Another non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and while this year’s edition was more exciting than many in recent years (for non-Reds fans, at least), an argument can be made that the deadline should be pushed back from July 31 to a date later in August. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs makes just such an argument for Fox Sports’ Just a Bit Outside blog. Cameron points out that the July 31 deadline was only established in 1986 after fluctuating quite a bit throughout baseball’s history. Given the changes in baseball since then, it’s now a relic of a bygone era where there were four divisions and four division winners making the playoffs, with no wildcards at all. In those days of yore, it was easier for most teams to determine whether they should be "buyers" or "sellers" at the deadline then it is now, when teams like the Reds or the Rays were forced to make some pretty tough decisions that could potentially have long term ramifications on their franchises. Cameron suggests moving the trade deadline to August 15 and making that date the deadline for all trades, including waiver trades. Seems reasonable to me.
There was much discussion in Reds country this week about one of MLB’s more confusing recent rule changes when the new prohibition against catchers blocking the plate may have assisted the Reds in defeating the Miami Marlins on Thursday evening. Which makes it convenient that earlier this week Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal published a list of the five strangest rules still in the official MLB rule book. Fortunately for Johnny Cueto, rule 8.05f, which bans pitchers from throwing pitches with their backs to the batter, isn’t meant to outlaw Tiant-Turn-like windups. Unfortunately for Billy Hamilton, rule 7.08i still forbids stealing first base.
Speaking of baseball’s official rules, David Kagan of the Hardball Times has a look at how many teams are in violation of Rule 1.04, which governs the orientation of Major League ballparks in relation to the sun. Did you know that MLB had an official rule that states that the line from home plate to second base should run East-Northeast? I didn’t. Anyway, pretty much every team in baseball ignores that rule, with the Reds’ own Great American Ball Park being no exception. The article is an interesting look at the science that goes into ballpark design.
In what’s becoming an annual rite of summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced this week that legendary broadcaster Vin Scully will be returning in 2015 for his 66th season of calling baseball games. For people like me with an MLB.tv subscription and a penchant for late-night baseball, this is a cause for celebration. There are some great quotes from Scully in that article, in particular his explanation for why he keeps coming back after all these years. Scully will turn 87 in November.
Finally, the MLB Baseball Books Blog asked all the MLB.com beat writers to share their favorite baseball books. Reds beat writer Mark Sheldon appears to be a fan of a good baseball biography, citing Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gherig as his favorite, also mentioning The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. There’s a decent variety of titles mentioned, although Ball Four and Moneyball appear to be the two most popular. As someone who has read an unreasonable number of baseball books, I’d say those are both worthy choices. I’ve long considered Ball Four my favorite. But I would follow that up with The Lords of the Realm, a detailed and surprisingly entertaining history of the behind-closed-doors history of baseball, and The Numbers Game, a history of statistics in baseball that I would strongly recommend to pretty much anybody reading this. But I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorite baseball books in the comments. I’d be interested to know what everybody else is reading.