Last September, the Tampa Bay Rays decided to give Gary Sanchez a free pass with an intentional walk. First base was open and there was a runner on third. Sanchez opted not to play and swung at the first ball outside, lifting a fly to center that scored the runner. At the time, the Yankees were only up by 2 in the 8th inning. It was an unneeded insurance run, but with the announcement that Major League Baseball has revised the Intentional Walk, that play can never happen again.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, in a statement that won’t win many friends at the MLB Players Association, said there won’t be any meaningful rule changes for the 2017 season “due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA”. Nevertheless, it has been reported that MLB will be eliminating the four outside pitches to force an intentional walk. Managers will now be able to signal for the intentional walks from the dugout with no pitches thrown.
It’s not a substantial rule change but it will eliminate plays like the one Sanchez collected a sac fly RBI. I always get the image of Vladimir Guerrero. The dude could hit anything inside or outside of the strike zone. The bat has literally been taken from the intentional “walkee” and he’ll now get a polite signal to advance. They should at least make it interesting and mandate that the signal for an intentional walk is a raised middle finger.
It was amazing that Richard Bleier stayed on the 40-man roster as long as he did. He finally became a DFA victim when the Yankees announced the signing of slugger Chris Carter. Still, I was surprised when it was announced that Bleier has been traded to the Baltimore Orioles. It wasn’t really about the return as “cash or player to be named later” essentially equates to two cans of Mountain Dew. The bigger surprise was the inter-division transaction with a noted rival which does not happen very often. Bleier was never going to be a key part of the team but he is capable of getting a single out in a tight situation. I wish him the best in Baltimore. Say hi to Buck for me.
So, Alex Rodriguez has officially announced his retirement. I always thought that he’d try to give it one more shot to reach the 700 home run milestone. But he has proved me wrong by saying that he has no desire to play again. I am glad that Alex is no longer an active Yankee but the work he is doing with the team is very good. The younger players obviously respect Alex and he is an excellent communicator. He made an exorbitant amount of money as a player, but his post-playing career should be similarly lucrative. Happy Retirement, Alex!
I still can’t stand Randy Levine…