Sunday, April 10, 2011
Point #1: If you are an MLB broadcaster and you don't understand the rules, here are some suggestions:
1 - Read the rulebook! Or at least have it handy, so when a confusing situation comes up, you can read the appropriate rule and explain it correctly.
2 - If that's too hard for you, then admit you don't know WTF you are talking about. A simple - "the ump made that call, but I'm unclear why - but I'm sure he knows the rules and applied it correctly", is much better than confusing the audience by explaining a rule incorrectly, and having all the listeners perplexed as to how a professional Umpire could screw it up that badly.
3 - If you don't want to admit your ignorance on air, then simply ignore the situation. Just say "the ump called that runner out for obvious reasons" and leave it at that. Your audience will think you are really smart by thinking that a call was obvious, when they have no clue as to what just happened.
4 - Quit. Please! Seriously - you are doing your viewers a disservice by perpetuating myths which you believe to be true. This has a cascading down effect all the way to little league, where some dad in the stands starts yelling at me because I don't know the rules that so-and-so explained so clearly on last night's telecast.
I already touched on this topic earlier, but the latest item that got me on this rant was last night's extra inning affair between the Angels and the Blue Jays. Top of 13th inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs. Ground ball between SS and 3B, the third baseman takes a long route to the ball to avoid R2 and throws to 1st base late. Batter called safe, go ahead run scores, but U3 calls R2 out for interference. Run doesn't count, game still tied. Well, I was listening to the Blue Jays broadcast, and their announcers were not too pleased. (Not only did it prevent their team from taking the lead, but it was approaching 2AM in their home Eastern time zone, so they were more than ready to call it a night).
I can't find video of their broadcast, but basically Buck Martinez, who as an ex-player should know better, was arguing that the runner is "entitled" to the baseline, and he never left the baseline, nor touched the ball, so there is no basis for interference. no, No, NO! The batter is NOT entitled to the baseline, if the fielder is trying to make a play, and yes, you can call interference without the runner touching the ball or the fielder. If a runner does jumping jacks in front of a fielder to obstruct his view of the play (similar to a hockey player "screening" the goalie), this is definitely offensive interference. Here's an article I wrote previously which explains interference (and how it differs from obstruction).
Some positives from this item - the broadcasters did call it interference and not obstruction, and they never said that the call cost them the game.
Which brings me to item #2 - Umpires never cost a team a win. Let me say that slower in case you missed it. um-pi-res-ne-ver-cost-a-team-a-win. Maybe if I yell it will get through better: UMPIRES NEVER COST A TEAM A WIN! I discussed this in a controversial post earlier as well. I've heard this a few times already this season. Let me use the above game as an example. The Angels did go on to win a couple of innings later, and for the sake of argument let's pretend the Umpire erroneously made that interference call which cost the Jays a run. Without that call, the Jays would have won, right? No argument from me there. But continue that sentence with "therefore the call cost the Jays the game", and I'll argue until my face matches my shirt. (Actually I rarely wear blue shirts anymore - but arguing until I'm black in the face, just doesn't sound right).
First of all, Toronto did not score after the 4th inning of the game. If they score once between the 5th and 13th, the disputed interference call never happens. Whose fault is it that they did not score? Well, here's a list of candidates who ALL need to take a share of the blame:
Every single one of these players had at least one at bat, where they had a chance to give the Jays the lead, and failed to do so. As well, the starting pitcher, Brett Cecil, gave up 5 runs in 5 innings. If he only gives up 4, I'm not writing this post today. We can also blame the manager and/or the pitching coach for not making a
pitching change earlier. That's 15 victims we can blame the loss on, before turning to the umpire.
I'm done ranting. Well, for today anyways.
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