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October 21, 2009

Prospectus Today

The Horror

by Joe Sheehan

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For such an interesting and entertaining night, we learned nothing new:

  • CC Sabathia is a very good pitcher. The big lefty continued his strong first season in New York by throwing eight innings of one-run ball on short rest in a big spot, giving the Yankees complete control of the ALCS with a lead of three games to one. Sabathia dealt with the issue of working on three days' rest by getting through the first four innings on just 38 pitches, going to two balls on a batter just twice in that span. He walked one, struck out five, and save for a seven-batter stretch in the fifth and sixth, was never threatened. It was exactly what the Yankees needed after Monday's difficult, and taxing, loss.

  • Alex Rodriguez is a very good baseball player. Rodriguez had three hits, including a homer and a double, as well as a walk and a stolen base. He looked like an all-time great player in the prime of his career, which is what he is and has been for his entire time in New York. He's been the team's best player across seven post-season games this season, with five home runs and a .407 batting average. Mike Scioscia voted on the matter by walking Rodriguez intentionally with two outs and no one on base in the ninth inning of Monday's game.

  • Playing baseball well in the postseason is not a skill above and beyond playing baseball well. I'd like to think the above paragraphs will help to put an end to the myth that October is somehow different. Sabathia and Rodriguez had assembled recent track records in postseason play that served to define them as failures in the eyes of many who want to believe that success on a baseball diamond is a moral issue. You cannot evaluate baseball players on a handful of starts or plate appearances, and that remains true no matter the date. Given time, all players perform at their established levels, and that's what we're seeing now from Sabathia and Rodriguez. Would that this lesson took hold, but even I'm not that na´ve.

  • At heart, the Angels are hackers. On a night when they would have been well-served to make Sabathia work hard-with the pitcher working on short rest, the Yankee bullpen coming off two games of heavy use, and Yankee manager Joe Girardi prone to making mistakes-the Angels reverted to form, swinging at 16 of Sabathia's first 38 pitches in the first four innings. Take Bobby Abreu out of the mix, and they swung at half his offerings in that span, averaging 2.6 pitches per plate appearance. It was exactly the wrong approach against the wrong pitcher on the wrong night, and was one of two main reasons-the other being Scott Kazmir-that they lost.

  • Smallball is dumb. A day after a baseball game was won by a team that crushed a bunch of extra-base hits, the first batter of the game got himself picked off after a single. Later, Brett Gardner got caught stealing in front of a walk and a home run. Both of these teams can hit for power, so it's amusing watching them try to abide by the idea that you win games in October by risking outs for bases. You don't.

  • Humans are no longer the best technology for the practice we know as "umpiring." I never, ever want to hear about what's in an umpire's heart. Baseball games should be determined by what the players do, not how those actions are interpreted by the people around them. An October that has been defined by its unimaginably bad umpiring crossed into the ludicrous last night, as Tim McClelland made two calls that, had they been made in your local softball league, would have resulted in a beatdown. On the first, he ruled that Nick Swisher left third base early when tagging up, a call that was both flat-out wrong as well as one that he could not possibly have made based on where he was standing when Torii Hunter caught the ball. He could not have seen both Hunter's glove and Swisher's foot simultaneously. He made the call up, and-please don't think me rash-he should not be allowed to umpire another game this season for that. He made the call up.

    Minutes later, McClelland made an inexplicable decision, calling Robinson Cano "safe" after Mike Napoli tagged him while Cano was standing a foot away from third base. Cano made a bizarre choice himself, appearing to surrender third base so that Jorge Posada could reoccupy it, which is the kind of thing the slow eight-year-old does in tee ball. Napoli tagged both runners while neither was on a base, but McClelland called Cano safe. Perhaps he knew Cano was safe in his small intestine.

    Second-base umpire Tim Scott joined in the fun, too, missing an out at second base-Swisher being picked off-that preceded McClelland's call on the appeal play. The sequence, from that call through the Cano play, reduced MLB to WWE for one disgusting half-hour. We have to take the game away from the technology that cannot hack it-the humans-and put it in the hands of that which can-video. What we're seeing this October is not some kind of anomaly; it is a concentrated form of the incompetent umpiring that plagues MLB every single day. It's time to put an end to it, and if this October hasn't proven that, I can only imagine what championship-changing event it would take to do so.

