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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fivethirtyeight: Four Strikes And You’re Out

Hey, its Enrico Palazzo!

Consider a forgotten game in April 2010 between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were up a run with two outs in the eighth. Their set-up man, Matt Thornton, was on the mound, protecting a lead with a runner on first and the right-handed Jhonny Peralta at bat. Ahead in the count with one ball and two strikes, Thornton froze Peralta with a slider on the outside half of the plate, a couple inches below the belt. For a pitch like that, the umpire, Bruce Dreckman, would normally call a strike — 80 percent of the time, the data shows. But in two-strike counts like Peralta’s, he calls a strike less than half the time.

Sure enough, that night Dreckman called a ball. Two pitches later, Peralta lashed a double to right, scoring the runner and tying the game. Neither team scored again until the 11th, when Cleveland scored twice to win the game. Had Peralta struck out to end the top of the eighth, Chicago almost certainly would have won.1

This one call illustrates a statistical regularity: Umpires are biased. About once a game, an at-bat ends in something other than a strikeout even when a third strike should have been called. Umpires want to make the right call, but they also don’t want to make the wrong call at the wrong time. Ironically, this prompts them to make bad calls more often.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:47 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: strike zone, umpire

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   1. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4778567)
I have always thought that baseball umpires as a group were terrible. They make so many bad calls and then refuse to consult with other umpires about them, are so obviously biased, and some of them are just flat incompetent and unworthy of the position. I have watched them cost teams World Series victories, playoff victories, and ordinary victories with bad calls. I have watched them cost pitchers perfect games, no-hitters and strikeouts with bad calls. I have watched them cost batters home runs, hits and walks with bad calls. I have watched them cost fielders outs with bad calls.

I can't wait until the day when it all goes digital/mechanical and we can get those bungling clowns off the field.
   2. Captain Supporter Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4778591)
They are not 'bungling clowns', but it is a job that: 1) has now come under intense scrutiny because of multiple cameras, hd, and the like; and 2) can be mostly replaced with technology which can do the job far better.

The new instant replay system now provides better calls on most of the plays at the bases. But ball/strike calls are really the biggest problem, and the time has come to address them. It would be great to have the game played with a consistent and accurate strike zone which was called properly (e.g., at the letters not the waist, at the corners, not two or three inches off the plate on either side). That would have the side benefit of allowing baseball management to decide what the strike zone is, not each individual umpire making his own rules.

For those who disagree, I have two words for you: Eric Gregg.
   3. Chris Needham Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4778597)
Case. Closed.

Might as well just lock the thread now!
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4778612)
Is it alright if I just don't care about blown calls? To me, this is the greatest much ado about nothing in sports.

I'd much, much, much rather see umpires selected based on their ability to force the pace of the game.

Get the average game down to 2:30, and you can call any damn strikezone you like.
   5. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4778614)
What if it took calling the Eric Gregg 1997 NL playoffs strike zone to get the game time down to 2:30? Would that still be okay?
   6. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4778626)
The reason we remember the Gregg game was that it was genuinely an outlier. Yes, umpires don't call the precise book zone. Collectively, I seriously doubt they ever have. But the ridiculousness of his zone that afternoon really stood out.

It's possible the robot zone would make for an improved baseball product, but since we've never had that, we're just guessing. I've always thought adapting to the day's zone was a part of baseball for both pitchers and catchers, rewarding the attentive and punishing the lazy. I like that. Moreover, I prefer fewer changes between the lower levels of the sport and the big league level, and this would be a rather monumental one.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4778632)
What if it took calling the Eric Gregg 1997 NL playoffs strike zone to get the game time down to 2:30? Would that still be okay?


If this actually happened (a huge and wildly inconsistent strike zone) it would really hurt hitters like Votto and Giambi, the guys that know the strikezone extraordinarily well and only swing at pitches they can crush. But who would it reward? Probably the guys with great plate coverage and contact skills. Vlad Guerrero, of course, but how about Placido Polanco?
   8. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4778635)
Moreover, I prefer fewer changes between the lower levels of the sport and the big league level, and this would be a rather monumental one.


