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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

‘How Many MVPs Have to Go Down?’: Scott Boras Is Fed Up With MLB’s Unsafe Bases

The hard, slick bases used by Major League Baseball have taken out another star player, and agent Scott Boras is fed up.

“How many MVPs have to go down?” Boras said Monday after Kris Bryant, one his clients and the 2016 NL MVP, slipped on a wet base Sunday at Wrigley Field and sprained his right ankle, effectively ending his season. In 2017 Bryce Harper, another Boras client, was on his way to his second MVP when he injured a knee by also slipping on a wet base.

“We are in between Collective Bargaining Agreements,” Boras said. “The office of the commissioner has the authority to legislate matters of the game relating to weather … We were put on notice about this issue years ago. Where is the protocol for it? It borders on negligence. They did nothing. Zero.”

Major League Baseball does have protocols about the condition of the playing field in bad weather–umpires determine if the field is safe and can order grounds crew to attend to a muddy mound, for instance–but nothing specific about the integrity of the bases, such as when rain and/or mud make them slick.

In all seriousness, is there a solution to this issue that won’t create some sort of unintended consequence?

 

QLE Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:03 AM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bases, injury, kris bryant, scott boras

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:14 AM (#5882459)
STFU....
   2. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:10 AM (#5882478)
is there a solution to this issue that won’t create some sort of unintended consequence?

I propose that the Cardinals are not allowed to turn DPs at all and no team is allowed to turn one against the Cubs.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:16 AM (#5882479)
Less seriously, I suppose it would be safer if (at least at 1B), the batter/runner wasn't required to physically touch 1B but simply pass over it before the ball arrives. That is, run through the bag without needing to actually touch the bag. In addition to wet bases (which I'm not sure have been a major issue), there are the awkward landings of guys stretching out that extra bit to beat the throw. Of course just as guys still slide into 1B, they'd probably still stretch for the bag even when running straight through will get you there faster (I assume).

At 1B, you could probably get rid of the bag altogether without any major issues.
   4. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:25 AM (#5882481)
Is this even a problem?

How often does this happen?

The bases are what they are? Are they higher/thicker/less resistant to movement/more prone to have cleats stick/slide on/off them then AAA or AA bags?

A solution in search of a problem.

Actually I think #1 summed it up nicely.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:26 AM (#5882483)
Seems like MLB could easily test materials for slipperiness when wet, and go with something less slippery if it doesn’t have other drawbacks. A decision made years ago, possibly based on what looks good on TV, and/or easy for umpires to see, doesn’t seem to have been seriously re-examined. At least, that seems to be Boras’ point.
   6. Rob_Wood Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:32 AM (#5882484)
First time in a long time I (kinda) agree with Boras.

Players slip on these slick modern bases quite often, even when they are dry. When any amount of moisture gets on them, it's katy bar the door (who's katy?).
   7. pikepredator Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:24 AM (#5882519)
Seems like MLB could easily test materials for slipperiness when wet, and go with something less slippery if it doesn’t have other drawbacks. A decision made years ago, possibly based on what looks good on TV, and/or easy for umpires to see, doesn’t seem to have been seriously re-examined. At least, that seems to be Boras’ point.


sounds like a pretty simple solution. Given their willingness to screw with the composition of the ball, making an attempt to find a durable material for bases that isn't as slippery doesn't seem like a big ask.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:25 AM (#5882520)
I’m with Rob, I’ve noticed this happen a few times in the last couple of years and I don’t remember it ever happening before. Maybe that’s just seeing it more but it’s something that seems to happen now that didn’t before. At the very least I think it’s a question worth considering.

More generally Boras is doing his job here defending his clients here. Even if he’s 100% wrong his job is to stand up for his clients.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:29 AM (#5882522)
sounds like a pretty simple solution. Given their willingness to screw with the composition of the ball, making an attempt to find a durable material for bases that isn't as slippery doesn't seem like a big ask.

