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A reporter’s suggestion of umpire bias was way out of line

Oct 24, 2011, 8:20 AM EDT

2011 World Series Game 3 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

We finally have a situation in which I feel that an umpire and Joe Torre are worthy of being defended after an on-field screwup and in which I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

First base umpire Ron Kulpa screwed up on Saturday night. There’s no mistaking that. Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli tagged baserunner Matt Holliday out at first base during the Cardinals’ four-run fourth inning in Game 3. He clearly tagged him. Kulpa called him safe. Blown call, no question.  But the far more egregious act came after the game when a pool reporter from the Associated Press asked Ron Kulpa — who had made himself available to discuss the missed call — about the fact that he was from St. Louis.

I suppose it’s possible that the reporter simply and abruptly changed the subject from the blown call to a feel-good story about Kulpa’s roots, but it’s more likely that he was insinuating that the umpire was harboring bias based on some local rooting interest.  That’s certainly what Joe Torre felt as he took the unusual step of criticizing that question and defending Kulpa’s integrity before last night’s game.

And good for Torre. We can — and often do — criticize bad calls and bad umpires around here. We want instant replay. We think that some umpires have shown that they are incompetent or something close to it. But it’s an entirely different thing to suggest that one is biased in favor of a certain team based on … nothing.  Even Joe West is an equal opportunity awful umpire. Suggesting or even entertaining the notion that one favors a given team is simply inappropriate behavior for a credentialed reporter.

I don’t say this very often, but last night Joe Buck and Tim McCarver hit the nail on the head when they noted how stupid and pervasive charges of bias are. Buck noted that, at various times, he’s been accused of favoring just about every team. I can certainly relate to that. In just the past few weeks I’ve been accused of tipping the editorial scales in favor of the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Rangers, the Tigers and, of course, my personal rooting interest, the Braves. Anyone who writes or reports about the game gets that. Never does it make any sense. More importantly, never do such accusations come from a person who themselves isn’t a partisan of the team being criticized or a person who hates the team being praised.

The bias card is so, so common these days that I presume that this AP reporter felt like he was simply asking a question that he felt readers were demanding be asked. But the fact is that true bias — especially bias by someone significant in a way that matters — is pretty damn rare. There’s a rational bias of broadcasters who prefer to show east coast games and feature east coast topics because of ratings and page views. There are the local provincials who see and report on the entire world through locally-tinted goggles. There are disclosed biases — like my Braves fandom — that exist in a writer’s heart but which don’t cause the writer to ignore reality.

But an umpire being unable to shake off what could have possibly been a youthful rooting interest so that it impacts his job? Please. Even the suggestion of that absent a shred of evidence requires one to leave sanity and reality behind and reveals that the reporter himself was biased by the culture of bias accusations that has sprung up on the Internet over the years. And no matter what motivated it, the question itself was low rent and totally unprofessional.

But what do you expect? The guy who asked it was probably from [insert the city you don't like here].

  1. skids003 - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    That question was typical of today’s media. “Low rent and totally unprofessional.”

    Anyone who has ever taken pride in their officiating knows better.

    Craig, do you remember the bias charges in the 1996 World Series, when all those bad calls by the AL umpires went against the Braves?

    • vikesfansteve - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      Sorry but the bias was for the 95 Braves that were handed the WS by umps calling pitches 5 inches off the plate strikes. Or the Marlins getting to the WS for even wider strike zones. The Yankees beating the O’s thanks to Jeffry Mayer.

      Umps suck, replay is needed.

      • skids003 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        Umps don’t suck, these guys are the best in the world at what they do. They are expected to be perfect their first day on the job and improve as they go. Why don’t you try it sometime and see how good you are at it?

      • The Baseball Idiot - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM

        skids, I’m hearing you, but let me give you some advice. Give it up. I’ve been fighting this battle here for a couple of years and it just won’t go. You’ll get shouted down every time, just like I do. And called lots of names that eventually become your username. You and I, and about three others can discuss it reasonably, but the others can’t. If anyone who posts here had to say something good about the umpires, their heads would explode. Even the few compliments given out are just ‘damning with faint praise’.

