Saturday, May 25, 2013

0 comments Doug Glanville Doesn't Understand Why Fans Want Umpires to Get Calls Correct

Terence Moore has railed against instant replay quite a few times and now in the wake off more missed calls Doug Glanville is joining the chorus telling us all that missed calls are JUST A PART OF THE GAME. Sure, some missed calls could be prevented, but some deaths could be prevented by wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle and no one would suggest wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is a good idea. Potential horrific death is just a part of owning a motorcycle. Doug also wants us to know that baseball has always merited out penalties punishments and revenge privately, so he doesn't get why we have to publicly criticize an umpire for making a mistake during a nationally televised game. This is all social media's fault by the way. Let's keep umpiring justice underground. MLB has a way of punishing these umpires and these punishments shouldn't be made public. Instant replay would only serve to highlight the mistakes the umpires make and mistakes are a fun part of the game. It's the human element!

Even as I know that it's cliché to say that umpires are only human, it is also cliché to complain about the caliber of umpires when we know they are the best in the world at what they do.

No Doug, it is not a cliche to complain about the caliber of umpires. Calling this a cliche would indicate complaining about the umpires has lost its original meaning, when it very clearly has not lost its original meaning since the complaints are still valid. Few people are complaining about the caliber of the umpires, but the complaints are mostly about the umpires missing easy calls. It seems to be recognized the MLB umpires are possibly the best in the world, but it's not a cliche to point out the list of easy calls getting missed by them.

And our criticism of the judges of the game is easy to dismiss as background noise when we seem to comment only when they make mistakes.

It's easy to dismiss the criticism as background noise if you insisting on ignoring the criticism as having merit and push it to the background.

Umpires are the cafeteria food, the taxes, the new boyfriend of our ex. We complain about them as a default, as a reflex.

Hmmm...this is kind of an interesting comparison. Umpires are the cafeteria food, but if you get a hair in your food at the cafeteria would you not notify the establishment? If you were levied an certain amount of taxes incorrectly wouldn't you appeal to the IRS to reduce the amount of taxes you have to pay? If the new boyfriend of your ex kept calling you or harassing you then wouldn't you have a reason to complain about him/her? It's not a default reflex to complain about the umpires when the umpires are clearly making mistakes. No one would see a hair in their food at a cafeteria, shrug their shoulders and then continue eating because "it's so cliche to complain about hair in your food." When a wrong is committed, it's a legitimate gripe, not a reflexive action that is illegitimate.

It doesn't really matter if the food tastes good, the taxes go to good use, or the boyfriend is actually a nice guy.

That's not a good comparison in this situation. In this situation the food tastes bad, the taxes are not put to good use, and the boyfriend is a dick.

They are always in the wrong place at the wrong time, even when they make the right call.

Good umpiring is appreciated. When a game is well-umpired I remark to myself these umpires really are doing well. Like any other job, mistakes are going to be amplified though.

Every year we exclaim that umpires are "getting more confrontational."

When umpires toss a player like David Price out of the game for seemingly doing very little and the umpire seemed to antagonize's hard to not call them more confrontational.

Every year they need to be replaced by robots or armed with a deck of instant replay choices.

That's not at all what is being suggested. If you want to have a serious discussion then don't exaggerate for effect or to cover up for the fact you aren't able to make valid points.

I haven't heard much about rewarding umpires for doing a good job. All we know is good umpires get to work the playoffs,

Umpires do get a reward for doing a good job. It's called a "salary" and they get to work the playoffs as a reward as well.

but public opinion has little to say about their work unless they cost our favorite team a run.

So coddling the umpires more than they are already coddled will make them do a better job? They just want to be loved, that's all.

There are already super-secret punishments and reprimands for umpires, so I find it hard to feel bad for them when they mess up and take some criticism. They know they put themselves in that spot to be criticized and their punishments stay out of the public spotlight generally. It's more than can be said for the MLB players, who are punished publicly for their public screwups.

We have to remember that for its long history, baseball has lived off of self-regulation. It was handled in the locker room, or on the field, or between the sparring teammates in private.

While understandable, I do believe the umpires have to be accountable for the mistakes that are made. I am not in favor of public flogging of umpires, but criticizing them for doing a poor job hardly seems close to being out of line, especially when true. The baseball-loving public deserves some sense that MLB understands and takes actions to ensure clearly bad calls don't further determine the result of a baseball game.

The umpires were just part of an environment that was self-evaluating and self-policing. They were following the underground order of the game.

There are issues with self-evaluating and self-policing. Part of the issues with these concepts is that the order of the game is underground. A lack of transparency isn't always a good thing and self-policing can lead to groupthink which may not be good for the game of baseball. It's hard for baseball fans to throw up their hands and say, "Well, my team just lost a game on a blown call, but I'm sure his supervisor is going to write him a very stern email tomorrow."

