Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2 comments Terence Moore Says Umpires Have an Impossible Job, So Why Make it Easier?

Terence Moore is tired of people bashing baseball umpires. From his point of view, the umpires get calls wrong, but that doesn't mean they should be replaced or baseball should use technology to make sure the calls are correct. Terence thinks umpires are really good at their job even though he sees their job as impossible. The use of technology or instant replay would make their impossible job a little more possible and accurate, but once we let the machines umpire a game we are only one short step away from allowing the machines to play baseball. We can't let the machines and Sabermetricians win. In related news, it is clear Terence Moore fears machines and change as a whole.

Here we go again.

Whine, whine, whine.

I agree. I wish people would stop whining on behalf of the umpires. They get calls wrong. Even they know that. Defending them as if the expansion of replay wouldn't help to get calls correct and improve the game of baseball is silly at this point.

Which leads to this message to the latest group of umpire bashers: Stifle, please.

Yeah, umpires are supposed to get calls wrong! That is what makes baseball so great. Wouldn't football be better if the NFL took away instant replay and a bad call or two changed the game in even a minor way? NFL officials are fallible beings who sometimes get calls wrong. If a complete pass was ruled an incomplete pass and forces your team to punt rather than have a first down and continue their drive, doesn't that add to your enjoyment of the game? Human error is part of the NFL, so we should bring as much human error as possible back to the NFL as soon as possible.

Not only has baseball had these admirable men as long as there has been a home plate,

Irrelevant. You could use this same backwards reasoning for fighting any type of progress our world has experienced over the last 200 years including the invention of the car, slavery, the prevalence of air travel, giving women/minorities the right to vote, and using the Internet as opposed to using encyclopedias to gather information. The fact baseball has always used umpires, and not expanded replay, is simply not a reason to avoid any changes to umpiring or the replay system.

I am not necessarily in favor of a system that calls balls and strikes for the umpire, but I wouldn't mind seeing replay expanded to include other plays (outside of just home runs) that affect the outcome of the game. MLB agrees with me on this and the umpire union just needs to approve this use of instant replay.

but studies show through the decades that umpires get calls involving balls and strikes -- along with others -- correct at an incredibly high rate.

The incredibly high rate umpires get calls right is not relevant to this discussion. Instant replay isn't going to be used for every single call made by the umpires. What do studies show the percentage of calls umpires get correct when they have to make a close or borderline call? Umpires do get balls and strikes, and routine plays on the basepaths correct at a high rate because they are easy or slightly difficult calls. That's not the issue. The issue lies in how many very close calls do umpires get correct? That is what instant replay is needed for. To take the tough calls and ensure they are correct.

"I want a ball called a ball and a strike called a strike," Valentine told reporters this week. "Figure out how. I don't know how to do it. I know you can. It's 2012."

This is true. I like the presence of the umpires on the field, but would accept a system that would make it easier for umpires to judge what is a ball and a strike. Of course, I don't want a system calling the balls and strikes for the umpire, so I'm tough to please.

Much of the complaining about umpires by players or managers occurs after a tough loss. Complaining about the umpiring is a way to place blame for the loss, but they can also valid complaints about the way a specific play was called.

Valentine's reference was to 21st-century technology, but most of the umpiring ways of the 20th and 19th centuries aren't bad.

They're actually pretty good.

We all know "actually pretty good" is the standard most baseball fans would like to see in the umpiring. Sure, they miss some close and not-close calls. Sure, sometimes umpires completely and utterly miss a call any normal human being with eyes would get correct and the expansion of replay would immediately overturn. The horrendous call I've linked only affected one game. I'm sure Pirates fans weren't bothered at all by it. Overall the umpiring is actually pretty good.

Sure, sometimes a blown call leads to the game-winning or game-tying run on second base, which made the difference in a playoff game. Maybe taking a look at the replay of this call would have changed this playoff game. Umpires are fallible though and they are actually pretty good. Where's the fun in baseball at if an umpire can't affect the outcome of a game with a bad call?

For every time an umpire misses a single by Carlos Beltran that is ruled a foul ball despite kicking up chalk down the left-field line to give Johan Santana the first no-hitter in New York Mets history, there are tens, hundreds, thousands of other spot-on calls.

That's true. Many of these spot-on calls are easy calls to make. The tough calls are the ones where the umpires need help sometimes. I can drive a car hundreds or thousands of times and not get in an accident, but I still wear my seat belt because there is that one time I could get in an accident. I don't wear my seat belt for the thousands of times I drive around town, I wear it for when someone rear ends me doing 30 miles per hour. In my bad analogy, the same thing goes for the expansion of replay. It isn't going to be used for every balls and strikes call or every play on the field, but only for the important calls that were difficult for the umpire to get correct due to human error.

