Tuesday, October 30, 2012

World Series: After Video Review, Umpire Crew Perfect in San Francisco Games

What makes a ho-hum MLB World Series?

Sure, the San Francisco Giants' surge to a two-game advantage over the Tigers as the series turns to Detroit is a contributing factor, though one reason for baseball blandness this late in the 2012 postseason has been repeated by broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver several times, albeit in a very covert way.
This umpiring crew has been on point.
As said by Buck during Game 2 on Thursday, the 2012 World Series umpiring crew has called all close plays correctly, securing an accuracy of 100 percent through the championship round's initial set by the Bay.
Before the World Series began, umpire Brian O'Nora told his native Austintown, Ohio's WYTV that, "[Officiating is] the only job that you have to get everything right, you have to be perfect and get better."
Hi-res-154682806_crop_exactThe 2012 World Series umpiring crew meet with managers Jim Leyland and Bruce Bochy prior to Game 1.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
As if putting this theory immediately into practice, O'Nora's crew for this year's Fall Classic has been exactly perfect—yet managed to improve from Game 1 to Game 2.
Using similar criteria employed by ESPN during their 2010 study, which found that umpires, on average, miss one out of every five non-balls/strikes close calls—a study that similarly found only 1.3 calls per game were, on average, considered "close" enough to merit video review, prompting extrapolation of the data to conclude that, of all calls that come their way, umpires are 99.545 percent accurate—Game 1 of the 2012 World Series contained two close calls, while Game 2 housed four.
Let's review them.

World Series Game 1
  1. In the bottom of the first inning, Giants batter-runner Marco Scutaro was ruled out at first base, umpire Dan Iassogna judging that first baseman Prince Fielder caught a throw from teammate Jhonny Peralta scarcely before Scutaro's foot touched first base. Replays indicate the call was correct.
  2. In the fourth inning, Delmon Young's chopper into the ground at home plate resulted in a double play after home plate umpire Gerry Davis ruled the squibberfair as Giants catcher Buster Posey alertly tagged Young and fired to retire baserunner Fielder at second base. Replays—and education regarding what constitutes "fair territory"—indicate the call was correct.

World Series Game 2
  1. In a game-changing play, a relay from Giants right fielder Gregor Blanco to Scutaroto Posey retired baserunner Fielder as he attempted to score from first base on an early double by Young. Replays indicate the call was correct, as did Buck: "Great call by Dan Iassogna."
  2. In the third inning, Scutaro grounded out, diving head first into first base as Fielder received a Peralta throw. Though the slide sure complicated matters at the bag,replays indicate the call was correct, with McCarver adding: "Excellent call by first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth."
  3. With one on and none out in the seventh inning, Brandon Belt came within inches of hitting into a rally-killing double play with his grounder to first base. Instead, Fielder caught the chopper in foul territory, allowing Belt to walk and baserunner Hunter Pence to advance to second before scoring on a subsequent double play. Replays indicate the umpires' foul ball call was correct.
  4. When Angel Pagan gave America free tacos with his eighth-inning stolen base, umpire Brian O'Nora was on top of the call, which, in real time appeared quite close. Replays indicate the call was correct.

