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Talkin' Baseball with Rob Neyer: Part One

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Rob Neyer (formerly of ESPN) recently joined SB Nation and afforded us an interview. We focused more on general baseball than Yankee-specific talk. The following is part one of three.

Pinstripe Alley: With more recent evidence about the fallibility of umpires, should MLB adopt greater use of instant replay? Should/will the strike-zone ever be called entirely without umpires (i.e. pitchFX/MLB Gameday)?

Rob Neyer: The strike-zone technology isn't 100 percent there yet. Would the current technology call balls and strikes more accurately than the human beings do? Yeah, probably. But "more accurately" isn't good enough. Nobody will accept a technology fix unless it's very nearly perfect. And that's leaving aside all the other arguments.

I do believe the use of video review will be expanded, but not while Bud Selig is running the Show.

PA: Do you support the luxury tax or a salary cap? Why?

RN: Well, those are two different things. There's a luxury tax in place, and it's mostly only the Yankees who have to worry about it. Which they can obviously afford, so nobody's hurt. I'm not wild about a salary cap because it makes everything too damn complicated. But what we think is irrelevant, because the union would fight to the death against such a thing, and the owners probably won't even mention it during the coming negotiations.

PA: Should MLB go to an international draft? A pro would apparently be greater parity, but a con would probably be a decrease in available talent.

RN: I'm not convinced of the latter, and if true, we wouldn't notice a difference with our eyes or (I don't think) in the statistics. Either way, I wish there was a way to distribute the talent more equitably. An international draft would be a tricky thing, though. Can you draft the kids when they're 16? If not, what are they supposed to do with themselves until they're draftable? I can envision MLB-financed academies for teenaged Dominicans, with a draft being held every spring of players who are 17.

PA: Virtually every change since the 1960's has helped hitters. And MLB wonders why games last so long. Will anything be done to give some advantage back to pitchers? Should it? What would be the best way to do that? Would raising the mound decrease offense, as well as strikeouts and walks (by making solid contact more difficult)?

RN: You've heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences, right? I suspect that raising the mound would actually result in more strikeouts, about which I think we agree there already are plenty of. If you want to see more balls in play, you'd probably have to discourage hitters from swinging so hard all the time, which probably means changing the rules governing the dimensions of the bats. And I can promise you the Players Association isn't having any (or much) of that. Anyway, the pendulum has swung back toward the pitchers, somewhat, in recent seasons. I probably wouldn't do anything at all.

PA: Do you like the Wild Card and current playoff format? What about the divisional set-up and unbalanced schedules?

RN: [I'm] not a fan of the Wild Card because it robs us of the greatest pennant races, and I'm not a fan of the schedules because they seem so blatantly unfair. All that said, I'm used to everything now, so I don't sit around in September obsessing over that stuff.

Part Two drops tomorrow.