Although it would bring the game closer to wiffle ball, stick ball, and any other form that uses inanimate objects as strikezones. I love the objectivity of a folding chair in wiffle ball. So what if my curve went behind your head? Everyone saw it hit the chair.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4778639)
What if it took calling the Eric Gregg 1997 NL playoffs strike zone to get the game time down to 2:30? Would that still be okay?

I can't see how that would be necessary.

But, I'm 100% on board with the old knees to shoulders strike zone. Bring back to bubble chest protector and get the game moving.

If this actually happened (a huge and wildly inconsistent strike zone) it would really hurt hitters like Votto and Giambi, the guys that know the strikezone extraordinarily well and only swing at pitches they can crush. But who would it reward? Probably the guys with great plate coverage and contact skills. Vlad Guerrero, of course, but how about Placido Polanco?

Larger need not mean more inconsistent.

If the strikezone were simply larger, why couldn't guys with a great eye adapt?
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4778641)
Although it would bring the game closer to wiffle ball, stick ball, and any other form that uses inanimate objects as strikezones.


It would indeed. We had a box painted on our elementary school wall for the entire time I lived there for stickballing purposes, getting a touch-up every few years as necessary.

   11. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4778645)
If the strikezone were simply larger, why couldn't guys with a great eye adapt?

Sure they could, but you eliminated half of my hypothetical. I was imagining a baseball world where the strike zone was so inconsistent that people didn't bother complaining about terrible calls. It would be like accusing a blackjack dealer of being unfair. Luck of the draw, man.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4778650)
Maybe in the future they'll be able to project a hologram strikezone that changed color when the ball passed through it. That would be cool.
   13. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4778657)
I'm with snapper and SoSH. I think the impact of robot umps on the strike zone would be a massive change to the fundamental way baseball is played and we just don't have any clue if that would be good or bad.


If this actually happened (a huge and wildly inconsistent strike zone)


As I recall Gregg's strike zone was not at all inconsistent; everything in the 305 area code was a strike. I know the narrative has always been that Livan benefited more than the Braves pitcher that day but my recollection is that he was calling the ridiculous zone both ways but that Livan used it better (perhaps unintentionally).
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4778661)
Sure they could, but you eliminated half of my hypothetical. I was imagining a baseball world where the strike zone was so inconsistent that people didn't bother complaining about terrible calls. It would be like accusing a blackjack dealer of being unfair. Luck of the draw, man.

OK, but I just can't see that ever happening. You'd almost need the umpires to try and be inconsistent.

Maybe in the future they'll be able to project a hologram strikezone that changed color when the ball passed through it. That would be cool.

It would indeed.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4778668)
I'd love to watch some highlights from that Livan/Gregg game.
   16. ReggieThomasLives Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:39 PM (#4778678)
They are not 'bungling clowns', but it is a job that: 1) has now come under intense scrutiny because of multiple cameras, hd, and the like; and 2) can be mostly replaced with technology which can do the job far better.


This is obviously right, but you also have to add the effect the umpires union has had in limiting MLB control and oversight of their actions. I'm not blaming the union per se, it's really the MLBs fault. It's their sport and they always should have maintained rights to demote/remove/fire bad umpires at their sole discretion to ensure they continued to control the quality of the umpiring and the games. The MLB could have maintained that authority with a reasonable offer of pay increases and termination benefits, but the MLB is cheap.
   17. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4778684)
[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW8YkRiRUBw

Also, wasn't this article linked to here a few months ago?
   18. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4778688)
As I recall Gregg's strike zone was not at all inconsistent; everything in the 305 area code was a strike. I know the narrative has always been that Livan benefited more than the Braves pitcher that day but my recollection is that he was calling the ridiculous zone both ways but that Livan used it better (perhaps unintentionally).


I recall driving in a car all day after a long college football trip, listening the game on the radio , so frustrated that I couldn't see these calls with my own eyes, can't waiting to see the highlights. It was definitely the talk of the game and post-game.
   19. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 25, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4778698)
That last strike by Gregg is probably the craziest one I've ever seen called. It would have struck a right-handed batter in the knees if he was standing in the batters box.
   20. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4778701)
Surprised at how many of those Ks were swinging. The Braves hitters were probably adjusting to the wacko strikezone, but still, the dude was dealing.

