Friday, May 18, 2012

Men in Black

They call it 'professional baseball', the major leagues, 'the show'. Unfortunately, our lying eyes tell us that, despite efforts to standardize umpiring, MLB is falling short.

In the video above, you see Brett Lawrie "lose it", en route to EARNING a four game suspension. The umpire, Bill Miller, has received neither sanction nor public reprimand for his role. Clearly, Lawrie overreacted, but Miller gives the appearance of injecting himself into the action, quite probably retaliating against the volatile Blue Jays third baseman.

MLB, while celebrating the human element (making bad calls is evidently integral in baseball), has introduced boundary call replays, precisely because umpires (like all of us), make mistakes and fans (aided by replays) demand a higher standard.

Every MLB stadium has a tool, Pitch FX, designed to analyze pitch location, speed, type, and more, but becomes a tool to study both player and umpire performance. Not surprisingly, the performance varies...but it does allow objective umpire performance assessment.

Here's the multiyear card for Joe West, not the highest regarded umpire by many. You can see his accuracy rate (hits and misses).

Miller's card looks better, although there's no comparative statistical analysis.
But if you have the ability (generally) to make the right call, why not swallow your pride, act like a professional, and do your job?

My sense, watching games, is that the umpiring consistency on balls and strikes has gotten worse. What do you think?

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