Like it or not, umpires are accountable to the fans who pay money watching games. Doug Glanville is essentially arguing against the public criticizing of umpires and that is quite simply not a reasonable request. Players can police themselves for internal violations of the player's code, but if a player charges the mound and is suspended 6 games then this is a publicly announced suspension. So in terms of suspensions, players are publicly chastised for mistakes, while umpires often have their mistakes punished privately. I'm not arguing against this private punishment, but baseball teams don't necessarily self-police privately when it comes to their players.

If you thought someone hit you intentionally, you could charge the mound and accidentally break a collar bone.

And MLB will suspend you for a few games. This is a public suspension. It used to be that suspensions weren't handed out for charging the mound, but things have changed.

You could knock a catcher who was blocking the plate into next week because it was part of the game.

Now if a player knocks over the catcher it is treated like a major violation of the baseball code. Things have changed and Doug Glanville is simply yearning for the days of yore, rather than acknowledging how baseball has changed and adapted.

This is all very confusing and poorly written. Doug Glanville is supposed to be talking about umpiring and need for perfection, but he is slipping in a conversation about private codes of conduct in baseball that have become public. If anything, you could use these examples of private codes of conduct that have become public as an example of why umpires should be publicly reprimanded for their mistakes. Plus, the pursuit of umpiring perfection is a different conversation from the conversation Doug Glanville seems to be leading us towards.

The rules were as ingrained as Newton's Laws to those on the field. So much so that in many cases, no one on the outside knew how retaliation would be dished out.

Glanville is very much off-topic right now. This isn't supposed to be an article about retaliation, but is supposed to be an article about the search of perfection in umpiring.

Umpires have always mirrored baseball's loosey-goosey police work. The game took care of it, it evened out, and mostly it was "go get 'em tomorrow."

I'm not even entirely sure what this means. Does it mean umpires used to give teams a makeup call on a later date for a missed call during a previous game? Calls probably do tend to even out over time, but if an umpire misses a call that costs a team the game then it's hard to say "go get 'em tomorrow" when there is technology that can overturn this call at the time the call was made.

So umpires were presiding over a society that was held together by history, by unwritten rules, by trust or perhaps blindness, or by faith. And umpires just employed similar self-regulation as the game did in general.

I don't understand what the hell this means. Umpires still do police themselves. Fans aren't voting on the appropriate punishment for an umpire who misses a call. MLB and the Director of Umpires are the ones who hand down a punishment or suspension to umpires for misconduct. There is still self-regulation and much of this self-regulation is private. It's not like an umpire's season-long record is revealed to the public. Umpires are still for the most part punished or graded quietly and privately. 

But like any other monumental change in communication, a generation of fans and players came along that was fine with the blurring of the public and private domain. It was a time to protect, and security was chosen over privacy.

What does this have to do with privacy? So an umpire blows a call in view of everyone and there should be no criticism or call for expanded replay because the umpire deserves some sense of privacy? If Doug Glanville thinks umpires don't have a sense of privacy in how they are graded then I would like for him to do a search for the grades that a certain umpire received last year. You can't find it.

But the major difference is social media makes everyone a testifying witness. There is nowhere to hide from its stream, and now the vigilante justice that was meted out in baseball's past has a jury.

I get the feeling Doug Glanville didn't really know what he was talking about with this column. If social media is now the jury then how do they have an effect on the vigilante justice? Does Doug think the pressure from social media is causing MLB to punish umpires more harshly? Social media isn't the jury, they are simply commenting and giving an opinion on what they see happening. Why is that umpires are being held even the least bit accountable in a public fashion seen as a bad trend? 

So when the Astros and Angels brought to light the rule book on pitching changes and pinch hitters, the world tweeted. The rules were posted and we watched. In an unprecedented moment, an umpire's fate was tied to an audience.

The umpire made a very public mess-up. The umpire's fate wasn't tied to the audience, but MLB understood the mistake got a lot of attention and they wanted to react to the mistake.

And so an umpire was suspended for not upholding a rule he should have known.

He should have known the rule. That's his job, to know the rules of baseball. Would it have been better to have private justice? What would that justice have even entailed? It's not like the public wouldn't have known if the umpire got suspended for a few games. Someone surely would have noticed the umpire that just screwed up hasn't umpired a game in a few days.

Fair enough, but we need to recognize that we have a new sheriff in town and the sheriff may not even be at the game or even watching it live.

You don't need to be watching the game live to watch the replay of the mistake and understand it should not have occurred. Is this some bizarre version of the whole "You can't evaluate this player accurately because you didn't watch him play" argument?

In my playing days, I heard a lot of complaints about the lack of accountability for umpires,

But what about the vigilante justice? It works! Don't players understand complaining about the umpiring is so cliche? It's like complaining about cafeteria food.

but this new way of communicating has been too much because the assessment of umpires is now tapping the reflexive bias the public has against umpires.

