And That Happened: ALCS

Yankees 10, Angels 1: I-95 Series here we come. As the geniuses out there predicted, CC was studly on short rest. As has been the case all postseason, A-Rod was huge (3-for-4, two-run homer, three runs scored).

Man, that umpiring. Calling Swisher out on the tagup play was an obvious makeup call. Of course, like the unwritten rules, umpires say there are no such things as makeup calls, so we should probably ignore it, right? I guess we can just be thankful that it didn’t have an impact on the ultimate outcome of the game.

Pointless day off today. Burtnett vs. Lackey tomorrow. Philly vs. New York, hell, sometime around Thanksgiving, I think.

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  1. Rob² said...

    I think we all have to accept that instant replay (whether it’s in the NFL or MLB), is designed primarily for preventing situations where the TV broadcast repeatedly shows an umpiring/refereeing mistake.  We have to let go of the idea that replay is intended to provide accurate results on the field.  If it were, MLB or the NFL would be putting up fixed cameras for the sole purpose of capturing the plays.  Instead, it’s designed to ensure that nothing captured by the TV broadcast shows a definitive mistake.

  2. lar said...

    I think the reverse vampires and the freemasons were in on it too.

    You’re so easily fooled, Craig. Everyone with a brain knows that it’s the Stonecutters. Uncover your eyes!

  3. RP said...

    Craig, I’m pretty sure the reverse vampires and freemasons were working with the Rand Corporation, not to mention the saucer people, all in a fiendish plot to develop Thanksgiving baseball.

    Actually, if Bud Selig was one of the saucer people, that would explain a lot.

  4. Greg Simons said...

    Well, if that’s the goal, Rob, they’re failing miserably.  We’ve been shown several umpiring mistakes this postseason, usually from multiple angles.

    I believe the problem is the somewhat-understandable resistance of officials to having their judgments challenged/overturned and the not-so-understandable reluctance of MLB to fix the flaws in the system.

    The “human element” excuse some people use falls on deaf ears with me.  I’m interested in the humans who play the game deciding its outcome, with those officiating present to enforce and apply the rules correctly.

    Finally, I was fairly stunned to hear the crowd’s reaction last night to the blown calls, which obviously meant they were being shown on the big screen at the game.  I thought the rule of thumb was that close called weren’t shown at the stadium – mostly to save the umps’ lives.

  5. Simon DelMonte said...

    It’s all so simple…no, wait, it’s needlessly complicated.

    As for CC on what we call short rest these days: call me old-fashioned, but I loved seeing a pitcher go on three days’ rest.  And going eight innings.  That’s how baseball should be played.  That’s how it used to be played. Wouldn’t baseball be better if we could get back to this model and get rid of the mediocre fifth starter and the substandard middle relievers?

  6. Kevin W. said...

    How could it have been a make up call if McClelland didn’t even look at Swisher tagging up? For all he knew, Swisher could have left 2 seconds after the catch.

  7. Kevin S. said...

    Well, Simon, most pitchers are not CC Sabathia.  Or were you aware of any others compensated to the tune of $23 million per year?  Johan Santana is the only one I can think of.

  8. Kevin S. said...

    Furthermore, baseball was “meant” to be played with a ball that was essentially a pair of rolled up socks, with batters running clockwise around the diamond and touching poles where we now have bases.  The desire people have to halt the evolution of baseball at an arbitrary point never ceases to baffle me.

  9. MJ said...

    The “human element” excuse some people use falls on deaf ears with me.  I’m interested in the humans who play the game deciding its outcome, with those officiating present to enforce and apply the rules correctly.

    My favorite is the “this is how the game has always been” excuse, trumpted by people like Joe Morgan.  The FJM guys had a great response saying “segregation used to be a part of the game but no one ever calls for a return to that.”

    As to the comments about the inevitable delays to the game if we added more instant replay, anyone who watched that game last night would admit that the blown call on Swisher at 2nd and the double play call both would have been overturned in a combined 10 sec + however long it took for the umps to see the replay.  The Cano/Posada call was egregious.

