Down on the umps


This Baseball Prospectus piece by Joe Sheehan comes at a convenient time:

I feel like I write more about umpires than many people do, and it’s because I feel strongly that what happens on the field isn’t subject to interpretation. If a player’s foot hits a base before a glove with a ball in it touches that player, that player is entitled to the base, he’s safe, and that doesn’t change because some middle-management functionary says otherwise. If a breaking ball crosses the plate at a point between a batter’s knees and the midpoint between his shoulders and pants, it’s a strike, no matter what the anachronism behind the plate thinks he sees. In eighteendicketysix, a human being was state-of-the-art technology for making these decisions. Now, you can get better information-we do get better information-by using better technology. Championships should be decided by the players and by what actually happened, not by what somebody thinks happened....

I wonder if CB “Don’t Call Me Bill” Bucknor has read it.

Curt Schilling told us this would happen. “[T]hat might be the worst umpiring crew in the history of post season baseball. Bucknor, Gibson AND Merriweather? Oh and Joe West, the umpire who is well known to hate the Sox as much as any man ever.”

In the Phoenix this week, I lament the death of accountability, wondering why so very few people are held to task for what they do or say anymore.

What does it take, when the first base umpire is so blind he cannot see a first baseman tag the bag before the runner — contact that couldn’t have been made plainer if he’d “squatted down and laid an egg on it” — for that man to be penalized somehow?

“This is a joke,” wrote another SoSHer after the 3,745th blown call. “Even the NBA would have put a lid on this now. Is Mike Port just pissed or does Selig actually have no power?”

Oh well, maybe it’s enough that one fifth of major leaguers think he’s the worst ump in the game, so, uh, maybe his feelings are hurt.

Props, at least, to Youkilis for keeping his cool. Cold comfort, I suppose, that this shit happens to everyone?

Look, bad umpiring did not cost us this game. Lackey threw the ball better than Lester did. David Ortiz whiffed three times. The Greek God of Walks, couldn’t see fit to remove the bat from his shoulder at a crucial juncture of the game. And a bunch of other stuff.

(For one thing, we really don’t seem to like playing on the road very much.)

Still, as this fascinating breakdown points out, dumb umps did more damage than you might’ve figured.

And if the Angels don’t beat the Red Sox — which, truth be told, seems likely at this point — and the Red Sox don’t beat themselves, it seems entirely possible that the umpires will take that responsibility upon themselves sooner rather than later.

As Schilling predicted
: “Greg Gibson will have major impact on one or more games this post season. The obvious choice would be for the game(s) he's behind the plate, and I can assure you I'd lobby to not be on the mound for that game.”

He's not behind the plate tonight. But guess who is!

In much better news, the Phoenix is giving away copies of the new Dustin Pedroia book, Born to Play.

Enter here to win!
Hopefully you won’t have time to read it until November 6.


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