That last strike by Gregg is probably the craziest one I've ever seen called.

Love the smile on Charles Johnson's face after that call.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4778714)
That last strike by Gregg is probably the craziest one I've ever seen called. It would have struck a right-handed batter in the knees if he was standing in the batters box.

The last strike in the Larson perfect game is pretty good, IIRC.
   22. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 25, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4778719)
I still maintain that they are bungling clowns.
   23. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4778757)
can be mostly replaced with technology which can do the job far better.


The pitch tracking technology isn't as accurate as you'd think. It's pretty good, but it's not perfect.

It it *was* perfect, I'd at most want the technology to be used in a challenge system. You get a certain number of pitch challenges a game, if the pitch is challenged the umpire refers to the tracker to get the instant call. Like tennis.
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4778763)
I still maintain that they are bungling clowns.

They are the best in the history of the world at their jobs, though. Quite high standards you have.
   25. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4778764)
   26. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4778778)
I thought this was going to be a proposal to deal with the increasing number of strikeouts.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4778781)
It it *was* perfect, I'd at most want the technology to be used in a challenge system. You get a certain number of pitch challenges a game, if the pitch is challenged the umpire refers to the tracker to get the instant call. Like tennis.


Oh, that sounds awful to me. I hate challenges.
   28. bfan Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4778784)
The Eric Greeg stories made me consider this. Maybe this umpire's correct strike zone is the 2-strike, strike zone, and that 30+% difference is because he wants to move the game along; and he does not like a lot of walks, and thus early in the count, he is counting pitches on the shadow of the black. Once there are 2 strikes, he cannot bring himself to ring up a hitter on what he knows to be a ball.

Thus, while this auther correctly points out a disparity that exists (and the disparity should not exist), his conclusion, and what happens in his universe of a correctly called strike zone, is simply in error.
   29. haggard Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:35 PM (#4778789)
I've always thought adapting to the day's zone was a part of baseball for both pitchers and catchers, rewarding the attentive and punishing the lazy. I like that.

The whole point of the article is that there isn't a consistent strike zone throughout the game.
   30. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4778801)
Oh, that sounds awful to me. I hate challenges.

Then stop calling for pitch tracking software to call all balls and strikes, because the technology isn't there yet.
   31. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4778803)
The last strike in the Larson perfect game is pretty good, IIRC.

Was it a bad call on the location, or on the "checked swing"?
I used to think it was a terrible call, but then somebody posted something here that made me think it wasn't, but I can't remember details anymore.
On the one famous clip though: does not appear to be a strike.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4778813)
Was it a bad call on the location, or on the "checked swing"?

I'm not sure why he called the strike, but it doesn't look like it's in the zone, and it doesn't look like the batter swung.

In any case, with two strikes and 2 outs in the 9th of a World Series perfect game, you better swing at anything that doesn't bounce. If I'm the ump I'm calling that strike all day.
   33. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: August 25, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4778820)
Oh, that sounds awful to me. I hate challenges.

Then stop calling for pitch tracking software to call all balls and strikes, because the technology isn't there yet.

You're the retard who granted a perfect system for the purpose of your proposal:
It it *was* perfect, I'd at most want the technology to be used in a challenge system. You get a certain number of pitch challenges a game, if the pitch is challenged the umpire refers to the tracker to get the instant call. Like tennis.
   34. JAHV Posted: August 25, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4778828)
It's possible the robot zone would make for an improved baseball product, but since we've never had that, we're just guessing. I've always thought adapting to the day's zone was a part of baseball for both pitchers and catchers, rewarding the attentive and punishing the lazy. I like that. Moreover, I prefer fewer changes between the lower levels of the sport and the big league level, and this would be a rather monumental one.


I agree with this entirely. I also enjoy that pitch-framing is a skill for catchers, and that catchers can add (or subtract) value based on their relative deftness in receiving a pitch. I'd miss that if we instituted an automated electronic strike zone.

The whole point of the article is that there isn't a consistent strike zone throughout the game.


This is an issue, but I consider it a minor one, as the inconsistency favors prolonging an at bat. I'd rather see an at bat continue to possibly produce a ball in play than see another walk or strikeout.