    As an aside, it’s really strange how many bad calls we’ve seen this year, with the umpires standing right next to the play.  It’d be one thing if the home plate umpire missed a HR call on a fair ball that wraps around the pole, that’s 330’+ away.  But Phil Cuzzi (Mauer double), McClelland and whoever the 2nd base umpire last night, all missed calls maybe 5-8’ away from them.

  10. Aarcraft said...

    Here’s a conspiracy theory, which I cooked up in my head right now, have no evidence for whatsoever, and don’t actually believe. The umps WANT instant replay, with an extra umpire in the booth to review. For one, they do not enjoy blowing a call and being hated for ever, i.e. Denkinger. Also, that is an extra ump position available, and a rather cushy one at that. So, they are intentionally blowing these calls, on the biggest stage, to prod the MLB along.

  11. Bob Rittner said...

    Craig, I know it is your opinion. My question is why you are asserting your opinion so categorically when you have little evidence to support it.

    Perhaps that is really my complaint. It seems that every viewpoint, to receive attention, has to be stated absolutely and in extreme form. Even in cases where there seems to be a pretty definite case, let’s say the Girardi bullpen usage the other day, why is it necessary to be so pugnacious in stating the point? (I am not referring to you specifically in that case.) Isn’t it more interesting to present the case and then the counter-arguments with explanation why one position is more credible than another? Doesn’t respect for the opposing viewpoint add force to one’s case?

    In this case, the opinion itself is even less tenable. Yes, there may have been a makeup call, but there is literally no hard evidence that was the case. In fact, in the replays, it appears that McClelland was not looking at Swisher’s feet, evidence that he probably was not intentionally “setting things right”.

    It may be that the implication then is that the umpires are even more inept than we thought (although I think there is some overkill in that discussion). If so, ok, then we can consider that case also. But to offer an opinion as “obvious” when it is no such thing seems to me to ratchet up the rhetoric for no good purpose.

    I am probably over-reacting to one word, but it struck me that having handled the Rivera issue perfectly, you then turned around and used sensationalist style reporting in this case. This case is far less emotion-laden, but you decide. Which posting do you think is the more fair-minded and honest-the Rivera one(s) or this one?

  12. MJ said...

    I am probably over-reacting to one word, but it struck me that having handled the Rivera issue perfectly, you then turned around and used sensationalist style reporting in this case. This case is far less emotion-laden, but you decide. Which posting do you think is the more fair-minded and honest-the Rivera one(s) or this one?

    Or maybe, considering the death threat(s) yesterday, Craig has balls of steel and likes poking people through sarcasm and snark?  I

    can’t speak for him but I definitely didn’t think he was being 100% honest with the use of obvious in the statement, and the comment about affecting the game could have been a shot at Buck and McCarver who’ve said that a few too many times this postseason.

  13. MJ said...

    (sorry for the double post, but I had to)

    Wed Oct 21,2009 8:55 AM ET By Craig Calcaterra

    Heyman talks about how amazing Mariano Rivera has been in the postseason. How he hasn’t discounted all of the numbers he cites for Rivera’s blatant spitballing is beyond me.  I also hear that Rivera was in on that whole balloon boy scam too, so we should even be more skeptical.

    balls of steel

  14. Ron said...

    This argument is getting old and irritating. INSTANT REPLAY IS NOT NEEDED. INSTANT REPLAY IS NOT NEEDED. INSTANT REPLAY IS NOT NEEDED. What is needed is competent umpires who aren’t prima donna’s, and a league (read: idiot commissioner) who will actually require accountability. For all those who say instant replay would have made a difference in those calls (the double play, the pick off at 2B, the tag up), I’m calling bulls$%t. No one needed instant replay to see those calls were wrong. They were clear and obvious in real time. Instant replay won’t change that. Umpires making the correct call right in front of them will change that. You nailed it when you said they should have conferred, and talked it over. Agreeded 100%. That doesn’t take replay. It takes competent umpires who aren’t prima donna’s, and a league (read: idiot commissioner) who will actually require accountability. The problem isn’t the system. It’s the people who are implementing and administering the system. All you need is competent umpires who aren’t prima donna’s, and a league (read: idiot commissioner) who will actually acquire accountability. REPLAY ISN’T NEEDED. GOOD UMPIRES ARE. THAT’S ALL.          

