Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maybe The Worst Call Ever

This is why Major League Baseball has to step into the 20th century (let alone the 21st) and start using instant replay on controversial plays.

I consider myself a big baseball fan and a pretty knowledgable person when it comes to the game, and in the thousands of games I've watched in my lifetime, I have never seen such a quick degradation of umpiring over such a short amount of time.

This used to be a minor thing. Umps were so well honed they rarely made a bad call. Now you can point to any game nightly and find multiple bad calls in just one game. And I'm not talking about bang-bang plays that you could understand going either way. I'm talking about big mistakes. Huge mistakes. ...Major League mistakes.

The World Umpires Association should be embarrassed at the shoddiness of the umpires have done going on these last two to two and a half seasons and Major League Baseball has to address this issue. One of these blown calls is eventually going to cost a team a playoff spot, a Championship Series or a World Series. And that would be a horrible thing. What if the Pirates lose their division by a ½ game this season? You can look directly at this game and shake your head.

Other major sports in the world use some sort of instant replay to make the game better. The NFL gives head coaches the opportunity to challenge calls. College football reviews EVERY play. Tennis uses computer graphics to make sure a ball is in or out when a player asks for a challenge. Basketball referees check instant replay to make sure a player let's a ball loose before time expires. Hockey refs check instant replay on scored goals to see if the puck has crossed the goal line.

It's a sorry excuse to say that you're showing up an umpire in asking for a replay or that it would be embarrassing for the ump. How embarrassed was Jim Joyce when he clearly blew a call that cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game? Instant replay review would have corrected that unthinkable mistake and saved both player and ump a lot of grief and heartache. The fact that video review is solely used for home run calls is a joke in itself. Can't they tell if the ball went over the wall or hit the foul pole? The answer is no because it got so bad a few years ago, MLB decided to add instant replay for home run calls only. Nothing else is reviewable.

Just two days ago, a ball the should have been called a double and scored two runs in one particular game was ruled foul. A 10 second replay would have shown the ball hitting the chalk line. Look, I know its a hard job that takes years to master. But when people in the stands can see an obviously bad call without the advantage of being three feet away from the play, something has to be done.

I'm sure the Ump's Association would be amenable to having a five man umpiring crew at each game, that's fifteen additional jobs, with the fifth ump reviewing each play from the video booth. It needn't take two or three minutes to decide a call like it does in the NFL when baseball booths can show replays truly in an instant, even pitch by pitch.

I'm not insisting that every ball and strike call be scrutinized, but when it comes to close plays at first base, judging if a ball is fair or foul, stolen bases, shoestring catches where the ball was possibly trapped and for God's sake, plays at the plate like last night, something has to be done. It's time to step out of the 19th Century. I know baseball is a game of tradition, but it's time to move into modern times with umpiring because horribly bad calls are also starting to become tradition.


NowhereMan said...

First,how does the ump say he missed the tag when hes got such a poor angle?
Second,It was the bottom of the 19th inning.I can't read an ump's mind but if you are tired and just want the game to end to get back to the hotel and purposely blow a call(which is what it looked like to me)then. you the don't deserve to wear the uniform.
last year,Joe West openly complained about the length of Yankee-Red Sox games.Wow must be a real killer to work for hours a day.
Third Bud Selig is a fuckin clown.Hey Bud if you are so old fashioned minded about the game,why not make teams travel by train just like the good old days asshole.

Anonymous said...

Grown men playing a children's game for a kings ransom. All while complaining, cheating and beating up their wives and girlfriends. Just to let you know where I stand on pro sports in general.

Now as far as I can see the umps still have a better average than all of the batters ever in history where doing your job (hit) 25% of the time is considered good.

It's part of the game that participants will make mistakes. And yes umps are part of the game and are not making any more mistakes than ever before just the technology is everywhere.

For every one of these moments on videotape there are probably 10 ballplayers making bad mistakes. But those never make the highlight reels. And yes a single mistake by any given player can sway the course of a game or end it just like this did.

At the end of the day it's just a game. Where are the jobs for average folks?

Broadway Carl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broadway Carl said...

To Anonymous:

1- Can't someone talk about baseball? 99% of this blog is dedicated to political subjects. If you're not interested in the subject of a specific post, you don't have to read it.

