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Photo of the Day: Cody Ross strikes out. Sorta.

Apr 16, 2012, 2:29 PM EDT

This screen cap came from @Detroit4Lyfe, and it’s pretty good unless you happen to be a Red Sox fan.  It’s Fernando Rodney‘s pitches to Cody Ross, who struck out looking on a 2-2 pitch to end the Sox-Rays game. Though, really, it’s kinda hard to blame him for not swinging at these:

source:

Eric Gregg looked down from umpire heaven, saw that and said “damn.”

And in case you think that maybe the Red Sox TV thing just had it wrong, here’s the plotting of it from Brooks Baseball:

source:

Robots now, please.

  1. lardin - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    The ump was calling that pitch a strike all day.

    • gerryb323 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      That’s true enough. Shields got that call on the at bat to Pedroia too.

      But is consistency a good reason to have consistently bad?

    • dowhatifeellike - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      And Ross has spent his whole life trying not to swing at those. Either it’s a strike or it’s not, and in this case, it’s definitely not.

      • bigleagues - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:32 AM

        Wow, there’s one Fernando Rodney fan around here? Mrs. Rodney?!

    • sorryyourmomblewup - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      I don’t think he was.

      • dowhatifeellike - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        That actually looks pretty good compared to any of the scatters for the yankees/orioles series.

      • deathmonkey41 - Apr 16, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        dowhatifeellike – Apr 16, 2012 at 2:51 PM
        That actually looks pretty good compared to any of the scatters for the yankees/orioles series.

        One of the worst called series I have ever seen. Not only with just balls and strikes- also with calls on check swings. I don’t think they got a single one right. Any ump involved in that series should hand their head in shame. Caught the Orioles broadcasts for the game- I thought Jim Palmer was going to head down to the field and knock one of them out.

    • ss - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      If by “calling that pitch a strike all day” you mean “started calling that pitch a strike around the fifth inning”, then I agree with you 100%.

      • Ray Charbonneau - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:00 AM

        It was hot. Some umps want to get the game over with when it’s uncomfortable out.

    • Jack Marshall - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      No, he wasn’t. And that’s no excuse anyway.

  2. gerryb323 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Sun TV (Rays) had the same pitch track. The announcers were laughing about how the 2nd strike call was “close enough”. Terrible. Wish there was some accountability for Vanover here…

    • lefty47 - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      Sun Sports tv commentators are the worst homers on the air. Most of their commentary is whining about the calls that go against the Rays. It is hard to listen to, so most of the time during the Red Sox series I turned off the audio.

  3. hammyofdoom - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Seriously, pitch trax stuff is just making me even more frustrated with umpires. I dunno WHY pitches from a young pitcher is a ball, while an older pitcher its a strike. I don’t care if he’s “proven” you should be calling the strikezone as a STRIKEZONE. Why isn’t there more of an uproar that umpires very rarely call the bottom of the zone strikes any more? This isnt just against the Red Sox, when I watch other games its like this as well

    • baseballisboring - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      Usually, though, when pitchers get borderline calls, it’s because they’ve proven to be strike throwers. Rodney has been proving the exact opposite for many years now. So I just don’t even understand it. As a Red Sox fan watching the game, yeah, I was pretty pissed.

      • petey1999 - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:03 PM

        Me too. I was waiting for Ross or Valentine to go crazy but can you get thrown out of a game that’s already over?

    • nflfollower - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      Pitchers with reputations definitely get preferential calls from some of the umps. That’s not unique to baseball though, it happens in every major sport, whether it’s football, soccer, hockey, or the worst of all, basketball. Just comes with the territory, and while I don’t agree with it, I’m tired of complaining about it.

  4. ss - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    My only concern with robot umpires is when they inevitably take over the world. But that might be worth it for a consistent zone.

    Actually, I can see them ruling in a fairly just manner. If they’re initially programmed to call balls and strikes, and then they extrapolate out from that, wouldn’t their initial, most basic robot-instincts want things to be fair, and most importantly, accurate for all? Should I vote for Romney now? Should we all?

    • phukyouk - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      shhh if you listen very closely you can hear Gator typing

    • dowhatifeellike - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      We don’t need robots, we just need umpires to be held accountable. Send them back to school until they get it right or outright remove them. I don’t expect perfection but I think we can all agree that they can do better. I’ve seen strikes called on the chalk of the batter’s boxes already this year.

      It seems to me that it’d be impossible to become a top-level umpire with strike zones like that. I have to assume that these umpires relax once they make the Bigs, and the game suffers for it.

  5. Jason Collette - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Baseball gods do not like bat flippers

    • paperlions - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Don’t we have a lot of evidence that baseball gods love bat flippers? I mean, guys that flip their bats after HRs tend to hit a LOT of HRs.

      I think the baseball gods are mostly concerned with players pointing at the sky when crossing home plate….if a guy does that, they’ll forgive bat flipping, posing, and HR admiring. We might need to consult Domingo Ayala on this.