Is their a reason not to use the canvas, more floppy things they used to use?
   10. BrianBrianson Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5882525)
More generally Boras is doing his job here defending his clients here. Even if he’s 100% wrong his job is to stand up for his clients.


Of course, it's not always the case that standing up for wrong clients is defending them. This story fits: on the one hand, it sounds like a reasonable, sensible idea. On the other hand, since it's Boras demanding it, I assume the underlying premise isn't true.
   11. Kurt Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5882527)
Is their a reason not to use the canvas, more floppy things they used to use?


"Slippery" bases are safer for sliding? No idea if that's true but it seems possible.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:37 AM (#5882528)
Bring back the floppy pillows!
   13. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5882530)
The Hollywood bases suck. It's not just slipperiness, it's guys breaking ankles and fingers sliding into them, etc. because the edges of them are hard and have no give whatsoever. MLB went to these because they liked the look over the old canvas bags they used to use and they are easier to clean. I don't know why the players' union hasn't raised this issue before.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:50 AM (#5882535)
"Slippery" bases are safer for sliding? No idea if that's true but it seems possible.

As [13] says, I would think sliding into a canvas bag rather than a hard plastic box would be much safer.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5882538)
Well, I think you're more likely to get a cleat caught into the canvas bag. It's probably safer in some ways, less safe in others.
   16. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: September 24, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5882541)
MLB went to these because they liked the look over the old canvas bags they used to use and they are easier to clean. I don't know why the players' union hasn't raised this issue before.
Without knowing for sure, I would instead suspect:

1) Harder bases make for a more easily audible sound for umps.

2) The general idea that something so integral to the boundaries of safe/out calls should be a more defined shape and size than anything that could deform more readily.

I agree that you'd think they could at least try to come up with something better.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5882548)
Without knowing for sure, I would instead suspect:

1) Harder bases make for a more easily audible sound for umps.

2) The general idea that something so integral to the boundaries of safe/out calls should be a more defined shape and size than anything that could deform more readily.


This is the same absolutism about "getting the call right" that drives the replay fiasco.

Keeping the players healthy matters a lot more than an occasional blown call.
   18. Tin Angel Posted: September 24, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5882550)
Seems like MLB could easily test materials for slipperiness when wet


Agreed. And if it the base is slippery, just put a large sign next to it notifying the players.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 24, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5882558)
Hell, Bon Jovi was doing that back in the mid-'80s.
   20. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: September 24, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5882565)
This is the same absolutism about "getting the call right" that drives the replay fiasco.

Keeping the players healthy matters a lot more than an occasional blown call.
To be clear, I'm just speculating that was MLB's thinking, I'm not saying that should rule the day.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 11:40 AM (#5882568)
To be clear, I'm just speculating that was MLB's thinking, I'm not saying that should rule the day.

Understood. I just think there's way too much of a focus on optimizing results, and getting things right, to the detriment of putting an entertaining product on the field.

Teams obviously want to optimize wins, but the league should care about optimizing entertainment.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 11:49 AM (#5882578)
This is going to sound stupid, but could you add a couple rows of those stick-on texture strips that people use to keep from slipping and falling in the shower?

I think they make white ones, so it wouldn't even necessarily change the look all that much.
   23. flournoy Posted: September 24, 2019 at 12:58 PM (#5882608)
Shower strips aren't designed for people running in cleats.
   24. stanmvp48 Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:03 PM (#5882611)
Is there an obvious reason why 1st 2nd and 3rd base should be different from home plate?
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5882616)
Is there an obvious reason why 1st 2nd and 3rd base should be different from home plate?

