Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad Baseball

Both WS games have been highly entertaining so far, but last night everyone suffered from a major case of terrible baseball.

1. Did everyone else in the world know when Pedro needed to be pulled? What are the odds that one of the only two guy who didn't manages the Phillies?

2. Derek Jeter bunting with 2 strikes, 2 men on and no one out in a World Series is the worst baseball play I have ever seen. Nice work Cap'n.

3. The umps screwed up twice in high leverage situations that could have cost either team the game, but we're used to that. What is getting me more upset is the basic calling of balls an strikes. Mariano Rivera struck out Ryan Howard last night on a called strike that was at least 5 inches off the plate. Only a half-blind idiot would have called that pitch a strike.

In the 8th inning of game one, Damaso Marte threw 5 pitches to Chase Utley. Utley did not swing at any of those 5 pitches, and was eventually called out on strikes on the 5th pitch. Fox Trax (Fox's version of Pitch F/X) showed all 5 pitches to be balls. (The 5th pitch was very close, however, at that point Utley should have already been standing on 1st base.) And really, the first 4 were not that close.

This is a problem with a solution. Pitch F/X can tell you almost instantaneously whether or not a ball was in the strike zone or not. Continuing to rely on umpires for this function is fucking Amish. It's ridiculous. We should at the very least offer hitters challenges, as they do in tennis. It would barely slow the game down at all. They could post the Pitch F/X replay up on the scoreboard and fans would love it. Umpires would hate it, but who cares? Maybe it would provide them with an incentive to not do such a shitty job.

I'd go a step further and have Pitch f/x call all of the balls and strikes. If you want to keep an umpire back there to make the "strike" signal and call plays at home plate, I'm fine with that, but there's no down side to turning this over to a computer.

Finally, if anyone tells me that they want umpires because they like "the human element" I will yell at this person very loudly. "The human element" is important in baseball, but it is provided by the players. The players are playing the game. They are supposed to provide all of the drama and heroics and whatnot. When an umpire introduces his own human element into the game, he diminishes the accomplishments of the players. Last night, Chase Utley's hustle was destroyed by an idiot who thought he was out. By arguing that you want to keep "the human element" you are arguing that you like mistakes. And no wonder.

If you have that opinion, you probably make a lot of them.


E.S.K. said...

I could not stop laughing at that Jeter bunt attempt. What a God damned idiot.

And yeah, shockingly the umpiring is terrible. At some point the folks arguing for the "human element" will die off while winning Darwin Awards and sane people will be able to watch players dictate the outcome of sporting events.

As bad as the on the field stuff has been, it cannot match Buck and McCarver. They alone make the series sooooo difficult to watch. They should really be ashamed.

Jon said...

But what about the human element??? Ok, to play a bit of devil's advocate.

1 - Jeter's bunt was stupid, but nowhere near the worst play/decision ever! Maybe it cost them 10% in win probability (at most)? Noone hates the Yankees more than me and Jeter's freaking awesome, i hate to say it but its true. He's super super good at baseball for a super long time and a good guy too. I don't get the whole calling him cap'n derogatively thing.

2 - I dont understand how anyone could possibly complain about the ump's call on the line drive that Howard scooped off the short hop. It's not humanly possible to have any idea whether he caught or not when watching replays at regular speed. If you want to argue that it shows we need instant replay, then ok, but criticizing the ump there is crazy.

3 - Balls and strikes. If i remember correctly, each batter should technically have a different strike zone (at least in terms of top/bottom, left/right edges of the zone should be constant). So how can F-X or whatever do this? if there's a way where each player gets measured by the computer before the game or something and then it develops a particular strike zone for each player, then i guess it could work, otherwise seems like it wouldn't.

PaulNoonan said...

1. Jeter's great. Good guy, awesome player. That bunt may not have changed their win % as much as some decisions, but it was just so obviously a bad idea. And Jeter being a great hitter makes it worse.

2. Well, yeah, but the machine would have gotten it right. And there was the Utley play too.

3. You are correct that the vertical wouldbe slightly problematic, however,

a. you can at least have the horizontal,
b. you could just standardize the vertical if you really wanted to, and most importnantly,
c. Pitch f/x is what they use to grade umpires.

Plus in all of my examples the pitchers missed outside.