Lastly, let me say this. I don't need radical changes to the postseason schedule. I'm OK with starting the series on fixed dates. But could we please, for the love of all that is holy, get rid of the stupid offday between Games Four and Five of the LCSs that serves no purpose but to make the networks happy? Is there anyone not in upper management at Fox or TBS that thinks this is a good idea? It's "Spiderman-on-the-bases" level silliness.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

87 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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jdseal

This is the first year in the last 35 that I have not followed the MLB post-season, and that with a baseball-mad 10 year old living in my household. And a surprising amount of that is due to all the extra off days. The post season has lost its continuity and I just can't bring myself to get maintain my interest.

Oct 21, 2009 09:14 AM
rating: 3
 
Brian Kopec

Wake me up when/if we get to a game 7.

Oct 21, 2009 09:34 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

Everything he said. Bravo, Joe, Bravo.

Oct 21, 2009 09:20 AM
rating: 0
 
thecoolerking
(845)

Great stuff about strategy and umpiring, Joe, although I couldn't disagree with you more about the scheduling. The off-day between games 4 and 5 is a great idea. It allows teams to rest up their top tier relievers and possibly start their number one starter three times in a 7 game series. Frankly, I (and I think most fans) would prefer to see the stars fight it out, rather than the 11th man-in-the bullpen wars of attrition that postseason games on consecutive days (not to mention extra innings) can lead to. Also, unless you watch (and write about) baseball for a living, its pretty damn hard to fit two full playoff games into a weeknight. staggering the series with an extra off day allows fans to see more of the games, which is always a good thing.

Oct 21, 2009 09:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Brian Kopec

I'm not buying the argument about giving the top starters extra rest. Why should the post-season be decided by which teams have the best 2 starting pitchers? If that is what you want, then why not cut every series down to 5 games and put enough off-days in there to allow the #1 pitcher to go in games 1, 3, and 5?

Oct 21, 2009 09:33 AM
rating: 7
 
thecoolerking
(845)

Well, that's taking the argument to the point of absurdity. If I had to rank my reasons for preferring the extra off-day, I'd put them as follows:
1. Fewer double headers means its easier to catch all the games
2. Better rested bullpens
3. Starting your #1 three times.
A 5 game series? The whole idea is to see more baseball, not less. And a 7 game series is slightly less of a crapshoot than a 5 game series.

Oct 21, 2009 09:42 AM
rating: 0
 
thecoolerking
(845)

Brian, you definitely have a point that the natural flow of baseball can be interrupted by too many off days. But I think that concern needs to be balanced with making the broadcast schedule as convenient as possible. 7 games over 10 days is definitely the outer limit with regard to continuity, but it does provide enough off days to keep everyone rested, players as well as fans, and it means rainouts are less of an issue.

Oct 21, 2009 10:06 AM
rating: -2
 
Nowhereman

I'm throwing in my hat with those who think extra off-days are a bad idea. I don't want to see the stars slug it out--I want to see the whole team slug it out, just like in the regular season. Too many off days allow you to use Mariano Rivera every day, or use a starting pitcher three times in one series (Curt Schilling, for example), and the postseason games don't at all resemble the regular season games.

Oct 21, 2009 10:49 AM
rating: 6
 
TADontAsk

Thanks, I felt like I am the only one who enjoys it when a mediocre starter steps up with a huge playoff performance. Like Jeff Weaver or Miguel Batista. Or when the last guy on the bench comes through with the game-winning hit? One of the things I love about this game is when the "little guy" comes through in a big moment. It's a team game, and I enjoy when everyone has a chance to contribute, even if it's only a little bit.

Oct 21, 2009 10:55 AM
rating: 6
 
prs130

agree with nowhereman... extra days allow for MORE pitching changes, not fewer, because everyone is always fresh. I like the idea of wearing down an opposing bullpen early in a series and reaping the profits in the later games. (For the same reason, I also advocate 5-game series during the regular season. Plus, every team gets to see every starter.)

Oct 21, 2009 11:37 AM
rating: 4
 
bldxyz123

True true true and true.

Oct 21, 2009 09:30 AM
rating: -1
 
royalsnightly

Local radio here in DC on Arod: 1) we get the he's-more-relaxed-credit-Tex story and 2) if he has a bad WS, nothing matters.

Oct 21, 2009 09:34 AM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Fox has to get their goddamned shows in. I say if they're that concerned with that and not baseball, screw them and let a network that cares get the games.

Oct 21, 2009 09:42 AM
rating: 3
 
Bob

Let PBS cover the World Series, commercial free. Absurd? This is how many countries use their public tv stations when major sporting events take place.

