Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Another season boils down to the otherworldly entities that control the outcome, and - no - I am not referring to the juju gods

This we know: Nothing lasts forever, aside from the love of a moose for his flying squirrel. Everything ends somewhere, sometime, somehow - consult your local listings - and "2017," the baseball season, not the impending global catastrophe - soon will boil down to a strike zone or chalk line, some microscopic vagary that exists behind the Easter Island grins of the juju gods. This time, Cleveland will come to bat last and, more importantly, enjoy a home field umpires, whose calls over the last four games have consistently bent like windsocks to favor the louder crowds. 

I cannot recall a series where home plate umpires - and judgement calls on checked swings - have more consistently favored the host teams. In Cleveland, Trevor Bauer carved up the strike zone like Jim Bowie. In New York, the same pitches just missed. It's only human for umpires to be influenced by the wild, zealous - and, gulp, dangerous? - crowds, but MLB's instant replays - in getting base calls right - is showing the world just how poorly balls and strikes are being judged. The visiting teams consistently get squeezed. It's becoming impossible to ignore. We all hate the idea of automated strike zones, but soon, the entire 2017 season will hinge upon a curve in the dirt that gets ridiculously called a strike - blowing a hole in the pitcher's psyche - while the TV announcers grimace and equivocate. Mark my words: The home team will get the advantage, and we will play the price.

We can rage about Joe Girardi's failure to challenge that foul tip two games ago - the likely fulcrum point for this series, as history will remember it. But the umps could have simply said they weren't sure, and to get it right, the call demanded an electronic review. They didn't do this, of course, because that's not who they are. The modern game hardly resembles what Mickey Mantle once knew, yet we still rely on the 1940s model of the glowering, buzz-cut umpire - the angry, underpaid, pug who rules through intimidation and rage. Instead of bully cops wrapped in psychological riot gear, the umps should be young technicians with iPads, who instantly analyze close plays and move the game forward. There is no reason why ump crews should take 10 minutes to review plays that are instantly assessed on the Jumbotron. And yes, the automated strike zone needs to happen. If you fear the game will lose another microscopic piece of humanity, where have you been? Have you seen how Orwellian ads shift behind home plate? Look... okay, I get it, machine are evil - but an automated strike zone will not lie, and I greatly fear that, come Wednesday night, we'll be screaming at the TV - another machine - over the blatant home cooking served to Mr. Corey Kluber. 

Joe's failure to challenge that foul tip in Game Two might define how 2017 is remembered. If we lose this series, we lose because of that game, because the ump missed a call and we didn't instantly lawyer up. And if we win, we win because our team rallied behind its manager, who faced an enraged fan and media base. If we lose, Joe becomes scapegoat. If we win, his float leads the parade. 

I can understand why some fans would prefer the humanity behind such decisions, rather than the cold-blooded calculus of a Kubrickian Hal 2000. But let's see how those child-of-nature-friend-of-man, touchy-feely fans feel Thursday morning, after a night of watching the Indians feast on a strike zone the size of a postage stamp. 

I never thought I'd say this, but it's the umps - not the juju gods - that we need to work. 


TheWinWarblist said...

Uj-Uj? Uj-Uj?!? Uj-Uj-Uj-Uj-Uj-Uj-Uj-Uj-AAÀÀAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAaaaaaa-aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!;++(!!!!!!!!???!!!!((!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAÀÀAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!;++(!!!!!!!!???!!!!((!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAÀÀAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-ah-aaaaAaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!;++(!!!!!!!!???!!!!((!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Well said El Duque, I'd rather listen to The Master than watch for exactly this reason, my blood pressure can't take it, LOL!

Anonymous said...






Urban Farmer formerly known as DutchFan said...

In Europe there is a constant debate about using videos and other tools to have more accurate desicions in about every sport. Field hockey is most advanced in this, soccer comes in last.

One of the main topics always is the measure by with electronics might take out the fun of the bad desicions. In other words, how much of our emotions will vanish if we have no heated arguments afterwards about rulings, mistakes and different opinions. How important are they to the fun we have watching sports.

Even though television already is able to give the right answer to a disputed call, it does not automatically change the outcome.

I am ambivalent still. Even though Feyenoord won a important match on their way to the first championship in 19 years. (not in the least thanks to this blog) because of goalline technology.

Anonymous said...

Nobody Loves The Ump
Lyrics By Lucille Ball

You're out
Foul ball

Nobody loves the ump
He's the apple of nobody's eye
Nobody loves the ump
And I'll never know, never know why

Oh they boo and they hiss and they holler at me
Just because it's a ball and I call it strike three
I'm not wearing my glasses so how can I see
Nobody loves, nobody loves, nobody loves the ump

If I call it a ball then they call me a slob
If I call it a strike then they call out the mob
If I call off the game I'd be out of a job
Nobody loves, nobody loves, nobody loves the ump

They very first inning the fans all commence
They belt me with bottles, I take no offence
'Cause each one they throw I return for two cents
Nobody loves, nobody loves, nobody loves the ump
The ump, nobody loves the ump


(to top)

Straw Hat

Whenever Old Man Trouble makes trouble arise
Just put on a big straw hat over your eyes
You'll never see the circumstance makin' you frown
If you just push your eyes under the crown

Life can be simple thin'
A simple thin'
To laugh and sing
Get yourself a hat of straw
And put it on, don't take it off

And when the landlord tells you the rent's in arrears
A big straw hat over your ears
You'll never hear the dialog tragically grim
If you just push your ears under the brim

Aba ariba yep
Aba, aba very good Maggie

So life can be a simple thin'
A simple thin' to laugh and sing
Get yourself a hat of straw
Put it on, don't take it off
And pretty soon your troubles will come to an end
Because you will not see or hear it my friend
To visualize permanent sun in the skies
Just put a big straw hat, big straw hat over your eyes!


Doug K.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the lyrics to Straw Hat. Don't know why it was attached. Then again better a Straw hat than a Susquehanna Hat


Doug K.

KD said...

Doug K, throwing glass bottles at umps.. Such rowdy fans back in the day!!

I think I'm in favor of electronic calling of balls/strikes as long as the technology is sufficiently advanced and universally available(seems to be the case). Ump can still stand back there to call time outs, pass out new balls, keep track of the count, and rule on other judgment calls. why tolerate bad calls when you don't have to? some kind of Ump Union thing?

Anonymous said...

That great catching defensive metric...pitch framing...goes right out the window with computerized balls and strikes. So does the career of some k8d on Little League who will remind people of Tom Glavine in 10 years. He'll make all conference at his D3 school amd won't get drafted. Hope he plays hockey too.

joe de pastry said...

I had a little yellow record when I was a kid that had a song called "The Umpire" on one side {don't remember the flip side}. It included the voices of, if I remember correctly, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, and a couple other players. I remember a little of the lyrics [I played it constantly]:

The umpire, the umpire
The guy who calls every play
We ain't got no use for the umpire
Unless he calls them our way....

A nightmarish creature is following me
A horrible monster who turns out to be
The umpire, the umpire

I bet that fucker would be worth a lot if money if I still had it.

Anonymous said...

Joe: This yes?


Doug K.

joe de patry said...

That's it! I could have sworn Mickey was in it.