      BTW, am I the only one that bought a “Domingo Beisbol Academy” shirt? I’ve already got my money’s worth out of it…every time someone says “Domingo Beisbol Academy?” (which is more often than you would think), I just say “It’s god-given” in my best Domingo Ayala impersonation.

      • Jason Collette - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM

        Comment was in jest but agree with others on piss-poor job by Vanover there. I know the season is early but the zones have been all over the place even within games. Consistency is all we ask for as fans – even if you’re bad, be consistently bad.

  6. eric174 - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    There are never any repercussions for this stuff. They get to continue
    on tomorrow being poor at their job.
    Then again the next day and again for the next 20 years.

    I’m sure they are reviewed etc. but, nothing ever changes.
    Just for optics sake send them to the minors for 2 weeks.

    Better than pretending it never happened

  7. illcomm - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    U either like imputed or u don’t. I for one like the fact there is some human element aside from the players. Baseball would be extremely boring if all calls were made by robots. just as long as the calls are consistent, I don’t care if the strike zone is up,down,left,right a foot.

    • lardin - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      Agreed, Every single umpire has a slight variation to the strike zone. The great pitchers AND great hitters, know what calls they get from what umpire and plan accordingly.

      • Jeremy Fox - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:35 PM

        Um, given the actual *data* linked to in a previous comment showing that Vanover was *not* consistently calling strikes on the pitches on which Ross struck out, exactly how was Ross supposed to “know what calls [he was going to] get and plan accordingly”? Or were you just mindlessly spouting old-school cliches?

        Plus, hitters have to decide in literally the blink of an eye whether to swing or not. It’s impossible to set aside a lifetime of training yourself not to swing at pitches that aren’t even close and suddenly force yourself to swing at pitches almost a *foot* outside (look at the horizontal scale in the graph in the post).

        And as for the previous commenter who thinks baseball would be “extremely boring” if all calls were made by robots: Are you seriously saying that the only things that you find exciting about baseball are blown calls and the subsequent arguments? Are you seriously saying that Ross’ whole at-bat with 2 outs in bottom of the 9th in a one-run game with the winning run on base would’ve been boring if, say, he’d struck out on pitches that actually caught the corner?

      • dapperdan50 - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        Jeez, if you really love to have variation in the strike zone, you could program random daily variations into the robot umpires.

        It’s obvious that Vanover just wanted to get the game over. Maybe he had a date after the game or maybe the heat was just getting to him.

    • nategearhart - Apr 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Whoa, dude. You think baseball is boring unless it’s being umpired poorly? Then you are not a baseball fan.

  8. schlom - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Are the pitch plots always oriented backwards like that? If you look at the plot wouldn’t you think those pitches were missing inside, not outside?

    • dowhatifeellike - Apr 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      It’s presented from the umpire’s point of view.

      • spudchukar - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        The first and last pitches were close and often times get called strikes. The other two, no excuse for. Were I a Sox fan, Vanover’s ears would be burning. The Rays pitch track indicated they were closer,(one of the problems with Pitch Tracks) but even then only 2 were questionable.

        As bad as these calls were, a 3-1 swing? call against Sean Rodriguez was even worse. But he walked on the next pitch, so this time it had little impact.

        I have mixed feelings about the Robot thing, but if the MLB umpiring continues to more resemble a game of Blind Man’s Bluff, then they are inviting new technology to replace their sorry abilities.

  9. cur68 - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    juuuuust a little outside…right?

  10. shawndc04 - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Vanover stinks. He was horrible in the Nationals-Mets series, both behind the plate and in the field. He’s about the quality of Laz Diaz and Angel Hernandez.

  11. easports82 - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Livan Hernandez endorses this strike zone.

  12. ranoversquarells - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Umpires = Useless

  13. stairwayto7 - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    If this was a Mariners-Indians game, NO ONE WOULD CARE! However its the Redsox so now everyone needs to make a big deal out of it.

    • Jeremy Fox - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      Um, lots of people have been talking for years now about how poorly some umps call games, how unaccountable the umps are, and how maybe it’s time to start calling balls and strikes with a computer system.

      Plus, are you sure that Mariners and Indians fans don’t care about bad umpiring during Mariners-Indians games? Because I bet they do.

      • marinersnate - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        “If this was a Mariners-Indians game, NO ONE WOULD CARE!”

        Umm, I would care.

  14. comanchepilot - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Umps should have scores – like any other profession- when there is a called strike or ball – they should rated if it is correct- at least everyone then knows if they are accurate or not from absolute stats – being exposed for ball and strike calls under 95% correct should be a shame for umps – they should not get to the majors if they are calling less than 99% accurately.

    There could be 9th inning separate stats too to see if they are just trying to wrap the game up – I don’t care if MLB sanctions it or not -

  15. cleverbob - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Was he basing his calls on the plate or where the catcher set up?

  16. professorperry - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/did-jose-molina-frame-the-red-sox/

    Everyone needs to read this.

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