Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bud Selig Was On the Grassy Knoll!

By The Common Man

The Common Man is not generally one for conspiracy theories. Indeed, his general answer to members of the tinfoil-hat brigade is that they need to get off the internet and back on some medication. That said, did anyone else notice that, during TBS’s coverage of the Rays-Rangers game last night, there were relatively few replays of close plays? And did you notice that the announcers did not spend a great deal of time talking about potential missed calls?  In particular, The Common Man remembers two close plays that directly resulted in runs scoring.

First, the Rays had runners on 2B and 3B with one out in the 3rd inning and Carl Crawford at the plate. Crawford hit a grounder back up the middle to Cliff Lee’s glove side, and Lee made a nice stab at it. The runners were going on contact, and Lee easily had Jason Bartlett hung up between third and home. Lee threw to Bengie Molina, who ran Bartlett back toward third, and flipped the ball to Michael Young. Young became concerned that Ben Zobrist would try to advance, made a lunging sweep at Bartlett for the tag, and then retreated toward his base. Bartlett, believing he had not been tagged, ran home and believed he had scored. The replay shown afterward (especially at the 55 second mark, seen above), seems to indicate that Bartlett, as he claimed, was never touched. The umpires, of course, ruled him out.

After play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo (I think it was Orsillo) commented briefly that “I guess you could make an argument that maybe he wasn’t [tagged] in that look,” color analyst Ron Darling covered for Young, saying “But the reaction from Young was to immediately turn around and go to third, so my feeling is you can’t fake that. He must have felt like he got at least a swatch of Bartlett’s clothing.” After that, TBS never showed the replay again, nor did they comment on it, allowing Darling to have the last word, despite the fact that this play would have given Tampa a 2-1 lead. Again, controversy surrounding a scoring play was completely forgotten within one minute of the play ending.

Of course, Darling’s assertion that Young’s reaction can’t be faked is ludicrous. Whether it’s Derek Jeter pretending to be hit by a pitch or Chuck Knoblauch making a phantom tag at 2B, quick thinking ballplayers have always been able to fool umpires by reacting exactly as though they had made the play the umpire expected them to.

In the sixth inning, the Rangers had runners on 1B and 2B with one out, when Ian Kinsler grounded a pitch to 1B Carlos Pena. Pena threw to Bartlett to start a double play, and Bartlett’s relay to David Price, who had moved to cover first, was strong. But Price had trouble finding the bag, and Kinsler was called safe. A single subsequent replay suggests that Price may have beaten Kinsler to the bag. In the video, and the screengrab to the right, it’s clear that Price has the ball before Kinsler gets to the base, and seems to turn his ankle as if his foot bumps up against the bag. After turning to look at the umpire to protest the safe call, Price becomes aware that Vladamir Guerrero is still running, so he turns and throws to the plate. The play at the plate is also pretty close, but it looks to The Common Man that Guerrero got in under Kelly Shoppach’s tag.

In looking at the replay, Buck Martinez says, “Kinsler might have been out.” Then, again, the broadcast continues without additional replays or discussion about a key scoring play.

The Common Man is left to wonder why TBS would ignore such an obvious storyline in its broadcast of Game 5. And The Common Man is also left to wonder what other camera angles were available to catch the action. These were two prominent scoring plays that would have loomed over the final result until the 9th inning, when Kinsler hit his two run homer. Indeed, going into the 9th inning, the score would have been 2-2, though it’s hard to imagine Joe Maddon managing any differently at that point. To have such a brief mention of the possibility that the calls were wrong, and no additional replay is incredibly strange.

To The Common Man, it suggests that perhaps TBS was asked not to make a big deal out of potentially missed calls. This would seem to jive with an earlier play in the San Francisco-Atlanta series, where Buster Posey was clearly out at 2B, but announcers refused to acknowledge it, in spite of the video evidence to the contrary (and Posey saying after the game "it's a good thing we don't have instant replay). If this is the case, it seems likely that the commissioner’s office has made conscious decision not just to ignore the loud cries for expanded instant replay, but to tacitly suppress them by denying these voices additional evidence with which to make their case.

There’s a lot of “ifs” in that paragraph above, and The Common Man isn’t very comfortable with it. TCM thinks Commissioner Selig and his cohorts would definitely like people to stop talking about an expanded video review format, and surely the only way to stop that is for people to stop seeing the need for that. But it’s a bit of a jump to suggest that they are conspiring with networks to reduce the number of close replays (though they’ve done it at Major League stadiums around the country, so as not to embarrass the umpires), simply because networks have an inherent interest in stoking controversy unless they have a compelling reason not to.

