USA Today got a panel of folks, including former umpire Steve Palermo and Angel outfielder Torii Hunter, together to talk about the state of the game and what can be done to address some of the issues surrounding the game.
The article as a whole is interesting and worth a read, with discussion about replay and the strike zone (with everyone agreeing the pitch tracker that is shown on TV is crap, with much better and more accurate technology available), but the part that jumped out at me was Palermo and Hunter taking shots at the sense of entitlement and disregard for the rules shown by the Yankees and Red Sox:
The trouble, Palermo says, is there are certain teams and individuals who continually ignore baseball's directives.
"This is a hot button with the commissioner," Palermo says. "We've got a couple teams — I'm not going to name names, but I think everybody knows who they are — and they're arrogant. They don't think this pertains to them. I had a president of one of those ballclubs tell me the system is flawed. I told him, 'Then how did the 28 other teams conform to what we're asking except for you and your next-door neighbor that you have a rivalry with?' "
Says Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, realizing along with the other panelists that Palermo is alluding to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, "Everybody else gets screwed but those two teams."
Palermo was particularly annoyed with Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was fined last season for throwing excessive pitches in the bullpen after being summoned, then tore up the letter of discipline in front of sports reporters.
"You know what?" Palermo says. "If somebody acts up, whack them. I'm talking about $50,000. And then $100,000. And then $200,000. You usually get the attention after the $100,000 mark."
The way to address this issue, it would seem, isn't even with the use of the high fines -- it would be by penalizing the teams on the field. If Papelbon keeps throwing in the bullpen after he is summoned, tell the home plate umpire to start awarding balls to the batter. If three extra pitches in the bullpen, in violation of the rules, means a 3-0 count to the first guy, you have to think that that would be a stop to that real quick.
Similarly, start enforcing the "automatic ball" that is supposed to be called when a pitcher uses more than 20 seconds when no one is on base. Start awarding balls when a reliever isn't ready. Tell the pitcher to go ahead and pitch if a batter takes too long getting into the box.
You issues those sorts of on-the-field penalties, and that would alleviate the problem, and avoid the disruption that the "only X number of catcher visits per inning" or "only two pickoff throws" significant rule changes would cause.