Oct 21, 2009 09:46 AM
rating: 4
 
John from Bel Air

Yeah I'm sure the Public would be willing to pay billions to MLB for the privledge to watch the WS on PBS at a convient time. On the other hand, the United States does already own GM so you never know.

Oct 21, 2009 10:00 AM
rating: 1
 
serviceoutrage

The US Govt grants the MLB a pretty sweet monopoly exemption. I think that would be the main bargaining tool in driving down that "billions" price.

Oct 21, 2009 10:14 AM
rating: 1
 
John from Bel Air

So our gov't is only going to pay a few "measly millions" so everybody can watch baseball on PBS without commercials? If any gov't offocial ever brought the idea up, cable news would have a field day and that person's new name would be mud. It's not going to happen AND its a waste of money.

Oct 21, 2009 10:39 AM
rating: -1
 
Bob

Maybe, but for some reason politicians who use taxpayer money to build stadiums that are far less accessible than public television keep getting re-elected. The government spends money to support artists, the exhibition of art, music, musical performance, academic work, and all sorts of other things that enrich public life. The public ownership of sports venues (and sports franchises) is not unheard of in the United States, much less the world. The only thing standing in the way of public broadcasting of sports is the lack of popular political pressure. Granted, there might be more important things to use our political power toward, and given today's political climate, it might be next to impossible, but in theory, the World Series on PBS is not such a bad idea.

Oct 21, 2009 12:20 PM
rating: 4
 
John from Bel Air

One of the major reasons it is a bad idea is the loss of funds MLB currently receives from its deal with FOX and TBS.

Oct 21, 2009 12:31 PM
rating: -2
 
Bob

Call me cynical, but I refuse to feel sorry for a multi-billion dollar industry (one that rests, in part, on the backs of sweatshop labor) when it loses funds.

Oct 21, 2009 12:40 PM
rating: -1
 
John from Bel Air

Isn't a major part of the revenue sharing money pool derived from the TV contracts?

Oct 21, 2009 13:33 PM
rating: 0
 
awayish
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um, no

Oct 21, 2009 10:05 AM
rating: -5
 
awayish

i don't think any network "cares"

Oct 21, 2009 10:05 AM
rating: 11
 
Richie
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I believe that if not for the money put into the game by the casual fan, this web site and business would not exist anywhere near as it is. It plays off of baseball's prosperity. MLB has decided that slowing the game down more than it is will drive away many casual fans, and erode that prosperity. I've certainly seen nothing in this endless line of discussion to suggest to me that MLB has that wrong and you guys got it right.

If you want to usefully contribute to a relevant discussion, think about how to do replay swiftly. If you instead want to pontificate self-righteously, well, keep up the good work.

Oct 21, 2009 09:48 AM
rating: -15
 
Cardinals645

Slowing the game down wouldn't hurt as much as the idea that a game's results are in the hands of the umpires rather than the players.

Oct 21, 2009 11:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Bob

Correct me if I'm wrong BP writers, but this website does not at all directly benefit from MLB's prosperity (in other words, you don't get any royalty/licensing fees from MLB, right?). It does, however, benefit from its popularity. But I seriously doubt many "casual fans" are BP subscribers. For better or worse, most of us will watch the game regardless of how fast or slow it is.

Oct 21, 2009 12:24 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

OK.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1161272/index.htm

Oct 21, 2009 15:06 PM
 
John from Bel Air

While I agree that the empiring in the series has been absoulutley pitful, I also wonder what could replace the quick umpiring calls and without lenghtening the games. Maybe something like what the NFL has with the opposing managers having a limited number of challenges during the regular season with most/all plays being reviewed in the postseason? I just don't want to further extend the already marathon affairs that are MLB games today.

Oct 21, 2009 09:56 AM
rating: 1
 
Eugene

thecoolerking already mentioned this, but Dave has an explanation of how a replay ump might work. I definitely support this idea over complicated challenge rules. The link is http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/alcs-coverage-the-umps

Oct 21, 2009 10:47 AM
rating: 3
 
Screamingliner

There are other places you can cut time from the game. Limit player visits to the mound (this became absurd in G2 of the ALCS), make pitching changes quicker (five in the 8th of G2 of the NLCS)or make batters stay in the box with no one on, for starters. I'm perfectly happy to sit through a delay that involves a close play if the result is the right call.

Oct 21, 2009 11:38 AM
rating: 2
 
Meatpacker
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This isn't exactly on topic, but ....