Yes, the umpires have been perfect through the first two games of this 2012 World Series; Tigers manager Jim Leyland even praised Iassogna for calling his player out at home plate during his Game 2 post-game press conference.
Yet by the same token, some fans and the media covering baseball have felt a collective knot, a yearning for one more source of controversy.
Hi-res-153463992_crop_exactAfter Holbrook's correctly invoked infield fly ruling, Braves fans threw debris on the field in protest. Pictured above is right field umpire Rob Drake.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
When Sam Holbrook called an infield fly during the inaugural NL Wild Card Game—though the call was correct—the mere possibility that an umpire's gaffe had cost the Atlanta Braves a chance to advance in the postseason quickly became front page fodder for that most familiar of gripes and qualms: expanding instant replay in MLB.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has stated that in 2013 professional baseball will expand instant replay to include traps and fair/foul calls.
How about machines to determine intent vis-à-vis check swings and throwing at batters, too?
How about a polygraph?
Seizing on a trend, all umpire calls during the 2012 postseason have grown subject to enhanced scrutiny—a benign incorrect call by Jim Joyce quickly generated syndicated headlines, while Joe Girardi's ejection following an incorrect call at second base led to a rash of new articles with very familiar motifs, as did a tag attempt during the St. Louis Cardinals-Giants NLCS.
So during Game 2 of the World Series, when Buck praised the umpires for a job well done, ESPN editor/writer and former Baseball Prospectus editor Christina Kahrlcouldn't help but respond: "It's like they're just daring Cowboy Joe West to get involved somehow, no?"
Well, no.
In 2007, the Hardball Times comprehensively reviewed MLB umpire strike zones, with author Jonathan Hale concluding that, of all umpires, Country Joe "had the fewest number of extra balls and strikes, which is a sign of consistency." For that reason, West received Hale's "top vote."
Evidently, given his 2012 World Series assignment, West also received MLB's "top vote."
Dating back to 2006—and again in 2011—West has found himself on both sides of a players' poll, having been voted one of the best umpires in baseball while simultaneously being named one of the worst in both years' surveys. Sounds like a Joe West strike zone is needed to establish some semblance of consistency.
Hi-res-143019711_crop_exactUmpire Joe West has paradoxically been ranked as one of the best—and one of the worst—umpires in Major League Baseball.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
As subjective as they may be, however, the polls' paradoxical dichotomy establishes the grand conflict of sports officiating: "All fans complain about officials. All fans believe the officials hate their team and have it out for them. This despite zero evidence supporting that belief."
So, for the time being, praise them. Offer up your respect while you still can.
Because that extremely misleading one-in-five close call statistic will come into play soon enough—the umpires are on a six-close call correctness streak.
They're overdue.
And after all, isn't that what we all want: more justification for an expanded instant replay system we have absolutely no idea how to logistically and fairly implement?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 World Series MLB Umpires

Heading the crew of umpires for the 2012 World Series Umpires is 29 year veteran Gerry Davis. This will be Davis' fifth World Series and when he works the first game behind the plate he will break the all time record for most postseason games worked by a major league umpire when he passes Jerry Crawford and Bruce Froemming. Davis will be joined by first time World Series Umpires Brian O'Nora (16 year veteran) and Dan Iassogna (11 year veteran). Also selected to work his second World Series was Fieldin Culbreth (16 year veteran) and old guard crew chiefs Brian Gorman (21 year veteran working his third World Series) and Joe West (35 year veteran working his fifth World Series).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Angel Behind the Plate

We tend to forget that coaches and players are people, too. We forget that they are capable of mistakes, have families and a life outside of their sport. What about the officials? We forget they’re human, too, which means they won’t get every call right. Furthermore, we forget they are also capable of greatness in their own way.

MLB umpire has been called one of the worst by various people throughout baseball. Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said “Angel is just bad,” reported by NBC Sports. Washington Nationals’ rookie sensation Bryce Harper got into a full-blown argument with him during a game. But what each of these Angel bashings failed to mention was Hernandez’s incredible charity work in south Florida.

Hernandez is the Chairman of the Board of the West Pembroke Pines Miracle League. The Miracle League was formed in 1998 to enable disabled children to participate in little league baseball. The Miracle League is a nationwide group started by the Rockdale Youth Baseball Association in Rockdale, Ga. The slogan of the league is “Because every child deserves to play baseball.”
“I am blessed with the opportunity of seeing children who normally wouldn’t have the chance to play baseball do just that,” Hernandez wrote on the Angel Miracle League website. “[This is] a cause very dear to my heart.”

Remember Dick Bavetta? Of course you don’t. Like most officials he is not known—until he really messes up. Let me jog your memory with the 2007 NBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas. The race against Charles Barkley on TNT was a pretty interesting event. Ah, now you remember. Well that little race against the Round Mound of Rebound raised $75,000 for the Las Vegas Boys & Girls Clubs.

