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Why doesn't MLB provide clearer explanations?


Why doesn't MLB provide clearer explanations?

Did you know that bat boys and girls have to wear double ear-flap helmets? Or that the umpire-in-chief can choose a team’s manager for a game if the manager is ejected and doesn’t designate a temporary replacement? Or that a first baseman can now wear a glove instead of a mitt?

These are just a few of the hundreds of rules you may not be familiar with, and they’re found in the first few pages of the official rules.

Rules change every year, and the two most controversial calls of this year’s postseason, the Chase Utley slide and Wednesday’s call allowing Texas’ Rougned Odor to score on interference are sure to be looked at after the season.

While crew chief Dale Scott initially failed to make the correct call, I suppose he can be excused. It’s a play that few have actually seen before.

It turns out that there’s a rule that applies specifically to the play.

Coincidentally, Scott was involved with another controversial interference play just a few weeks earlier.

On Sept. 19, in the eighth inning of an Orioles game at Tampa Bay, Scott called Evan Longoria out for attempting to interfere with Matt Wieters’ throw to second. Pinchrunner Mikie Mahtook was out, and the Orioles won the game 2-1.

Scott was correct then, and he was correct yesterday, but something needs to change.

In the NFL, a referee announces to the crowd each time a play is being reviewed. In baseball, the umpire-in-chief needs to announce to the crowd each time there’s a review.

In most instances, it’s obvious what the review is for. Sometimes, there’s confusion, but as technology plays an ever greater role in the sport, fans and those in the press box deserve a timely review.

It’s fine for the crew chief to be available after a game to explain a rule or a decision to a pool reporter, but there needs to be something more.

In April, Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected from a game at Fenway Park for what home plate umpire Jordan Baker felt was an intentional throw at Boston’s Pedro Sandoval.

Crew chief Jerry Meals explained the interpretation to the pool reporter why Baker felt that way.

In this case, I was the pool reporter, and I distributed Meals’ explanation to all who were interested.

That’s good, but an explanation at the time of the call, even if it may incite the home crowd, would be better.

By the time the madcap inning ended, the Toronto Blue Jays were on their way to the ALCS for the first time in 22 years.

The Blue Jays-Royals series may be a fascinating one. It may be a close one, but certainly it’s not one that many Orioles fans can be looking forward to.

After the all the preening, the bat flips and the scrums, Orioles fans may temporarily root for Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Tommy Hunter’s Chicago Cubs against the winner of tonight’s Mets-Dodgers game. 

MORE ORIOLES: Dubroff: Orioles should sign Machado to long-term contract

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."