Friday, October 30, 2009

Playoff Umpires = Six Blind Mice

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-Digger's Daily-

Six blind mice. How many more bad umpiring calls will take place before the end of the World Series? It has often been said the best umpires go unnoticed. Attention has been focused on umpires throughout the playoffs and now in the World Series too. There have been plenty of bad calls. Not boderline bad. Flat out missed calls.

During the regular season umpiring crews consist of four men. Two more are added to watch the outfield lines, home runs and attempted diving catches come playoff time. In theory, six umpires should rarely make mistakes. So, what's been happening in '09? Nearly every playoff series has been filled with controversy. Luckily, most didn't alter game outcomes. Here are a few off the top of my head.

Joe Mauer (Minnesota) hit a clear double down the left field line in Yankee Stadium. Left field umpire (one of the two extra's) was in perfect position to make the correct call. Nope. It was ruled a foul ball.

The worst had to be this one. ALCS Game 4, Yankees Cano and Posada clearly were tagged out to end the inning but only one was called out.

In the same game (as show in above video), Yankees Swisher should have scored a run on a sacrifice fly. Instead, 3B umpire said he left early and called him out for an inning ending, rally killing double play. Another play involving Swisher happened earlier when hs could have been called out on a pickoff play at 2B.

Last night, 1B umpire was out of position. 1B Ryan Howard was credited for catching a liner and turning a double play. Even Howard knew the ball initially hit the ground. His actions gave it away. Howard tried throwing to 2nd for a force play and threw wide of 2nd allowing Posada to reach safely. Had he caught the liner all he had to do was step on 1B for a double play. There was no need to rush a throw to 2nd.

Momentum has picked up for baseball to finally institute instant replays. Playoff games this year has added ammo. I really hope this never happens. Bad calls, for better or worse, is part of baseball. Replays do exist for questionable home runs in dispute. If baseball were to start replaying every close call the game would quickly become monotonous. Could you imagine how long games would become? Managers racing out of dugouts after every bang-bang play at first. Sometimes to slow down an effective pitching performance or to cool off hot bats. No thank you. A topic for another day.

Sooner or later, before the Series ends, a blown call or two will factor into final scores. It's been amazingly bad. This is without mentioning always disputed balls and strikes. I can't remember ever watching so many goofs with such frequency. In most cases, umps aren't out of position. They've been right on top of plays enjoying clean angles. Go figure. It's been contagious.

Fox blew their live coverage last night when Yankees manager Joe Girardi popped out of the dugout to argue at first. Fox almost immediately cut away to commercial then tried unsuccessfully to recap what we missed. It was a key play at a key point in time and Fox cut away from the onfield action to make a few bucks. Give me a break. This is the World Series. Make your commercial money after the play was resolved. Yankees players sat for an extended period in the dugout while the entire umpiring crew huddled. Radio listeners were the only ones to catch live action play by play.

I'm sure these six blind mice do not want to be center of attention. Or to be remembered as the crew credited for baseball adopting instant replay. Open your eyes ump!


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