Here's another way to shorten the length of games. Change the rules so that a pitcher has to face at least TWO batters (rather than one batter) before he can be removed from the game. I would include obvious exceptions such as injury situations, or where the pitcher faces only one batter but records the third out of an inning (so he could still be pinch-hit for if his spot in the batting order comes up in the next half inning)

It would greatly reduce all of these late inning pitching changes that add to the length of games for no apparent good reason. It would force teams to actually try to develop pitchers who can actually be effective against both lefthanded and righthanded batters.

Oct 21, 2009 16:00 PM
rating: -5
 
Patrick

There is a good reason for those pitching changes: trying to win the game. I'm fine with cutting down on visits to the mound or batters calling time, but putting somewhat arbitrary restrictions on bullpen usage removes some of the strategy from the game. As it is, the average MLB game is shorter than the average NFL game, so why do we only hear about baseball being too long?

Oct 22, 2009 09:23 AM
rating: 3
 
J Scott
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I get a kick out of Sheehan when he goes into his "How many times do I have to express the same damn opinion before it SETTLES an issue?" mode.

To a less sympathetic reader this is also known as the "Pompous Windbag" mode.

Oct 21, 2009 10:00 AM
rating: -17
 
JParks

Pompous windbag is a bit strong but as I wrote yesterday the constant kvetching about the umpiring is getting really old.

I especially like his line "An October that has been defined by its unimaginably bad umpiring" Really? How many of the series has the umpiring decided? How many games? If I talked to twenty people in any of the ballparks how many would share that opinion?


Oct 21, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 2
 
NYYanks826

So you're saying you have no issues with the umpiring this season? None at all?

It's not a matter of the umpiring DECIDING the games, it's a matter of the umpiring being as bad it has been to begin with!

In terms of the bad umping deciding games, just flash back to game 2 of the Twins/Yankees series, where Cuzzi made the blown call that kept Mauer from doubling, and more than likely cost the Twins at least a run.

Oct 21, 2009 10:38 AM
rating: 2
 
JParks

Yanks, I agree the umpiring has been brutal - lots of highly visible blown calls. And we have been fortunate that none have really decided a game or heaven forbid a series.

But with that being said, it gets grating to read about in every single piece about either series. It really hasn't detracted from my enjoyment of the series - but YMMV.

Oct 21, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: 2
 
thecoolerking
(845)

What about one umpire whose sole job it is to watch the entire game on monitors, and who would be the only one allowed to overturn calls. This would mean there would be no lengthy pause for review, since he's already be "in the booth". It would also mean you'd have one umpire who is about as popular as an internal affairs cop among regular cops, and perhaps less willing to show up his peers.

Oct 21, 2009 10:01 AM
rating: 10
 
John from Bel Air

I like that idea

Oct 21, 2009 10:35 AM
rating: -1
 
prs130

totally agree... I've long felt that Al Michaels should have a striped shirt and a walkie-talkie.

Oct 21, 2009 11:43 AM
rating: -1
 
tweicheld

Good article, and I definitely agree about the day's break between Games 4 and 5. It's all about TV, of course. And I have to think TV is the reason for the length of these games. Both NLCS Games 1 and 4 were 4 hours or close to it - for 9 inning games!! Do they add 2-3 minutes to the between-innings time in the playoffs?
On to the umpiring. Monday night's NLCS game had the worst balls and strikes calling I've ever seen, regular or postseason. Finally, I did't see the ALCS game last night, but it sounds like McClelland went with the old "even up" call you see so much in hockey.

Oct 21, 2009 10:04 AM
rating: 0
 
Mountainhawk

It's not about Fox not getting the shows in, it's about MLB not having to put LCS games on at 1pm on the West Coast or 10pm on the East Coast any more than is necessary.

Oct 21, 2009 10:09 AM
rating: 1
 
Rob_in_CT

The offday not only sucks for a fan who wants to see some baseball, it also skews the series in favor of top-heavy pitching staffs. This year, that helps the Yanks, as they got to pitch CC in games 1, 4 and, if necessary, 7. They get to avoid using their 4th starter, who is a big step down whether it's Joba or Gaudin. If the Yanks had a deep front four (as they did during their dynasty years) but faced teams with only 2 or 3 really good starters, the advantage would be the other way. It effectively punishes teams with balance and depth in favor of stars 'n scrubs pitching staffs. I'm not sure I like that.

Plus, November baseball is a bad idea in NY, Boston, Chicago, etc.

Oct 21, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 5
 
osodani

But before the advent of the 5-man rotation, the best pitchers routinely pitched Games 1,4,7.

