Just a few items this morning, and then I'll check in later, after Bud Selig speaks with the media.
1) Good story by Erik Boland on what happened in the Yankees-Royals game last night, and conveniently enough, I'm in position to ask both Selig and Joe Torre about Billy Butler's disputed home run today.
For one thing, yes, the umpires should have addressed Dana DeMuth. I'm not sure if that's legally required - if it's covered in the umpires' collective bargaining agreement - but it's absolutely expected. They'll surely receive a scolding.
I don't know about the ground rules at Kauffman Stadium, but I'm sure we'll find out the deal eventually. It is surprising, though, that Joe Girardi wouldn't protest the game. We're talking about a guy who averages a protest a year. Last year, he protested a Red Sox game because he thought Boston botched the procedure on replacing an injured Josh Beckett. Girardi lost the battle - the protest was quickly denied - but won the war, as Beckett's injury contributed to an absolutely horrific season for the right-hander.
Which reminds me, by the way: Who starts Game 1 of the playoffs for the Red Sox this year, Beckett or Jon Lester? It was a topic of conversation in the bar here last night. I said Lester, but given how good a rebound season Beckett is having, plus factoring in Beckett's postseason history, perhaps he's the guy.
Then again, Beckett was pretty lousy in the 2008 and 2009 playoffs, so that shouldn't be a great factor.
Anyway - sorry, I got sidetracked. The point I wanted to make about instant replay is yes, I know that if the umps did mess up, this is an indictment of the process. That they stop the game like this and still get the call wrong.
Nevertheless, I'll take this over the old-fashioned way of managers and umpires yelling at each other. Once again: More replay, please.
2) Another conversation that often surfaces at these meetings: Who's the next commissioner of baseball? Until Selig names his successor, I'll remain convinced that Selig will sign up for another term, because that's what he always has done and because most owners want him to stay. Selig has said repeatedly that he'd be done upon the conclusion of his deal next year, but he said the same thing just months before he re-upped in 2008.
Some of the names I've heard thrown around - all of which, I stress, constitute nothing more than speculation: Sandy Alderson, former MLB second-in-command Bob DuPuy, Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall, former Braves and Nationals president Stan Kasten, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and current MLB second-in-command Rob Manfred.
If I had to bet, I'd lay a few bucks on Manfred and a few on Alderson. I'd bet more on Selig, who turns 78 next year, signing up for one more term with a commitment to really be done after that, and to formalize a process to sign his successor.
3) I'm really back this time on the reader comments. With the help of a pal, I eliminated my cookies or whatever the hell you had to do to fix it, so I'm all caught up. I'll be back to addressing your questions and comments, always with grace and diplomacy.
I'll address one question posed, because it's a talker and because other people have asked, off the blog: Richie G. wondered whether the Yankees would trade A.J. Burnett to the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano, with the Yankees throwing in money. Zambrano has one more year at $18 million, while Burnett has two more years at $16.5 million apiece.
For now, I say no. Putting Zambrano with the Yankees is like daring destiny. There are guaranteed to be some explosions. Besides, Burnett has a better ERA+ (92) with the Yankees this year than Zambrano does with the Cubs (82) in the NL Central, which is dramatically inferior to the AL East.
But let's allow the season to play out before ruling it out 100 percent. Let's see what happens with Burnett, specifically. If he can give the Yankees consistent 5 1/3-inning, 3-run outings, with Girardi exhibiting the quick hook he did on Monday, then that would suffice - and possibly convince another team out there to take on Burnett while paying a few more bucks.
It might even convince the Yankees to hold onto Burnett for next year, as a back-end-of-the-rotation starter.
4) In the Jim Thome discussion the other day, I neglected to address the question that everyone's discussing: Is Thome a Hall of Famer? I say absolutely yes. In the "Dominance vs. longevity" debate, I say you need at least a little bit of both, and don't really emphasize one over the other. As long as you mix enough components to reach the rare air. And Thome, with 601 home runs and 71.1 wins above replacement, is in that rare air.
--See you in a few hours.