So where does this leave us? Vigilant. Pay attention to plays in the upcoming ALCS and NLCS, and to how Fox and TBS address close plays, particularly those that contradict the umpires. If poor umpiring continues to be an issue in the playoffs, as it has all year, we’ll have our answers soon enough.

21 comments:

Theo said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one thinking this. It felt like every time I thought the umps may have missed the call, the announcers treated it like a non-issue. I was worried I was seeing things until I saw MLB.com's replays.

Luis said...

I agree with all of this, and it is sad to sweep it under the rug as Bud and MLB seem to be doing. Not just sad, but WRONG! I hate it when a missed call affects a game, but it happens. Honesty is the best policy!

Brianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brennan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brennan said...

Who wore a "tin foil hat"? Ever?

If you preface your argument by saying that you don't believe conspiracy theories, and you then say that the following argument is a conspiracy theory....didn't you just concede that your entire argument is bullshit?

Does Tim Lincecum wear a tin foil hat for conspiracy theory?

Since there's no such thing as conspiracies, doesn't that mean that the owners have never colluded and that the players who've fought collusion should be on medications for being wacko conspiracy theorists?

Why did ESPN's Baseball Tonight suddenly hire an umpire as their newest host? (And how many Hall of Fame players have they rejected in favor of this ump?)

Have you ever told anybody from Japan that they never had an atomic bomb dropped on them because, if they had, than that would mean that the government would've had to conspire with the Manhattan Project, when you know that nobody ever conspires?

The Common Man said...

Dear David,

The Common Man can tell that you're not one for reading comprehension. TCM said that he is generally not one for conspiracy theories (such as the moon landing was faked, the Illuminati conspire to raise gas prices, or John Denver is being kept alive at an underground facility in Nevada for knowing too much and being too folksy), but that he's willing to consider this one. Then again, given that you left an earlier comment (since deleted) in which you basiclaly accuse TCM of stealing this idea from Craig Calcaterra (a good friend of this blog) when Craig directly links to this post, perhaps The Common Man shouldn't expect much from you.

Also, The Common Man is not quite sure what your point is, given the article TCM just wrote. Feel free to explain further, because anyone who can go from Major League Baseball and Instant Replay to nuclear weapons being dropped on Japanese cities in the space of five sentences clearly is going to have something entertaining to say.

David Brennan said...

You were babbling about John Denver and Nevada and Illuminati....but you, uh, kinda forgot to answer my questions there, chief.

That's fine. It was a timid response to a timid article and I didn't anticipate anything else.

The Common Man said...

Dear David,

Once again, reading comprehension. The Common Man never said he doesn't believe conspiracies exist. But he is not prepared to say that there is definitely a conspiracy between MLB and TBS to deny the public accurate replays and analysis of plays. The decision to move on from those controversial calls could have come from any number of places and for legitimate (though, TCM would argue, ultimately wrong) reasons. But TCM isn't prone to throwing around accusations like so many cut-fastballs. As for your other questions:

"Who wore a tinfoil hat ever?" TCM has no idea. It was a figure of speech, and a damn funny one.

"Didn't you just concede that your argument was bullshit?"
No, actually, by claiming not to generally believe in a concept, but then admitting to being swayed by the concept in this case, TCM is giving the concept (in this situation) added credibility. It's a rhetorical device, and a damn good one.

"Does Tim Lincecum wear a tinfoil hat?" Whatever Timmy does in his spare time is fine with TCM. And the Rockies wouldn't be the first team to try and get a competitive advantage by circumventing the rules. And MLB is certainly acting to try to prevent any potential tampering in the future by demanding the balls be in the possession of an umpire at all times.

"Why did ESPN hire an umpire?" First, TCM generally doesn't watch BBTN, so this is news to him. That said, TCM would hope that ESPN hired an umpire to speak to the difficulties of umpiring and to point out where calls were made incorrectly and whether that's because there was something wrong with the game ump's positioning or technique.

"Japan. Nuclear bombs. Conspiracy." TCM would never think to lecture anyone about something horrible that happened to their people. Indeed, to even bring that up in the context of this post is distasteful. In no way can anyone compare baseball's fight over instant replay to WWII or to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians respectfully. The Common Man won't answer this.

David Brennan said...

You keep bitching about my reading comprehension, but I think the problem is actually with your writing abilities.

I mean, you refer to yourself in the third person, which I think is normally a trait of sociopaths and c-list celebrities on VH-1. And you're also giving yourself a weird pseudonym, which makes your arguments even harder to track 'cause I don't even know who the hell is writing it. Reading that, it's like, "Is this being written by a committee? What's going on there?"