Oct 22, 2009 06:36 AM
rating: 0
 
sroney

McClelland said without instant replay, no one would have known he missed the calls. Perhaps we couldn't have PROVED it, but I could tell Cano was off the base from my seat in the upper deck.

Once the fans in terrace level saw the replay on the TVs they have down there, they started loudly booing, then the crowd started chanting "Bullshit" for quite a while. Did Fox let that through on the air?

Oct 21, 2009 10:27 AM
rating: -1
 
Nathan J. Miller

"McClelland said without instant replay, no one would have known he missed the calls"

But that's exactly the point. If the advent of instant reply has allowed fans to see a call was blown but the umpire can't see it, that means that umpiring hasn't kept pace. Once, long ago, it was the umpires in the best position to make the call and be the arbiter. Fans in the stands couldn't see as well and players had competing interests. But now, that has changed. The fan at home CAN see. It seems folly to cling to an obviously inferior method.

Umpires are still important and necessary; I just wish they'd put more emphasis on making the correct calls vs. clinging to anachronisms. Besides, it's much harder as a fan to complain about the umps when they can support their calls with visual evidence!

Oct 21, 2009 13:48 PM
rating: 2
 
Paul Mahler

Re McLellan's call on Swisher's tag at third, in basketball they have a name for that - "make up".

Oct 21, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: 1
 
Tynan

That play came before the more egregious error involving Posada, Cano, and Napoli...

Oct 21, 2009 10:31 AM
rating: -1
 
BYODER

Yes - But it was right after the missed call on the pickoff at second base

Oct 21, 2009 10:41 AM
rating: 2
 
Doofman

He meant that the make-up was for the blown call on Swisher at second, not the later play. I don't have a problem with makeup calls in the NBA, since each team gets so many possessions that having a phantom foul or turnover call here and there just isn't going to make that much difference.

Each baseball team only gets 27 (regulation) outs. Blowing even one of them can have a HUGE impact, whether it's player or umpiring error, the result is the same.

Oct 21, 2009 10:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Jacques
BP staff

If McClelland wanted to "make up" for the second base ump's mistake, as the crew chief he should have gathered umps together and overruled the call, not waited for the chance to even the scales by making an equally lousy call at third.

Am I delusional, or was there a brief moment in time--maybe between the Richie Phillips Massacre and the 2004 World Series--where it looked like umpiring was improving? I remember umps, of their own volition, conferencing on difficult calls and crews being more willing to rectify mistakes, even if it meant "showing someone up."

Oct 21, 2009 12:29 PM
 
RayDiPerna

You're exactly right, Derek; that's the way I remember it. For a few years following the Richie Phillips fiasco the umps would actively and willingly huddle to try to get calls correct. We've gotten away from that now.

More damning than McLelland's call is the fact that there were FIVE OTHER UMPIRES ON THE FIELD and he did not ask them for help NOR did any of them see fit to approach him and say, "No, no, I had a tag, I've got this one."

The game deserves better.

Oct 21, 2009 16:08 PM
rating: 1
 
HipolitoPichardo

In an article so concerned with accuracy, shouldn't the umpire (Dale Scott, not Tim Scott) get the courtesy of having his name reported correctly? It's worth noting that, unlike umpires, the authors and editors on this site have time to review their decisions.

Oct 21, 2009 10:37 AM
rating: 5
 
jlefty

Well, that's kinda Joe's point. Umpires are human, and human's are imperfect. I don't think he's trying to personally offend the umpires, just note that better alternatives exist, and it's about time MLB starts using them.

Oct 21, 2009 10:45 AM
rating: -3
 
John from Bel Air

Joe Sheehan is not a computer, he is falliable. Even with that being said any mistakes on this site in an age with such technology is an atrocity. I think we should institute an instant review system at BP so that if any reader spots a possible fallacy in any article they can fix it right away. Hopefully this will prevent the horror of inaccurate references or grammatical slights.

Oct 21, 2009 10:46 AM
rating: -2
 
TaylorSanders

You're being facetious right? You misspelled fallible. On purpose maybe?

Oct 21, 2009 11:50 AM
rating: 3
 
John from Bel Air

Yes on both counts

Oct 21, 2009 12:26 PM
rating: -1
 
jlefty

Playing baseball well in the postseason is not a skill above and beyond playing baseball well.

Idk.. I'm not saying there is a huge, huge difference like the msm will have you believe, but players are under quite a lot of pressure during the post season and they frequently admit, they feel the pressure a lot more during october than the regular season.