While this is at odds with my desire to see games shortened, I'd rather that problem be solved by reducing the time taken between pitches. Prolonging at bats with more pitches thrown doesn't bother me.
   35. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 25, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4778868)
You're the retard
Reported.
   36. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4778928)
I'm with #20 - I didn't recall all of the swinging strike-outs. I would like to go back and watch the whole thing - because I remember a lot more than a handful of really outside pitches being called strikes. But, that condensed game version doesn't show them unless they are strike #3.

That last strike by Gregg is probably the craziest one I've ever seen called.


Yeah - that's just for spite at that point. It's not even close - just abysmal.
   37. villageidiom Posted: August 25, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4778937)
I'm with snapper and SoSH. I think the impact of robot umps on the strike zone would be a massive change to the fundamental way baseball is played and we just don't have any clue if that would be good or bad.
We now have instant replay, and what we've learned is:

1. Managers tend to delay the game until someone from their own team signals that it's worth challenging. This happens whether or not they ultimately challenge.

2. Despite the challenge not coming until the team has had a chance to review replays on their own, the likelihood of a call getting overturned is basically a coin flip.

3. Force plays (228 of 410) and traps (15 of 17) are the most common occasion when a team-initiated challenge has been effective. Naturally, they are the ones where the slow-down and close-up of replay can be the most conclusive, so yay. (The above, and subsequent, numbers are from the database at Baseball Savant, as of today.)

4. In the few (178) occasions the umpires choose to initiate a replay, they are seldom overturned.

5. The HP umpire "independent" calls are HBP and home-plate collision. (Tag plays at HP are also the HP umpire's domain, but they are intertwined with the stats for tag plays at other bases.) On those, 18 of 41 were overturned. The HP umpire for these 18 overturned were:

Phil Cuzzi (overturned 2x)
Kerwin Danley (overturned 2x)
Bill Welke
Paul Emmel
Marvin Hudson
Brian ONora
CB Bucknor
Manny Gonzalez
Pat Hoberg
Gerry Davis
Rob Drake
Jeff Kellogg
Andy Fletcher
Lance Barrett
Will Little (upheld once, overturned once)
D.J. Reyburn (upheld once, overturned once)

6. The 1B and 3B umpire "independent" calls are fair/foul outfield and stadium boundary calls (other than HR). I don't have whether the call was in LF or RF, so I'll look at it for both. The 1B umpires for the overturned calls are:

Tim Timmons
Quinn Wolcott
Marty Foster
Brian Knight
Ron Kulpa
Dan Iassogna
Jim Joyce
Adam Hamari (overturned once, upheld once)

...and the 3B umpires for those same calls are:

Todd Tichenor
Lance Barrett
Hal Gibson III
Bill Miller
Marvin Hudson
Chris Conroy
Gerry Davis
Alan Porter

7. There are no plays on which the 2B umpire is "independent" of the other umpires, but the closest we can come are HR calls and trap plays. The 2B umpires for the overturned calls are:

Seth Buckminster (overturned 2x)
Mark Carlson (overturned 2x)
Mike DiMuro
D.J. Reyburn
Todd Tichenor
Gerry Davis
Marty Foster
Jeff Nelson
CB Bucknor
Marcus Pattillo
Vic Carapazza
Will Little
Adam Hamari (overturned once, upheld once)
Pat Hoberg (overturned once, upheld once)


8. The intersection of the above lists includes:

3 overturned:
Gerry Davis

2 overturned, none upheld:
* CB Bucknor
Kerwin Danley
Lance Barrett
Mark Carlson
* Marty Foster
Marvin Hudson
Phil Cuzzi
Seth Buckminster
Todd Tichenor

The ones I've asterisked are already considered to be among the worst in MLB.

9. FWIW, here are the overturning stats for some of your favorites, by base. This counts all calls, not just the ones mentioned above; and they are counted whether or not the umpire in question was involved in the call.