        There is no love for the umpires.

        That being said, nice post, Craig. You always defend the truth.

        Nice post except for the instant replay. It’s the work of the devil. He sucked people in with the designated hitter, and this is his next mission. You reap what you sow.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        TBI, we have our differences but I never begrudge a person their opinion and I almost always learn something, whether it is a different angle on an issue or an actual fact that I was unaware of, whenever I debate with anyone. Especially on here. So let me ask you this question and maybe you’ll be able to give me an angle on this that I have yet to hear. Or maybe you’ll agree :D

        Don’t you think it is a little out of line to have an umpire who is going to be working the World Series talking to the press about getting tickets for his friends and family who are Cardinals fans? And about how he always wanted to play in the World Series with the Cardinals? Now, I am not saying he isn’t allowed to feel that way…he is human after all. And I am not saying he shouldn’t be allowed to get those people tickets. I am saying he should not be talking to the media about it. I think umpires should not be talking to the media at all before or during the World Series. Do you agree? I am referring to this article in particular:

        http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2011/10/world-series-game-3-controversy-umpire-ron-kulpa-/1?csp=obinsite

        And for the record, I agree with you and skids that as a whole, umpires do not suck. But Joe West does suck. And Angel Hernandez blows.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:21 PM

        Chris’ POV reminds of the old Purssian Aristocracy regarding William IV: The Monarchy (Umpires) isn’t bad, it’s just THAT particular Monarch (Joe West, Angel Hernandez) who really needed to be put out to pasture.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:24 PM

        TBI, part of the problem is that you insist on debating by appealing to authority, since you have been an umpire, your POV is the CORRECT one and bugger everyone else. Case in point, the statistical analysis of catcher framing on balls and strikes. You called it BS based solely on your own experience and say so, not once admitting to the possibility that maybe framing has played a role subconsciously.

      • vikesfansteve - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:41 PM

        skids is what you leave in your underwear dude & you are about the same IQ. Umps do suck & you obviously swallow because it’s rotting your brain.

  2. proudlycanadian - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    [Boston] or more likely [New York]

    • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:21 AM

      Yeah, there’s be no point in his being from {Missisauga}, whose campus of UT proudly employs Darryl Gwynne, the recipient of the 2011 IgNobel Prize for biology. Way to go, Missisauga!

      http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2011

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        I live in Brampton which is just north of Mississauga. Why anyone would want to go to that campus is a mystery to me.

    • umrguy42 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      Could be [Milwaukee], many of them do seem to love to fuss about the Cardinals ;p

    • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      I don’t know why they’d go to the Mississauga campus either, except that they apparently do fascinating work on which beer bottles excite the hell out of male beetles. That’s exciting stuff. I may stop by there this weekend to check it out, since I’ll be in town for the Cowboy Junkies-Skydiggers-Ivy Mairie-Cootes Leland show at Hugh’s Room.

      And of course the downtown TO campus is a moderate walk from Caplansky’s Deli, which strikes me as a good reason to go anywhere.

  3. professorsparkles - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Still waiting for someone to accuse you of Phillies bias..

    And yes, it was a blown call, but by no means an easy one. Lots of moving parts. It was easier to see from a distance I guess, since we could see the tag and Holliday’s feet without shifting our eyes/head too much. From up close, that gets very tricky, as the audio cue from the ball hitting the mitt is rendered useless.

    And quick, somebody ask Lance Berkman whether he had a K in the late innings because he’s from Texas. When someone makes a mistake, they should be accountable for it. If it happens again and again, you can start to question their competence (cough, Joe West). And that’s still way more decent than questioning someone’s integrity.

