The 10th Man
Normally I think complaining about the umpires at every turn is right up there with second-guessing the manager. In general, they do a much better job than most people give them credit for, and the bad calls you remember for years balance out the gifts that you forget.
But in Yankee stadium, I’ll make an exception. Holy crap. Not that it necessarily changed a lot, but the umpires were just as excited as the fans for the historic last Yankees opener tonight. Here’s what pitch f/x says about Vernon’s 8th inning at-bat against Joba Chamberlain.
- 1st pitch: Ball (inside)
- 2nd pitch: Ball (inside)
- 3rd pitch: Foul
- 4th pitch: Foul
- 5th pitch Foul
- 6th pitch: Called Strike (out)
We’re looking from the catcher’s perspective here, all measurements in feet. (I’ll get some fancy graphics going since pretty soon this blog is going to revert to being a pitch f/x dumping ground again). And that 6th strikeout pitch was about 4.5 inches over the top of Vernon’s strike zone. No wonder the umpire made an “excuse me” fist with his hand as Posada was throwing down to second, and Vernon was right to raise his hands in amazement.
Ok, now on to Lyle Overbay against Mo Rivera. He was shaking his head and smiling on the way back to the dugout in the ninth, but this looked like a less egregious call because we forget that on TV we’re watching the game from over the pitcher’s shoulder, so anything outside to a lefty is going to look better than it is. But here’s the at bat:
Now that’s respect for a hall of famer on the mound (for more on the “Cy Effect”, go read me more at BDD) 6.44 inches of it! Just for fun, set up a pillow as home plate, draw a line six and a half inches past it, and try swinging at that pitch. Now imagine that it’s the best cutter in the game and had to swerve back over the plate to get there, and you’re probably leaning backwards expecting another one biting in on the hands. Not in a million years…
Update: I should probably read my own stuff occasionally. I ranked all the umps over at the Hardball Times a few months ago, and Gary Darling came out way on top for his tendency to call the high strike. So at least he’s errr….consistent. Now if only Vernon/the Jays had gotten the memo.