So players can slide and stop. It would be very, very hard not to over-slide home plate if it mattered.
   26. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:20 PM (#5882618)
A thread about bases on BTF, and no Spider Man references after 25 posts? Slackers.
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5882620)
“How many MVPs have to go down?”
The answer is blowin' in the wind, Scott. The answer is blowin' in the wind.
   28. Sit down, Sleepy has lots of stats Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:34 PM (#5882624)
At 1B, you could probably get rid of the bag altogether without any major issues.
Holograms are the obvious answer. Bury a sensor and you can even automate the safe/out calls to large extent.
   29. jmurph Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:46 PM (#5882630)
I've long said ghost runners were the correct and obvious next step once we went to the automatic intentional walk. Rather than waiting until the batter reaches base safely to implement the ghost runner, we might as well just do it straight out of the batter's box.
   30. bunyon Posted: September 24, 2019 at 01:51 PM (#5882635)
“How many MVPs have to go down?”

42
   31. JAHV Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:34 PM (#5882653)
Thinking about the pros and cons of the canvas bags:

Pros:
- Less likely (almost impossible) to cause someone to slip if conditions are wet
- Less likely to cause a sprained ankle by someone stepping on the edge of the base awkwardly
- Less likely to cause a jammed/sprained finger or wrist on a headfirst slide
- Less likely to cause a foot to bounce off on a feet-first slide, meaning fewer "foot leaves the base for a split second" replay reviews

Cons
- Easier for a defender or baserunner to get his cleat caught in the material, causing a stumble or a twisted ankle
- Malleable bases make for an indefinite target

I'm sure I missed some, but I feel like if these are the main ones, the pros outweigh the cons.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5882662)
I'm sure I missed some, but I feel like if these are the main ones, the pros outweigh the cons.


At the big league level. I imagine the cloth ones need to be replaced much more quickly, which is an issue for more cost-conscious baseball organizations (that is to say, most of them).

   33. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5882664)
What is the sample size significance here? MLB has been around since 1870 or since 1920 or if you prefer 1961 or maybe 1977. And how many players have been hurt by bases? Against how many total plays involving the bases? And for this we need a solution?

What is the math here? Because I am not seeing it. But willing to be educated.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:09 PM (#5882666)
I imagine the cloth ones need to be replaced much more quickly, which is an issue for more cost-conscious baseball organizations (that is to say, most of them).
Inevitably they'll get to the point where it's like the ball and they replace a base every time it's touched by a player's foot.
   35. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:13 PM (#5882668)
And how many players have been hurt by bases? Against how many total plays involving the bases? And for this we need a solution?
How many players crashed into outfield walls before padding was added?
   36. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5882669)
35--No idea. But wasn't that obvious? Weren't fences just metal or concrete walls? Seems obvious that pitting concrete or metal against human flesh that flesh would lose.

How is a base similar as a threat?

I just don't like solutions to outlier circumstances. How do we know this is not that?
   37. Rob_Wood Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5882670)
Here's an article on this topic from 2014:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/10902301/mlb-game-bases-hazard-player-health

   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5882672)
How is a base similar as a threat?

Why pit a human foot or hand against a hard plastic shell, when you can you a canvas bag? Isn't it obvious that flesh and bone will lose the former match-up more frequently?
   39. Rob_Wood Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:21 PM (#5882673)
Also, I have seen literally hundreds of examples over the years of players tweaking their ankle/foot or hands/fingers on the new hard slick bases, not to mention all the serious injuries resulting. I thought everybody was aware that this was an issue of long-standing.
   40. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5882676)
39

So MLB knowingly uses a product that puts players at risk for serious injury. So has the player's union filed a grievance? again, just asking

And when anyone claims, "I have seen literally" followed by whatever it's typically never supported by facts. And your article is from 2014 and five years is a long time. If the bases were so dangerous this issue would have reached a boiling point by now.

I am all for player safety. I think the owners and MLB are horrible as management.

But things are not connecting as laid out above.

But if the group wants a knee jerk, not really considered 'solution' have at it. Just thought this could be given real consideration versus a "WE NEED TO DO A THING"
   41. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:31 PM (#5882677)
Are the only options a 1917 canvas style base or a 2019 base? This seems like a problem that doesn’t require a difficult fix.