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson had it exactly right when he told me a few years ago, "Folks have put umpires in such a tough position that it's almost impossible to umpire today.

The fact umpiring has become more difficult is an argument for ensuring this impossible job has the benefit of oversight to ensure the call made on the field was the correct one.

Fans in the stands hear commentators on TV and on radio and in the newspapers talking about an umpire missing a call [in the past], and the fans bring it right to the ballpark.

Again, the ability for fans to hear and see missed calls means MLB needs to be more dedicated than ever to making sure the call on the field was the correct call. Use technology to help improve the game, don't ignore technology in an attempt to make sure no egos get stepped on. If an umpire misses a call, that has an impact on the game. Continuing this umpire's perception that he is great at his job and none of his calls should be questioned can not override the need to get the call on the field correct.

"Suddenly, there's a close call against the home team, and the fans are yelling, 'See there? There goes another blown one. He wasn't safe or he wasn't out.' All of this just increases the mindset of hostility toward umpires, and it's not justified."

It's not justified, except when umpires miss calls that in some way affect the game. This anger is justified if it turns out the call made by the umpire was a bad one.

No massive overhaul of umpires throughout the Major Leagues, and no expansion involving those two overrated words in sports: instant replay.

Ask the NFL and its fans how overrated instant replay is. Ask the NBA and its fans how overrated instant replay of a shot that was either a two or a three point shot is. Instant replay is overrated only if it is implemented poorly or if a person is personally against the use of instant replay. Otherwise, I don't see how pausing for a minute or two (approximately 1-2 pitches during an Andy Pettitte start) to make sure a call is correct can be seen as a bad thing.

For one, the meteoric rise of instant replay in pro and college football has made games last forever.

Got any research supporting this contention? No? Great.

As a result, many fans are grumbling over what they once considered a sports messiah.

Many other fans are grumbling over MLB's inability to ensure human error and judgment isn't compromising the outcome of even one MLB game this year.

It's getting to the point where NBA referees are checking television monitors for nearly everything near the ends of games to make sure they "got it right."

I haven't noticed this at all. Though in my defense, I don't have preconceived notions about instant replay and am not willing to bend facts around to make it seem like instant replay is more trouble than it is worth. I'm not sure Terence Moore can say the same thing.

That leads to timid officiating. Why make a definitive call -- or one at all -- when you have videotape at your disposal?

Maybe because it is your job to make a definitive call? Why do any type of work if someone else can just pick up the slack and do it for you? Umpires have pride in their ability to do their job and display this pride in a professional manner by attempting to accurately make calls on the field. If they can't do this with instant replay in use, they shouldn't be umpires at the major league level.

Under the new rules, instant replay will cover fair and foul calls, whether balls are caught or trapped by fielders and the expansion of fan-interference reviews from the home-run boundary to every wall.

I think these are good rules. How often will this replay be used in a game? I'm guessing it won't be used but maybe once a game. The review of the play will take two minutes. Baseball can cut time from other areas of the game if the length of games is a concern. I don't see why two minutes to ensure a call is correct is too much to ask.

Even if there are zero arguments between managers and umpires on plays involving the new rules, the length of games will increase.

By two minutes and the review of the call will prove to the manager the call was made correctly or the call will be overrturned and changed.

And there will be arguments, even if you tell managers that decisions via replay are final.

I'm not entirely sure there will be. I'm sure managers will still argue on occasion, but if the umpires look at the replay and come to the conclusion the call was correct, I am guessing managers won't take the time to argue the call.

After Jim Leyland's Detroit Tigers lost a recent game to the Red Sox, he ripped the umpiring without saying so directly and begged the media to "hold people accountable" with their computer keys.

Leyland gets fined if he criticizes the umpires, who at the major league level continue to be treated as if they are not only the best umpires in the world, but also above reproach, review, and any type of criticism by anyone outside of their umpiring supervisor.

I'm assuming the "people" that Leyland was referring to weren't his underachieving players. Despite a talented (and expensive) bunch that includes Cy Young and American League MVP holdover Justin Verlander and slugger Prince Fielder, who came as a $214 million free agent in the offseason, the Tigers aren't even a .500 team.

This is irrelevant. So umpires are allowed to miss a call if that call goes against an underachieving team? It's irrelevant if the Tigers have underachieved this year in terms of evaluating the major league umpires ability to do their job well and when considering the expansion of instant replay.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was so upset last week with the balls and strikes called by home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn that he fumed in the clubhouse while saying Reyburn should be sent back to Triple-A.

What are the Phillies doing this season after spending the previous five winning the National League East?

They are solidly in last place.

