Monday, June 3, 2013

And the beat goes on in major league umpiring

One of our most popular posts on Late Innings last year was my piece on shabby umpiring at the Major League level.

We’ll folks, I’m here to say that the picture hasn’t improved at all since the last time I wrote on this topic.

I’m the first to admit that it’s impossible to get every single call right in a ball game. Ever try to follow the flight of a 98 mph baseball? An 80 mph baseball? A 60 mph one? It’s darned hard. Now add to that you’re behind someone who’s crouching and would dearly love to mess up anything you observe. There’s also a guy standing to your left or right who’s swinging a big chunk of wood. And then there are the 40,000-plus fans all hurling insults at you. It ain’t fun.

But hey, no one forced you to sign up for this, did they? You’re not indentured to Bug Selig, are you?

When you get out into the field, there are still things to overcome in order to make the proper call, but it is a lot easier than calling balls and strikes.

The thing I don’t understand is why the MLB is so reticent to make use of emerging technology. When you’re sitting at home and the ball is clearly right over the plate and the ump calls it a strike, there’s gotta be something wrong. When replays from three or four different angles show that the first baseman didn’t have his foot on the bag when the out was recorded, it sort of leaves a bad taste in a fan’s mouth.

They do use replays for home run calls now, so you figure we’d be moving ahead, wouldn’t you? To answer that, I submit this:

This was clearly a homer and yet, even with help from replaying the tape, they still got it wrong. The really ridiculous thing is that MLB admitted the call was wrong, but let it stand. You can see the dilemma, but it’s a ridiculous outcome.

So it seems we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Even with electronic help, bad calls are going to remain in the game.

Maybe we’d all be a lot happier if they only broadcast games on the radio. That way there would be no visual evidence of all the bad calls. You’d just have the announcers’ and the teams’ version of what may or may not have happened and no endless replays to watch until the cows come home.

Even so, I’m sure there’s a better way to do this.

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