Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Joe Nathan: “We were pretty fortunate;” umpire acknowledges blown call

Violent Is Not the Word for Joe.

Joe Nathan picked up his 300th save on Monday night in the Rangers’ 5-4 win over Tampa Bay.

Well, there was a little more to it than that.

Nathan, who became the 24th all-time member of the 300-save club, may be the first guy to do it on what everybody – even the umpire who initially called it a strike – knew to be a walk.

Home plate umpire Marty Foster called an 82-mph curve ball on the low and outside part of the plate a strike on left-handed hitting Ben Zobrist. After a tirade from Zobrist and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, Foster said he blew the call.

“I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike,” Foster said after the game. “Joe was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”

Repoz Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:14 AM | 61 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rangers, rays

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: April 09, 2013 at 06:31 AM (#4408201)
Worst strike call in history. Fire ump please.
   2. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:26 AM (#4408208)
Whether he's looking down or looking up, somewhere Eric Gregg is smiling.
   3. Darren Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:39 AM (#4408214)
That was worse than I could have imagined.
   4. kcgard2 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:58 AM (#4408220)
That is immediately in the running for worst strike call of all time. Agree completely with Darren.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:03 AM (#4408221)
It's outside, but A.J. Pierzynski's pitch framing is the issue that a lot of people are reacting to, more than the ball's actual location. See the freeze-frame at Hardball Talk. Brooks Baseball logged the pitch as several inches outside, but not low, and Nathan had previously gotten a call on a pitch that far outside earlier in the inning. Bad call, but in my opinion not egregious.
   6. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:18 AM (#4408227)
Yeah, I was expecting something much worse, too. That was just a Tom Glavine special.
   7. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:46 AM (#4408234)
I'm with 5&6, yes it's a ball but it's made to look a lot worse by Pierzynski.
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:55 AM (#4408238)
that was a mike Stanley smother special by aj
   9. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4408248)
Yeah, I was expecting something much worse, too. That was just a Tom Glavine special.
I was just going to say that Greg Maddux is going to be a HOFer based on getting that exact call approximately 10,000 times.
   10. BDC Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:29 AM (#4408260)
As provoking as the missed call was the way Foster called it; he waited what seemed five seconds and then wound up and did the punch-out move. Zobrist was tidying himself up to take first base by that point.

It was vaguely reminiscent of the famous Pierogi-to-first dropped third strike in '05. AJ does seem to find himself in the middle of stuff like this …
   11. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4408261)
yes it's a ball but it's made to look a lot worse by Pierzynski.


Bingo.
   12. bunyon Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4408269)
I was just going to say that Greg Maddux is going to be a HOFer based on getting that exact call approximately 10,000 times.

I commend you on your analysis of baseball.
   13. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4408271)
Even Joe Nathan was visibly surprised.
   14. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4408273)
Even Joe Nathan was visibly surprised.


It looked like he said "wow".
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4408286)
Yeah, I was expecting something much worse, too. That was just a Tom Glavine special.

Concur, the way the ball was breaking, where Pierzynski caught it is completely irrelevent.

If it caught the strikezone (it didn't) it would have been the front corner. It missed that by a few inches, not a foot.
   16. bunyon Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4408289)
Yes, missing the front corner is probably the toughest call to get if your the HP ump. Bad call but they happen. If this happens with no one or less than two strikes or in the 3rd, no one comments on it after an initial online twitter/comment burst.
   17. zack Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4408297)
It isn't that bad, don't all umpires call the zone as an ellipsis that extends low and away against LHH?

I mean this is Foster's zone for the night vs. a typical one in the dashed lines, and this is his normal zone. The pitch in question is the outlier to the low-left, but it's not that far out. It looks like a 40% chance to be a strike by his normal zone. Support your local brooks baseball since I'm a hotlinking jerk.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4408311)
It isn't that bad, don't all umpires call the zone as an ellipsis that extends low and away against LHH?

I mean this is Foster's zone for the night vs. a typical one in the dashed lines, and this is his normal zone. The pitch in question is the outlier to the low-left, but it's not that far out. It looks like a 40% chance to be a strike by his normal zone. Support your local brooks baseball since I'm a hotlinking jerk.


I think this issue is caused by the way umpires crouch. Being between the batter and C, it's got to be really hard to see that outside corner.

I really wish they would bring back the bubble chest-protector, so umps could stand straight over the C.
   19. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4408330)
I was just going to say that Greg Maddux is going to be a HOFer based on getting that exact call approximately 10,000 times.

