Saunders: For the sakes of fans, umpire crew chiefs need to be mic’d up

Cleaning out my spring baseball notebook. Here are a few things I found:

* I received an email from Craig Harper, a Boulder Daily Camera sportswriter from back in the day. Like many fans, he was irritated by the confusion during Thursday’s Dodgers-Rockies opener when Cody Bellinger was denied a home run and was called out.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: The Dodgers’ Justin Turner, the runner on first, believed that Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia made a running catch at the wall and didn’t see that the ball bounced out of Tapia’s glove and over the wall. So Turner sprinted back toward first base, passing Bellinger in the process. Because Bellinger was now ahead of Turner, he was ruled out due to rule 5.09(b)(9), which says that a baserunner is ruled out if he passes the runner ahead of him (even if this occurs during a home run).

In the aftermath, Harper emailed me.

“How about writing something on why MLB doesn’t mic at least the crew chief, as most other sports do,” Harper wrote. “Today’s Bellinger non-HR was a perfect example. To my knowledge, there was no verbal explanation given to the fans in attendance or those watching on TV by the umpires as to why Bellinger was denied the HR and then called out with Turner scoring a run even though he never crossed the plate, or got to third base, for that matter.

“This has been one of my pet peeves about baseball. There is no reason the crew chief shouldn’t be miked, ala the referee in the NFL. I know baseball is slow to change, but that is ridiculous.”

You’re so right, Mr. Harper.

* I’m still baffled as to why the Rockies cut David Dahl in December and then saw him sign with the Texas Rangers. It’s not like the Rockies are knee-deep in talent. If there was a disconnect between Dahl and the front office, or Dahl and his teammates, I have not discovered it. Perhaps the Rockies just figured Dahl could not stay healthy. Maybe it was about money.

Anyway, Dahl signed a $2.7 million, one-year contract with the Rangers and seems perfectly healthy now. In Thursday’s opener, he went 3-for-5 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. For what it’s worth, he hit .395 in the Cactus League.

* Turner is just one more example as to why the Dodgers are the best organization in baseball. In Friday night’s 11-6 win over the Rockies, he batted 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. He extended his on-base streak to 34 games, the longest active on-base streak in the majors.

Turner, 36, re-signed with the Dodgers for two years and $34 million. The Dodgers understood how valuable he was to the team and they found a way to keep him.

* Finally, I wanted to fully share Buster Olney’s thoughts on increasing action on the baseball field. Olney, a longtime MLB writer for ESPN, was part of our “How to Fix Baseball” panel last Sunday, but, for space reasons, he was edited.

Here’s a full version:

“My idea is that there should be a rule limiting the number of pitchers for each manager to use every game, with obvious exceptions made for injuries and blowouts,” he said. “And I think the magic number is four pitchers per nine innings. Leave it to the manager to decide how to use those four pitchers, but what that means is that a starter who can last three times through the lineup gains value.

“And the manager isn’t going to just keep relying on predetermined matchups because there are 10 relievers available. If there was a four-pitcher limit, for example, there’s no chance Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash would’ve pulled Blake Snell from the last game of the World Series. He would’ve needed to be more conservative in his handling of the bullpen.”

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