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ondafarm
11-06-2006, 03:59 PM
I was speaking with a fellow WSI er and was asked my opinions about the umpires and when I responded , my colleague was totally shocked. I'm wondering if you are as well.

My comments on the state of umpiring in the American League: It's actually pretty good and has gotten a lot better in the past decade, certainly in the past two decades. About 90% of the umpires are good and fair 90% of the time. Most of the umpires appear to have gotten past the showboating era, I go to a ball game to watch the players not the umpires. Questec has also been a blessing, evening out the playing field a great deal and making all umpires more consistent and less likely to call rookie strikes and give veterans the extra edge. In addition, most current umpires appear to have put aside individual animosities when calling the plate and call more consistent. That being said, there clearly still are a few umpires who play favorites and/or are incompetent, check swing calls need better codification and monitoring. Naturally, rookies blow a few more calls than veterans. There are several umpires who still do not call the standard strike zone, although they do tend to call the same zone for both sides. When Questec first came in, MLB thought that everybody would get 98% of ball-strike calls correct. They have had to revise that number downward. There remain about twenty games a year in the league that are 'encouraged' results. Mostly these are done for attendance issues and a disproportionate number involve reigning pennant winners. Tampa Bay is still crowing about how they 'meatloafed the defending World Champs' at home in 2006. It sells them tickets. Considering that 20 games out of more than 1100 games across the league doesn't sound like much. To me, baseball is such a great sport that monkeying around with even less than 2% of games should be considered sacrilege.

Trav
11-06-2006, 04:22 PM
I haven't been around long enough to compare it to decades past, but I would say the only problems I have is that the strike zones are not consistant throught the game. I have no problem with a large zone, small zone, wide zone, tall zone, etc... So long as it is the same for both teams, all game long. That and a few umpires seem to have a chip on their shoulder, but you mentioned that.

So no, I'm not surprised.

Fenway
11-06-2006, 04:59 PM
I think umpiring has improved since they did away with the different leagues and in theory teams don't see the same crew that often ( though I swear Joe West worked a lot of Boston games in 2006 )

My problem with Questec is that it is only in 10 parks. It should be in all 30

Parks with Questec

Angel Stadium of Anaheim - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Chase Field - Arizona Diamondbacks
Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox
Jacobs Field - Cleveland Indians
McAfee Coliseum - Oakland Athletics
Miller Park - Milwaukee Brewers
Minute Maid Park - Houston Astros
Shea Stadium - New York Mets
Tropicana Field - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Yankee Stadium - New York Yankees

fquaye149
11-06-2006, 05:07 PM
The problem is, ODF, you continue to state this "20 encouraged games" thing like it's known fact, but never give any reason for us to think you're not just pulling a Hangar-tinfoil thing.

Do you have any actual source besides that it seems plausible or that you see the umpires making bad calls in games that fit your profile for an encouraged game...?

Flight #24
11-06-2006, 05:09 PM
I think umpiring has improved since they did away with the different leagues and in theory teams don't see the same crew that often ( though I swear Joe West worked a lot of Boston games in 2006 )

My problem with Questec is that it is only in 10 parks. It should be in all 30

Parks with Questec

Angel Stadium of Anaheim - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Chase Field - Arizona Diamondbacks
Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox
Jacobs Field - Cleveland Indians
McAfee Coliseum - Oakland Athletics
Miller Park - Milwaukee Brewers
Minute Maid Park - Houston Astros
Shea Stadium - New York Mets
Tropicana Field - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Yankee Stadium - New York Yankees

Anyone seen any stats on the run scoring in these parks? I wonder if Questec is increasing scores by giving pitchers less leeway?

Ol' No. 2
11-06-2006, 05:38 PM
The problem is, ODF, you continue to state this "20 encouraged games" thing like it's known fact, but never give any reason for us to think you're not just pulling a Hangar-tinfoil thing.

Do you have any actual source besides that it seems plausible or that you see the umpires making bad calls in games that fit your profile for an encouraged game...?Up until this year I never believed in this sort of thing. This year changed my mind. There were at least half a dozen White Sox games where the umpiring was consistently biased. This is not the same as blown calls - those tend to even out. These were games where there were clearly two different strike zones. In at least a few cases it was so bad even the opposing team's announcers were joking about it. I can't recall any where there was consistent bias the other way.

How this comes about I have no idea. Is there a phone call from a league official late at night? Who knows? But given that I never noticed it before 2006, the proposition that it tends to be directed toward reigning pennant-winners seems to fit.