I commend you on your analysis of baseball.
I'm sorry. I forgot that snark and hyperbole aren't allowed here.

Or are you suggesting Maddux didn't live on the strike on the/just off the outside corner?
   20. Hack Wilson Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:48 AM (#4408334)
I was just going to say that Greg Maddux is going to be a HOFer based on getting that exact call approximately 10,000 times.


This is oversimplifying, as everybody knows Greg never needed those thick eyeglasses to see better, he was secretly testing experimental specs to hypnotize the umpires into calling bad pitches strikes. Once the CIA concluded the project and Maddux had to stop using them, and pretended to use contact lenses, he was much less successful with new umpires who had not been previously bedazzled. I have a pamphlet for those interested in more information.
   21. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4408350)
“Joe was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”


I don't understand this. Why would Joe be violent and frustrated? He got the call. Did he mean Ben?
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4408354)

I don't understand this. Why would Joe be violent and frustrated? He got the call. Did he mean Ben?


He was referring to Maddon.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4408363)
It's outside, but A.J. Pierzynski's pitch framing is the issue that a lot of people are reacting to, more than the ball's actual location.


Yes, but that's because people have bizarrely become obsessed with pitch framing. The pitch wasn't close. The call was egregious. Who the eff cares what Pierzynski did?
   24. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4408365)
He was referring to Maddon.


Of course.
   25. Mattbert Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4408369)
Pierzynski doesn't do Nathan any favors there, but that is an indisputably awful call. Forget about Pierzynski's stabbing catch making the pitch appear lower than it was; the ball is at least a foot outside.
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4408379)
Ah, but the human error makes the game more interesting and fun!
   27. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4408394)
{pitch framing snark deleted}
   28. Jim Wisinski Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4408449)
When the umpire acknowledges the blown call and the pitcher, catcher, and manager that benefited all admit or imply that the call was wrong then you know it was pretty ####### bad.

As provoking as the missed call was the way Foster called it; he waited what seemed five seconds and then wound up and did the punch-out move. Zobrist was tidying himself up to take first base by that point.


The radio announcers commented on another way late strike call by Foster, I think earlier in that same inning. I don't know if that's something he has a tendency to do or if he was just getting weird at the end.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4408473)
Pierzynski doesn't do Nathan any favors there, but that is an indisputably awful call. Forget about Pierzynski's stabbing catch making the pitch appear lower than it was; the ball is at least a foot outside.

Doesn't appear to be more than a few inches on Brooks Baseball. It was a sharp breaking pitch and was a foot outside when it got to AJ, and he then moved it two feet outside.

The relevant point is where it was when it crossed the front of the plate. Bad call. Nothing especially egregious, except the situation.
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4408481)
If you guys don't mind me whining, please remind me, again, why we don't use relatively cheap technology we already have to call a perfect strike zone?
   31. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4408484)
If you guys don't mind me whining, please remind me, again, why we don't use relatively cheap technology we already have to call a perfect strike zone?

Beats me. I think the time has come for it, personally.
   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4408491)
No idea why we still have umps calling the plate. There's probably an overlap between purists who want to see humans make errors at the plate and purists who want to see pitchers flail helplessly at the plate.
   33. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 09, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4408493)
I am pro ball and strike technology and anti-DH. So there's a data point for you. I don't see how one has anything to do with the other.
   34. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4408497)
Purity.
   35. JJ1986 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4408498)
I don't think there's any reason except tradition to favor the umpires calling balls and strikes. There are plenty of other reasons to favor pitchers hitting.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4408501)
If you guys don't mind me whining, please remind me, again, why we don't use relatively cheap technology we already have to call a perfect strike zone?

I really don't care either way. I'd be fine with a technology that worked. I'm fine with human error.
   37. Nasty Nate Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4408505)
When the umpire acknowledges the blown call and the pitcher, catcher, and manager that benefited all admit or imply that the call was wrong then you know it was pretty ####### bad.


I think it's discouraging because, in this case, it shows how much all of the parties involved acknowledge that both where the catcher catches the ball and (even worse) what happens to the catcher's glove after he catches the ball matter just as much as where the ball passes the plate in terms of determining a strike.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4408512)


I think it's discouraging because, in this case, it shows how much all of the parties involved acknowledge that both where the catcher catches the ball and (even worse) what happens to the catcher's glove after he catches the ball matter just as much as where the ball passes the plate in terms of determining a strike.


This is the opposite. Where the catcher caught the ball and what happened to his glove make the call look worse. There isn't any reason to think A.J. helped his pitcher here.

