5 Biggest Takeaways from This Week's MLB Action
Baseball has a new pope.
After a couple of failed tries, Rob Manfred has been installed as the new MLB commissioner by a unanimous vote of baseball's 30 owners, per the MLB Public Relations Twitter account. While the league's bosses were meeting in Baltimore, there was plenty of action on the field.
The blocking-the-plate rule was exposed as the dumbest regulation in baseball. Plus, two big fish of the 2014 season, including David Price's Detroit Tigers, have endured nightmare weeks.
The Blocking-the-Plate Rule Is a Farce
Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura does a perfect Lou Piniella impression.
The skipper turned in a dirt-kicking performance on Wednesday after one of the most controversial replay reviews of the season. In the seventh inning of the White Sox's game with the San Francisco Giants, Gregor Blanco was out at the plate. There was no question about it—until San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy asked for the umpires to check if Tyler Flowers had blocked the plate.
After a drawn-out review, the replay umpires in New York determined he had. The overturned call was a classic example of following the letter of the law rather than the spirit.
And that's when Ventura came hurtling out of the dugout to throw his fit. The manager wasn't the only outraged member of the White Sox organization. WGN broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson shared his take, as you can hear in the MLB.com video above.
“It's just a bad rule. It's just a bad rule. It's just that simple. I tell ya, that's just—it's not baseball! It's just not baseball.”
Harrelson is spot-on. It's not baseball. This rule needs to be changed immediately; otherwise, the league is inviting a disaster between now and the end of the World Series.
The Oakland Athletics' All-or-Nothing Offense Is a Major Question Mark
The Oakland Athletics lead all of baseball in runs scored.
That's a terribly misleading stat. For manager Bob Melvin's squad, it's either feast or famine. No player better embodies the all-or-nothing offense than Brandon Moss, who alternates between being absolutely locked in and striking out like crazy.
This week, the Athletics scored three runs or fewer in five of six games. The one time Oakland didn't was on Tuesday, when the club dropped 11 runs on the Kansas City Royals while collecting 20 hits on the way to an eight-run beatdown.
As Bleacher Report's Scott Miller explained, "It's all about pitching in October." Oakland definitely has pitching, but its offense is far from intimidating.
The Detroit Tigers Are in Serious Trouble
This is not how things were supposed to play out for the Detroit Tigers.
On deadline day, the Tigers snagged David Price in a three-team swap, and the conversation immediately shifted to just how incredible their postseason rotation would be. Since then, Detroit has tumbled into second place in the AL Central and isn't even in a wild-card spot.
On Sunday, Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria both hit the disabled list, per Jason Beck of MLB.com. Sanchez is expected to be on the shelf for three to four weeks, while Soria could miss two to three.
Then came the Justin Verlander news. On Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates shelled the right-hander for five runs (four earned) on four hits in just one inning of work, as the starter exited with shoulder soreness.
After the debacle, Verlander provided his take on his showing, via Beck: "The worst of my career."
The 31-year-old could return next week, or he could end up on the disabled list, according to the Detroit Free Press Twitter account. With the pitching staff in shambles and the Kansas City Royals playing the best baseball in the league, there's a real chance the Tigers could miss out on the division title and possibly even the playoffs altogether.
The Colorado Rockies Need to Figure out What to Do with Tulowitzki and Gonzalez
After a promising 23-16 start to the season, the Colorado Rockies have been impossibly bad. The club is mired in a 24-59 slide.
The season could be getting worse. Troy Tulowitzki is out for the year thanks to a torn labrum in his left hip, per Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. There's also the news that Carlos Gonzalez has been ruled out for the closing months of 2014 as he will require knee surgery, according to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports.
It's possible that both stars are done at Coors Field. There's no question their injuries will dent their respective values on the trade market this winter. Then again, the Rockies are in desperate need of a total rebuild, and nobody on the roster would bring back more than Tulowitzki and Gonzalez.
Meet the New Commissioner, Same as the Old One
Baseball's owners have settled on Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as the MLB commissioner when the 80-year-old's reign ends in January. Manfred is the league's chief operating officer, and more importantly, he's Selig's protege.
Manfred should understand that he owes his new job to his current boss. After landing the gig, he made it clear he plans to return the favor.
"I hope I will perform as the 10th commissioner in a way that will add to [Selig's] great legacy," he explained, via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Once Manfred officially takes the job, there will be all sorts of opportunities to build upon Selig's work. Of course, as Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com reminds us, it's really the owners who call the shots.
So now it’s Rob Manfred’s turn to pretend to be in charge, and in a couple of days, baseball fans can begin the process of turning on him as they did on Selig. Because that, too, is part of the job—catching the grief that the owners don’t want to catch.
From fixing the stadium situations in Oakland and Tampa Bay to resolving the TV mess between Baltimore and Washington, there promises to be plenty of grief for Manfred to deal with. So, feel free to blame Manfred for whatever goes wrong in baseball, but just remember that the commissioner works for the owners.
Note: All stats and videos courtesy of MLB.com.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.