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(Elsa/Getty Images)

(Elsa/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Major League Baseball announced a new award that will honor the best relief pitcher in each league, replacing the Delivery Man of the Year award. Yes, that existed. The AL version of the new award will be called the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award. The NL version has been named after Trevor Hoffman. Both players spent their entire careers in their respective leagues.

“Both Mariano and Trevor represented our sport magnificently on and off the mound and earned the universal respect of our fans in their legendary careers,” said commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. “I believe it is appropriate to redefine an existing award in honor of their contributions to Baseball, and I am delighted that many of the most decorated relievers in history will select the winners.”

From the press release, here are the nuts and bolts of how the new awards will work:

A panel of nine of the greatest relief pitchers in history will vote on the recipients of the new awards. In addition to Rivera and Hoffman, other voters will include the four living Hall of Fame relief pitchers – Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Rich “Goose” Gossage and Bruce Sutter – and the three relievers who round out the top five in career saves – Lee Smith (478 saves), John Franco (424 saves) and Billy Wagner (422 saves).

The nine voters will rank the top three A.L. relief pitchers and the top three N.L. relief pitchers, based solely on regular season performance. Using a 5-3-1 weighted point system (i.e., five points for a first-place vote; three points for a second-place vote; and one point for a third-place vote), the Award in each League will be given to the relief pitcher who accrues the most total points.

Based on the voting panel, something tells me the new awards will go to whoever leads the league in saves. Or maybe the guy who finishes second if he has a really low ERA. I’m not expecting a whole lot of objectivity out of that group. Whatever.

Rivera, as you know, retired after last season and was the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the universe. Hoffman was very good himself, but Rivera was on another level. For example, Rivera allowed 38 fewer runs than Hoffman despite throwing 194.1 more innings, and that doesn’t consider ballparks and divisions and all that. Let’s not even bring up the postseason.

Anyway, awards are fun and I’m glad Mo has one named after him. He certainly deserves it not only because of the career he had, but because of the person he was and how he represented both the Yankees and MLB. I wonder who will be the first Yankees reliever to win the award? David Robertson is as good a guess as anyone, but who knows with this stuff. It’ll be cool when it happens though. Congrats to Rivera for having the award named after him.

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Feb. 24th: The rule change, which is being called “experimental,” has officially been announced by MLB and the players’ union. Long story short, the runner must not deviate from his path to the plate and the catcher can not block the plate without the ball. Plays at the plate are subject to instant replay. The full details are right here.

Feb. 19th: Via Jon Heyman: The ban on home plate collisions may be ratified in time for the start of Spring Training games. MLB approved the rule change back during the Winter Meetings, but both the umpires’ and players’ unions still have to sign off. Heyman says the umpires are likely to approve the change, so really all that’s left is the thumbs up from MLBPA.

According to Buster Olney (subs. req’d), the holdup has to do with precise language for the new rules and is not an indication things may fall apart. Several players and managers were consulted during the process, including Joe Girardi. The basic idea is that the runner will not be able to target the catcher and the catcher must give the runner a clear line to the plate. Everyone wants the game to be safer, but they also want the rule change to be approved soon so players can adjust during Spring Training, before the real games begin.

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Expanded instant replay has been officially approved for the 2014 season, MLB announced. The owners, players’ union, and umpires’ union all had to sign off on the new system before it could be implemented. Replays will be conducted at the league’s central office in New York, not on-site by the umpires.

The system is explained here. Here’s the short version: Managers get two challenges per game, but they lose the second challenge if the first is unsuccessful. Kinda silly, but whatever. The crew chief can elect to review any play from the seventh inning on without a manager’s challenge. The full list of reviewable plays are right here and notice that the neighborhood play at second base is not reviewable. That could have created some headaches. Clubs are now allowed to show any and all replays on the ballpark scoreboard, even those that were not reviewed. That’s neat. It’s not a perfect system but it is progress.

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Via NY Post: River Ave. at 161st St. will be renamed Rivera Ave. in honor of Mariano Rivera following a City Council vote on Tuesday. The vote passed 47-0. “It’s an honor to have a street named after me,” said Mo. “ I have a lot of great memories driving down that street. My family and I are extremely grateful for this.”

Council member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, whose district includes Yankee Stadium, filed the paperwork after being persuaded by a fan. The Post and Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant led the campaign to get the street renamed. I’m guessing just the stretch of River Ave. alongside Yankee Stadium will be renamed, but either way this is pretty cool. Rivera is being honored for his charity work in the community as much as his playing career. (No, we’re not changing the name of the site.)

