MLB rumors present a new chapter in the feud between the L.A. Dodgers and New York Mets. Did the Dodgers violate another unwritten rule in baseball with defensive tactics undertaken against the Mets? A report from Yahoo! Sports shines some interesting light on the situation, as the Dodgers have taken the use of defensive metrics to an extreme, even while playing on the road at Citi Field. So what is it that the Dodgers are doing that has riled up the Mets and their fans?
The Mets contacted Major League Baseball officials on Saturday, May 28, when they learned that the Dodgers planned to “mark prearranged defensive positions in the outfield grass of Citi Field.” In the past, the Dodgers have used laser rangefinders to position outfielders, so this “practice” is being described as an extension of that process. Another report at Fox Sports reported on what the Dodgers planned to do if the Mets were to remove those markers from the outfield.
“The Mets’ grounds crew told club officials that the Dodgers informed them that if the markers were removed, Dodgers players would dig holes in the outfield with their cleats. The Mets then instructed their grounds crew to erase or obliterate anything they saw on the playing surface.”
There had already been MLB rumors about the L.A. Dodgers using new-school tactics on defense. In fact, Dodgers left fielder Howie Kendrick may have been using one of those methods as the team played at Citi Field on Friday, May 27. It was something that the announcers noticed and a video that has drawn a lot of interest from fans both young and old. A report from Yahoo! Sports addressed what showed up on the video.
“That was the case on Friday night when a video surfaced that clearly showed Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Howie Kendrick reaching into his back pocket during Friday’s 6-5 loss to the Mets for a handheld item. Kendrick is then seen studying the unknown object before quickly putting it away and readjusting his position.”
Many MLB analysts believe he was using a note card with information about the hitting tendencies of the Mets’ batters. Knowing where a batter is most likely to hit the ball allows fielders to adjust where they are playing on the field. This is most often used as a defensive shift with infielders, but now it appears that more outfielders are using these tendencies to place themselves. Hendrick may have taken it another step further by carrying a note card in his back pocket.
Having notes is nothing new to professional or collegiate sports. Many NFL quarterbacks have been wearing play sheets on their wrists for years. In women’s softball, several SEC schools have pitchers who wear note cards on their wrists, including the star pitcher from Michigan. Could this be a hint that at some point in the near future, all pitchers in Major League Baseball will also be wearing something similar? It would sure cut down on game time meetings between the pitchers and catchers.
The use of electric devices during games has already been banned by MLB, as has placing objects, such as golf tees, in the outfield to mark spots. The league hasn’t weighed in on the current situation, as it was just reported by the New York Mets, but it has created a lot of bad press for the Los Angeles Dodgers already. Has the team crossed a line by marking the outfield grass of an opposing stadium like what was done at Citi Field? Will more MLB rumors about defensive tactics like these surface over the next 24 hours?
[Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]