I'm not saying look at one bad series and infer "that guy will always choke under pressure", but players are human, and pressure situations affect all humans differently. I would certainly say playing baseball well in the postseason is a skill above being a good ball player, in that you have to deal with a lot more stress just to be able to perform at your normal talent level.

Think about a job interview. Is it not a skill to perform as well in a job interview as any other social situation (where there is significantly less pressure)?

Not to bring out the "nerd in your mother's basement" jokes, but I don't see how a non-player could make that assertion, and it just seems overly contrarian.

Oct 21, 2009 10:41 AM
rating: 1
 
formersd

I do believe some people don't perform well under pressure. However, I believe elite professional athletes, which includes everyone playing professional baseball at the major league level, have been screened for that ability to perform under pressure long before they reach post-season play. Just to get the big leagues, the amount of times a player has hard to perform under pressure is large enough and important enough that those who can't handle that pressure have been weeded out.

Oct 21, 2009 11:51 AM
rating: 4
 
lunatic96
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How do you explain A-Rod doing really well in this postseason compared to the previous couple of years?

Oct 21, 2009 20:39 PM
rating: -6
 
Richard Bergstrom

Even great players have slumps. They're also facing better pitching in the playoffs than in an average regular season game. There was an essay on this in BP's Beyond the Numbers book.

Oct 21, 2009 22:53 PM
rating: 0
 
Ira

Actually, I will go farther than that. I think your analogy is flawed. I think that job interviews in particular cannot be so stressful as to weed out otherwise qualified candidates. Think of it this way: you have two candidates for a position, one fully qualified, one less so. The fully qualified one goes in and gives a terrible interview, stuttering, feeling nervous, etc. The less qualified candidate gives a very smooth, polished interview. Which one do you hire? Well, if the job doesn't require skills which match those involved in the interview process, you hire the one who is better qualified, even if he has a horrible interview. (or if nothing else, you interview him again).

Oct 22, 2009 13:31 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Actually, what employers might do is pass on both candidates and find a third who is qualified _and_ has a successful interview. There are very few jobs which require such a unique skill set that there's only one fully qualified candidate.

Oct 25, 2009 02:22 AM
rating: 0
 
George

When a something other than the participants of a sport decide the outcome, it demeans the very meaning of sport. Doesn't matter how it's fixed or how often it's needed, there is no outcome worse for the game than a bad call. The fact that you can have a guy in the booth fix things in roughly 15 seconds makes MLB's backwardness all the more appalling.

Oct 21, 2009 11:22 AM
rating: 1
 
NL2003

Let me throw out an idea regarding extra down time due to instant replays to make correct calls:

What if during an instant replay the network goes to a commercial (or 2), then when there is an actual commercial break it is 1 (or 2) commercials fewer?

I have to think that the players do not need as much time to switch sides as the commercial breaks give them.

Oct 21, 2009 11:55 AM
rating: 0
 
keeperleaguegm

Wow...there are no shortage of opinions on these matters.

(And here are mine...)

1.) Honestly the off days allow fans the ability to enjoy the games after they get home from work on East Coast; Monday's Game Two at 4pm EST sucked for those who work a regular gig and would like to watch their team play. In tonight's case, Dodgers/Phillies fans can watch the game in prime time (again...East coast bias), as can Yanks/Angels fans tomorrow. It's still a million times better than the NBA BTW.

2.) I've never in 30 years of watching baseball seen worse officiating. I believe in earnest that the Swisher tag call was a makeup for an obvious blown call at 2nd base, however the Cano/Posada debacle was a joke. As a Yankees fan I don't know which was worse, the call or Cano's stupidity.

Oct 21, 2009 12:01 PM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)
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Bring on the robots.

There is no reason to have humans calling balls and strikes anymore. None. Let's stop.

We can probably also get robots to call out and safe at the bases, too, using technology very similar to what's been used in Olympic fencing for the past dozen years. With MLB's money behind it, I'm sure they could improve it and make it wireless pertty quickly.

Oct 21, 2009 12:48 PM
rating: -4
 
Bob

Joe - another great, provocative column. You manage to say the things that so many of us are thinking and you say them with such passion! Well done.

