. However, you can't read the article online unless you get a paid subscription to the newspaper.

'Sleeping Tigers' documentary available online
2009-01-21 17:18
by Bob Timmermann

The National Film Board of Canada has made the documentary Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story available for viewing on its website.

The 50 minute film tells the story of one of Canada's finest amateur baseball teams prior to World War II, the Asahi team. This team, which was composed of all Japanese-Canadians, was a nearly unbeatable squad in British Columbia.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government (which had already been at war with Japan) decided to relocate all people of Japanese descent from the West Coast. This decision actually predated the U.S. government's decision to do likewise. The Asahi team members were forced to move east or move to internment camps and few, if any, moved back to British Columbia after the war.

It's a fascinating story and well worth investing an hour of your time in watching.

Here's a question for you: When were people of Japanese descent allowed to vote in British Columbia Provincial elections? The answer is here. You may find it surprising.

The Best Fans in Baseball(TM) can get cranky online
2009-01-21 15:21
by Bob Timmermann

From a St. Louis Post-Dispatch online chat between readers and Cardinals GM John Mozeliak today:

I Hate Bill Dewitt!!: Mo,
Please describe what it's like living in your little land of make believe where you honestly believe that Cardinal fans should be excited about this team. If you wouldn't mind, go into details, about how in MO's world people are celebrating are three horrible new lefty relievers, and the signing of our awesome new .213 hitting shortstop.
John Mozeliak: First I rather live in my world then is sunny out today??? No you're right it is 30 something degrees, my girl friend dumped me, and my car won't start.
First, it is not we stink (unless you ask yourself these questions in the mirror) and we make decisions based on scouts, stats, and other information. If we thought Greene was going to hit .213 we would not, I repeat, not make the deal.
Go back to your world and I hope by mid summer you're ready to come out for air.
Is this discount enough to make people actually want to see the Nats?
2009-01-21 14:11
by Bob Timmermann

The Washington Nationals, aka the Worst Team in the Majors (59-102), have lowered the prices on about 14,000 seats.

Tickets will range in price from $5 to $325 per seat.

There is no truth to the rumors that the Nationals will actually pay people $5 to actually show up at certain games.

Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN now promises to be even worse
2009-01-20 23:08
by Bob Timmermann

Newsday's Neil Best (and others) are breaking the news that ESPN is going to add one of its worst analysts to its Sunday night broadcasts.

Yep, it's going to be a three-man booth with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, and Steve Phillips. STEVE PHILLIPS.

Yes, the man whom ESPN had host a series of mock press conferences and later forced people like Buster Olney to pretend they were asking him real questions. The man who drove the Mets to new heights with key acquisitions like Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno.

I now look forward to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the SAP channel. Or the mute button.

My disbelief at this development has surpassed my ability to come up with snarky metaphors to describe it.

Think of the most horrible possible combination of sports announcers. Then double it. Then triple it. And you still won't surpass Morgan and Phillips for idiocy.

Random Presidential Inaguration - March 4, 1929 (UPDATED)
2009-01-19 21:00
by Bob Timmermann

A cold and rainy Inauguration Day in Washington greeted the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. Nevertheless, the New York Times reported a crowd of about 50,000 to see the inaugural ceremonies.

Hoover, who had served incumbent Republican President Calvin Coolidge as Secretary of Commerce, defeated Democrat Al Smith in the general election by a 58%-40% margin in the popular vote and won 444 of 531 electoral votes, losing only 8 of the 48 states and even beating Smith in his home state of New York.

The big topic in Hoover's inaugural address was Prohibition, the hot button political issue of the time. Crime was a big issue, although Hoover wasn't ready to pin all the blame for the increase in crime to Prohibition.


The most malign of all these dangers today is disregard and disobedience of law. Crime is increasing. Confidence in rigid and speedy justice is decreasing. I am not prepared to believe that this indicates any decay in the moral fiber of the American people. I am not prepared to believe that it indicates an impotence of the Federal Government to enforce its laws.

It is only in part due to the additional burdens imposed upon our judicial system by the eighteenth amendment. The problem is much wider than that. Many influences had increasingly complicated and weakened our law enforcement organization long before the adoption of the eighteenth amendment.