  15. Kevin S. said...

    And McClelland is one of the best.  Yet he still made two glaring mistakes.  Because he’s human.  But we don’t need to use the ability we have to minimize his mistakes.

  16. Daniel said...

    Bob, holy cow, how can you possibly be so worked up about Craig’s statement that it was a makeup call!  Everyone knew it was a makeup call.  Did you see Swisher in the dugout after the run got called back?  He knew he was out at second, he didn’t get all crazy and indignant.  I actually think the fact that McLelland wasn’t looking at the base is great evidence for the makeup call.  He was going to call Swisher out no matter what, since he knew he should have been out at second.  How did he know that?  Angel Stadium, for the first time I’ve ever seen, showed a closeup replay of the blown call at second so the whole stadium knew about it.

    If it wasn’t a makeup call (and I find that very hard to believe), who cares?  Craig isn’t attacking anyone’s character.  This is one of the rare cases where the makeup call perfectly cancelled out the blown call earlier.  So everything is right with the world.

  17. Rob² said...

    My favorite conspiracy theory is that MLB rolls over and lets the Yankees win the World Series whenever they’re about to renegotiate the labor agreement.  The amount of press coverage they’ll get in support of a salary cap once the Yanks polish off the Phillies in four games will be an enormous boost to their efforts.

  18. Steve A said...

    My biggest problem with the blown call at third with Cano and Posada was the carefree nature of McClelland.  If he bothers to take two steps either way, he sees that Cano is not on the bag, and his call is simple.  By assuming that Cano is on the bag (which in 99.9% of the situations is a safe assumption), he is insufficiently doing his job.  An umpire should be constantly moving to get into the best position possible, clear of any blocked views.

    Also, the umpires need to get better at working as a team.  Just because the play happens at third base, that doesn’t mean the other umpires should feel it necessary to defer to that base’s umpire.  There are three teams on the field: the home team, the away team, and the umpiring team.

  19. Mode:Theif and Lair said...

    I really thought there was going to be an umpire conference after the blown Posada/Cano call at 3rd.  Both the home plate and the left field line ump should have had a perfect view that Cano was not on the base.

    It would be interesting to have seen a view from directly behind McLellan, it’s totally possible that he could not see that Cano wasn’t on the base.

    The funny part is all this hubbub took the heat off of Cano.  Why the hell was he standing 2 feet from the base?

    I’m for an eye in the sky, quick call down to the chief umpire’s earpiece.
    From above:
    “Ok, huddle everyone up.”
    “Cano was out, Joe Blow you saw it from home plate.”
    “They were both out, call it.”

    Huddle breaks, McClellan calls both out, Girardi complains for a minute, game moves on.

  20. MooseinOhio said...

    On the pointless day off – I hate that the postseason is played under conditions atypical for the regular season (e.g. extra days off due to travel).  A typical week of baseball has six games and one day off and requires playoff caliber teams to have half-way decent fourth and fifth starters.  Setting a playoff schedule that allows a team to use only a three man rotation on essentially full rest is the exception and devalues the 162 game regular season as 40% (i.e. >60) of those games require the back end of the rotation. 

    On make-up calls and whether instant replay is necessary – I think the use of instant replay for HR and line calls is necessary and was a good thing for the game.  I see the merit of replay in overturning obviously blown calls (e.g. Bucknor and the Youklis tag/non-tag call) but fear the system could fall into the trap the NFL has with overriding amazingly close calls on the field that only through viewing three angles of high quality, super slow motion HD TV can actually get right.  Blown calls are going to happen – the question is how do we separate the badly missed calls from the really close call that could have gone either way as continuing reviewing such close calls does put the credibility of the on field officials in question as we become suspect of all their calls and that also hurts the integrity of the game.