There is no reflexive bias against umpires, there is a reflexive bias against umpires making really bad calls during a game.

A public that is considering ways to put machinery in their place or have so many versions of instant replays that umpires become street signs that post the results, not engaged the actors.

Again, this isn't what is attempting to be accomplished with expanding instant replay. Expanding replay is an attempt to ensure umpires get the call correct. The NFL has fairly expansive replay and it doesn't take away from the job that the NFL officials do. NFL officials aren't becoming street signs and MLB umpires would not become street signs either.

But I can't help but think about the issue with the judgment of judges being swayed by public opinion. Don't we have to be careful with that equation?

Does Doug Glanville have any proof that the judgment of the umpires was swayed by public opinion? I don't think he does, so he is just making an assumption that ever-so-conveniently matches up with the point he is trying to prove.

Imagine presiding over a court case and listening to everyone's interpretation of the law.

You mean presiding over a court case and there being a group of people responsible for final judgment on the case? A group of people who are unfamiliar with the law and base their opinion of guilt or innocence on what information others give them? I think it's called a jury and a judge presides over court cases all the time where a jury makes the final determination.

Part of the reason for umpire secrecy in their evaluation process is so that it doesn't get tainted by too many chefs in the kitchen or run the risk of other agendas entering into play.

Did the evaluation of umpires all of a sudden become made public and I haven't heard about it? MLB and the Director of Umpires can ignore social media and make their own determination when evaluating an umpire. This hasn't changed. It's just social media has a voice. The best part is there is no agenda with social media. As a Braves fan, I don't have an agenda when it comes to an umpire messing up an Oakland A's home run. I just don't like to see bad umpiring. If wanting to see good umpiring that doesn't have an effect on the result of a game is an agenda, then count me as a guilty of having an agenda.

We want to know how the test is given. We want to know the secret sauce.

No, we want to make sure the test isn't rigged or if a person takes a piss in the secret sauce then the sauce doesn't get distributed to customers. No one wants a say in the policing of umpires, we just want to make sure there is policing of umpires.

We have fancy technology that we see as a clean way to discern the truth.

But...but...that's not a bad thing.

Even so, we should ask if we want the umpires to be in that position, out of caution of having a game of people solely judged by computers.

Who the hell is suggesting baseball be a game solely judged by computers? I feel like I am taking crazy pills. No one has suggested the game of baseball be judged solely by computers. Again, Doug Glanville is exaggerating in order to make his point of view seem more reasonable.

Seems like a slippery slope.

Seems like you are making this up.

But like no other time, the fans are getting on the field, in the locker room, in the dugout, without actually being there.

Fans really aren't in the locker room or in the dugout any more than they used to be before the increased use of social media. It's not like my Tweets can get an umpire suspended and I certainly don't have access to the locker room without a press pass or video/audio from a sportswriter who is also in the locker room or dugout.

Even I can press the NFL to ban former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from the league forever.

It doesn't matter what you think about Gregg Williams. The NFL still makes their decision based on their own set of criteria and for their own reasons. It's not like I can write into Roger Goodell and he makes a decision based entirely on my recommendation.

We can make Tiger Woods take a penalty shot.

No, the PGA made Tiger Woods take a penalty shot. Some pathetic person called in and reported a violation by Tiger.

We can call a home run better than anyone on the field can do it and we can do that with none of the responsibility for making the call.

That's because we have replay that shows us whether it was a home run or not. Perhaps those who have responsibility for making the call should have access to the same technology I have sitting at home, as opposed to criticizing those at home for voicing their displeasure about a missed call they have the technology to see as really being a missed call.

We can be there, when we are not.

And it is a good thing. There is more accountability.

We can overrule, overturn, overthink, and even overreact and delete that last post. But let's be careful because we may not want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes when we try to make perfection.

Why don't you tell us, Doug, how deep the rabbit hole goes when we try to make perfection? That's right, Doug prefers to speak in generalities railing against the increased use of technology and the increased voice of social media. He tells us the rabbit hole can go deeper than we think, warns us against making private decisions more public, and says wanting perfection is a peril. Yet, he doesn't tell us WHY perfection is a peril, WHY private decisions being made public is bad (other than using "it's not how it used to be" as a reason), and WHY the rabbit hole can go too deep or where this deeper rabbit hole takes us. Without that, this is just an empty group of words that are unpersuasive.

Maybe a missed call will be a thing of the past. Maybe that is a good thing.

It may not be a good thing, but it certainly isn't a bad thing.

But I get the feeling we may actually miss a missed call, no matter what we say in 140 characters or less.

Why the hell would we miss a missed call? Baseball isn't trending towards computers becoming the new umpires, so the human element will still be there. Using Doug's "cafeteria" comparison, this is like saying we may miss finding a hair in our food. The human element is great until the human element screws something up.