To reestablish the vigor and effectiveness of law enforcement we must critically consider the entire Federal machinery of justice, the redistribution of its functions, the simplification of its procedure, the provision of additional special tribunals, the better selection of juries, and the more effective organization of our agencies of investigation and prosecution that justice may be sure and that it may be swift. While the authority of the Federal Government extends to but part of our vast system of national, State, and local justice, yet the standards which the Federal Government establishes have the most profound influence upon the whole structure.

However, Hoover also decided that one of the biggest problems with the enforcement of Prohibition was that a lot of people were breaking the law. So people needed to stop doing that.


But a large responsibility rests directly upon our citizens. There would be little traffic in illegal liquor if only criminals patronized it. We must awake to the fact that this patronage from large numbers of law-abiding citizens is supplying the rewards and stimulating crime.

The rest of Hoover's address was not exactly soaring oratory. There was talk about how the U.S. needed to work with the rest of the world to ensure world peace, but it wasn't going to join the League of Nations. There was discussion of increased funding for public health measures and the inevitable mention of tariffs. Hoover called for a special session of Congress to deal with such matters.

Unfortunately for Hoover, he had this passage:


Ours is a land rich in resources; stimulating in its glorious beauty; filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort and opportunity. In no nation are the institutions of progress more advanced. In no nation are the fruits of accomplishment more secure. In no nation is the government more worthy of respect. No country is more loved by its people. I have an abiding faith in their capacity, integrity and high purpose. I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.

Well, it was bright with hope for about six months.


Four years later, Hoover would get only 39.7% of the vote against Franklin Roosevelt's 57.4%. And Roosevelt won 472 electoral votes to Hoover's 59, winning 42 of 48 states.

For those not scoring at home, Hoover's VP was Charles Curtis of Kansas. He succeeded another Charles (Dawes). This was the only time in U.S. history when consecutive vice-presidents had the same first name.

Also at the inauguration: dirigibles! (NEW LINK)

Young agrees to take Gold Glove about 25 feet to the right
2009-01-15 15:43
by Bob Timmermann

Texas Rangers infielder Michael Young, who won the Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008, has finally agreed to shift over to third base for the 2009 season. The Rangers want to give top prospect Elvis Andrus the chance to play at shortstop.

Elvis Andrus' parents were so excited about their son playing in America that they decided to change his name so he would match one of America's most iconic figures: Jimmy Carter's Secretary of the Interior.


Frank Williams, 1958-2009
2009-01-14 21:13
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Frank Williams, who pitched in the majors from 1984 through 1989, died Friday in Victoria, British Columbia at age 50 from a heart attack.

After Williams' playing career ended, he was beset by problems caused by alcoholism and spent much of his time in homeless shelters and detox centers, according to his obituary in the Times-Colonist (linked above).

Williams started only one game in his career and it was a shutout, a 5-inning 7-0 win for the Giants in St. Louis on May 5, 1984.

Link via BTF.

The Paul Byrd semi-retirement plan
2009-01-14 17:01
by Bob Timmermann

Free agent pitcher Paul Byrd says he doesn't want to sign a contract with any team now and go to spring training, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

However ...


Byrd continued by saying that he has no desire to announce his retirement and would like the opportunity to join a contender midseason. Byrd has never been to a World Series and believes that he will be able to come back this summer to help a team toward a postseason run.

I'm not sure that teams will be banging down the door to sign up Byrd. However, good teams (like the Yankees and Mets) want to sign Freddy Garcia, so what do I know?


This is what my day has been like:

He will never be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered again
2009-01-14 11:24
by Bob Timmermann
Todd Greene joins Dunder-Mifflin St. Petersburg
2009-01-13 23:28
by Bob Timmermann

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has named Todd Greene as the Rays new "quality assurance coach." The job is described as "instructional and self-scouting."

Dunder-Mifflin's quality assurance officer for the Scranton office hasn't updated his blog in a while.

Preston Gomez, 1923-2009
2009-01-13 17:37
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Preston Gomez, who played in just eight major league games, yet still spent 64 years in professional baseball a coach, scout, and manager, passed away in Fullerton today at the age of 85 most likely from complications arising from getting hit by a car at a Blythe, California gas station back in spring training of 2008.