Despite grumblings Bavetta is a bad referee, he is 72 and has been an official for 37 years without missing a game. In addition to being the ironman of officiating, Bavetta established and finances the Lady Bavetta Scholarships for minority students, which he started in 1986. He has also volunteered with the Double-H Hole in the Woods Ranch which helps with childhood cancer and HIV.

It’s a shame that these are the conditions it had to come under, but Shannon Eastin is breaking history. If we can recognize in the great acts officials have done off the field, we should also recognize refs need to be taken care of financially and the NFL refs are on strike because they’re not satisfied with the money they’re receiving from the NFL.

Although the gloomy business side of the game has led to replacement referees, it has opened the door for Shannon Eastin to become the first woman referee. Thursday during the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers preseason game she made her debut on the NFL level. Eastin, an official in lower level college football for years, is one of the many replacement refs under scrutiny during the 2012 preseason.

With the news that the replacement refs may continue into the regular season many fans and players are less than thrilled, but it is nice to see these refs, like Eastin make their personal dreams come true by refereeing at the highest level.

I know it’s tough for us to remember, but the officials you want to call “idiot” “blind” or other derogatory terms are people, as well. They can achieve great accomplishments and are susceptible to downfalls, too. As much as we don’t care about refs and their personal lives, it’s nice to the human side besides the “stripes” and the good side behind “blue".

Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 MLB All-Star Game Umpire Roster in Kansas City

HP Gerry Davis (Crew Chief) has worked in the National League from 1982 to 1999 and became a member of the unified umpiring staff for Major League Baseball in 2000. He has been a crew chief since 1999. He has worn uniform number 12 throughout his career. Davis began umpiring in the minor leagues in 1976, working his way up to the American Association before being promoted to the majors in 1982. He has officiated in 17 postseasons, including the World Series in 1996, 1999, 2004 and 2009. Davis was the second base umpire for the perfect game pitched by Randy Johnson on May 18, 2004. He worked over 3800 games, 10 Divisional Series, 8 League Championship Series, 4 World Series and this will be his 4th All-Star Game ( previous years include 1989, 1997 and 2002, calling balls and strikes for the last game. He is the owner operator of "Gerry Davis Sports" an officials supply company that carries all the umpiring equipment an umpire would ever have to use.

1B Jim Joyce
has worked in the American League (AL) from 1987 to 1999 and throughout both major leagues since 2000. He wears uniform number 66. His strike call is extremely loud and enthusiastic. He worked over 2750 games, 8 Divisional Series, 4 League Championship Series, 2 World Series and this will be his 3rd All-Star Game. One of the most popular umpires in MLB....was voted the best umpire in baseball in a poll by the players in 2010, In 2012, Joyce was promoted to interim crew chief replacing injured umpire John Hirschbeck.

2B Brian Runge
has worked in the National League in 1999 and throughout both major leagues since 2000. He wears uniform number 18. He worked over 1500 games, 3 Divisional Series, and this will be his 3rd All-Star Game. Third generation of the Runge family to work an All Star Game.

3B Tony Randazz
o worked in the National League in 1999 and has umpired in both Major Leagues since 2000. Randazzo has officiated in the 2001 Major League Baseball All-Star Game so this will be his 2nd. He has worked over 1500 games and has also umpired in the 2010 American League Championship Series and the Division Series in 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2011.

LF Lance Barksdale
umpired in the minor leagues from 1993 to 2006 in the Appalachian League, the South Atlantic League, the Florida State League, the Florida Instructional League, the Southern League, the Pacific Coast League, the Arizona Fall League and the International League. He also umpired in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He worked over 1550 games and this will be his 1st All-Star Game.

RF Brian Knight
has umpired in the Major Leagues since 2001, although he was not officially promoted to the Major League staff until 2011. Knight had previously umpired in the Minor Leagues, working in the Pioneer, Midwest, Florida State, Southern, and Pacific Coast leagues before reaching the Majors. Knight umpired the Tokyo round of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, and was the home plate umpire for Jon Lester's no-hitter in 2008. Knight has worked over 850 games and this will be his first All Star assignment.

Monday, February 20, 2012

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