   39. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4408518)
This is the opposite. Where the catcher caught the ball and what happened to his glove make the call look worse. There isn't any reason to think A.J. helped his pitcher here.


You know, sometimes the pitches are just nasty with a lot of movement -- which is a feature, not a bug. I'm sure Nathan could have grooved a knee high fastball for AJ to catch cleanly without moving his glove -- but in that case the ball may have ended up in the seats instead. The point of a battery is to get hitters out, not to obsess over how a catcher is framing pitches that have a lot of movement.
   40. Nasty Nate Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4408519)
This is the opposite. Where the catcher caught the ball and what happened to his glove make the call look worse. There isn't any reason to think A.J. helped his pitcher here.


Right, but what I meant was that the ump wouldn't have even acknowledged (like he did in this case) that the call was bad if it had passed the plate at the exact same place but caught in a different way and/or curving in a different direction. That is what is discouraging.
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4408528)
You know, sometimes the pitches are just nasty with a lot of movement -- which is a feature, not a bug. I'm sure Nathan could have grooved a knee high fastball for AJ to catch cleanly without moving his glove -- but in that case the ball may have ended up in the seats instead. The point of a battery is to get hitters out, not to obsess over how a catcher is framing pitches that have a lot of movement.


I'm not sure how this relates to my comment, but sure.

Right, but what I meant was that the ump wouldn't have even acknowledged (like he did in this case) that the call was bad if it had passed the plate at the exact same place but caught in a different way and/or curving in a different direction. That is what is discouraging.


I see. Got it.

   42. Mattbert Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4408533)
Doesn't appear to be more than a few inches on Brooks Baseball. It was a sharp breaking pitch and was a foot outside when it got to AJ, and he then moved it two feet outside.

Brooks has it about six inches off the plate. I guess that possibly falls under the definition of "a few", but come on.
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:37 PM (#4408540)
Brooks has it about six inches off the plate. I guess that possibly falls under the definition of "a few", but come on.

I eyeballed it, thought it was more like 3-4, but I assume you're right. Are you saying that a strike call 6 inches off the plate doesn't happen with some frequency?

It's a bad call, but there are lots of bad calls. If it happened in the 3rd inning, no one would mention it again.
   44. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4408549)

Brooks has it about six inches off the plate. I guess that possibly falls under the definition of "a few", but come on.


It's clearly a bad call, but it wasn't one of the worst strikes ever. I bet a strike gets called like that pretty much every game, just not one that ends a game. Context doesn't make the call worse.

EDIT:
Shoulda refreshed, coke to snapper.
   45. BDC Posted: April 09, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4408554)
why we don't use relatively cheap technology we already have to call a perfect strike zone?

I think the catch in that proposal is "perfect." Murphy's Law would dictate that any automatic strike-zone technology would: come with bugs (and when debugged, develop new ones); behave in erratic and inconsistent ways that would pretty much emulate human umpiring; and be susceptible to just as much gamesmanship as umpires themselves.
   46. McCoy Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4408567)
Tennis seems to have a system that works perfectly and has for many many years.
   47. McCoy Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4408568)
That should be "perfectly fine". Edit isn't working today.
   48. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4408575)
It's clearly a bad call, but it wasn't one of the worst strikes ever. I bet a strike gets called like that pretty much every game, just not one that ends a game.


Shouldn't there be a way to check on that using PitchFX data?
   49. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4408697)

Shouldn't there be a way to check on that using PitchFX data?


MCOA's link in #5 shows a called strike that is maybe an inch closer to the plate. Just as bad of a call and no one cares.
   50. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4408708)

If you guys don't mind me whining, please remind me, again, why we don't use relatively cheap technology we already have to call a perfect strike zone?


Its not fun to see managers throwing a tantrum against a robot.
   51. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4408732)
Surely we can program a robot to stroll around and say things like, "Oh, you're gonna be in the Hall of Fame for ####### up the World Series?"
   52. zack Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4408741)
I bet a strike gets called like that pretty much every game, just not one that ends a game.

That's probably too far. Just glancing through yesterday's games on BrooksBB, there's only one other with a call about that bad, in the Rockies-Giants game.

Funnily, if you compare how far the final pitch was from what umps normally call versus LHH, rather than the textbook zone, there were two other pitches in the Texas game that were worse.
   53. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4408801)
Its not fun to see managers throwing a tantrum against a robot.


False. So very false.
   54. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4408866)
MCOA's link in #5 shows a called strike that is maybe an inch closer to the plate. Just as bad of a call and no one cares.