My personal hobby horse when it comes to player health is actually two of them; in-play bullpens and on deck circles. The former is pretty rare and the latter, I can’t believe wasn’t addressed after Encarnacion.
   42. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5882678)
I don’t get the “Only a few players get hurt, what’s the problem?” argument. The Bryant & Harper incidents involved key players with injuries impacting playoff races, and for all I know there may have been incidents with less prominent players. It doesn’t appear that MLB has even looked at the matter recently, and it seems like it now should unless it already thoroughly examined the slipperiness issue when the bags were introduced. Since MLB isn’t making any claims of that nature, it appears that a decision was made without focusing much on player safety. Why not try to get it right now? Because some folks have a knee-jerk adverse reaction to anything Scott Boras suggests?
   43. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 24, 2019 at 03:48 PM (#5882681)
Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh missed a month in 2007 when he sprained an ankle stepping on third base.
   44. Rob_Wood Posted: September 24, 2019 at 04:20 PM (#5882690)
Jeremy Renner ... So you consider yourself the voice of reason and everybody else is a loon? Good to know.

Sounds like you don't know whatinhell you are talking about. Take this opportunity to become educated on a topic and quit being an #######.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5882693)
Are the only options a 1917 canvas style base or a 2019 base? This seems like a problem that doesn’t require a difficult fix.


Of course not. The idea is just having a softer bag. You could make it out of Kevlar, so cleats don't get stuck, and have a space-age anti-slip coating.
   46. JAHV Posted: September 24, 2019 at 05:13 PM (#5882698)
What is the sample size significance here? MLB has been around since 1870 or since 1920 or if you prefer 1961 or maybe 1977. And how many players have been hurt by bases? Against how many total plays involving the bases? And for this we need a solution?

What is the math here? Because I am not seeing it. But willing to be educated.


I'll actually agree with Boras here. In addition to Bryant and Harper, Trout was out for a bunch of games last season from jamming his thumb on a base. Just this year, Andrelton Simmons (not an MVP candidate, but a consistent 5-win player) sprained his ankle stretching to reach first base. These incidents aren't exactly ultra-rare.

Furthermore, even if they were ultra-rare, why settle for what we've got if there's a reasonable solution that would reduce these incidents even further? Of course we'd need to prove that there is a reasonable solution from a cost and game-play standpoint that would have the effect we desire, but assuming that potential solution exists, why not give it a shot?

Edit: Sorry, Trout was out with the thumb injury from sliding in 2017, not last year.
   47. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: September 24, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5882701)
Of course not. The idea is just having a softer bag. You could make it out of Kevlar, so cleats don't get stuck, and have a space-age anti-slip coating.
And filled with a fairly stiff version of tempurpedic-style memory foam so it gives just a little.
   48. JAHV Posted: September 24, 2019 at 05:20 PM (#5882702)
Are the only options a 1917 canvas style base or a 2019 base? This seems like a problem that doesn’t require a difficult fix.


I would think there are other options out there now; I'm just not sure what they are. But as snapper says, there have to be materials out there that have the desired effect without reverting to 1910-era technology.

   49. Rally Posted: September 24, 2019 at 05:38 PM (#5882707)
Harper was on his way to another MVP in 2017?

Not sure if thats’s an assertion by Boras or the writer.

Harper played 111 games that year, and hit 29 homers. An excellent season. But considering the competition, he’s not winning MVP unless he plans on hitting another 30 dingers in those 50 missing games.
   50. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 24, 2019 at 05:59 PM (#5882710)
Joey Votto came within a couple of votes of edging Stanton for that MVP, so I don’t think Harper would have had to match Stanton in HRs to win. Harper was hitting .326/.419/.614 when injured, a higher OPS than Stanton had. It was an MVP caliber season, that would easily win in some years, even if we can’t be sure how the 2017 vote would have played out.

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