Monday, May 23, 2016
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Plate umpire David Rackley left Sunday’s Dodgers-Padres game after getting hit in the groin by a foul bunt attempt by Joc Pederson.
Rackley immediately collapsed and was down for about five minutes and was tended to by a Padres trainer. He had to be helped to his feet. He left the field under his own power, and handed a ball to a kid on his way to the tunnel.
And then they played another 12 innings.
Saturday, May 07, 2016
Looking at PitchF/X data from Brooks Baseball, Farrell was both right and wrong. The 3-1 pitch was a strike. The 3-2 pitch, after which Ortiz had to be restrained from going after Kulpa, was low. It was not so low as to match Farrell’s assertion that Ortiz “needed a hockey stick” to reach it, but it should have been Ball 4.
It’s important to remember, though, that the 3-2 pitch came after the 3-1 pitch and a reaction by Ortiz that was so animated, Farrell needed to come out and get ejected on the slugger’s behalf. It is not fair or right that umpires expand the strike zone in such situations, but that has been the case for a century and a half of baseball. Ortiz, a major leaguer since 1997, has been around long enough to know that if you’re that demonstrative with a protest of a called strike, and somehow are lucky enough not to get thrown out of the game, if the next pitch is anywhere close — which it was — you’d better be swinging the bat. ...
The incident illuminates a point that everyone already is aware of, but that needs to be made, explicitly, as a reminder. Calling balls and strikes, in real time, at full speed, is an incredibly difficult job that human umpires do remarkably well, all things considered.
As Ortiz said, though, “They’re human, and they’re going to make mistakes.” The difference is that, in 2016, awareness of those mistakes is heightened. There is a strike zone tracker on television broadcasts, not to mention on Major League Baseball’s website and phone apps. There are Twitter accounts that not only track close ball-strike calls, but tell you, immediately, how often a pitch in a certain location is called the same way.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
In all our field work, three concepts were paramount: 1) Get into proper viewing position so you’re not “looking up the ass end of a play,” and then come to a stop before the play happens. You can’t see what’s going on when your angle is changing and your head is bouncing. 2) Take your time before making any ruling. Like Hickox said: Take a slow breath and get it straight in your head before you commit to a self-assured STRIKE ONE or SAFE or HE’S OUT. As the instructors reminded us: “It ain’t #### until you call it.” 3) Never, ever, ever convey doubt. Even if you’re wracked with doubt. Own the call, sell the call, and stand by the call.
There has to be an ultimate arbiter so the game can move along. That’s you. Until you’ve ruled, everything remains in dispute, and the proceedings come to a halt. It’s almost more important to issue a final ruling than it is for that ruling to comport with reality. (Unless you get to the big leagues and there’s video review, in which case your preliminary judgments will get overturned by an all-seeing eye. It sounds belittling.)
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
This would be an important amendment to Mike Fast’s “catcher target theory” of catcher framing. Fast suggested that umpires use the catcher’s glove location as a reference point, calling strikes more often when the catcher does not have to move his glove very far and calling balls when he does. No doubt there is truth to this, but by itself this theory is not consistent with the way the zone shifts by count. In my view, the amount of movement of the catcher’s glove is only part of the story—the pre-pitch location of the glove also matters. If true, then influencing umpires’ perception of how far inside the zone the catcher initially set his target may be an important element of catcher framing skill.
I can’t prove that umpires use catchers’ gloves as a signpost in this way, to help them evaluate the proximity of a pitch to the strike zone (though I invite other researchers to explore the issue). But if it were your job to judge whether a ball moving 95 mph had passed through an invisible box in the air—within one second, in front of 40,000 people—wouldn’t you take advantage of the only visible, relatively fixed marker in sight?
Regardless of how the shifting zone is achieved, umpires must face plenty of pressure to do it, without anyone even needing to explicitly acknowledge it. A young umpire who called a consistent neutral zone would find himself frequently criticized by hitters, and perhaps the league, for calling too many strikes in pitchers’ counts. The opposite would happen in hitters’ counts. Importantly, both sets of criticisms would be entirely correct, and backed by video evidence. The “changing size of the zone” is an abstraction, while calling pitches outside the zone as strikes is very concrete, with real consequences. To survive, any umpire would have to adopt the shifting zone.
Posted: March 01, 2016 at 11:06 AM | 0 comment(s)
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