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MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner has passed away following a battle with inoperable brain cancer. He was 51. Weiner, who grew up in Paterson, N.J., replaced Donald Fehr in 2009 and had been with the union since 1988. He was incredibly bright and an extraordinary leader, and he continued to work hard for the players even after being diagnosed last August. Condolences to his family and friends.

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(Patrick Smith/Getty)

(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Got a pair of non-baseball business notes involving two prominent Yankees to pass along, so let’s dive in:

Derek Jeter: Book Publisher

According to Julie Bosman, Derek Jeter announced this week that he will start Jeter Publishing, a publishing imprint that is partnered with Simon & Schuster and Wicked Cow Entertainment. He admitted to thinking about life after baseball while hurt for much of this past season. “I’ve had a lot of time to myself to think. The whole last year has been sort of a blur. Being away from it for so long gave me the opportunity to think about what the future may hold after baseball” said the Cap’n. “I think this sort of sets the blueprint for post-career. This is a great way to start.”

Jeter’s first books will be released sometime next year. They’re expected to include nonfiction books for adults, children’s picture books, elementary grade fiction, and books for children who are learning to read. The project could lead to film and television publications. “You never know where this may go. You look at all the opportunities that come with content in general — I mean, there might be a compelling story that someone has that turns into a film or a TV show,” he added. “If I put my name on something, I’m going to be involved. I’m not just going to put my name on it and not pay attention.”

You could have given me roughly a million guesses, and I would have never guessed Jeter would get into book publishing after his playing days are over. That’s pretty cool though, congrats to him for getting this off the ground and figuring out what he wants to do once he hangs up his cleats. Still, book publishing? Never would have guessed it.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Joe Girardi: Mobile App Engineer

Dan Barbarisi reports Joe Girardi has developed a new mobile app with Appetizer Mobile that is scheduled to launch early next year. This isn’t some branded app that got the okay to use Girardi’s name and likeness at the last minute, he’s been working on it for the last year. “I see my children on apps — and ordering apps, on many occasions — and I just thought it would be kind of fun to create an app that I felt was appropriate for them,” he said. “I think that’s what you worry about all the time, for me, as a parent with kids.”

Girardi declined to reveal the specifics of the app, but it’s a “sports-related multiplayer-capable game utilizing ‘augmented reality technology,’ which supplements real-world environments with computerized input,” according to Barbarisi. That’s a mouthful. Appetizer Mobile CEO Jordan Edelson said it will be “kid-friendly but targeted to baseball fans and adults as well.” The app will be free to download but there will be in-game purchases. Girardi’s cut is going to charity.

“It’s a different side of me, because I think people are always used to seeing me at the ballpark, and not having this type of creativity. It’s not something that I do a lot of, but when I do put my heart and soul into something, it’s important to me,” added the skipper. This isn’t an unexpected as Jeter getting into book publishing, but I can’t say Girardi struck me as the type of guy who was big on technology or anything. Good for him. Sounds like he was very involved in the process and put a lot of work in.

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As the GM Meetings wrapped up today, Bud Selig confirmed MLB’s owners unanimously approved expanded instant replay for the 2014 season. Both the players’ and umpires’ unions must sign off on the plan before it can be implemented, but that is expected to happen. “There isn’t one play or one instance that changed my mind. It has just happened over time. I know we’re doing the right thing,” said the commissioner.

Under the new system, each manager will be given two challenges to use at any point in the game. Managers were expected to be given three challenges under an earlier proposal, but they could only use one in the first six innings. I’m glad they changed that. Challenges are lost only if the play is not overturned — the play is reviewed off-site and the ruling is relayed to the umpiring crew — and if the challenge is successful, the manager retains it for use later in the game. Balls and strikes can not be challenged (duh) and homerun calls will still be handled by the umpires, as has been the case since 2008.

MLB tested the new system during Arizona Fall League play last week — managers were given an unlimited number of challenges and were encouraged to use them so they could work out any bugs — and things went fine. The games themselves were painfully slow because of all the replays, but that won’t be an issue next year as long as each manager is limited to two challenges. The challenges and replays themselves were quick and easy, usually taking less than a minute. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s definitely an improvement. Hooray.