Yeah, but now I want someone to do an article with "The ten worst calls" or something. We obviously can't go through all of history, but there should be some hilariously wrong calls buried in the data somewhere.
   55. BDC Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4408960)
Tennis seems to have a system that works perfectly

Tennis, though, works in two dimensions and uses invariable lines. Balls and strikes work in three and are scaled to the body of the individual batter. Sound like trivial complications, I realize, but I'm not so sure.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4408963)
Its not fun to see managers throwing a tantrum against a robot.

What about robot mangers throwing a tantrum?
   57. Squash Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:46 PM (#4408994)
I'll join the small chorus that is suspicious that technology would work perfectly every time. What happens when the computer has a blip (as computers do) and blows an important pitch in the World Series or the computer freezes (as computers do) and misses a pitch completely? Do we replay the down? The second base umpire, who is 130 feet away, makes a judgement call? Or the homeplate ump, who now is only there to call a tag play at home every three of four games and presumably isn't paying the kind of attention he would if he was calling balls and strikes, and very likely is out of position anyway because he isn't calling balls and strikes, makes a judgement call?

The solution to me is to improve the umpires, not replace them. The problem is that it's essentially a tenure type position (there's no way to dump the C.B. Bucknor's of the world) and that whoever hires the umpires seems to take no account of character, pig-headedness, or volatility into consideration when it comes to who to hire (they don't blink an eye at bringing in the C.B. Bucknor's of the world). The tenure thing is dumb - it's not like these guys are performing brain surgery, or that there are hundreds of other baseball leagues out there looking to poach them away, or that there aren't thousands of other umpires in the US chomping at the bit to get their shot at the major leagues. Players certainly don't have tenure. It's silly that these guys aren't being constantly evaluated by a program that has some actual teeth to it, i.e. the ability to actually demote them at the end of the year if they're clearly incompetent.
   58. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:01 PM (#4409030)
False. So very false.


Especially if you program the robot to argue back.
   59. Morty Causa Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:32 PM (#4409146)
Release the robotic Richard Simmons.
   60. G.W.O. Posted: April 11, 2013 at 02:06 AM (#4410475)
We want Ed-209 Montague...
   61. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 11, 2013 at 06:13 AM (#4410492)
It's outside, but A.J. Pierzynski's pitch framing is the issue that a lot of people are reacting to, more than the ball's actual location.

Yes, but that's because people have bizarrely become obsessed with pitch framing.


It's what happens when the game's possibilities approach exhaustion. Insights become more and more trivial, so when something comes along that might actually be worth a couple of wins, madness!

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Eugene Freedman
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogRoyals are not the future of baseball | FOX Sports
(32 - 9:56am, Oct 23)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogSalvador Perez, Hunter Strickland Exchange Words In World Series (GIF) | MLB | NESN.com
(1 - 9:52am, Oct 23)
Last: Guapo

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(3230 - 9:52am, Oct 23)
Last: Rickey! trades in sheep and threats

NewsblogMartino: Michael Cuddyer is a perfect free agent fit for NY Mets, who like him
(6 - 9:45am, Oct 23)
Last: billyshears

NewsblogMcSweeneys: NEW BASEBALL STATISTICS.
(20 - 9:43am, Oct 23)
Last: fra paolo

Newsblog‘Marlins Man’ puts Miami front and center at World Series | The Miami Herald
(6 - 9:39am, Oct 23)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-23-2014
(6 - 9:30am, Oct 23)
Last: Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute

NewsblogSielski: A friend fights for ex-Phillie Dick Allen's Hall of Fame induction
(183 - 8:19am, Oct 23)
Last: BDC

NewsblogHow Wall Street Strangled the Life out of Sabermetrics | VICE Sports
(16 - 7:16am, Oct 23)
Last: Arbitol Dijaler

NewsblogCardinals proud of fourth straight NLCS appearance | cardinals.com
(66 - 7:12am, Oct 23)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogJay set for surgery — and for CF in 2015 : Sports
(6 - 6:54am, Oct 23)
Last: cv2002

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(353 - 6:27am, Oct 23)
Last: steagles

NewsblogAd Week: What Is Madeleine Albright Doing on the Wheaties Box?
(10 - 5:56am, Oct 23)
Last: CraigK

NewsblogHunter Pence responds to Royals fan signs with monster Game 1 | MLB.com
(55 - 3:53am, Oct 23)
Last: Shibal

NewsblogJerome Williams re-signs with Phils
(10 - 2:11am, Oct 23)
Last: boteman

Page rendered in 0.6156 seconds
52 querie(s) executed