  4. cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    If Kulpa has a bias to give St. Louis critical calls he sure has split second timing, incredible foreknowledge of the rest of the game and influence on how often Pujols hits homers. It was a bad call in game 3, but it was that one call and that was it. He made even more crucial calls in game 3 and as the HP ump in 4; nothing indicated a bias. Pretty much only a fool goes out in public and starts with “it was rigged” or “umpire rooting interest” crap based on evidence in one game. Maybe the question does have to be asked about this being his home town team, as in “what’s it like officiating for your home town team in a WS, Ron?” but boy you better have more than that one bad call to go with if you’re going to throw “bias” in there.

    • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:28 AM

      I don’t know. There’s a certain crystalline purity in a single, discrete, perfectly timed, impeccably located act of bias.

      • cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:33 AM

        The “One BullSh*t” theory, eh?

      • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        I’d always heard it referred to as the Big Bullshit Theory. The asterisk was deleted because it locks down indeterminacy theory. We can’t have stasis while researching something as inveterately fluid as bullshit.

  5. randomdigits - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Right an Ump would never have a bias…

    That is why Luciano was banned from Umping O’s games for a full year after being quoted as saying he wanted anyone other then the O’s to win.

    I am not accusing this Ump of anything but it is naive to think that no Ump has an agenda on the field other then being totally non-biased.

    Wasn’t that long ago the NBA had a problem, you think MLB is immune?

  6. alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    I’m going to disagree here. I want reporters to ask tough questions – this wasnt about his private life or family or anything. This was about potential bias in an umpire – bias that is always present if not always realized.

    Do i think Kulpa missed the call on purpose because he wanted the Cardinals to win? No, not in the least. But I want reporters to explore things like that — it’s their job. Its not as if the reporter badgered Kulpa and kept repeating the question, it was a simple one off question that was legitimate. What if Kulpa’s answer were different? Kulpa made a mistake, we all do. When you make mistakes you need to investigate why you made them — maybe this question will force Kulpa to ask for help next time – surely the right field ump or home plate ump could have helped him out.

    I never want reporters to shy away from asking a question because it might somewhat be out of line. As long as it isnt about one’s personal life, its fair game.

    • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      Then explore it by looking for patterns of missed calls that favor a specific team, and ask questions if you find a pattern…don’t just throw out a a lazy question that accuses him of bias with no informational basis (other than a blown call) on which to make the accusation….because the question itself is an accusation.

      Asking tough questions means asking questions for which there is some evidentiary basis, not throwing out random out-of-line crap. If “reporters” held themselves to anything approximating the standards they apply to those they cover, the media would be much better at their jobs.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        How does a question in and of itself accuse anything. it’s a simple question, Kulpa says no, issue closed.

        Why is it such a big deal? In what world does the reporter have time to research history of blown calls in this short a time table. Again — he didnt badger or repeat the question — he asked once.

        Did your hometown have an impact on your call?

        No.

        Done deal – Joe Torre should focus on helping his umpires make the right calls rather than a reporter who asked a question well within his rights.

        Was it a gotcha type thing? Probably, but it wasnt egregious. How are we supposed to know Kulpa’s hometown didnt factor into his call? Just assume it? With multiple referees involved in point shaving in the history of the world, why would we give them the benefit of the doubt?

    • mplsjoe - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:31 AM

      I ddin’t see much of Game 3. But when I heard that Ron Kulpa had blown a call which helped the Cards, my first thought was of the story I had read that day baout how Kulpa was from St. Louis and grew up a Cards fans.

      I see nothing unfair about the question. If the reporter asked it over and over, or refused to take “no” for an answer, or badgered the umpire, well, then sure, it would be out of line. But a simple question about something Kulpa himself had already put out there – he grew up a Cards fan – was in no way out of line. All Kulpa had to do was answer the quesiotn honestly.