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Not from today. Presswire)

Not from today. (Presswire)

Brian Cashman held his annual end-of-season press conference on Tuesday afternoon and, unsurprisingly, there were no announcements made. Not even a minor one. He fielded questions for about an hour and in typical YankeeSpeak, the GM said a lot of words that had little substance. The team’s higher-ups have a knack for dodging questions and giving vague answers while talking a whole bunch. Anyway, let’s recap the presser:

On Joe Girardi

  • Cashman confirmed he met with Girardi “for a while” yesterday and will meet with agent Steve Mandell tomorrow to continue talks. “After tomorrow, I think I’ll get a real good feel for where we’re at,” he said. “I think he likes it here. We’re going to give [Girardi] a real good reason to stay.”
  • “His effort and his efforts in pre-game preparation for each series and how he runs Major League Spring Training … he’s been consistently tremendously at it,” said the GM while also crediting Girardi for working with such a poor roster this season. “[His] job as a manager is to make sure these guys compete on a daily basis … I thought he did a great job, him and his staff.”
  • Cashman would not comment when asked if the Cubs (or any other team, for that matter) had contacted the team to ask for permission to speak to Girardi. His contract expires November 1st.
  • Cashman closed the press conference with a preemptive “no comment” about how things go (went?) with Mandell tomorrow. He told the media not to bother to reach out for an update because he won’t give one. It was kinda funny.

Read More→

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Major League Baseball announced the full 2014 schedule this afternoon, and the Yankees will open next season right where they end this season: in Houston. Here’s the schedule. The Yankees and Astros kick off their 2014 slates with three games starting Tuesday, April 1st. From what I can tell, every other team opens their season on March 31st. Because of the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park, there is no obligatory off-day following Opening Day.

The Yankees go to Toronto for three games with the Blue Jays after they’re done with the Astros, then they’ll head to the Bronx for the home opener against the Orioles on Monday, April 7th. They open with six on the road before playing nine straight at home. Here are some more schedule notes:

  • Subway Series: Like this year, the Yankees will play a home-and-home series against the Mets. They’ll play the four games from May 12-15th with the first two at Yankee Stadium with the next two in CitiField. Reverse of this year.
  • Interleague Play: The Yankees will play all five NL Central teams next year. They play four against the Cubs (two at home, two on the road) and three games each against the Brewers (in Milwaukee), Cardinals (in St. Louis), Pirates (at home), and Reds (at home). Their final series in an NL park is May 26-28th against the Cardinals. They finish up the no-DH portion of the schedule early.
  • West Coast: The Yankees play their final West Coast game on June 15th, which is insanely early and awesome. After that, the furthest west they have to go is Minnesota (four games in early-July) and Texas (three games in late-July). They don’t have to leave the Eastern Time Zone after July 30th.
  • Longest Homestand: Ten games from July 18-27th against the Reds, Rangers, and Blue Jays. That is immediately after the All-Star break.
  • Longest Road Trip: Eleven games from July 4-13th against the Twins, Indians, and Orioles. That is immediately prior to the All-Star break. They also have a ten-game road trip from June 6-15th against the Royals, Mariners, and Athletics.
  • AL East: Seventeen of the Yankees’ first 22 games are intra-division. Only seven of those 17 are at home. Twenty-six of their final 29 games will be played within the division as well, including a season-ending three-game series in Boston. September will be brutal.

The Yankees open with 13 games in 13 days, so they won’t have the opportunity to manipulate their roster and skip the fifth starter until the middle of April. They end the season with 20 games in 20 days, meaning no built-in days off the bullpen and whatnot. That is rather unfortunate, but such is life. The schedule is what it is.

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Via Bob Nightengale: MLB is prepared to adopt an expanded replay system that would give managers the opportunity to challenge a disputed play. Managers would get three challenges per game but could only use one in the first six innings (wtf?), and most (but not all) plays would be reviewable. Reviews will be made by a central office that will remain in contact with the crew chief.

Expanding instant replay is great and MLB should be all for it, but the manager challenge system is … questionable. There will be a lot of ways to exploit the system, namely by having someone in the clubhouse watching replays before telling the manager to formally issue the challenge. I suppose you could also see a situation where a challenge is made just to give a reliever more time to warm up. I dunno, we’ll see. There is a phasing plan to implement the system in 2014, but the final vote won’t come until the owners’ meetings in November. The players’ and umpires’ unions must sign off as well. Getting the umps to agree could be a headache.

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