Gomez played in the majors for the Washington Senators in 1944, but achieved more notoriety as the first manager of the San Diego Padres. Gomez skippered the Padres for their first three seasons before being fired early in the 1972 season. Gomez latered piloted the Astros for one and a half seasons and also managed the Cubs for 90 games in 1980.

Gomez twice lifted a pitcher who was throwing a no-hitter, yet trailing, in the eighth inning for a pinch hitter. It happened to Clay Kirby on July 21, 1970 and Don Wilson on September 4, 1974.


Two rules changes up for vote this week
2009-01-13 12:01
by Bob Timmermann

MLB owners are going to vote on two rules changes at their meetings in Paradise Valley, Arizona, this week.

  • A requirement that all postseason games would have to go at least nine innings with language that would take into account weather delays such as what happened in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.
  • The elimination of coin flips to decide homefield advantage in any one-game playoff for a division or wild card spot.

If the second rule had been adopted for previous tiebreakers, here's how they would have played out:

  • 1946 - Cardinals had beaten the Dodgers, 14-8, during the regular season. The Dodgers won the coin flip and opened at St. Louis and would have hosted a third game if they hadn't lost the first two.
  • 1948 - Cleveland and Boston split their 22 games. Boston was the host.
  • 1951 - The Dodgers beat the Giants in 13 of 22 games. The Giants hosted 2 of 3, although the Dodgers had won the coin flip.
  • 1959 - The Dodgers beat the Braves in 12 of 22 games. The Dodgers won the toss and would have hosted a Game 3.
  • 1962 - The Giants won the season series against the Dodgers, 13-9. The Dodgers hosted 2 of the 3 games.
  • 1978 - The Yankees had won the season series against Boston, 8-7. Boston was the host.
  • 1980 - The Astros and Dodgers had split 18 games. The Dodgers were the host.
  • 1995 - The Angels and Mariners split 12 games and the Mariners won the toss to be the host.
  • 1998 - The Cubs won 6 of 9 against the Giants and also won the toss to be the host for the playoff game.
  • 1999 - The Mets had won 5 of 9 against Cincinnati but the Reds won the coin flip.
  • 2007 - The Rockies had won 10 of 18 games against the Padres and won the coin flip.
  • 2008 - The Twins had won 10 of 19 against the White Sox, but lost the coin flip.

In one game tiebreakers, the home team is 5-4.

You can get boxscores of all the tiebreaker games in one place at Retrosheet.


Tigers try to save money by signing pitcher with short name
2009-01-13 10:20
by Bob Timmermann

The Detroit Tigers, after having to pay the luxury tax last year, have decided to cut back on some expenses by signing a pitcher who would save them money in the all important expense of "letters used for names on jerseys."

The Tigers have given a minor league contract to Taiwanese pitcher Fu-Te Ni. Ni, if he makes it to the majors, would tie Dodgers infielder Chin-Lung Hu for the record of shortest surname in major league history.

Presently, the Tigers roster has three players with four letter surnames: Bobby Seay, Brandon Inge, and Dusty Ryan. The six letters in Ni's full name would be fewer than the letters in 17 Tigers players last names.


Will the specialty of the house be Steak a la Selig?
2009-01-12 21:49
by Bob Timmermann

MLB is opening up its first officially licensed restaurant. However, it will be in Tokyo. And it's not going to open until September 17.

The restaurant is supposed to feature a 500-inch television screen. I'm not sure that I want to eat a restaurant and watch a 40-foot high television image of Randy Johnson.