Again, this is so very much irrelevant to the discussion of umpiring and the use of expanded instant replay. It doesn't matter if the Phillies are in last place. Terence Moore is being not-so-subtle in suggesting the Phillies are too concerned about the umpires and not concerned enough about winning baseball games.

See a pattern here?

No, I don't see a pattern other than teams in last place are going to be more frustrated by bad umpiring. So a team in last place shouldn't worry about calls they perceive as not going their way?

Worse, the Red Sox are in the AL East, where they keep going south in the standings while everybody else is going north.

Which brings us back to that easy target ... umpires.

I'm not going to argue the umpires aren't an easy target for some teams to take out their frustration upon. They are. The fact some teams take out frustration on what they perceive as bad umpiring doesn't mean instant replay doesn't need to be expanded. These are two separate issues.

First, he blasted the weekend-long umpiring at Fenway Park -- you know, after the Washington Nationals swept his Red Sox. Then he continued his assault on umpires this week, but only with a softer tone.

"I think [umpires] are very well trained, and I think they're very good at what they do,"

Listen to that assault on the umpires. How dare Bobby Valentine indicate MLB umpires are good at what they do and are well trained. He should be fined for saying things like this. I can't fathom Valentine believes he can get by with this full-on assault of umpires.

Valentine said. "It's impossible to do what they do, so why do we ask them to do the impossible?"

Accurately making close plays correctly 100% of the time is nearly impossible to do. I think Valentine makes a good point. Umpires could use some help on calls that are borderline or too close to call. I see no reason why expanding replay would be a bad thing as long as MLB implemented the expansion to ensure it was used only for close plays and didn't take a long time to review the play.

Mostly because umpires do the impossible well.

Yes, but why can't they do the impossible better? This isn't about the umpires egos or second-guessing how good they are at their job. The expansion of instant replay is about making sure close calls, which are harder for umpires to accurately and correct rule upon, are the correct call. Admitting the umpires' job is impossible can be seen as more proof the expansion of instant replay needs to happen. As good as MLB umpires are, they aren't perfect, and the standard of doing the job "well" or being "actually pretty good" isn't a high enough standard to hold when discussing calls that could make a difference in the result of a game.


rich said...

"Suddenly, there's a close call against the home team, and the fans are yelling, 'See there? There goes another blown one. He wasn't safe or he wasn't out.'

Am I supposed to believe this is a new phenomena? Denkinger got death threats from a blown call before I was even born.

Umps have always been hated.

For one, the meteoric rise of instant replay in pro and college football has made games last forever.

You know what makes football games longer than they need to be? The commercial breaks at every opportunity.

You get at most 6 reviews a game, at 2 minutes a piece, you have an extra 12 minutes of game time. The horror.

Now mind you the minute someone scores a touchdown you get 3 minutes of commercials followed by the kickoff followed by 3 more minutes of commercials.

Instant replay hasn't made the games longer, greed has.

And for crying out loud, baseball is a slow as shit game as well and in most cases the instant replay review takes all of 20 seconds to reach a conclusive decision. It's not like football were you need to find just the right camera angle to show a players knee is down.

The review of the play will take two minutes.

Honestly, if a fair/foul call takes more than 30 seconds to figure out, the ump needs to be fired.

Even if there are zero arguments between managers and umpires on plays involving the new rules, the length of games will increase.

Baseball games are 3, 3.5 hours long anyway with a shit ton of downtime. What's another say 10 minutes making sure you get the calls right?

See a pattern here?

Hey remember when the Twins got screwed over in a playoff game two years ago because the ump missed a fair/foul call that Helen Keller could have made?

Guess that's a little wrinkle in your plan.

They are solidly in last place.

When that game happened, the Phillies fell to 28-28; meaning had they held on to win they go to 29-27, 5.5 games out of 1st and like a game and a half out of 3rd.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, fans have always disliked umpires. In this day and age I think most people have accepted that baseball games are long. I think the idea of getting a call correct is more important than making sure the game is over in a prompt fashion. Baseball is a slow game.

We know this and we have known this for a while now. I think baseball replays will be more clearly cut. I don't know how many replays an ump would need to see in order to determine if a ball was fair or foul. There is really only variable to measure, whether the ball was on the inside or outside of the white line.

I think they could make up the time by speeding the pitch changes up or ensuring a pitcher doesn't take forever between pitches. If time is really a problem, I think it can be fixed. I don't see more than 1-2 reviews per game and they take a minute or so each.

Basically, Terence Moore thinks the teams that are losing games need to focus less on the bad umpiring and more on winning games. I don't see the issue with making the calls as accurate as possible, especially since he admits the job of umpiring is nearly impossible to do perfectly.