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November 21, 2007 12:00 am

6-4-3: ESPN and MLB


Gary Huckabay

When the answer to "who's now?" becomes "not you."

The term "jump the shark" has become common parlance for an entire generation that wasn't even forced to watch Happy Days. Not that I'm that old, but a whole bunch of crap that would be relegated to the low 300s on DirecTV used to be on network television, and people watched it, primarily because there were only about five TV offerings available, even in big markets. But since we're condemned, as a species, to always view the past through sepia-toned or rose-colored lens, we tend to think that the dreck we used to consume is somehow more virtuous and wonderful than it really was.

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After digging through this data, you'll no longer wonder why they say hitting is the hardest thing to do in sports.

"In the last few feet before the plate, the ball reaches an angular velocity that exceeds the ability of the eye to track the ball. The best hitters can track the ball to within five or six feet of the plate."
--Ken Fuld, visual psychophysicist, quoted on Live Science.com

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March 15, 2002 12:00 am

6-4-3: In the Slot


Gary Huckabay

At the beginning of 2001, Sandy Alderson had the goal of improving the on-field performance of umpires around the league. There were several components to his plan, including, but not limited to, the elimination of umpires who had not performed adequately, increased training for current and developing umpires, and measurement of umpire performance on the field. The plan worked. It wasn't perfect; there were complaints about arbitrary game time and pitch count goals, but overall opinion seems to be that there was some improvement. Umpires appeared to hustle more, including a couple of embarrassing plays where the umpire, trying to determine whether or not a ball was a home run, actually gained ground on an outfielder trying to chase the ball down. Change of any sort is a difficult thing, so I hope there's continued progress, where possible, during this coming season.

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