Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is That Stevie Wonder At Third?

I understand that there is a lot of pressure being an official both at the amateur and professional level. There are always calls that are a matter of interpretation or differ from the angle and position that the individual is in at the time of the play. I know that in pretty much all professional sports the percentage of the call that are made correctly far outweigh those of the ones that are missed. As is the case in most any situation, people don’t comment on plays that go well only those that are missed or messed up. There was a call where the "phantom" double play called the runner safe because the defender was not on the bag...that call is never made, but it was here. Then Mark Teixeira’s foot may or may not have come slightly off the bag and that is now a huge issue "He’s off the bag" Guess each base has its own standards and I suppose double standard. Guess that a game of inches only applies in certain circumstances.

That being said the umpiring in this years baseball playoffs seem to have too many of these oversights. Sure an umpire, not unlike a player can have a bad night and that is what seems to have happened a few times already this post season. First there was just a pitiful call made by Phil Cuzzi on a Joe Mauer flare down the line in the ALDS where a ball that was so fair that you could have landed a plane in the area between the balls landing area and the foul line. What makes that a little worse is that the umpire that made that call would not usually be there during the regular season. In the Playoffs they add the 2 extra umps down the lines for just that reason, it is likely that ball would have been called right had it just been the normal 4 man crew.

Then there was Tuesday nights gong show of calls. There were 3 calls that were made that were either incorrect or highly questionable. In a span of 11 batters, umpires Dale Scott and Tim McClelland blew three calls so badly that you have to wonder what is going on. Scott called Nick Swisher safe on a pick off play at second base in which he was tagged on the hand. Next was McClelland who took a run off the board when he called Swisher out on appeal for leaving third base early on a sac fly to center field. He was behind Swisher looking to the outfield and in no position to make the appeal call. Lastly McClelland somehow called Robinson Cano safe after he was tagged when he was standing still, two feet off third base. Looking at the picture (which says 1000 words or perhaps beyond). These were not cases where you had to run replays several times from several angles to figure out the proper call.

They use replays to determine home runs but that is all. I don’t want replay to take over baseball, and it is, of all the sports the one need the human touch to be true to itself. Ball and strikes should not be subject to change but maybe some calls that are more black and white should be subject a second look. With high-definition cameras, super-slow motion replays and other technological advances of broadcasts maybe some calls should be reviewable. I’m not a fan of more instant replay because the more you allow, the more cumbersome it gets but these were blatantly awful calls and not an issue where replay should have even been needed. It is just good that it did not impact the outcome of the game, but the thought that it could be is the big issue.

Here is a short list of other blown calls this post season:
1. Brandon Ing being hit by a pitch on his jersey
2.Kevin Youkilis tagging out Howie Kendrick at first base
3. At least 3 check swings that aren't even close
4. Ronnie Belliard being called safe on a stolen base

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