2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Results
2009-01-12 11:01
by Bob Timmermann

(Gin Rickey) Henderson


Jim (Rice University)

Not making it in:


Alan (Trammell Net)


Lee (Smith)


Jack (Morris the Cat)


Claude (Rain[e]s)

 Mark (Big Mac) McGwire
Untitled(Leighton) Harold (Baines)


Jay (Bell)e

UntitledDutch Boy = Bert Blyleven (Note: not phonetic)


David (Cone)

UntitledAndre (Dawson's Creek)


(Harry) Ron (Gant)


Mark (Grace Kelly)



Tommy (John)

 Gary Sinise as Ken (Don) Mattingly in "Apollo 13"


Dale (Murphy bed)



Dave (car Parker)



Mo and Greg (Vaughns)

Untitled(Two old lefties represeting Dan Plesac and Jesse Orosco)
William Zantzinger, 1939-2009
2009-01-09 23:52
by Bob Timmermann
Dave Roberts, 1944-2009
2009-01-09 09:30
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Dave Roberts, a left-handed pitcher in the majors for 12 seasons, passed away in Morgantown (actually Short Gap), West Virginia from lung cancer at the age of 64.

Roberts pitched for the Padres (two other players with the same name have also played for the Padres), Astros, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Pirates, Mariners, and Mets. Roberts pitched in the 1979 World Series for the champion Pirates.

Link via BTF

The Braves Statute of Limitations?
2009-01-08 19:40
by Bob Timmermann

John Smoltz is expected to sign with Boston soon. This means that after being on Atlanta's big league roster for 21 seasons (although just playing in 20 seasons as he missed the 2000 season with an injury), Smoltz will likely finish his career in a Boston uniform.

Henry Aaron played in 21 seasons for the Braves (1954-1974) before playing his final two seasons for the Brewers.

Warren Spahn played for 20 seasons for the Braves (1942, 1946-1964) before playing his final season for the Mets and Giants.

Among players for other franchises, Ty Cobb played 22 seasons for the Tigers before playing his final two for the Athletics. Willie Mays played 21 seasons for the Giants before moving on to the Mets. Mays and Spahn both missed time because of military service.

The most seasons any pitcher had who pitched for the Braves and no other franchise is nine seasons by Rick Camp. The longest-tenured Braves "lifer" is Chipper Jones who will be playing his 16th season for the Braves in 2009.

It doesn't pay to get me angry
2009-01-07 13:22
by Bob Timmermann

Time Warner reports first loss in six years.

Time Warner Cable Inc. said today that it expects to record a pretax charge of about $15 billion and a loss for last year.

The second-biggest U.S. cable operator wrote down the value of its investment in Clearwire Corp. by $350 million. Chipmaker Intel Corp. today wrote down its stake in Clearwire, which is building a wireless mobile-phone and Internet network, by $950 million. Intel also reported fourth-quarter sales that trailed forecasts.

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in December that customer growth had slowed “dramatically” and demand for premium services continued to decline. In November, the company cut its 2008 sales forecast, citing slower subscriber growth and less revenue from pay-per-view services, premium channels and digital-video recording rentals.

Orioles employing the Black Ships?
2009-01-07 07:34
by Bob Timmermann

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun leads his story about the Orioles signing of pitcher Koji Uehara to a 2-year deal:

The Orioles have filled one vacant spot in their wide-open rotation while simultaneously opening the door to the Far East.

No doubt this involved Orioles scouting director John Stockstill steaming into Tokyo Bay in a giant black ship exposing the hermitic world of Japan to the wonders that are Baltimore.

Omaha, city of baseball stadiums?
2009-01-06 14:14
by Bob Timmermann

This isn't about the College World Series, but rather the minor league teams of Omaha.

The city of Omaha is scheduled to open up a new stadium for the College World Series in 2011 in Downtown Omaha and it should seat about 24,000. It will be the home of the College World Series, replacing venerable Rosenblatt Stadium.

However, the Kansas City Royals AAA affiliate in Omaha isn't going to play at the new stadium and is negotiating with Sarpy County for a new 6,000-7,000 seat stadium.

Coming to the rescue, as it were, is the independent American Association, which has announced that it will place a team in Omaha to play in the new stadium in 2011. That team does not have a name yet. Or even exists at this time.

Carl Pohlad, 1915-2009
2009-01-05 14:29
by Bob Timmermann

Carl Pohlad, perhaps baseball's wealthiest owner, has passed away at the age of 93. The late owner of the Minnesota Twins was ranked as the 102nd wealthiest person in America by Forbes magazine.

Minneapolis-Star Tribune obituary.

When Carl Pohlad was 85, his mother passed away. She was 104. Invest in Pohlad genes.

