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Umpires Newsbeat

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

An Illustrated Guide of Missed Strike Calls

The Stab
A classic as old as our appreciation of framing. If you want to present a pitch as a strike, a still glove is key. This one was a strike, and it wasn’t a cross up; it was just Daulton Varsho making a mess out of a pitch he had to know was coming:

Did Jean Segura’s half-hearted bunt attempt throw him off his mechanics, or perhaps confuse the umpire’s sense of the bottom of the zone? Maybe! For a call like this to get missed, something has to go really wrong. That pitch was six inches above the bottom of the zone, squarely in not-even-close-to-a-ball territory. The worst part of this one is that it would have been easily avoided. J.B. Wendelken didn’t miss the target by much. If Varsho had kept his glove down the whole time rather than first pulling it up and then recovering back down, I’m fairly certain this would have been called a strike.

This isn’t the most exaggerated stab you’ll see. That motion, though – reaching down for the ball with the glove – just looks like a ball. It wasn’t a ball, of course. We have the luxury of the white strike zone box – and exact three-dimensional coordinates – but between that dipping motion and the bunt attempt, it was simply a missed call. Usually, umpires get these right. Stab often enough as a catcher, though, and you’ll lose strikes. There’s a reason Varsho grades out as indifferent at best with the glove. It’s not this pitch in particular, but it’s an accumulation of things like this pitch.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 05, 2022 at 02:32 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: strike zone, umpires

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox take issue with pivotal ball-strike call in loss to Houston Astros

Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi took two steps toward the dugout when his 1-2 curveball against Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro landed in the glove of catcher Christian Vazquez close to the top-right corner of the strike zone. With two outs already in the ninth inning, Eovaldi momentarily believed he had stranded Astros shortstop Carlos Correa on second base and first baseman Yuli Gurriel on first, but plate umpire Laz Diaz never signaled the punchout that would have left the score tied at 2 heading into the home half of the inning.

Instead, the at-bat continued, with Castro eventually singling to center field, scoring Correa to give Houston a 3-2 lead in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. Soon, the wheels fell off for Boston, which gave up seven runs in Tuesday’s final frame as the Astros won 9-2 to tie the series at two wins apiece and push it to at least a Game 6, which will be back in Houston.

“I thought it was a strike, but again, I’m in the moment. I’m trying to make my pitches,” Eovaldi said after the game. “I’m attacking the zone.”

While Boston took issue with the call, the chance of Eovaldi’s curveball being called a strike was 23%, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2021 at 10:21 AM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox, umpires

Monday, October 04, 2021

Record-breaking umpire Joe West to retire after postseason

Umpire Joe West has officially informed Major League Baseball he will retire after the postseason.

West, 68, broke the record for most games umpired, held by Bill Klem, when he was behind the plate for No. 5,376 in May.

“Breaking the record was the goal,” West told ESPN on Monday. “I thought I would do it last year but the season got a little messed up and I don’t think it was right to work until the point of the record then just quit.”

Known as a colorful figure, West has been a lightning rod for controversy at times over his storied career, but has always been considered one of the best at his profession by those in the game.

When he set the mark for most games umpired, Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa called him “the perfect guy to set the record because he represents what a lot of umpires should be.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 04, 2021 at 04:33 PM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: joe west, umpires

Monday, September 06, 2021

Before Balls and Strikes, Umpires Make a Call to Pray

But on a day-to-day basis, umpires are among baseball’s most isolated figures. Increasingly removed from an era in which umpires were often men with hard-charging lives, some of them haunted by war, the full-time umpiring staff of today includes just 76 men who travel the country in crews of four and keep a distance from the players and managers they govern. Their lives can feel like blurs of airports and fastballs and hotels and brightly lit ballparks, punctuated by calls home to their children and hollers from the dugouts.

Their spiritual traditions can serve as anchors, with the lessons and lives they find in Scripture showing them a way forward on the field and away from it.

“Jesus would have been a great umpire because he wasn’t a milquetoast where he would have allowed himself to get run over,” Barrett, who has been the officiant at some umpires’ funerals, said in an interview in Chicago. “You see him standing up to the Pharisees. He would have been able to give it right back on the field.”

He paused and smiled.

“Of course, he would have been perfect.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 06, 2021 at 12:05 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: umpires

Friday, August 13, 2021

Would “Robot Umpires” Reduce Discrimination? Measuring Racial Bias in Major League Baseball Umpires

Utilizing thirteen years of Major League Baseball pitch-tracking and play-by-play data (all the data that is publicly available), this study investigates racial discrimination by umpires when making pitch calling decisions.

Bottom line?  White umpires show a statistically significant bias towards white hitters and pitchers.  Black umpires a smaller level of bias, Hispanic umpires a small reverse bias.

John Northey Posted: August 13, 2021 at 09:41 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: racism, umpires



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