Angel Hernandez
HP: 9/13
1B: 9/13
2B: 4/8
3B: 8/16

Joe West
HP: 3/11
1B: 4/8
2B: 6/9
3B: 2/8

CB Bucknor
HP: 7/11
1B: 3/10
2B: 8/13
3B: 5/12

Ron Kulpa
HP: 4/12
1B: 4/5
2B: 9/13
3B: 4/6

Jim Joyce (included for balance)
HP: 4/5
1B: 5/6
2B: 1/3
3B: 4/6

As I said, these count whether they were involved in the play or not. Looking in further detail (by video) at the ones for Joyce:

Joyce as 3B, 4 overturned: None were at 3B. (Cory Blaser was the ump for all 4).

Joyce as HP, 4 overturned: None were at HP. (Cory Blaser 1, Marvin Hudson 3)

Joyce as 1B, 5 overturned: 1 was at 1B. (Doug Eddings 3, Marvin Hudson 1)

Joyce as 2B, 1 overturned: Not at 2B. (Cory Blaser)

So Jim Joyce was part of the crew for 14 overturned calls, only one of which was actually his call. (Appropriately, it was a safe/out call at first.) Six were Cory Blaser, 4 were Marvin Hudson, 3 were Doug Eddings.

Interestingly, Doug Eddings has far more overturned calls while on the field (23) than Joyce has (14), despite being on the same crew. From what I can tell, Jim Joyce had May and June off. (He has no challenged calls in May and June, but the rest of the crew does.) That tells me three more things.

a) Joyce's overall numbers aren't necessarily low because he's that good, although that might be the case. They are low because in 40% of the sample he wasn't actually umpiring.

b) It wouldn't surprise me if replacement umpires tend to make more mistakes, leading to more overturned calls. If we simply count bad calls that happened when an umpire was on the field, there will be many distortions.

c) I've been wasting my time.

That aside, I hope everything is OK for Jim Joyce and his family.
   38. Captain Supporter Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4778971)
For those who think ridiculous strike zones and ball strike calls are a thing of the past, please watch any game umpired by CB Bucknor. Or Angel Hernandez. Of course the union is part of the problem because it s well nigh impossible to get rid of the incompetents.

Erc Gregg should have been fired the day after that game because he made baseball's showcase into an outright joke. Fortunately, Richie Phillips came along to solve the problem.
   39. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:51 PM (#4778977)
Quite high standards you have.


I work in a profession that is every bit as difficult and where one major screwup will cost anyone their job. I hold these incompetent bungling clowns to no less a standard.

And how can you possibly defend the likes of Angel Hernandez? If he performed like that in any other profession, he would have been out of it and selling french fries years ago.
   40. shoelesjoe Posted: August 25, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4778996)
Eric Gregg should have been fired the day after that game because he made baseball's showcase into an outright joke. Fortunately, Richie Phillips came along to solve the problem.



I've always wondered what a high stakes MLB contest would look like if the home plate ump had a bet on the outcome, and I keep coming back to that Eric Gregg playoff game. If I recall correctly Liván Hernández averaged less than a strike out an inning that season, yet K'd 15 in that one game. Greg Maddux also struck out more batters than usual that day, but his numbers weren't nearly as out of whack as those of LH. Lord knows somebody could have made a killing with the bookies if they'd known what Gregg was going to do that day.

There's a saying that you should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice. In either case it's no mystery why Gregg was one of the few umps not allowed back in to the game after they went on strike.
   41. bobm Posted: August 25, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4779000)
They are the best in the history of the world at their jobs, though.

While there are still some bad (ie inaccurate and arrogant) umpires, as a group IMO they are far better now than ever. This is due in part to TV instant replay even before its in-game use.

Consider the alternatives:

NBA - gambling scandal was the least of it. There is a huge impression of inconsistency in calling fouls: superstars vs journeymen, 4th quarter, popular teams the league/TV wants to advance in the playoffs, etc.

World Cup soccer refs - widespread tolerance of diving; 2002 scandal; calculation of extra time (the amount of which used to be secret) apparently using a secret formula

NFL - Where does one start? Ball spotting seems imprecise, but everything else gets reviewed. Head of officiating recently seen exiting Cowboys' "party bus" in LA.
   42. Moeball Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4779031)
In terms of what the home plate umpires call on different counts (what the article was talking about) - I know I have indeed seen some strange things. Some of it you can absolutely count on. The batter who has vocally made comments to the home ump on a couple of pitches, then somehow gets to a 3-2 count and the next pitch clearly misses the plate so the batter starts to toss his bat and trot towards first. 10 steps up the baseline you hear the "steeerike 3!" as the ump calls him out. I've seen this happen a zillion times over the years. Umps don't like to get shown up and they will pick just that type of situation to let the batter know it.