Paving baseball and putting up a shopping center?
2009-01-05 07:33
by Bob Timmermann

The Wukesong Sports Center, site of the Olympic Baseball Tournament in Beijing this past August, is going to be torn down and the area converted into a shopping center.

“Our preliminary plan is to supply Beijing residents with a leisure centre combined with shopping, culture, sports and entertainment,” Guo Jinjiao, deputy manager of the development company, told the paper.

The 200 million yuan ($29 million) stadium played host to a Major League Baseball exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres last March.


But apart from the MLB’s rental fee for that game, it had not derived any income, the paper said.

Coming soon to a television set not near me
2009-01-03 12:08
by Bob Timmermann

The MLB Network's appearance on my cable provider (Time Warner) will happen as soon as there is leg of unicorn available in the meat section of my supermarket I fear.

On my cable system's website, the MLB Network's existence is not even acknowledged. (If that link doesn't work right, enter 91030 as the ZIP code.)

There is also a page that lists which HD channels are available:

I do get the channels that are first listed on the page.

Then there are a bunch of channels that are coming soon, including fairly popular channels like USA, Bravo, SciFi, and FX.

Here is the list of when these will become available in different parts of TWC's service area. I'm cutting and pasting it:

Available Now:
Acton, Agoura Hills, Air Force Village West, Alta Loma, Anaheim, Arcadia, Artesia, Athens, Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Park, Beaumont, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Beverly Hills, Bloomington, Boyle Heights, Brea, Buena Park, Calabasas, California Oaks, Calimesa, Camarillo, Canoga Park, Canyon Country, Canyon Lake, Carson, Castaic, Chatsworth, Chino Hills, Chino, Colton, Corona, Covina, Cudahy, Culver City, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Downey, Eagle Rock, East L.A., East San Fernando Valley, Edwards Air Force Base, El Cerito, El Monte, El Segundo, Elizabeth Lake, Fillmore, Fontana, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Gardena, Glenn Ivy, Grand Terrace, Hacienda Heights, Harbor, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hemet, Hermosa Beach, Highgrove, Highland, Hollywood, Homeland, Horsethief Canyon, Huntington Beach, Idyllwild, Inglewood, Kagel Canyon, La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, La Palma, La Puente, Ladera Heights, Lake Elsinore, Lake Los Angeles, Lake Matthews, Lakeview, Lakewood, Lancaster, Lawndale, Lennox, Little Rock, Leona Valley, Loma Linda (West), Lomita, Los Alamitos, part of Los Angeles, Lynwood, Manhattan Beach, March Air Force Base, Marina Del Rey, Maywood, Menifee, Mentone, Midway City, Mission Hills, parts of Murrieta, Murrieta Hot Springs, Montclair, Moorpark, Moreno Valley, Muscoy, Naval Base (Pt Mugu), Newbury Park, Newhall, North Hollywood, Northridge, Nuevo, Oak Park, Oak View, Ojai, Ontario, Orange, Oxnard, Palmdale, Panorama City, Paramount, Pico Rivera, Placentia, Playa Del Rey, Playa Vista, Perris, Pomona, Port Hueneme, Quartz Hill, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Reseda, Rialto, Riverside County, Romoland, Rossmoor, Rowland Heights, San Bernadino, San Fernando, San Jacinto, San Pedro, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Monica, Santa Paula, Sherman Oaks, Sierra Madre, Simi Valley, South Bay, South El Monte, South Gate, South Los Angeles, South Whittier, Stanton, Stevenson Ranch, Sun Valley, Sunland, Sylmar, Tarzana, Temecula, The Farm, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Tujunga, Universal City, Upland, Valencia, Van Nuys, Ventura, Villa Park, Walnut Park, West Hollywood, West Hills, West Los Angeles, Westchester, Westminster, Westlake Island, Westlake Village, Wild Rose, Wilmington, Wilshire, Winchester, Winnetka, Woodcrest, Woodland Hills, Yorba Linda, and Yucaipa.

Available in January 2009:
Corona Del Mar, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, and Tustin.

