Lets just say that I cringe every time the Twins take a lead versus the Yankees. I know they won two games againt New York this season and I remember one of those games was the Kubel grand slam game. Did the Twins hold onto a lead in the other victory, or did they make a comeback late in the game for that one as well? When is the last time the Twins took the lead first and held it against the Yanks?
Anyhow, It’s just frustrating to watch the Twins line up go into panic mode after the 5th inning and either flailing at everything, or making poor contact trying to swing out of their shoes. And don’t even get me started on how poor Mauer’s at-bats have been. It’s not that he’s grinding out tough at-bats and losing – it seems like he’s almost always behind 0-2, or 1-2 and I think he has more swing-and-misses these past two games than he had over his whole highschool career. Does anyone else Justin Morneau right about now? Get well buddy.
That’s all I’m going to mention about last night’s game. I’m practically already in off-season mode. Something I wanted to address is related to the non-strike call on Berkman last night but I guess it’s about the whole game calling in general. Over the last two games, the pitch tracker graphic TBS is using constantly shows balls several ball-width’s in off the out side of the plate (for lefties) being called strikes. And then there was that beauty of a pitch that Pavano threw that looked like it fell right into the zone. The graphic showed the pitch clearly on the inside corner, yet it was called a ball.
I want to know something: why do we even have that box there in the first place? What purpose does it serve? We can see for ourselves if a ball appears to be a ball or strike just by watching, so in my eyes the only thing this graphic does is make the umpires look bad. This would be like having a flashing light and siren over my cube at work that would go off every time I screwed up just a tiny bit. I don’t envy the umpires: not only do they have to answer to the players and managers but now they have to defend their calls to every person who watches the game on television.
Umpires don’t have a computer generated box floating in mid air telling them where a rigid strike zone is. They don’t have fancy physics and tracking software in their head that shows the entire path the ball takes to the plate, and the exact location it crosses the plate and hits the cather’s mitt. They look at a pitch and determine “is that a hittable pitch?”. If yes, it’s a strike. If not, it’s a ball. That’s how it has been for years and that’s how umps call the game now. Nobody strictly adheres to the “knees to letters” bullcrap that “defines” the strike zone. I think we should go back to the old way of doing it: no fancy computer graphics. If the batter doesn’t swing, but the ball looked hittable it’s a strike.
Think about it – a pitcher throws a ball down the middle of the plate and mid-torso on the batter. That little graphic might say it’s a ball because the box starts at the batter’s belt or bellybutton and umpires are encouraged to call this a ball because if they don’t they will get crucified because their opinion didn’t mesh with the pitch f/x data. In my opinion, if a pitcher throws that pitch and it’s not hit out of the park he should be credited with a strike.
The same goes for that pitch that Pavano threw last night. It’s just barely comes back and crosses the plate right on the black. It looks good, but the problem is that hitters don’t hit inside pitchers over the plate, they hit them out in front of the plate. But out in front of the plate, that perfect corner-nabbing pitch is probably several inches inside. Guess what – that pitch is not really hittable. Some people would say that’s why it’s a perfect pitch. Penalizing a player for not swinging at that pitch doesn’t seem very fair. I believe the spirit of the ‘strike’ is to discourage batters from watching an infinite number of pitches to find the exact one they want to hit. In this same spirit, the ‘ball’ is to discourage pitchers from throwing the ball to unhittable locations indefinitely.
That’s the real ‘human factor’ of the game to me, not blown calls.