I'm with you on some sort of robot/computer/instant replay in baseball but I've yet to see a three-dimensional computer strike-zone. The ones on tv, at least, are two-dimensional. But the strike zone is three-dimensional. A pitch can be out of the strike zone when it first crosses the front of the plate but then be in the strike zone when it crosses the back end. I'm not saying umpires would necessarily be better than computers at understanding the three-dimensionality of strike zones, but as far as I know, they're the only ones who do. Also, strike zones change, not just from batter to batter, but within and between pitches as hitters crouch down, stand up, or otherwise move about during their at-bats. Again, I'm not saying it's impossible to develop a computer model to capture this dynamism, but as of now, the umpires have the uniquely best views in the game.

On the bases and base-lines, it's a different story.

Oct 21, 2009 13:02 PM
rating: -2
 
Mountainhawk

Strike zones do not change because the batter moves around in their at bat.

Oct 21, 2009 13:37 PM
rating: -1
 
Bob

if moving around means moving their torso and/or waste up and down, hitters' strike zones do change.

Oct 21, 2009 16:30 PM
rating: -1
 
Mountainhawk
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No, they do not. It is the position of the shoulders, belt, and knees in a natural hitting stance. If you go up there and crunch up into a ball, your strike zone could be over your head.

Oct 21, 2009 17:36 PM
rating: -6
 
eighteen

From Official Rules, Section 2.00:

"The Strike Zone shall be determined from the BATTER'S STANCE as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

The strike zone has nothing to do with a "natural hitting stance," but is determined by each individual hitter's particular stance (take a look at some Pete Rose video); and no, a strike zone could never be over a batter's head.

Oct 22, 2009 10:13 AM
rating: 1
 
Bogomil

Its only my eyes, but Chone Figgins sure looks like a guy whose skills always shrivel in the playoffs. Its not hard to believe some guys can relax and play to their norm, while others get tight and do worse. It happens in war.

But its unlikely you can identify those players by a small sample of post-season statistics. Teams should put pressure & moisture sensors in bats, maybe that'll provide verifiable results.

Oct 21, 2009 13:44 PM
rating: -2
 
HeavyHitter

I don't understand why Cano is getting all the negative attention. Posada's mental errors were far more egregious. On the play where Cano stopped short of third and was tagged, the Angels mad misplayed a rundown allowing Posada to take third. I repeat, Posada was safe at third. But then he stupidly left the bag. Had he stayed there, Cano could have tried to retreat to second. Of course, Posada should have already scored anyway. How you can fail to score on a double from second base is beyond me. I guess Posada was watching Hunter, who completely decoyed him, rather than the ball. Later in the game, Posada lost track of the outs and left his position (with Hunter on third)after a double play. Had A-Rod not hustled to cover home plate, that could have been an extremely embarrassing moment. Posada's head was just not in the game.
Conversely, Jeter, Teixeira (despite his lack of hitting) and A-Rod have played like consummate professionals. I feel privileged to witness their greatness.

Oct 21, 2009 14:00 PM
rating: 0
 
duck4169

Joe, you're absolutely right about McClellan being taken off the field right now - on the second blown call he made absolutely no attempt to get into position to make the call. It wasn't exactly a bang-bang play - it could easily have been anticipated from the moment the ball was hit, and McClellan was out of position when the tags were made. Shameful and inexcusable - an embarrassment that cannot be overcome in any other way than by suspending McClellan immediately and indefinitely.

Oct 21, 2009 14:06 PM
rating: 0
 
David Coonce

Joe,

I mostly agree with you here, but can you clarify something?

The "slow 8-year-old" wasn't supposed to be a euphemism, the way a lot of people use "slow" for "retarded," was it?

You were writing about foot speed, right?

Because I seriously can't imagine you were writing the other thing.

Oct 21, 2009 14:41 PM
rating: -3
 
John Collins
(110)

Slow-footed wouldn't make any sense in the context. I took it as slow in the sense of "not very bright". Have we gotten to the point where it is beyond the pale even to describe someone as not very bright?

Oct 21, 2009 14:49 PM
rating: 4
 
Matthew
(455)
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No, but I have yet to see evidence regarding an immense, or even significant, intellectual difference between a "bright" and "not very bright" eight-year-old. It is a decision an eight-year-old would make. Period. There was no need for any potential derogatory qualifier.

Oct 22, 2009 09:30 AM
rating: -5
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I meant it as "not very bright" and didn't think about the word's use as a euphemism for the developmentally disabled, largely because I hadn't heard it in so long. I did *not* mean to refer to developmentally challenged kids.

Oct 21, 2009 15:15 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I used to be in the human umpire corner but I've grown tired of it all. My main argument against instant replay being expanded was that the system was still inexact, but if umpires are resorting to neighborhood play conventions, then I'll give the computers a shot. I also don't think they'd lengthen games because the five to ten plays a game that take an extra 30 seconds to review will be mitigated by the absence of 5 to 10 minute long arguments/ejections.

