MLB Week in Review (May 26 – June 1)

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I rarely like writing about the same thing twice in a row but I will make an exception for this week’s MLB review. The exemption is mainly due to the fact that this story has dominated the MLB newswire for the better part of two weeks. That is the umpire debate as the umpires in the MLB have been taking some major punishment over the last few weeks. The reports of umpires making critical mistakes have come up again and again throughout these weeks. The umpire is one of the most controversial aspect of the MLB as are many of the other official positions in major sports leagues. Referees and umpires get the most scrutiny because they can change a game for good or bad with a single call. That means they can take the game out of the hands of the athletes and that makes everyone watch them that much closer. When they make mistakes everyone looks at them and criticizes whether or not it was really a mistake. Sometimes umpires will be slightly off and make people angry and sometimes they will be completely right and make people angry. There really is no winning if you are an umpire but there is something to say for the mistakes that are being made lately. There have been clearly missed strikes, clear safe calls called outs, umpires arguing with managers, and even players being tossed for things that happen in almost every game. Lately the umpires have been on a cold streak as it seems like every day there is yet another incident with an umpire. It started when one umpire called a baserunner out at first base even though the first baseman was clearly 3 feet off of the bag when he caught the ball. Then it progressed to the Brett Lawrie incident and a few more incidents two weeks ago. This past week it continued as the umpires continued to make bad calls. There was the missed strike calls in Detroit that set off Jim Leyland and the ejection of a pitcher who threw behind the batter as a form of payback for a hit by pitch earlier in the game. With incidents piling up almost daily the MLB is at a point where they have to decide what they are going to do. Will they stay the course and keep umpire punishment, if there is any, behind closed doors? Or will they begin to publicly punish umpires in front of everyone to make sure everyone knows what they are doing about the issue? As I said last week the MLB does not like change and will likely continue to keep things behind closed doors. This would be a huge mistake for the MLB as they are being left behind by the new age leagues. A big part of the new age leagues is their perceived transparency as many of them make the fans feel they are being heard by accomplishing certain issues that fans are bringing up. One of these issues is the umpiring in the MLB and attempting to make a change to their punishment may be a way to appease fans for now. The MLB needs to fix this before they lose more fans who see the league as an old crusty league full of people who refuse to change to make the league better. There are many complaints but keeping the fans happy for the time being could be trying to deal with the umpire situation that seems to be worse this year than any other year. It is something to watch as the MLB stands at a turning point where they will need to decide where they go from here.

The Toronto Blue jays have not been a powerhouse in the MLB since the early 1990s when they won back-to-back World Series Championships. Lately though the Jays have had a resurgence as they boasted the best offence in baseball for the past two years. They still struggle to compete in the ultra-competitive AL East division but are beginning to get some focus for their explosive offence. With their success of course comes the doubters who say that this offence cannot come out of nothing. They say that Jose Bautista cannot just become a great hitter overnight so he must be using steroids. That rumour has been faced as Bautista was tested much more than any other player over the past two years and has never failed a drug test. With that rumour squashed the baseball world seemed to move on to another last season when a report by ESPN Magazine stated that players on one MLB team had seen evidence of the Jays cheating. These players, bullpen pitchers, had reportedly seen a man in a white shirt sitting in the outfield relaying signs to the batters. This was the reason that these batters were hitting so well because they knew what pitches were coming thanks to the mysterious man in white. This rumour seemingly had no truth to it as the Jays organization came out and said that they had never once done it. Then after a rough outing by Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel last week the report surfaced again by none other than Jason Hammel. Hammel claimed that he had seen someone stealing signs during the game, presumably why he allowed 4 HRs in the game, and that the Jays were, once again, cheating. To be completely frank the accusations make no sense as you can see in my article about it last summer. It seems as though anytime that the Jays have some success there is a reason for it besides the fact that they just figured it out for that game. Instead of making excuses for a terrible performance Hammel may want to focus on how not to allow 4 HRs in his next start.

 

MLB Standings:

American League

East:

1. Tampa Bay Rays (.577)

2. Baltimore Orioles (.558)

3. New York Yankees (.549)

4. Boston Red Sox (.519)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (.519)

Central:

1. Chicago White Sox (.577)

2. Cleveland Indians (.549)

3. Detroit Tigers (.462)

4. Kansas City Royals (.440)

5. Minnesota Twins (.353)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.596)

2. Los Angeles Angels (.509)

3. Seattle Mariners (.426)

4. Oakland Athletics (.423)

 

National League

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.580)

2. Miami Marlins (.558)

3. New York Mets (.558)

4. Atlanta Braves (.538)

5. Philadelphia Phillies (.528)

Central:

1. Cincinnati Reds (.569)

2. St. Louis Cardinals (.519)

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (.510)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (.442)

5. Houston Astros (.423)

6. Chicago Cubs (.353)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.615)

2. San Francisco Giants (.538)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.442)

4. Colorado Rockies (.431)

5. San Diego Padres (.340)

 

Key Scores:

Texas Rangers 8 – 7 Toronto Blue Jays (13th)

– A back and forth game saw both teams take the lead at different points but end their 9 innings with a tie forcing extras where Josh Hamilton, who was in a slump, stepped up to the plate and hit a walk-off HR in the 13th inning

 

Boston Red Sox 7 – 4 Detroit Tigers

– Umpire Gerald Laird missed a strike call against Mike Aviles that gave the Red Sox new life in the inning to earn three runs in yet another controversial call by an umpire that had even Jim Leyland ranting after the game

 

Chicago White Sox 4 – 3 Tampa Bay Rays

– A rough game say AJ Peirzynski get hit by a pitch and rookie White Sox starter Jose Quintana provide some payback by throwing behind a batter for which he got ejected from the game without warning causing another major stir regarding the umpires

 

New York Mets 4 – 0 St. Louis Cardinals

– Johan Santana had the best performance by a pitcher in a New York Mets uniform as he became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter as he helped the Mets get passed the defending champion Cardinals

 

Next Week:

St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets (June 2nd; 4:10 pm ET)

– After the Cardinals were shutout by the Mets in the last game the defending champions will be looking to get something going while the Mets are looking to Knuckleballer RA Dickey to continue to handcuff the Cards

 

San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres (June 5th; 10:05 pm ET)

– In a battle of California the Giants are looking to continue their surge after a rough start to the season as they look to get closer to their division lead while the Padres are just looking to get out of the basement

 

Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (June 7th; 3:35 pm ET)

– The Athletics had a promising start to the season but that roll has since flattened out and the A’s have dropped to the bottom of the division while the Rangers are looking to stay on course with the best record in baseball

 

New York Mets vs. New York Yankees (June 8th; 7:05 pm ET)

– Interleague play continues as one of the most legendary series will take centre stage this weekend when New York splits into two in the Subway Series as the Yankees look to continue their dominance over their cross-town rivals

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