      David Stern, several years ago, would have found totally insulting a question concenring whether one of his refs had ever tried to fix games to support his own gambling habit. And then it was revealed that one of his refs had tried to fix games to support his own gambling habit. There’s nothing wrong with asking the questions.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    Craig,

    I’m not watching the games, and I didn’t see the blown call nor the question after the game. However, after reading this article, I am wondering why the outrage at the question:

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2011/10/world-series-game-3-controversy-umpire-ron-kulpa-/1?csp=obinsite

    Seems to me that Kulpa embraces his roots, and has talked about how he grew up wanting to play in the World Series for the Cardinals. I think it is a perfectly fair question, considering all the hype surrounding him getting his friends tickets, telling them jokingly that there’s “nothing I can do for them except get them tickets” for the question to be asked.

    You are acting like this is the first time the story of Kulpa being from St. Louis came up during the series and it was not. I think the question was asked, answered and we all move on. It isn’t like he rooted for them years ago and hasn’t dealt with fandom anymore. The article above talks about all the tickets he got for his friends. Don’t you think they joke about it outside the game. Nobody is saying he was biased, but after the stories about getting tickets for his friends and family comes out, when there is a clearly blown call, the question has to be asked.

    Torre exacerbates the issue with his holier-than-thou outrage at it.

    • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:13 AM

      The question was “are you totally incapable of doing your job”…the words were different, but that was the intent. The game before Kulpa was at second and called Kinsler safe on a bang-bang play when he stole 2nd….where were the stories about Kulpa obviously not be biased because he could have easily called Kinsler out? If you pick a single incident to make such an accusation and ignore all of the rest of the evidence (all the times Kulpa has called Cardinal games for which there has been no hint of bias) that already suggests that the inicident in question was just a blown call…then you are a crappy journalist asking dumb questions because you can’t be bothered to do your homework.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        Paper, it was a question…it was asked and it was answered. He asked if being a Cardinals fan had anything to do with the call. He said no. Period. End of story. When you are coming off an article where you are talking about getting 24 tickets for the world series games for your family and friends, you are inviting that question when you make a mistake that favors the team you rooted for and that you got 24 tickets for friends and family.

        Now, had there not been such a big story about Kulpa being from St Louis and getting tickets for friends and family, then yeah, I would agree with Craig, and everyone else. But you all can’t have it both ways. He made a mistake that favored the team his friends and family like. He gets asked. He answers. Move on.

        By the way, from what I am reading, it appears he more than made up for it last night with a strike zone that apparently was a little biased toward the Rangers. Like I said, I didn’t watch, but if that’s the case, then why isn’t that a bigger story? Are they wrong? Isn’t there a chart that can shoot down that theory immediately?

      • professorsparkles - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:21 AM

        Ah, the Kinsler steal, I had almost forgotten about it. That was a great call. In fact, before the replay, I thought he was out. It would be nice if we could find a way to quantify all those times where the umpire was right and some of us weren’t.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:25 AM

        Why do you feel the need to coddle umpires? He made a huge mistake on the biggest stage. A simple question was asked. he answered it. As far as we know he wasnt bothered by the question. Joe Torre was.

        A reporter can and should do research, but he has an opportunity there and then (how often do umpires actually acquiesce to talk with the press) to put Kulpa on the record. it’s his responsibility to do so – just because it was insensitive doesnt make it wrong.

        If Kulpa wanted to avoid such situations, he could make the right call, he could have asked for help (in which case other umpires presumably with other home towns would have gave their opinions) or he could have excused himself from the World Series. Or, you know, MLB could institute some form of replay to help the umps out…

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        Yeah, alang. That’s my problem with all this indignity about the question. Kulpa had been interviewed about the whole backstory before the series. He talked about getting all his friends and family 24 tickets to the games. He talked about how he wanted to play for the Cardinals in the World Series growing up.

        And now, after he blows a call in his hometown team’s favor, he was asked whether all that stuff he said may have played a part in his terrible call, and he just says no. Should have been end of story.

      • cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        Just to extend the bias notion a bit; in order to establish that the ump was biased under the 1-missed-call scenario you really have to reach. In other words Kulpa’s bias was so clever he knew that calling Holliday safe though he’d been tagged by Napoli would cause a pitching implosion. His timing of that call, and that one call alone since he was invisible for the rest of the game and the preceding games, caused the whole game to pivot towards the Cardinal victory…Ron Kulpa, Super Genius. But even that doesn’t hold up. Even if the runs that call cost gets erased, the Cards still win by a handful.