Oct 21, 2009 17:35 PM
rating: 0
 
marooner

Easy solution for replay; in the playoffs, eliminate the two foul line umps (Phil Cuzzi's missed call on Mauer's double proves they are useless) and put them in a booth watching the network feed, which usually provides replays from good angles fairly quickly. If both umps agree that a call was blown (put aside balls and strikes for a moment, for argument's sake), the call is reversed. Perhaps they could each have a red button that they press, or something. I think a standard akin to the NFL's, "indisputable visual evidence" seems reasonable. They would have to press their buttons prior to the next pitch; this would give an advantage to the defensive team, just as the offensive team has an advantage in football.

The only real complication would be on those plays (mostly fair balls called foul) which cause the defense to stop playing, or the offense to stop running the bases. I have no perfect solution for this, but would suggest the rule that if the ball passed the base on the fly, it's an automatic double, on the ground it's a fielder's choice, with the lead runner being called out.

This would correct the blatant errors, without increasing the game length by any noticeable margin.

Oct 21, 2009 17:44 PM
rating: 0
 
marooner

One more thing, on a slightly related topic. While the idea of the "human element" on things like fair/foul balls, or close plays seems silly to me, I'm not sure I feel that way about balls and strikes. Does a pitcher having stuff which fools the umpire into thinking a ball is a strike, or a catcher framing a pitch effectively, not feel like "part of the game" to anyone else? What about selling a phantom tag on a stolen base attempt?

I guess my question is, are the skills that allow a player to fool an umpire "part of the game?" Should they be?

Oct 21, 2009 17:52 PM
rating: 2
 
marooner

The second line should read "close plays at first"

Oct 21, 2009 17:53 PM
rating: 0
 
Ira

sorry, but every time a catcher puts his glove in such a position that when the pitcher throws the ball directly into the catchers glove and the ball never goes through the strikezone, but the umpire calls it a strike, I die a little inside.

Whats worse is that you'll see the catcher set up right on the outside corner, and the pitcher will hit the mitt and get a strike. The next pitch he'll set up another 3-4 inches outside and the pitcher will hit the mitt and get a strike. Then the NEXT pitch he'll set up 3-4 inches outside of that and if the pitcher hits the mitt, he gets a strike. Now you've got a hitter called out on a pitch in the opposing batters box and he's standing there going, "where's the fricken plate if that's a strike?"

And if the umpire dares to call a ball on a pitch which the catcher doesn't have to move for, the catcher starts to complain.

Oct 22, 2009 13:42 PM
rating: 0
 
Ray Whatley
(267)

Baseball has long been lagging behind the other major sports and some of their policies are still laughable in today's highly competitive and megabucks making sports world.

They're slow to get instant replay;

It is ridiculous that a player who gets suspended for fighting or throwing at a batter gets to keep playing under the guise of an appeal (if you're suspended, you should sit out right away--no appeal, no whining, just get lost for 2 or 3 days--this is not the American justice system here, it's players playing in a private club with private rules);

No viable solution to the vast gap between the haves and the have nots.

Oct 22, 2009 10:35 AM
rating: -3
 
Meurso

As bad, and wrong, as it was, I don't see anything at all "inexplicable" about McLelland calling Cano safe. From watching the replay it seems pretty clear that McLelland's view of Cano at the time of the tag was at least partially if not completely obscured by Posada.

You can fault McLelland for being out of position, but he can't call what he can't see, and in combination with the fact that Cano stopping a foot short of the bag was rather improbable, I can absolutely see why he made that (incorrect) call.

Oct 22, 2009 12:39 PM
rating: 0
 
Patrick

Maybe. What I don't understand is why none of the other umpires saw it. Even more inexplicably, why didn't Napoli or Figgins argue until McLelland at least conferred with the rest of the crew? I'd be livid if I was Napoli.

Oct 22, 2009 15:49 PM
rating: 0
 
Dan

I agree w/ the "you can't call what you can't see" part, but actually, that's exactly what he did on the sac fly call!

He could not have seen Swisher leave early b/c a) he was 5 feet from Swisher and 200 feet from Hunter and they were at different angles from his perspective, and also b) he DIDN'T leave early! And yet he called it.

Two stunningly STUNNINGLY bad calls. I'm really glad that game wasn't close.

Oct 23, 2009 09:51 AM
rating: 0
 
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