Cokin’s Corner, Friday 2/17/17
Thursday was Grapefruit League media day, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was center stage. Baseball’s head honcho spent much of his press conference talking about some proposed rule changes designed to speed up the game along with one that would likely increase offensive production. I’ll offer my take on the possibilities that were discussed.
Manfred talked about streamlining instant replay in a couple of ways. One was a 30-second rule for managers to issue challenges. Another was imposing reasonable time limits for the replay center umpires. Thumbs up on both ideas. The whole concept of replay challenges is to get bad calls correct. I have no problem if a really marginal call goes one way or the other, and I really don’t think we need to sit on our collective hands for three or more minutes on those types. That’s why I’d like a one-minute time limit for the reviews. If no decision can be made after viewing for sixty seconds, the call stands.
I think MLB is going to do away with the pitcher having to throw four balls when the decision is made to issue an intentional walk. Personally, I’d rather see the pitcher have to execute the four pitches. I know it’s rare, but I have seen wild pitches and I have seen stolen bases while this process is undertaken. It’s not a huge deal to me if they change it, but I think I’d rather leave that the way it is.
And now for the big one, the proposed raising of the strike zone. Thumbs up here on this one. I understand pitchers will hate it, as this absolutely is designed to create more offense. But the view from here is that it’s necessary. The fact is too many umpires are calling too many strikes on too many pitchers that are out of the current strike zone. The umps apparently can’t fix this on their own, so I agree it’s time to do what is necessary to create a truer strike zone.
I was, of course, disappointed that my speed the game up proposal never got mentioned. I remain adamant that there needs to be a limit on mound conferences between catchers and pitchers, along with infield bystanders who will often stroll over to keep the battery mates company. Easy rule to implement and a guaranteed time saver. Maybe next year.
Pretty good Thursday in basketball at 4-2-1 and a huge underdog winner on the ice made for a very nice overall result. As for the Pros vs. Joes, there wasn’t a single game that fit the criteria established for these calls, which will happen every now and then.
For info on my personal service and/or the Pros/Joes info, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite the solid Thursday results, I managed to use one of the losers as the free play. Hawaii appeared to have forced overtime at UCSB, but the Gauchos got a put back game winner at the finish line and scored the upset win in the process. My Friday card is ultra-thin as of now, with one hockey play and nothing in basketball. So I’ll go the added opinion route for the Friday comp.
851 VALPARAISO @ 852 OAKLAND
Take: VALPARAISO pk
It’s the second time around for Valparaiso and Oakland. The Grizzlies got the outright underdog win in the first meeting, as they went wire to wire in what turned out to be a somewhat shockingly easy 78-66 win. It wasn’t a fluke, as Oakland was clearly the superior team for virtually the entire 40 minutes.
I’m not ruling out more of the same tonight, it’s absolutely a possibility. The one standout memory from that game was how much more athletic the Grizzlies were. I have to tell you, I was stunned by how much quicker Oakland was at every aspect of the game. If there isn’t some adjustment made here by the Crusaders, it could be deja vu all over again. (My first Yogi Berra reference in some time. I miss that guy.)
I would lean toward Valpo having an improved game plan this time. If that’s the case, the Crusaders should be okay. They’re a good bet to stifle Oakland’s offense if they avoid turnovers and limit transition. The Grizzlies were a great outside shooting team last year, but this edition sure isn’t.
I think that last note is the overall analysis in microcosm. If Valpo forces Oakland to launch from beyond the arc, the Crusaders will likely win this game. I am not strong enough here to make this a personal service play, but I like the revenge angle and what I expect from the matchup to lean in Valparaiso’s direction.