JB98
11-06-2006, 05:50 PM
Up until this year I never believed in this sort of thing. This year changed my mind. There were at least half a dozen White Sox games where the umpiring was consistently biased. This is not the same as blown calls - those tend to even out. These were games where there were clearly two different strike zones. In at least a few cases it was so bad even the opposing team's announcers were joking about it. I can't recall any where there was consistent bias the other way.

How this comes about I have no idea. Is there a phone call from a league official late at night? Who knows? But given that I never noticed it before 2006, the proposition that it tends to be directed toward reigning pennant-winners seems to fit.

I'll tell you this much: The umpiring in Sox games sucked this year. The previous three or four years, I thought the umpiring was as good as it has ever been. The sharp, immediate decline sure was curious.

fquaye149
11-06-2006, 06:22 PM
Up until this year I never believed in this sort of thing. This year changed my mind. There were at least half a dozen White Sox games where the umpiring was consistently biased. This is not the same as blown calls - those tend to even out. These were games where there were clearly two different strike zones. In at least a few cases it was so bad even the opposing team's announcers were joking about it. I can't recall any where there was consistent bias the other way.

How this comes about I have no idea. Is there a phone call from a league official late at night? Who knows? But given that I never noticed it before 2006, the proposition that it tends to be directed toward reigning pennant-winners seems to fit.

I'm not even saying it doesn't happen. In fact I tend to believe it probably does. I am just curious if there's any concrete evidence or even concrete hearsay, or if it's just speculation.

ondafarm
11-06-2006, 07:00 PM
I think umpiring has improved since they did away with the different leagues and in theory teams don't see the same crew that often ( though I swear Joe West worked a lot of Boston games in 2006 )

My problem with Questec is that it is only in 10 parks. It should be in all 30

Parks with Questec

Angel Stadium of Anaheim - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Chase Field - Arizona Diamondbacks
Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox
Jacobs Field - Cleveland Indians
McAfee Coliseum - Oakland Athletics
Miller Park - Milwaukee Brewers
Minute Maid Park - Houston Astros
Shea Stadium - New York Mets
Tropicana Field - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Yankee Stadium - New York Yankees


Questec was installed at all 30 parks and is even in many minor league parks. At the request(demand) of the umpires union, this was never publicized and is never discussed officially by any owner/ organization or union. You can see the machines at USCF, they are just to the plate side of both dugouts. I also know that although individual umpires reports are supposedly kept to umpiring teams, union officials, umpiring supervisors and the comittee that reviews umpire grading, they occasionally leak out. I've seen one about a specific game myself. I have seen summary information, even classed by batter (as in, how do AL umpires call strikes on Frank Thomas?)

ondafarm
11-06-2006, 07:10 PM
I'm not even saying it doesn't happen. In fact I tend to believe it probably does. I am just curious if there's any concrete evidence or even concrete hearsay, or if it's just speculation.

Obviously, if I had concrete evidence, as in phonetaps, covert tapings of umpire dressing room conversations or league meetings then I'd just splay that all over. And earn myself a nice time up the river for illegal surveilance.

As a former professional player, I can assure you, there were times that the word was passed around that we were just going to lose this game. Normally in Japan, that had to do with face-saving games. As in, during the playoffs if one team sweeps the first three in a best of seven series, the next game will almost always be encouraged for the down team. Occasionally, it doesn't take and a kid pitcher just throws a jim-dandy game which results in a sweep or something. As a batter in those games, you just realize anything close will be called and you swing at it.

Ask any former pro baseball player, you occasionally have to give up a game for the good of the league and for business. Nobody in baseball goes 162-0.

ondafarm
11-06-2006, 07:11 PM
I also meant are you surprised by my opinion because several people call me a conspiracy theorist here and find my views extreme.

champagne030
11-06-2006, 07:24 PM
Obviously, if I had concrete evidence, as in phonetaps, covert tapings of umpire dressing room conversations or league meetings then I'd just splay that all over. And earn myself a nice time up the river for illegal surveilance.

As a former professional player, I can assure you, there were times that the word was passed around that we were just going to lose this game. Normally in Japan, that had to do with face-saving games. As in, during the playoffs if one team sweeps the first three in a best of four series, the next game will almost always be encouraged for the down team. Occasionally, it doesn't take and a kid pitcher just throws a jim-dandy game which results in a sweep or something. As a batter in those games, you just realize anything close will be called and you swing at it.