    Of course having 75 foot HD TV’s in the ballpark showing replays makes the argument for the fifth umpire in the booth stronger as everyone is seeing the replay anyways and the question of ‘was that the right call’ are right there in front of everyone in real time.  Maybe such technology will make the argument moot as it will be forced upon MLB.

    STRAT is so much simpler.

  21. Doracle said...

    Am I the only Indians fan really excited about a Game One Sabathia vs. Lee match-up?  I am resigned to the realities of rooting for a small-market team, and think that it will be really awesome to see our two Cy Young candidates square off.  Kind of like seeing the kids all grown up.

    From what the Indians boards seem to think, this will cause the apocalypse.

  22. scatterbrian said...

    McClelland was out of position on both the sac-fly and the botched double play. Totally inexcusable. The thing that really surprised me was the lack of fight from Scioscia. He gets more worked up during the season on a fairly regular basis, but I don’t think he left the dugout on the missed pickoff, and he sort of blew them off the missed double play. Where’s the fire?

    What was really annoying—and I’m admittedly beating a dead horse here—was the Bucarver’s coverage of the three missed calls. They showed a close-up replay of the Swisher pick-off once, and pretty much ignored the blown double play (which was so obviously wrong, my roommate who doesn’t watch baseball asked “Wait, aren’t both of them out?”). But they harped on the sac fly, showing replays from multiple angles no less than five times. I don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m just curious why only one of the three blown calls was important to Bucarver.

  23. Mode:Theif and Lair said...

    scatterbrain,  Totally agree on the out of position of McClelland. 

    I wonder if Scioscia got a little gun shy after making a huge fuss on the Teixeira call in game one, which in replay showed the call was correct.

    Not sure if I got a dfferent feed for the FOX broadcast (sarcasm), but I thought Buck and Carver correctly called out the umpires on all three calls.  Didn’t they even do a “freeze cam” on the blown call at second?

    What they didn’t do, if I recall correctly, is talk about how McClelland’s blown call on Swisher at third wouldn’t even have happened if they had gotten the call right at second.  Suggesting, ala Craig, that it was a make-up call.

  24. scatterbrian said...

    Mode: You’re right, they did pause the replay on the pickoff play, and when they did you could hear the groan of the Angels fans. It just seemed to me that they spent the most time on the sac fly compared to the other two.

    Being a make-up call crossed my mind when it happened, but I’m wondering if that’s giving McClelland too much credit…

  25. Nate said...

    I’m real tired of the bad umpiring. Shouldn’t all professional refs be subjected to annual (bi?) performance reviews, eye/rule understanding tests? It’s not like these guys are getting min wage.
    About the only positive I can come up with is that CC was at the top of his ability and the Angels couldn’t get anything going. I know, that’s flawed since motivation for ANA is a variable, but it lessened the attrocities for me.

    “Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?”

  26. Kevin S. said...

    Instant replay, right now. The inability to get simple calls correct is a far greater threat to the integrity of the game than any drug could possibly be.  Put a fifth umpire in the booth.  Have him buzz the crew chief when he needs a little time, and then call in the right outcome.  Leaves the game-calling in the hands of the umpires, with one just having access to multiple HD feeds, and keeps the pace of play moving (the entire replay process shouldn’t take much more than thirty seconds).  But whatever you do, use the ability you have to ensure the accuracy of the calls.

  27. Bob Rittner said...

    I think it silly to assert that the Swisher call was an “obvious” makeup call. That assumes you are inside the umpire’s head. Certainly it may have been a makeup call. It may have been intentional or it may have been sub-conscious. But it also may simply have been a coincidental error. There is not one bit of tangible evidence that it was a makeup call, not even a pattern of such coincidences, just the coincidence itself.

    This kind of sloppy thinking pollutes public discourse. It encourages jumping to conclusions, assuming they are valid conclusions and then building attitudes and viewpoints based on those non-facts.

  28. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Just my opinion, Bob, not my attempt at clairvoyance.  Anyone who watches the game has seen instances of the umps trying to even things up with makeup calls. It’s my view that this is what was happening here. The alternative explanation is that the umps are even more incompetent than they appear to be this offseason, and I have a hard time believing that it has gotten this bad, this fast.

