Friday, June 4, 2010

Kill the Umps!

Unless you have been living under a rock (or you do nothing but play Starcraft 2 all day, yes Josh I am referring to you) you have heard about the blown call by umpire Jim Joyce that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga on Wednesday night.

With 2 out in the 9th inning Galarraga educed a ground ball from Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald that should have ended the game. The ball was fielded by Miguel Carbera who then tossed it over to Galarraga for what should have been the 27th out and one of the biggest outs in baseball history as it would have completed the 21st perfect game in MLB history. Unfortunately for Galarraga, Tigers fans, baseball fans, and people who enjoy sports Jim Joyce blew the call and declared Donald to be safe.

If you haven't seen it here is the video and also an apology from Joyce:

Now people have been really harsh on Joyce, although Galarraga was a great sport and showed no hard feelings after the game even going as far as to shake Joyce's hand, and have started asking for replay to be instituted on all close plays in baseball. I on the other hand feel that this incident speaks to a larger issue: umpires as a whole.

Get rid of them. They are entirely useless and serve only to make baseball a more controversial sport than it needs to be.

Consider this, every umpire that gets behind the plate has a different strike zone. That means that every time a pitcher take the mound the strike zone is different. For Joyce he may have a high strike zone where as another ump like Joe West will have a lower strike zone. The fact that the strike zone is constantly in flux is ridiculous. A strike should be a strike no matter who is behind the plate.

Have you ever watched an at bat in a major league baseball game? Sometimes a pitcher will throw a pitch for a strike then throw the exact same pitch right away and it will be a ball. How is this not a problem? The outcome of a game shouldn't hinge on the judgement call of a single man behind the plate.

If umpires were replaced by computers or by a committee of umpires watching the game via monitors how would they hurt the sport? Yes it would take away from the "nostalgic" mentality that baseball is gripping too but ultimately it would allow for the right calls to be made and in the end thats all sports fan want, accountability and accuracy.

How hard would it be for baseball to institute some sort of computerized strike zone that can effectively tell whether a pitch was in the designated strike zone. Oh wait they already have that on every network that airs baseball games. Just use the "K Cam" in the actual game to judge balls and strikes. How hard would that be? The technology already exists just use it.

This technology could be further improved to work on plays at the plate as well as home runs and close calls at all the bases. There is no way this wouldn't work. Maybe you don't get rid of umpires entirely I mean you would need someone down on the field to relay the correct information but just make them less involved in the outcome of the game.

Obviously there are some old timers out there who want to keep the game "pure" just like it was when they grew up. Bill Paschke of the LA Times is one of these people. He wrote in a recent column that, "It's the imperfections, including blown calls by umpires, that make the sports so special." Gotta disagree on that one.

How do blown calls and incorrect outcomes make sports so special? Granted they do add to the unpredictability of sports and give people topics for conversation but they definitely don't help sports as a whole in any other way. Plashcke is just one of the many sportswriters that are stuck in their ways and feel that changing sports will do more harm than good. Clearly they haven't been watching the NFL lately and haven't seen how much the league has benefited from the addition of instant replay.

I don't understand why these people have such an aversion to baseball games being called correctly.

In the end baseball is one of the sports that tries to steep itself in tradition. I mean it was only last year that they finally allowed video review of home runs and took a legitimate step into the 21st century. Bud Selig and company seem determined to keep the game the way it is and will stand behind the umpires through thick and thin but if more games and accomplishments continue to be tarnished due to blown calls they may have no choice but to finally make some changes.

Random YouTube Video

No comments: