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Tag:umpires
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:40 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 8:11 pm
 

Baseball's changing strike zone

By Dayn Perry

Last season, run scoring cratered to its lowest level since 1992. Fans and observers like to spitball all kinds of reasons for this. The implementation of drug testing (although pitchers used PEDs, too, you know), weather patterns, an increasing emphasis on fielding in many organizations, a new "golden age" of pitching, a secret cabal of humidors, and so on. One reason that's not commonly put forward is umpiring. But might our men in blue be playing a crucial role in all those 2-1 games?

The findings of David Golebiewski of BaseballAnalytics.org suggest that umpires are indeed contributing to declining levels of offense. For instance, since 2008 the percentage of pitches  taken by the batter correctly called as strikes has risen from 74.5% to 79.1%. Lest that not sound like much, that amounts to almost 6,000 balls that became strikes. Needless to say, that makes a substantial difference on the scoreboard. 

Golebiewski digs further and finds that umps in the main are calling the zone a bit differently than they were just a few years ago. While the death of the high, at-the-letters strike is still widely lamented, it's the low strike -- the strike at the knees -- that's making a comeback. The pretty pictures linked to above prove it. 

If you're partial to connoisseur's baseball as opposed to the five-hour mutual bludgeoning, then all of this is a good thing.

(Hat tip: Rob Neyer)    

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Layne leads World Series umpires

Jerry LayneBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Jerry Layne will be behind the plate for Game 1 of the World Series, Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday.

Layne, who is the crew chief, will be working his first World Series since 2005. He'll be joined by Greg Gibson, Alfonso Marquez, Ron Kulpa, Ted Barrett and Gary Cederstrom. Gibson and Kulpa will be in their first World Series, while Marquez was in the 2006 World Series, Barrett 2007 and Cederstrom in 2005 on the crew with Layne.

For Game 1, Gibson ill be at first base, Marquez second, Kulpa third, Barrett in left field and Cederstrom in right

Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter has pitched just two games with Layne behind the plate, one in 2001 and another in 2006. In 2006, Carpenter allowed three unearned runs in six innings with Layne calling balls in strikes. Layne has been behind the plate for Wilson in just two relief appearances totaling 1 1/3 innings in 2006 and 2009.

All six of the umpires worked during the Division Series, with Barrett behind the plate in Game 5 of the Yankees-Tigers series and drawing some criticism for his strike zone. He'll be behind the plate for Game 5 of the World Series.

Kulpa is a native of St. Louis. Marquez was behind the plate for Game 2 of the 2006 World Series, a 3-1 Tigers victory over the Cardinals. Cederstrom was behind the plate for the classic Game 5 of the NLDS this season between the Cardinals and Phillies, with Carpenter outdueling Roy Halladay

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Freese leads Cardinals to World Series

David Freese

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals won their 18th National League pennant on the heels of a 12-6 pounding of the Brewers in Game 6 of the NLCS.

Hero: St. Louis third baseman David Freese wasn't exactly a household name coming into the NLCS, but he certainly made his mark in this series. Sunday he was 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. He batted .545/.600/1.091 for the series. His three-run homer in the first set the tone for the Cardinals. 

Goat: There are plenty of goats to go around in Milwaukee after Game 6, but the goat that started it all was Shaun Marcum, the Brewers starter who allowed four runs and was lifted after facing eight Cardinals in the first inning. Marcum, the first piece of Milwaukee's pitching makeover last offseason, made three starts in the postseason, allowing 16 earned runs and 17 hits in just 9 2/3 innings while recording an 0-3 record.

Turning point: Just when the Brewers gathered some momentum, scoring three runs in the second to pull within a run, Albert Pujols answered with a long homer to left off of Chris Narveson. It was the start of a four-run inning and Milwaukee would hardly challenge again.

It was over when … First base umpire Gary Darling called a sliding Ryan Braun out at first base for the first out of the fifth inning. Carlos Gomez scored on the play, making it 11-6, but the Brewers' shot at a big inning was dashed when Prince Fielder grounded out and Rickie Weeks struck out to end the inning. If Braun is correctly called safe, maybe things change there. But he wasn't, and what was already assumed to be over really was.

Next: The Cardinals will be searching or their 11th World Series title, taking yet another "happy flight" to St. Louis to prepare for the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers. Game 1 is Wednesday in St. Louis.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Marcum exits early in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Before Game 6 of the NLCS on Sunday, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the decision to start a struggling Shaun Marcum was "the right decision."

And it was. For the Cardinals.

Marcum was booed as he walked off the mound in the first inning, giving up four runs before his team took a single swing of the bat.

Even before David Freese hit a three-run homer, Roenicke had LaTroy Hawkins warming up in the bullpen. It took two very good defensive plays (and a questionable call by home plate umpire Mike Winters) to get the first two outs of the inning, as Marcum gave up a single to Jon Jay, a walk to Albert Pujols, an RBI single to Lance Berkman and Freese's homer in a four-run first. Marcum needed 27 pitches to get out of the inning.

Yuniesky Betancourt made a good running play on a popup by leadoff man Rafael Furcal in short left to start the inning before giving up a single to Jay. Jay stole second, and then after Pujols walked, Berkman singled and took second when Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan overthrew his cutoff man in a futile attempt to get Pujols at third.

The Brewers seemed to get the break they needed when Holliday hit a weak grounder back to the mound and Marcum scooped the ball to catcher Jonathan Lucroy to get Pujols at the plate. While the throw beat Pujols (barely), Lucroy tagged his back leg after his front leg had crossed the plate.

There wasn't much time to dwell on that, as Freese hit the first pitch he saw from Marcum over the fence in left. To give St. Louis a 4-0 lead.

Left-hander Chris Narveson started the second with the Brewers trailing 4-1 (Milwaukee's run came on a Corey Hart leadoff homer).

In three postseason starts, Marcum is on the hook for his third loss and pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing 17 hits and 16 earned runs, good for a 14.90 ERA. 

"I really feel good about this decision," Roenicke said before the game. "Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ball club, it's the right decision. And I've had many conversations with a lot of people in this organization that have been with us all year. This is definitely the right decision.

"It doesn't mean that he's going to go out and have a great game. I expect him to. I think he's definitely capable of doing it. He has not liked the way he's pitched the last couple of games. And I think he's going to have a good game today."

Roenicke was wrong, but his reasoning in sticking with Marcum was that he didn't want to go with Yovani Gallardo on short rest, and if he did, he had few other choices for a starter in Game 7.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Selig says expanded playoffs unlikely in 2012

Bud SeligBy C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Postseason expansion is most likely going to baseball, but not as soon as next season, or at leas that's the impression commissioner Bud Selig gave when he spoke to reporters before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

"I don't know yet," Selig said when asked if an expanded postseason could come in 2012. "I think that might be a little optimistic, but I don't know yet."

As for the idea of two more wild card teams, hearing Selig talk, it sounds like it's nearly a done deal. When asked what he thought about those talking about expanded replay, Selig chuckled -- "Since I'm the guy, I guess, I don't want to be too critical of me."

He expanded on the thought a little bit: "Well, let me start by saying I always enjoy -- you know, I'm a history buff, and you learn history teaches you so much if you look back. When I went to the wild card system in Boston in September of '93 -- and I always give John Harrington a great deal of credit for that, John Harrington and Dave Montgomery were my two faithful guys. They were really smart and understood schedules. 

"You remember I got killed. I was getting killed for a lot of things. It was brutal. He's ruining the sport, what's he doing, and so on and so forth. And we kept expanding and expanding and expanding, and somebody had to make an adjustment. You couldn't have 30 teams and just keep it at six.

"It's worked out, I think everybody would admit, better than anybody could have dreamed. You look back. That's why you don't make decisions based on one year. I know I've heard some people say, look, it's perfect, look what we had this year. 

"And it is correct. But you don't do it on the basis of one year, you do it on the basis of overall. 

I've said to everybody I think 10 out of 30 is fair. I think it will produce the number. I will tell you on my 14-man committee -- Tony La Russa is here today, so he could speak to it -- the vote is 14 to nothing, it's been all the way along. We spent hours talking about it."

Selig talked about a few other things, as well, including:

• The upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations: " I couldn't give you a timetable, because that's always dangerous. But they've been quiet, thoughtful and constructive. I hope we'll continue on that path. 

"Far different from the labor negotiations of the '80s, '70s, '90s, stories every day. They were painful. And I remember saying that a lot that this isn't helpful and it isn't healthy. You need to do your work and hopefully you can do it quietly. I think they have. And I give a lot of credit to both parties, Michael Weiner and the Players' Association and Rob Manfred in our group. We have Jerry Reinsdorf and Arte Moreno are part of the negotiating committee. 

"It's been good. It's really been very good. Very constructive. But we shall see what we shall see."

• On the use of the pitch tracker on TV broadcast: " Well, it's part of the world we live in. They do that in all sports now and different things. I really am not critical of that. If I were them, I guess I'd do the same thing."

He added, "I keep asking people how accurate those zones are and I get different answers from different baseball people.  But, a lot of competition out there, a lot of things. So I can't blame them for doing that, I really can't."

• On his meeting with prospective Astros owner Jim Crane last week: "I thought the meeting was constructive. And other than that I don't have anything to say about it. It was the first time he and I really spent any time together, and I thought the meeting was constructive. But nothing more than that."

• On TV ratings for this postseason without the big-market teams: "I'm satisfied. I really am. I think that having different clubs win is not bad at all. And I'm proud of that. But, you know, and I really mean this, what's better for ratings is something we just can't worry about. I think I looked at the last two weeks, it's been just miraculous. Produced great ratings, by the way, I might add. But that last Wednesday night of the season, only baseball -- and I've said this before -- could produce something like that."

• On the Mets' ownership situation: "No, I don't have any concerns. I've talked to Fred [Wilpon] a lot about it and they seem to be making good progress at what they're trying to do. And he feels comfortable with it and I really don't at this point. They've made no demands or anything. They seem to be moving along in the right path."

• On standardizing the designated hitter: "So we've done this 39 years. And I'll say it again, it would take some overall big event that maybe would force people to make a decision. But right now the National League guys don't like it. The American League does like it. And that doesn't bother me at all. 

"Somehow on a great night of irony, that one League has one rule -- and remarkably the fate of western civilization hasn't been changed."

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:21 pm
 

La Russa: Fans, media are hoping for altercation

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The first pitch after Ryan Braun's first-inning homer in Game 1 of the NLCS came in high and hit Brewers slugger Prince Fielder. The crowd booed, home plate umpire Gary Darling warned both benches and then … nothing happened.

For all the pre-series hype about the dislike between the Cardinals and Brewers, there were no fireworks, no scuffles, no words and no fisticuffs. The fact that many expected -- or even hoped -- there may be more, rankled Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

"I think there are some fans, or media, that are going to be disappointed if there isn't some crap flying this series, and that's a shame," La Russa said. "I don't want our payers and their players to be egged on, and I don't think they will (react). We're going to play as hard and good against each other as we can."

NLCS

Players from both sides were asked about the tension -- and Darling's warning -- after the game, and it was dismissed.

"Every team you play at the end of the season is going to be a rival -- Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia -- they're going to be  rival because we have to win games," Pujols said. "You guys are the ones who are building everything up, I said that yesterday. You try to pick and fire up this series. I don't think we need the media to fire up this series.  Everyone's going to be ready to play, this is the postseason. Whatever happened in the regular season, you turn the page and you can't let that come into the postseason."

Nobody seemed to think Garcia's pitch was intentional -- and they certainly didn't after he followed the plunking of Fielder with four straight balls to Rickie Weeks and 10 total pitches out of the strike zone.

When asked if he thought Garcia hit him on purpose, Fielder said, "no, not at all."

Still, Darling may have been trying to set a tone, to let both sides know that if anything happened, there would be quick action from the umpires.

"I'm sure the umpire and crew knows it (wasn't intentional), we've had our disagreements. But the guy hits a home run, the next guy gets hit -- I certainly can't fault the umpire," La Russa said. "But you know, you can't go out and argue those things, or you get thrown out. I didn't say anything. What I would have said is, if you watched the way Jaime pitched that whole inning, every fastball he threw was in that same area, out away from the right-hander or in on Fielder. They just looked bad, but he was just trying to get the ball somewhere near the glove. But I don't fault the umpire."

While La Russa had no problem with the umpire, he's not real happy about the constant talk of a rivalry from those covering it.

"I think it's a real disservice to the competition," La Russa said. "I think both teams have talked about with what's at stake here, we're going to compete as far as we can correctly."

Still, Brewers starter Zack Greinke, who said Saturday that the Brewers players didn't like Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, said he did hear Cardinals' players yell at him from the bench, but that's hardly unusual in baseball.

"They're yelling from the dugout some, but most teams do that," Greinke said. "Everyone always makes fun of me grunting when I throw a fastball. It's kind of funny sometimes, but no big deal." 

La Russa, Pujols and others can try to deflect it as much as possible, but there is a palpable dislike between the clubs and a clear difference of approach and philosophy in how the game should be played. While La Russa said things will happen when you play a team 18 times in a season, they seem to happen more to the Cardinals and any team that challenges them in the division, be it Cincinnati in 2010 or Milwaukee this season. It may be the right thing to deny there are any hard feelings, but it's obvious that it's not just the media that feels something could erupt at any moment -- Darling did as well, and that's why there were warnings.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 10:56 pm
 

Umpire's blown call costs D-Backs' Hill a double

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Once again, an umpiring mistake has jumped to the forefront of a playoff game, even if it may not end up meaning too much in the large scheme of things. However, Arizona's Aaron Hill did get a base taken away from him in the first inning of Sunday's Game 2 of the NLDS.

With one out in the first, the Diamondbacks' second baseman hit a ball down the left-field line off of Brewers starter Zack Greinke. Umpire James Hoye, positioned on the line, called the ball foul, even as Hill scooted into second for a double. Replays showed Hill's liner hit on the fair side of a yellow stripe on the wall.

Hill went back to the plate and calmly nailed the next pitch into center for a single.

Hoye, who is working in the first postseason of his career, was in the sunlight and the ball landed into what was a shaded part of the stadium at that time. The shadows in Milwaukee have been an issue this series and may have played a part in Hoye's call.  

Greinke then got Justin Upton to pop up weakly to Prince Fielder in foul territory and struck out Miguel Montero on four pitches to end the inning. Despite that, it's impossible to say the inning was changed by the call, as pitchers pitch differently with a runner on second than they do with one on first. Chances are Greinke would get out of the inning, but there's no way to know that for sure.

Postseason games have umpires positioned on the outfield lines just for those calls. Of course, there's another way to fix those kinds of calls, but I think we here at Eye On Baseball have made our position on expanded replay clear, so no need to beat that dead horse (but feel free to do so in the comments).

More Brewers-Diamondbacks NLDS coverage 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com