The thing that surprises me about replay is that it hasn't at all been the kind of plays I thought it would be. Silly me, I really thought that there would be the occasional bang-bang play at first base or something like that. Plays where you go "Hmm, that was close, we'll need to check the replay to know for certain if the runner was safe or out". But, in reality, what I've seen are a whole lot of plays under review that never should have had to be challenged in the first place because they were really obvious to call. The number of calls I've seen overturned has been quite high, mainly because the instant you see the replay you realize it wasn't even a close or difficult play to call - but, somehow, the umps got the wrong call anyways. To their credit, they've usually quickly admitted they screwed up and overturned the bad calls - but I'm still surprised at how many really bad calls there have been. That's disturbing.
   43. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 26, 2014 at 01:31 AM (#4779127)
I've always wondered if there was more to that horrible game that Gregg called than met the eye.
   44. Lassus Posted: August 26, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4779175)
I work in a profession that is every bit as difficult...

I can only assume you're an international soccer referee.
   45. AROM Posted: August 26, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4779178)
Think about when you're watching a great pitcher - Pedro, Randy, Felix, Kershaw, Strasburg, whoever, get on a strikeout roll. As a fan you start to get excited, wonder how many can he rack up, cheering every swing and miss or strike call. Every pitch just off the plate where the hitter doesn't swing, you want it to be a strike, and are disappointed when it isn't.

I think what happened is that Eric Gregg got on a strikeout kick for Livan, and forgot that he was the umpire, not a fan. That's bad enough. I can certainly understand suspicions that things were less innocent than that.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 26, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4779199)
Think about when you're watching a great pitcher - Pedro, Randy, Felix, Kershaw, Strasburg, whoever, get on a strikeout roll. As a fan you start to get excited, wonder how many can he rack up, cheering every swing and miss or strike call. Every pitch just off the plate where the hitter doesn't swing, you want it to be a strike, and are disappointed when it isn't.

I think what happened is that Eric Gregg got on a strikeout kick for Livan, and forgot that he was the umpire, not a fan. That's bad enough. I can certainly understand suspicions that things were less innocent than that.


Would this be the "Frank Drebin Effect"?
   47. Jeltzandini Posted: August 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4779222)
I think what happened is that Eric Gregg got on a strikeout kick for Livan, and forgot that he was the umpire, not a fan.


That was definitely my impression. "This is so cool, and I get to be a part of it!"

   48. Greg K Posted: August 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4779223)
I recall Philip Humber's perfect game ended with a check swing by Brendan Ryan that didn't look even remotely close to a swing (it was a full count, so not calling it a swing would have ended the perfect game).
   49. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 26, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4779253)
I recall Philip Humber's perfect game ended with a check swing by Brendan Ryan that didn't look even remotely close to a swing (it a full count, so not calling it a swing would have ended the perfect game).


I thought he went.

If I'm umping and a guy's got a perfect game, I wouldn't call a ball a strike in that situation (so shut up Milt), but I'd absolutely give no benefit of the doubt to a hitter who tried to check his swing. I'd have rung Ryan up without hesitation (and said as much during chatter or thread at the time).
   50. zack Posted: August 26, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4779261)
I don't really care about missed calls themselves. I do wonder how much of pitcher's inconsistency is really umpires inconsistency, though. What's the correlation between the two starting pitchers having a bad day?

If you're going to have robut umps, do you call the rulebook strikezone or the strikezone as it is traditionally called (which is basically an oval diagonally across the plate, not including the vary inside part but extending out off the plate away, especially for LHH)?
   51. The District Attorney Posted: August 26, 2014 at 10:27 PM (#4779707)
Jayson Stark with some wacky umpire stats. I'm sure gamblers are already well aware that the differences between umpires can be huge, but, here are some further examples.

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