        A much more likely scenario, given all we’ve seen of Kulpa and the fact he hasn’t even come up till game 3, is that he missed one call. That’s not enough reason to go call “bias” on the guy. His whole livelihood, integrity as a person and not to mention legal standing with respect to fixing ballgames comes into question. That’s the kicker for me. This isn’t just a matter of “honor” or “integrity”; there are legal implications, too. WTF was that reporter thinking? Have more than that for proof if your going out there with it.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        If a race X umpire misses a call in which the runner was out, but he called him safe…and the runner was the same race…would an appropriate question be to ask the umpire of him and the runner being the same race had anything to do with the call? Alternatively, and more specifically, if a white umpire calls a black player out on a play in which the player was clearly safe, is it the “hard question” to ask that umpire if the players race had anything to do with the missed call?

        Because those are essentially the same thing (percieved bias based group affiliation)…and according to you guys, those are just innocent questions and not accusations at all.

        Not asking dumb questions isn’t coddling, and gathering more information before asking such an accusatory question is just good reporting….because if you guys don’t think it was an accusation, you are kidding yourselves.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        Cur, I agree with everything you wrote. He missed a call. No biggie. Who cares. He missed the call for his hometown team, though, the team who he was walking to the media about all his friends and family and all the tickets and everything. He was asked about that affecting the call. He answered the question. Why can’t Torre move on?

        Honestly…if MLB doesn’t want that type of question asked, then they probably should not have had one of their umpires being asked about how many tickets he is getting for his St. Louis friends and family for the World Series games. THAT more than anything, is the thing I have the biggest issue with…not the blown call and question of bias. These umpires should be seen and not heard. There should not be interviews with umpires before or during the World Series about their hometowns and friends and tickets for their families. To me, that’s just insane.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Paper comparing being a certain race to being a fan of a team is about as dumb as it gets. I am white, and my favorite player is Ryan Howard, who, last time I checked is black. If it was a close play on Howard, he would be safe. He is the MVP of the 2004-2011 seasons. So that is not even worth debating.

        And to once again make it perfectly clear, NOBODY said or is even saying Kulpa was biased. It was a question. After all the stuff he was saying before the series about loving the Cardinals and having friends/family who are big fans, and all the tickets he got for them, it was a perfectly legitimate question.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        Chris, you missed the point. You said the question was not accusatory…if it wasn’t then any question related to sources of bias should not be considered accusations. Your reaction to bringing racial bias into the argument demonstrates the accusatory nature of the question that you are attempting to deny. All three questions (the one to Kulpa, and the two hypothetical ones I posed) are accusatory, but occur at different places on a gradient of cultural sensitivity…but how sensitive the culture is to particular types of accusations have no bearing on whether or not an accusation is made.

        The question was baseless accusation.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        paper, have you read this article?

        http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2011/10/world-series-game-3-controversy-umpire-ron-kulpa-/1?csp=obinsite

        Read the quotes from Kulpa then come back and tell me that there was no reason at all to at the very least ask the question. Those quotes alone are basis enough to ask the question.

    • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      paper – well, we could also ask if his being human lead him to be biased.

      But, what if the umpire grew up with the player, then could the question be asked?

      Again, it’s one question, which was answered honestly and easily without any follow-up or fall-out really. This is only a story because joe Torre would rather keep the media off the umpires than give the umpires tools to help them do their jobs.

      Is anyone’s opinion of Kulpa different because of the question? No. What harm was done? How is a simple question from a reporter (a vocation that requires one to ask questions and get answers) out of line?

      Kulpa should be blamed for making a horrendous call. The reporter should not be blamed for calling Kulpa on that and investigating why it happened.

