Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dewayne Wise is NOT Derek Jeter

Last night, this atrocity happened. I refer to this play as atrocious not because of anything that Dewayne Wise or the Yankees did while trying to create a new version of this famous play, it's because of the umpire.
Some people are saying that Wise should have told 3rd base umpire Mike DiMuro that he did not catch the ball, but what was he supposed to do? He was just gifted a third out, which is great fortune for him and his team. 

I have two major issues with this play, one of them being the arrogance of MLB umpires. The other is the lack of replay in this situation, but I will get to that later. 

The umpires in baseball all have the same egotistical, "what I say is final" attitude. Sometimes they attempt to make themselves the whole show. It's completely insane and very annoying. I remember last summer listening to the Herd with Colin Cowherd, and Curt Schilling was a guest one day. I can recall this conversation because it struck me as just wrong. Schilling kept a scouting report in a notebook on umpires, and was able to figure out which ones were egotistical, impossible to deal with, and let their emotions affect their calls. It was a very eye opening interview and I find it appalling that an umpire can have so much influence on a game.

In last night's game, Mike DiMuro decided that he would make a very demonstrative and very emphatic call. He saw Wise dive into the stands with the ball near his glove, so he wanted to be the one to call the out on such a spectacular play. As if anyone actually cares about the umpire who puts up his fist to signal an out. Well, now we do care, and not in a good way. Normally, in a situation when a play ends out of the sight of the umpire, they would wait to make the call, and run up the line to see the result of the play. DiMuro seemed to be excited about the play, and he made a quick call. The worst part about this is that once he made the call, he did not bother to verify it. Everyone is saying that he should have asked Wise to see the ball. I agree, but obviously, had he asked Wise for the ball, that would have undermined his decision. 

I now sound like a stupid conspiracy theorist, but go listen to the aforementioned Schilling/Cowherd interview. A couple of things that Schilling said are mind-boggling and very true. Nobody knows who the officials are in other sports, but in baseball, I know that Angel Hernandez is terrible at calling everything and very eager to toss people from games. 

The easy solution to last night's blown call, was to ask Dewayne for the ball, like most umpires with half of a brain would in every other situation, but Mike DiMuro would have been embarrassed had he done that. Imagine being an umpire that has to admit that you blew a call! It's hard isn't it?

In between innings (Wise's play was ruled the third out), the batter, Jack Hannahan saw a replay of the "catch" and saw that Wise actually dropped the ball. He talked to the umpire about it, and of course was thrown out of the game. Never tell an MLB umpire that he is wrong, because that is what will get you ejected. 

In the Mets game against the Cubs last night, there was another missed call, but not nearly as egregious as the Wise play. Josh Thole threw behind the runner at first, Steve Clevenger, to try to pick him off. Thole had already picked off another Cubs runner earlier in the game using the same move. Clevenger slide back into first, stuck his hand in, pulled it back to avoid the tag, then returned the hand to reach for the base. When Clevenger removed his hand, Mets first baseman Ike Davis missed the tag, but was able to swipe at him again and tagged Clevenger before his second attempt reached the base. Umpire Manny Gonzalez seemed to have made up his mind about the call once Ike missed the initial play, and called Clevenger safe. Davis argued and was run from the game very quickly. Yes, he may have had his glove on Gonzalez for a while, but that ejection was too quick. It was the bottom of the 8th inning in a one run game, and Davis was due up third in the top of the inning. The Cubs were able to tack on another run because of the extra out given to them by the missed call. 

Now, here comes the part about replay: it's necessary. Baseball needs replay, and badly. Obviously it would not be used to review balls and strikes because those happen way too often, usually are close enough to be justifiable, and sometimes have very inconclusive camera angles. 

All plays in the field should be able to be reviewed. 

People worry about "slowing the game down." Honestly, it is better to get it right than to keep the game shorter. Baseball is fun, and there is no reason why the umpires should dictate so much of it. The sport will be even more fun when people don't have to spend a whole day listening to others talk about a blown call by an umpire. 

There are many ways to implement the replay system in baseball. One of the ways is to have a guy at the game with many angles and views to look at a play, who alerts the crew chief whenever a questionable play arises. This can also be done where the person is at MLB headquarters and they can get the call into the game somehow. That's more problematic than the previous idea, but it works and is probably more cost effective.

In addition to this, a challenge system will be useful. Instead of reviewing every single borderline call, then managers can come out to ask the umpire to review the play, using his one or two challenges for the day. This can lead to less ejections, though Bobby Cox would still find a way to get ejected repeatedly. In the Mets game yesterday, Davis would not have argued if he knew that Terry Collins (who came running out to tell the umpire that he shouldn't be ejecting such an important player that late in the game) would come out and use his challenge. 

I personally feel that the challenge system, combined with the designated replay official at the game will be a great way to use the technology available to Major League Baseball. I also see that the NFL rule of reviewing all scoring plays without using a challenge would be useful. All plays at the plate, borderline home runs, and other miscellaneous ways of scoring that could be challenged, should be challenged. All runs affect the end of the game greatly, so it would be great to know that the review will always be there to verify all scored runs. 

The human element is pointless and I watch baseball for the players, not for the subjective calls of umpires. All the baseball purists love the umpires but I don't care.

If there's a group of people in a sport that should be hated, it's group of old baseball purists (who are probably also on the Veterans' Committee for the Hall of Fame).

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