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Ben and Sam question the conclusions of an article in The Atlantic about racial bias in baseball broadcasting, then talk about whether Brian McCann's best is behind him and whether his down year is the result of bad hitting hitting or bad luck.

Ben and Sam question the conclusions of an article in ​The Atlantic ​about racial bias in baseball broadcasting, then talk about whether Brian McCann's best is behind him and whether his down year is the result of bad hitting hitting or bad luck.

Effectively Wild Episode 30: "Is There Racial Bias in Baseball Broadcasting?/What to Make of Brian McCann"

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October 2, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Toolbox: The Umpires, Part I

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Derek Jacques

BP's data on umpire performance have growing importance as the quality of umpiring becomes more of an issue.

Last night's one-game playoff between the Padres and Rockies was an exciting end to the regular season, made a bit more exciting by shoddy play-calling from the umps. With technology giving us detailed pitch location data, and additional cameras and high-definition television giving us a better view and more angles than ever before (except on TBS, where last night's game was presented with the same level of intensity and production values as a mid-May tilt between the Braves and Pirates), today's umpires work the playoffs under scrutiny bordering on the microscopic. In the view of some commentators, the question isn't if but when the umpires are going to have more embarrassing moments this month, and how disastrous they'll be when they happen.

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Parsing the data can help us address questions of bias among umpires in calling balls and strikes.

Bias in sports officiating isn't a topic to be taken lightly, and one need only recall the recent furor over a New York Times article written by Alan Schwarz, where he reported a study on racial bias in the officiating of NBA Games. But as discussed in this space a month ago, PITCHf/x data does give us a limited window into asking questions about how players are treated by umpires; today, we'll continue trekking through this new world and see what we can learn about pitchers, hitters, and the umpires who like them, like Ron Luciano with Rod Carew.

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