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When all else fails, blame technology

Oct 31, 2009, 2:44 PM EDT

The awful umpiring during the
postseason has been discussed ad nauseam here, most recently during the
World Series, with a curious double play call in Game 1 and a missed
double play call in Game 2. So, who’s the biggest culprit for the added
scrutiny? Technology,
says Joe Lemire of SI.com:

It’s hard to quantify umpiring errors for comparisons with other
postseasons, but there’s no question that this intense focus on the men
in blue is a creation of television. At the ballpark itself, MLB policy
prohibits any obvious umpiring mistake from being shown on the video
scoreboard.


Mistakes are simply disseminated quicker and farther. The live TV
audience is higher — and not shrinking because of the umpiring
blunders, either, as Fox’s World Series Game 2 ratings were 44 percent
better than the same game last year. There’s a larger press corps at
each playoff game, and the Internet transmits their words instantly.
Video clips are easily accessible online.

Fox is using 20
TV cameras for each playoff game it broadcasts, the same as it used
last year, but that’s still twice as many as most networks use in the
regular season.

Lemire is painting the umpiring
problems with a broad brush here. We might not like it, but most of us
can accept a missed call at first base here or there. It happens in
baseball. But when umpires make egregious mistakes like Phil Cuzzi in
Game 2 of the ALDS or Tim McLelland in Game 4 of the ALCS, it becomes
very difficult to blame technology.

If anything, increased technology
and scrutiny from expanded replay could enhance the game in half the
time, saving us from unnecessary umpire huddles with inexact resolutions. If only Bud Selig would agree.

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