Ask any former pro baseball player, you occasionally have to give up a game for the good of the league and for business. Nobody in baseball goes 162-0.

:?: best of seven?

ws05champs
11-06-2006, 07:39 PM
How this comes about I have no idea. Is there a phone call from a league official late at night? Who knows? But given that I never noticed it before 2006, the proposition that it tends to be directed toward reigning pennant-winners seems to fit.

Every time I start thinking this way something happens that seems to go against it. Look how "good for baseball" it would have been if the Tigers won the World Series this year instead of the Cardinals. It will be interesting to see what happens as the Cubs approach 100 years without a World Series win.

Trav
11-06-2006, 07:42 PM
I can't think of anything that would surprise me about MLB.

Onda, care to share about your baseball career a little more?

fquaye149
11-06-2006, 07:57 PM
I also meant are you surprised by my opinion because several people call me a conspiracy theorist here and find my views extreme.

I don't think you're a conspiracy theorist---I think your personal experience goes a long way to establishing your credibility (although Japanese baseball might be a lot different, I'm not sure)....I was just wondering what, besides watching the Sox get jobbed, caused you to make that judgment on mlb.

Fenway
11-06-2006, 08:13 PM
Questec was installed at all 30 parks and is even in many minor league parks. At the request(demand) of the umpires union, this was never publicized and is never discussed officially by any owner/ organization or union. You can see the machines at USCF, they are just to the plate side of both dugouts. I also know that although individual umpires reports are supposedly kept to umpiring teams, union officials, umpiring supervisors and the comittee that reviews umpire grading, they occasionally leak out. I've seen one about a specific game myself. I have seen summary information, even classed by batter (as in, how do AL umpires call strikes on Frank Thomas?)

Interesting. Schilling has posted on SoSH that he gets better results in non Questec parks. This is the first I've heard that it is in all 30 parks.

ondafarm
11-06-2006, 09:35 PM
:?: best of seven?

Touche.

Ol' No. 2
11-07-2006, 02:19 PM
Every time I start thinking this way something happens that seems to go against it. Look how "good for baseball" it would have been if the Tigers won the World Series this year instead of the Cardinals. It will be interesting to see what happens as the Cubs approach 100 years without a World Series win.If the fix wasn't in in 2003, it would never be in. It may not be possible to fix games sufficiently that the Cubs would win.

The Wall
11-08-2006, 06:19 PM
I keep thinking about this strike zone issue. Most everything else in baseball is less uncertain than this one. And to me, it seems like it is the single most variable in the sport.

Can there be a game without a homeplate umpire calling strikes and balls? Can there be a 4 laser rectangular box drawn at the plate which will constitute as the zone? That would eliminate anything and everything that is uncertain about the strike zone. It would never change - not for any hitter or pitcher or umpire. If the pitch passes through the zone then it is a strike...sort of makes it an automatic than rely on someone to call it.

If you can put similar technology in every garage, then you should be able to extend it to the diamond.

DumpJerry
11-08-2006, 06:51 PM
Am I surprised at what you're saying today? No. If you and I have been talking about the issue for some time and this view is a complete reversal, then I would be surprised.

Maybe you're asking if WSIers agree....

PKalltheway
11-08-2006, 09:02 PM
There remain about twenty games a year in the league that are 'encouraged' results. Mostly these are done for attendance issues and a disproportionate number involve reigning pennant winners. Tampa Bay is still crowing about how they 'meatloafed the defending World Champs' at home in 2006. It sells them tickets. Considering that 20 games out of more than 1100 games across the league doesn't sound like much. To me, baseball is such a great sport that monkeying around with even less than 2% of games should be considered sacrilege.
I'm not trying to make a snide comment, or anything of that nature, but since you mentioned pennant winners, is there any evidence that the Astros got screwed out of some games since they were the reigning NL Champions?

ondafarm
11-08-2006, 09:59 PM
I'm not trying to make a snide comment, or anything of that nature, but since you mentioned pennant winners, is there any evidence that the Astros got screwed out of some games since they were the reigning NL Champions?


I'm not trying to be snide either but I honestly do not watch enough National League games to be able to answer your question. I think there is more attention paid to the World Champion and defeating them counts for lesser teams a lot more. But pennant winners also get that treatment as well.

ondafarm
11-08-2006, 10:07 PM
I keep thinking about this strike zone issue. Most everything else in baseball is less uncertain than this one. And to me, it seems like it is the single most variable in the sport.

