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The umpires probably haven’t gotten worse. We’re just noticing it more.

Oct 18, 2010, 9:17 AM EDT

Wezen-Ball may be the first person to ever post the You Tube video of the opening to Game 3 of the 1989 World for a reason other than the earthquake. He posts it to show a really bad umpire’s call: Dave Parker being called safe at second in Game 2 when he was clearly out by a Buster Poseyian distance.

lar’s point is a good one: no big deal was made of it at the time. Not because it wasn’t an egregiously bad call. It clearly was. But because the means didn’t really exist for people to raise a fuss. It was 1989. The people who had a connection to the Internet then could probably fit in a single-A ballpark. If you wanted to moan about the call, you had to wait until the next morning and do it with coworkers at the water cooler or mimeograph machine or whatever kind of ancient technology populated offices back in 1989.

But I don’t think the lesson to take from this, though, is “there have been bad calls forever, so we should all stop complaining.” The lesson should be that bad calls today are different than bad calls 20 years ago. Not in their nature, but in their effect. The new technology that allows for instant complaining about things that have always happened may be annoying to the umpires and the league, but it has  a real effect on fan sentiment. If we get a bad enough bad call — or if they simply continue to pile up like they have been — eventually it will cause fans to question the legitimacy of the competition. Or at the very least the reliability of the officiating. Such a dynamic could cause viewership to erode and the product to be damaged. This, more than anything else, is the argument for expanded replay in baseball.

  1. pestiesti - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    HD hasn’t helped either. We used to get up and squint at the TV trying to see if a catch was a trap or if a tag was made, but the resolution just wasn’t there to be able to tell definitively. Now, we can clearly see the answer from our couch,

  2. BC - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    I can’t remember, was Parker trying to steal a base on that play? By 1989, he weighed about 300 lbs. Maybe the ump felt sorry for him?

  3. lar @ wezen-ball - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    Thanks, Craig.

    And you’re right. The lesson shouldn’t be “stop complaining, it’s nothing new”. That’s not what I was trying to say, but I realize that’s how it came out. The lesson I meant to say was “When you complain about the bad umpiring, quit trying to pretend like this it’s new. It sucks, and needs to change, but it isn’t new.”

    I know, not exactly profound or groundbreaking. It just seems like whenever someone complains about the umpiring these days, they’re saying “it’s the worst it’s ever been!” Clearly that’s not true. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t complain. Indeed, it is the only that’s going to bring about replay. I just think we need to keep the hyperbole down and try to be more honest with our complaints. The more honest we are, the more believable we are to the opposition. That’s what I was trying to say.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:40 AM

      lar — didn’t mean to imply that you held that view. I got the impression that you clearly did not.

  4. Jonny 5 - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Cars never had seatbelts when my Dad was a kid. Officiating never had instant replay either. Just because “it’s always been this way” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t evolve as the technology has we see today. Imagine if we still didn’t “need” seatbelts? I look at it like that. MLB is being irresponsible and they don’t seem to care either. Even football and hockey (two “inferior” sports) have advanced past baseball. How’s it feel Bud? Oh, that’s right, You only care about Ratings… Maybe bad calls are proven to raise ratings?

  5. Utley's Hair - Oct 18, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    I may be a bit off point here, but I looked at that video and thought, “Wow…the days before Joe Buck.”

  6. pisano - Oct 18, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Bullcrap , they’ve gotten alot worse . One of the Yankee -Twinns , game the home plate ump missed 31 strike , ball calls , to me that’s getting worse .

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 18, 2010 at 6:34 PM

      It’s kind of hard to prove that with no comparative analysis.

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