Then, you keep talking about how something is so "damn good" and "damn funny"....but you're talking about your own writing. Somebody talking about how themselves like that is kinda atypical, so readers have to backtrack just to make sure that they read it properly.

So there's all these bizarre ticks in the writing that make it hard to even tell who the hell is saying what, nevermind what they're saying.

So maybe you should drop the sad attempt to cultivate an identity, and then you won't have to gripe about how your writing ain't being understood properly.

Just my opinion there, that's all. Don't expect you to back off from your phoniness at all; you seem kinda locked into that lie.

(And I don't need some impotent American wannabe trying to lecture me about sensitivity to the Japanese.)

The Common Man said...

Dear David,

How dare you refer to Rickey Henderson as "a sociopath" or as a "C-list celebrity!" Rickey will fight you sir, and so will The Common Man.

But by all means, continue to attack the man, and not the argument at hand. TCM likes you and your batshit insanity.

David Brennan said...

You say that you're copying Ricky Henderson, but I think that he used the third-person naturally. You're using it artificially. (Ya know: he's honest, you're a phony.)

But I'd thought you were copying Bob Dole - ya know, your typical impotent American whitey.

Anyway, you're starting to curse and call total strangers names, so....bye.

The Common Man said...

The Common Man, in no way, said he was copying Rickey Henderson. Again, what's wrong with your reading comprehension, David? TCM was just pointing out that Rickey Henderson also refers to himself in the 3rd person, and most people find it endearing.

As for name-calling, The Common Man called you no names, David (again, please read carefully), though you are very quick to accuse TCM of lying and casting aspersions at his nationality. TCM doesn't know what your nationality is, nor would he serve to use it as an insult. The Common Man just thinks you're a twit. See, now that's name-calling.

Steve said...

David Brennan is an ass

Mr. SKIA said...

David, you do realize that you're coming off as a petty fool, don't you? Perhaps you should start your own blog, which no one would read.

JQuemere said...

Good article, and the premise seems very plausible. If you've ever worked in a facility that had more than two supervisors, then you know that conspiracies happen all the time everyday. Most of them surround "public relations" and how to talk about or deal with certain situations. Most of the time they are about covering-up something that would embarrass the parent-organization.

There is a fear in the parent organization that this embarrassment might force the parent organization to change some of it's policies.

Sometimes there is a fear of lawsuits from these embarrassments so a conspiracy is created to control information.

But I would say actual "Criminal Conspiracies" account for a relatively small percentage of all conspiracies.

The problem is that the word "Conspiracy" has basically lost all of it's meaning in the United States. In the United States, the word "Conspiracy" means that you are a paranoid schizophrenic that believes that Elvis never died and he's working at the 7-11 in Memphis.

Think about it, two kids not telling their mother about a broken a Vase is a conspiracy. Basically 90% of the plot lines for the Brady Bunch and I Love Lucy revolved around some type of conspiracy.

I could see Selig going to the head of TBS and asking him to tone down the Anti-Umpire comments.

tyrannoman said...

At least these plays, all of them, are very, very close and several are inconclusive even with HD video review. We're not talking about Don Dinkenger or Eric Gregg here. I think these calls are far more excusable than farces like those games.

Bill said...

Come on, Steve and Mr. SKIA, give David his due. It takes a certain special something to comment on a total stranger's blog and come right out of the gate cursing and calling him names, and then to get all huffy about said blogger cursing and calling a total stranger names.

So is he an ass and a petty fool? Yes, but he's also a total hypocrite. You can't just selectively pick and choose among his many qualities.

lateral said...

Keep up the good work, TCM, but don't waste your time feeding the troll(s).

Charles Gates said...

The concept was mentioned in a science fiction story by Julian Huxley, "The Tissue-Culture King," first published in 1927, in which the protagonist discovers that "caps of metal foil" can be used to block the effects of telepathy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tin_foil_hat

Jay Ess said...

I had the same thought about TBS intentionally avoiding showing replays. Seems to me they showed their strike zone box a lot less too on close ball-strike calls. And while it's true networks like to play up controversy, they don't do it at the expense of creating doubt about the credibility of their own product, in this case baseball games. I wonder if FOX will continue the trend?

Wally said...

David, you probably didn't notice but in this statement you admit to having problems with your reading comprehension:

>And you're also giving yourself a weird pseudonym, which makes your arguments even harder to track 'cause I don't even know who the hell is writing it. Reading that, it's like, "Is this being written by a committee? What's going on there?<

I don't have problem tracking TCM's arguments, it doesn't seem like anyone else here is either, well except for you. So given that, I'm think the problem is with you and not TCM.

Anyway, you're acting like a complete douche, but hey, that's just my opinion, so don't get all worked up.