07 October 2011

Baseball Division Series Coming to a Close—Mercifully


The American League version of the 5 game division play-off ended abruptly last night as the Yankees picked up their bats and balls and went home, a little miffed that the upstart no-big-name Detroit Tigers managed to hold them off in the final game 3-2. The highest paid 3rd baseman in the world, Alex Rodriguez, struck out twice in critical situations, once with the bases loaded and then for the final out in the ninth inning. I saw somebody comfort him as they were slowly walking off. There was probably no need to check their bank balances. The National League version comes to a head Friday night with the Diamondbacks playing the Brewers and the Phillies playing the Cardinals.

This time of the year I usually spend more time than I should watching the baseball play-offs. I would not mind and I am sure many of the players would not mind the whole season being shortened as it gets cold in late October in some places. 154 games as they used to play in the days of the railroad leagues would be plenty. In fact, because of the popularity of the play-offs they could cut this down to 140 with little loss except for the statisticians crying foul as they try to compare and contrast a plays stats from 40 years ago with one playing now. They could also usefully shorten the season by having the championship league series over in 5 games as well instead of 7. And while they are at it, they could get rid of the designated hitter and give all the umpires a refresher course in what the strike zone is or ought to be.

No wonder the batters sometimes have a few words with the home-plate umpire. If the little framed area on the side of the TV screen or sometimes projected over the plate  really means anything then I would suggest that our umpires have difficulty being consistent not only with high and low balls but inside and outside balls as well. Some of them even things up when they make a doubtful call, while others simply persist in their stubborn stupidity. Perhaps we should use my solution which was to move far enough to the side of home plate that I can't really see how bad the umpires are on the inside and outside, though high and low calls are still visible to us all. In other words, forget the little framed area as it is too small to accurately reflect the actual position of the ball as it crosses home plate—although now that I think about it maybe this is an argument for getting a much larger TV—except for occasional times when the player argues about a call or when the announcer wants to point out how bad the umpire is. It looks like the umpire makes up his mind about when the batter has to make up his mind to swing or not, i.e. when the ball is about half-way to home plate.

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