    And no, David. I do not believe that this was a conspiracy or a case of a crooked umpire. Please do not even go there.

  29. Kevin S. said...

    Oh, and there’s nothing pointless about today’s day off.  It allows the Yankees to avoid using Chad Gaudin for anything other than mop-up duty, and for that I am quite grateful.  I’m already worried about how Game Four of the World Series plays out.  If Girardi doesn’t start pulling double switches in the sixth inning of Game Three and burn through his entire pen, it might be a game where a bunch of relievers go two innings a piece.  Gaudin will get murdered by Philly’s lefties.  Assuming availability, I’d prefer something along the lines of an Ace for three, Robertson for two, Joba for two, Hughes for two sort of game, with Coke and/or Marte strategically deployed against the lefties Charlie Manuel so accommodatingly clumps together.

  30. Greg Simons said...

    Oh, that’s right, Kevin S., the schedule should always be structured in such a way that avoids putting the Yankees in anything but an ideal situation for them.  I forgot the world revolves around Yankee Stadium.

    Today’s off day, just like yesterday’s off day for the Phillies and Dodgers, has one point – to placate the TV networks.

  31. Greg Simons said...

    Okay, I overreacted (it’s been a miserable morning already for me), but the continuous sense of entitlement so many Yankee fans display has made me a bit calloused.  You appeared to have thought it through so much that it seemed serious.  My apologies.

    But the bit about it being for the networks, that’s undeniable.

  32. Kevin S. said...

    Of course it’s about the network.  It sucks that we have scheduled November baseball in the Northeast.  It just so happens that the stretched out schedule has been kind to the Yanks, however.  Given that the schedule has been known for some time, there’s obviously been much talk of how they’ll handle it for the past month or so.  While I try my best to be objective, I do see things through the perspective of my team.

  33. Alex K said...

    I would like to point out that the umpire at home made a great call on the two run single by Melky.  Real time, I thought Cano was out at home, but after the replay you could see that the tag never touched him. So it’s not ALL bad is it?

  34. Greg Simons said...

    My wife made the same point last night, Alex.  I pointed out that the missed pickoff of Swisher was yet another example of a blown call by an ump this fall, and she said, “Well, didn’t you just say the umpire got that last call right?”

    I’ll give the home plate ump credit, and the announcers even mentioned how good his positioning was (even they’re good sometimes), but shouldn’t we expect excellence from the best of the best umpires on the planet?

  35. MJ said...

    I would like to point out that the umpire at home made a great call on the two run single by Melky.  Real time, I thought Cano was out at home, but after the replay you could see that the tag never touched him. So it’s not ALL bad is it?

    From the initial replay they showed, it looked like Cano was out by a mile, but then they showed that second replay and amazingly the tag missed Cano by inches. 

    Lots of strange calls in that game between the whole Swisher missed call & blown call, that strange missed double play with Cano and Posada*, and the umpiring “conference” the umpire behind the plate and Sciosia had.

    * Rob Neyer had a post on his blog about this earlier today.  Why didn’t any of the other umpires help Tim McClellen on this call?  Cano was a good 2’ from the bag when he was tagged by Napoli.  Also, why the F didn’t Cano run to the bag.  If both are standing on 3rd, isn’t only one of them out?

  36. Alex K said...

    We should expect excellence from the MLB umps. I only pointed it out to give credit where credit is due.

    Did the 3B ump ever explain why Cano was called safe on that play? Did he think he was on the bag? That might be the worst call of the playoffs.

  37. Joe said...

    I keep hearing/reading about how replay review would add time to an already long game.  They were talking about it on the radio just this morning.  But how much longer can a review take than having the managers out there arguing the calls.  And if the umps conference and change a disputed call, then you have a SECOND argument. 

    I think people just assume it has to be an NFL-style review by a field ump going under the hood.  But that’s a stupid way to do it.  Have an extra guy in the booth who is part of the official umpiring crew.  How long would it have taken that guy to call down and say, “dude, Cano was two feet off the bag”?

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