  8. thefalcon123 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Well naturally he blew the call at first intentionally because of his STL roots. I assume this reporter also tracked down Ryan Howard and shed light on intentional suckitude during the NLDS due to his St. Louis Heritage.

  9. Jonny 5 - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    I was asked to umpire over the weekend, a game in which my son would be pitching in. I was VERY hesitant to do so, but was compelled to do so by the coaches of both teams, so I agreed. I was super relieved when the umpire showed up late, saving me from being put in a situation I didn’t want to be in, for a plethora of reasons.

    I’d imagine that a pro umpire wouldn’t be biased for fan based reasons. $$$$ maybe….. And that’s not any type of “suggestion” on my part that there was either in this case.

    • cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      Say, since you don’t mention it here, how did J5jr get along in that game? ;)

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        Actually, he pitched a perfect inning. 1-2-3. In his rec league he’s in now it’s considered “cheating” if you leave any kid for more than an inning. He was on fire. And he was the only kid to not allow any base runners, which is a rare thing in little league it seems.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      I quit umpiring traveling team ball when the people from my home town (you know, family and friends that I grew up with) accused me of being biased towards the visiting team and actually not giving calls to the home town team. They told me I should have made better calls to help ‘our’ team.

      Maybe the bias isn’t always in the umpire, but in the observer. In that case, asking stupid questions is, well, stupid.

  10. PhillieBirds - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Craig how long did it take you to decide not to insert (Philadelphia) here. I miss the back and forth between us all.

    But in all seriousness, this was a definite BS question.

  11. pbannard - Oct 24, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Hypothetical, particularly for those who think this is a legitimate question:

    One day you’re chatting with your buddies at work about how you always dreamed of making millions of dollars when you grew up so you could sit at home and play video games all day long. A few days later, you make a mistake when recording a couple of numbers in the company books – you definitely screwed up, but it’s not a huge mistake, and it’s the sort of thing that happens not infrequently at a big company like yours. Like a good worker, once you realize it, you own up to your mistake and offer to talk to the guy auditing the company books about it (best I can do as an analog for reporters). You answer a couple questions about what happened, then he comes out with, “Are you embezzling large amounts of money from the company so that you can live in luxury?”

    It’s a simple yes or no question. You can certainly say no and move on. But it seems to me, at least, that most people would be at least a bit offended just to have that asked of them, given the circumstances. And you’d definitely appreciate your boss coming out the next day and saying that it was inappropriate for the auditor to ask that question.

    • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      Anytime you make an error in your own favor, people can ask why. I certainly wouldnt be offended by the auditor’s question, I’d assume it was standard protocol if i made a huge mistake and ended up somehow depositing money from the company into my personal account.

      I would imagine it’s an auditors job to ascertain whether certain employees are embezzling money from a company. If an auditor just assumed at face value that someone making this kind of error was just making a simple mistake, what kind of job is he doing?

  12. mcsnide - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    Does anyone have a link to a transcript or video of the actual press conference? All I can find is statements that the reporter said, “You being from St. Louis”, at which point Kulpa cut him off with “has nothing to do with it.” It’d really be nice to see the exchange in context.

  13. badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Alang, Chris, et. al. –I’m with you on it being ok to ask the question. It was asked and answered, and Torre’s indignation made it more of a story.

    My only objection is that it’s the type of question that has only one answer, whether it’s the truth or not. Would anyone expect the answer to be “yes, I’m biased in favor of my hometown,” even if it were so?

    • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:24 AM

      Yeah – good point. But i see it as getting Kulpa on the record. It’s a nuanced question, Kulpa’s response would seemingly indicate absolutely no bias.