I knew I should have moved to Cudahy. My hometown (South Pasadena) isn't even on the list of "coming soon." Also note how the mysterious "The Farm" is listed under T. And the Point Mugu Naval Station is listed under Naval Base (Point Mugu). And people who live in Horsethief Canyon have better service!

The beauty of the MLB Network (STILL MORE UPDATES)
2009-01-02 10:30
by Bob Timmermann

Despite advertising its spot on my cable system (Channel 276 or 470), here is what the MLB Network looked like to me on those two channels.



So I decided to take up Time Warner on their offer of 24/7 tech support. Eventually, a guy got on the phone and told me, "Well, most people got it today. Some get it next week. As for you, you'll get it on February 10."


"Or the 11th."

According to's chief propaganda writer, Barry Bloom, the MLB Network is a big hit. Apparently some people can see it. They likely aren't Time Warner customers.

I know it was tough for Time Warner to make room on its cable systems for a channel it owns a stake in. And had well over a year to plan for.

It really makes me want to go back and get all my news via telegraph.

(UPDATE) Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball reports on the various problems that people (like me!) have had getting the MLB Network on their cable system.

MLB Network hit the ground running yesterday, with Commissioner Bud Selig addressing fans two-minutes before 6pm ET (watch Selig's address), and then airing MLB Hot Stove, a show dedicated to the action in baseball’s off-season. But some of the approximately 50 million subscribers expecting to see the new channel were met with blank screens, a product of service level requirements, possible hardware issues, and in at least one instance, a local cable company not having digital service up and running by launch time.

The largest factor, for those that may be expecting to have access to MLB Network, revolves around what is deemed to be the “basic” package.  A key point for distribution of MLB Network stemmed from negotiations in April of 2007 for MLB’s out of market package, Extra Innings. While Extra Innings was initially going to be granted to DirecTV as a monopoly, eventually the cable consortium of iNDemand was able to broker a deal to continue to gain access to Extra Innings, but it was stipulated by MLB that MLB Network would also have to be carried, and on the basic tier, the most widely available. According to MLB Network, the distribution deal brokered with all carriers is that all must broadcast on the digital basic, or the carrier’s equivalent, a key difference from early reports. Those that have analog service, no matter the carrier, will need to upgrade.

I'm referenced later in Maury's post and I think the problem that my system has hardware problems. This could be why channels like FSN Prime and AMC show up on my system as if I'm looking at them on a set borrowed from Philo T. Farnsworth.

UPDATE 2 - The MLB Network disappeared from the onscreen guide on my cable system. I'm glad I got photographic evidence. The obelisk awaits....

The 10-yard lie?
2009-01-01 20:47
by Bob Timmermann

The New York Times ran a front page article on New Year's Day about one of my numerous pet peeves in sports, the first down chains.

Maybe it's not a peeve (and I have enough peeves that are pets of mind that Animal Control has cited me), but I've always wondered why a sport that seems to love technology as much as football uses such a decidedly low tech method of determining first downs.

Since 1906, football teams have needed to gain 10 yards for a first down. From the sideline, far from the action, two sticks connected by a chain have measured the required distance, their placement estimated by eyesight.

For a game of inches, it has never seemed an exact science. For a game long advanced by technological innovation, from helmets to video replays, the chains are antiques. Dozens of inventions have been patented to improve or abolish them.

Yet the chains stand the test of time, if not distance.

“Is it perfectly accurate?” said Mike Pereira, the N.F.L.’s vice president for officiating. “No, I don’t think it is.”
And here's where the system of measuring for first downs can go awry:

  • The ball is not marked correctly. And I think everyone knows that spotting the football involves a lot of guesswork.
  • The field is not marked correctly. This may not be a problem in the NFL and big time college football.
  • The chain is not exactly 10 yards long. If the referee is going to judge by an inch or two if a first down is made, wouldn't it make sense to get the chains measured accurately? I've been to many high school games where the chain broke. They were reattached with tape.
  • The people holding the chain are not standing perpendicular to the goal line. I doubt they ever are.
  • There are probably a dozen other problems I haven't listed.

Why do they need chains? Why don't they just look at the original line of scrimmage when the first down was made and eyeball it? It would be just as accurate. And then you don't have to waste time in the game with people running in and out with chains.



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