2- Making your feelings known about sports and your attitude toward it disqualifies you from having an opinion on the subject, at least an opinion I care about. That being said,

3- You are absolutely wrong about umpires not making more mistakes than in the past, and that they're just being scrutinized under the eye of technology, and any knowledgable baseball person in the profession or not, will say as much. The quality of the umpiring has diminished greatly over the past three to five years, but someone who doesn't watch on a regular basis - and by your attitude of pro sports in general, I'm guessing you to be one who doesn't - wouldn't know that.

4- Yes, the participants in the game make mistakes. And if one of those mistakes costs them the game so be it. But the impartial arbiter of the game is not a "participant." His mistake should not decide the outcome of a game. And finally,

5- Where are the jobs for the average folks? Why don't you ask the thousands upon thousands of people who work year-round in baseball parks and football stadiums and basketball arenas all over the country? Whether you like it or not, professional sports leagues and sports franchises are actual job creators. From the majors to the minors, from Little League Baseball to college football, they all employ people to manage the leagues, run the teams, run the stadiums, crew the groundskeeping, sell concessions, provide security, etc.

If you want to talk about job creation in a political sense, ask House Speaker Boehner, "Where are the jobs bills?"

Run along now.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you didn't address the "complaining, cheating and beating up" part. Or the fact that umpires still do their jobs better and more consistently than anyone else on the field.

Impartial arbiters still make errors and do participate. And like it or not, every call does affect the outcome of the game, whether or not one believes it does. Or whether or not it is in favor of "your" team. Sort of like stagehands on a Broadway show. You don't see them or hear them but when one makes a mistake...look out. And a blown call hasn't risked any one's life yet.

The "jobs for average folks" thing was addressed to Congress, especially the Republicans; I just close all posts, no matter what subject, with that. I know that entertainment ie. pro "sports" provides jobs.

I never expected you to care about my opinion, just was getting it out there. Sorry about my attitude.

It is still just a game. it doesn't matter who wins. It's just supposed to be fun!

Broadway Carl said...


I'll address the "complaining, cheating and beating up" part this way: I didn't realize that it was solely pro sports players that engaged in that behavior.

And no, I don't believe that umpires do their job better than anyone else on the field. I'll go as far as to say that good umpires do them as well as good players. There's a difference between being a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter, or a pitcher with a 2.50 ERA and a 4.50 ERA. And there's a difference between umpires that get the vast majority of their calls correctly and those that consistently miss a few (C.B. Bucker is one ump's name that comes to mind who makes more mistakes than most). As a matter of fact, I believe every game is reviewed by the WUA and stats are kept for every umpire, but I don't think they'd ever release that information.

The example in this post had nothing to do with rooting interest (I'm not a fan of either team) but with the overall integrity of the game.

And you're right, no one's life is at risk because of a bad call in baseball. But if you're going to use the stagehand analogy, I'll put it this way: If a stagehand makes a mistake that stops the show or snafu's a special effect, it ruins the experience for the theater goer. If an umpire makes a blatant mistake that costs a team the game, it also ruins it for the spectator.

Thanks for coming back to continue the debate!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're pretty good at this debate stuff.

I didn't use the word ONLY in my comment about pro sports folk. Actually many in the entertainment industry are guilty of the self indulgent, above the law attitude that seems to come with the "star" territory.

Well, in my experience in theatre, actually the occasional mistake or gaffe by someone on stage is usually met by support and curiosity by the audience. An actor flubbing a line is often met with laughter. The occasional technical show stoppage is taken in stride. Matter of fact, Spidey is running with full houses of folks just awaiting a disaster.

As far as overall integrity of the game, the juicing is a far worse offense than calls folks don't agree with or umpires do get wrong (as detected with the ultra slo-motion cameras from 9 vantage points). I watched a game the other night with a MLB pitcher WALKING in runs. More than a couple millionaires with multiple strikeouts in a game. The umps generally have percentage wise better, more consistent games than any player or team out there.

The clip you posted was blatantly wrong. I would have had that umps vision and BAC checked.

Officials in all sports have made mistakes throughout history. The big difference now is all of the money riding on the games in terms of ads, attendance etc. It ramps up the controversy of something at the end of the day is not that important. Where are the jobs?

And if the review process is in place, great. Those umps need to be weeded out. But like the players, stagehands, actors, coaches, announcers and so forth, I'll bet there is a little bit of nepotism there. And all the video review in the world is not going to help with that. Matter of fact, it might make it worse.

PS-See how I snuck that jobs thing in again?