Can there be a game without a homeplate umpire calling strikes and balls? Can there be a 4 laser rectangular box drawn at the plate which will constitute as the zone? That would eliminate anything and everything that is uncertain about the strike zone. It would never change - not for any hitter or pitcher or umpire. If the pitch passes through the zone then it is a strike...sort of makes it an automatic than rely on someone to call it.

If you can put similar technology in every garage, then you should be able to extend it to the diamond.

Two factors: I do think strike zones should vary by batter and not umpire. Frank Thomas, a great big guy who stands straight up when batting, should have a larger strike zone verticaly than Tadahito Iguchi, a much smaller guy. I think each batter should have to protect his strikezone. Most umpires call one strike zone and make no allowance for player height.

Second, automatic ball-strike calling schemes have been proposed since the 1950s. The umpires, and I believe owners, have always resisted them. The former for being out of worker, the latter because it's harder to rig a machine than a man.

kevin57
11-09-2006, 04:08 PM
I'll tell you this much: The umpiring in Sox games sucked this year. The previous three or four years, I thought the umpiring was as good as it has ever been. The sharp, immediate decline sure was curious.

I agree 100%. The strike zone seemed to shrink, at least for Sox pitchers, and since we do not have an overpowering staff, one that likes and needs to nibble at the corners, this was not good.

ondafarm
11-09-2006, 05:55 PM
I will point out this poll the next time I get taunting messages about "Did the umpires make Buehrle balk as well?" or stuff like that.

Hokiesox
11-10-2006, 10:51 AM
As an amateur umpire, I can tell you calling balls and strikes is the hardest thing in the profession. Different people throw different pitches that break in different places in flight, I've always hated curveballs.

My biggest problem in calling balls and strikes is running across a very clever pitcher. It's no fault of the pitcher, but if I blow a call in an early inning, i.e. giving him an extra 3 inches off the plate and calling it a strike, he's going to continue throwing that pitch. I know I blew that call. In the name of consistency, do I continue to call it, or not? I know I blew that call, I know every single strike call that should have been called a ball at the end of a game. THEN, do I call that pitch for the other team? Supposing I "forget" I called that a strike b/c I know I blew it, what happens when the other team throws it? They're going to have a valid point that I called it the other way.

Before I ramble on, consistency is not very hard to acheive in the vertical plane, but the pitches on the corners can be a little inconsistent. We're human.

ondafarm
11-10-2006, 06:32 PM
As an amateur umpire, I can tell you calling balls and strikes is the hardest thing in the profession. Different people throw different pitches that break in different places in flight, I've always hated curveballs.

My biggest problem in calling balls and strikes is running across a very clever pitcher. It's no fault of the pitcher, but if I blow a call in an early inning, i.e. giving him an extra 3 inches off the plate and calling it a strike, he's going to continue throwing that pitch. I know I blew that call. In the name of consistency, do I continue to call it, or not? I know I blew that call, I know every single strike call that should have been called a ball at the end of a game. THEN, do I call that pitch for the other team? Supposing I "forget" I called that a strike b/c I know I blew it, what happens when the other team throws it? They're going to have a valid point that I called it the other way.

Before I ramble on, consistency is not very hard to acheive in the vertical plane, but the pitches on the corners can be a little inconsistent. We're human.


Sorry if you think I've jumped on umpires unfairly. Like I said 90% right 90% of the time. Major League umpires are professionals who have worked for years and years to get to the majors, being among the best at each and every layer of the game. I think that Major League umpires should be darn near perfect, nearly all the time. I also think rookie umps should be kept from working the plate for a couple of years so they get accustomed to the show.

As for knowing you blew one call, the best advice I can give is admit it to exactly one player from both teams (preferably the catcher who caught it and the guy you called out) aplogize quickly, "Sorry, I blew that call. The ball was outside." Do not promise to make it up and inform both that you won't be calling that pitch again. Then forget it and move on. Blown calls happen. Trying to balance them out just causes more damage. Admit it, warn about it and move on.

I had one guy call me out three straight at bats as the pitcher moved his breaking ball further and further out. Finally on the fourth I switched sides of the plate and he threw it again, which broke into me. Ump said I didn't try to get out of the way so he called it a strike. The guy tried to ace one on the outside corner with the next pitch which I lined off the left-center wall for a double. The pitcher stood there looking at me as I stood on second and I took my cap off and waved it in the motion Japanese pitchers do to say "I didn't mean to hit you."