      I’ve never umped, but I cant imagine there can be much bias in a split second decision, which is why his answer fit that perfectly. Still, you can influence umpires (look at how strike zones change after repeated complaining), so it’s silly to think something as big as one’s favorite team might not have any impact on a decision. I have no reason to believe it did, and part of why i have no reason is this reporter doing his job.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:38 AM

      I’m honestly more concerned with umpires who are interviewed before big series that they are working. Some of the quotes given in this article are what bother me more than anything…

      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2011/10/world-series-game-3-controversy-umpire-ron-kulpa-/1?csp=obinsite

      It is totally different for an umpire to talk about being a fan of a team before the series he is working than it is for a player, so falcon’s comparison above using Ryan Howard is stupid beyond belief and that’s why I didn’t even bother answering the idiocy. MLB does a great job of shielding umpires throughout the entire season, then they allow one of the world series umpires to answer questions and talk about getting his friends/family tickets to world series games he is working??? How the @##$# do they allow that to get printed???

      Like Andre Agassi said in those commercials…sometimes…image is everything. You can’t have those answers printed. It just can’t happen. After the series? Sure, anything goes. But before? I just don’t think it is smart or proper.

  14. hockeylifer - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    It’s not a reporters job to ask “why” a mistake was made. Note the mistake, write how it impacted the game and move on. This isn’t conspiracy in government or banking or anything more significant than a baseball game.

    Somewhere along the line we’ve gone from noting mistakes, screw-ups, gaffes to judging a persons character due to them. What about the tough calls Kulpa made which went against the Cardinals? Where were Joe Buck, Mouth McCarver and this moron reporter then? Nothing exciting there. Moron reporter knew the attention he would draw by asking this moronic question. Maybe Kulpa grew up HATING the Cardinals? But do we really need to know this?

    As for Long-Winded Buck…..he has to understand he is a PLAY-BY-PLAY guy and nothing more. Who cares what he thinks? Are people so stupid and sheep-like that we can’t formulate out own opinions?

    Umpires, like offensive linemen only draw attention when they make mistakes. Where are the questions, comments, opinions when the make the correct call 999 out of 1000 times? Where’s Long-Winded, Mouth and moron reporter to say that Kulpa’s bias didn’t impact those plays?

    • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:26 AM

      Well umpires rarely actually talk with the media. It has been noted plenty of times the good call Kulpa made on Kinsler’s steal – so I dont think your point is valid.

      Last I checked, a news story included the what, when how and why. Why would i need to read a news story about something i witnessed if it didnt include the “why” that I might have missed. A reporter has to tell the story objectively, the blown call and reasons for it (which should be noted were probably 100% his positioning on the play) are part of game 3

      • hockeylifer - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        Nowhere in there should be the fact that he is from St. Louis.

    • mcsnide - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM

      Might want to dial your Buck/McCarver hate back a notch there, considering the fact that they agreed with you.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        No where in where?

  15. Francisco (FC) - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    don’t say this very often, but last night Joe Buck and Tim McCarver hit the nail on the head

    As opposed to hitting a nail in their heads, which is what you usually want to do.

    • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      Listening to Buck and McCarver is almost making me appreciate Wheeler and McCarthy.

  16. miketreedy - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    This entire question can be put to rest with INSTANT REPLAY. It is no longer a question of technology. Every other sport uses it in certain situations. There is no excuse for baseball to still be in the dark ages on this issue.

  17. deep64blue - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I don’t understand why MLB exposes themselves to this, I doubt any Umpire has a deliberate bias but you have to avoid any sub-concious issues (which may go against a team as an Umpire stives to ensure he is fair) and also maintain proper appearances.

    It just seems common sense to me that no Umpire should be involved in a game involving a team in the city he lives in or was brought up in.

  18. spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    It is still a stupid question. It becomes rhetorical because the questioner knows the answer. Did he expect Kulpa to say ‘Yep, I’m pulling for the Red Birds and saw a chance to help them out’. Of course not. So by asking the question you inherently infer something nefarious, and Torre has the right to call him out for the inference.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:04 PM

      Exactly Spud. I will also ADD that Kulpa is so “biased” he called ALL inside pitches on Cardinals Right Handers a strike and ALL outside pitches on Cardinals Left Handers a strike…no matter how far off the plate it was. He is so “biased” it has led to reverse “biasism.” LOL!

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