Run Ryan, run

The last out of Philip Humber’s perfect game brought some controversy as an umpire’s call was questioned. The last pitch was on 3-2 count involving a called third strike on a checked swing.

The problem, though, was missed. The controversy should not be about the call itself, but Brendan Ryan’s reaction. Down to your last out in a 4-0 game, instead of attempting to get on base, you argue the call instead of running to first base?!? I think Ryan, if he would have run, probably would have been safe at first.

Yes, Ryan could have ended a perfect game by being safe and also the 27th out, since Humber would have been credited for the strikeout. In fact, if Ryan would have run, the discussion of Brian Runge’s call on the checked swing would have been muted immediately.

The real problem was Ryan’s lack of hustle.

Given that, I still want to take a look at Runge’s call. Interesting enough, it was one of the Fox national games, opposite the Red Sox and Yankees. Significantly, this means the game’s camera coverage was increased a bit.

We—at least, I—have not yet seen a first-base angle replay of the check swing. This leads some people to speculate that MLB is just trying to hide the fact that Runge’s call was incorrect. Most likely the reason for a lack of replay is less sinister.

The center field camera was used to record the pitch, and a normal set of cameras was prepared to cover the live action. Any remaining cameras available to record the batter and different angles probably were used to record the reaction of the White Sox’s dugout, Humber, etc.

Since checked swings are not a reviewable call, the production team has the option not to record it at every angle. Watching a replay of the last pitch and the events surrounding it, it is pretty clear the Fox production team was scrambling a bit. It was a fairly unique circumstance.

But here lies the problem with a fan’s expectation of replays and the reality of the production of a televised baseball game. If something is not reviewable, the production team is under little obligation be able to produce replay material for it. As I believe happened in Humber’s perfect game, Fox used extra cameras for entertainment value.*

*This is why, in a previous post about instant replay, I included uniform standards across games and stadiums for instant replay specifically so something like this could not happen on a reviewable call.

Like most people, Fox did not anticipate a called third strike on a checked swing where the catcher missed the ball and the batter argued before running to first.

Thus, we circle back to the real problem: Brendan Ryan didn’t run.

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  1. SCIENCE! said...

    Check or half swing rules only state that it is a ground rule and all decisions are at the Umpires discretion. Typically “intent to swing” is a deciding factor but the umpire can use bate-to-plate examination, breaking of the wrists, or whatever else he likes to arrive at a decision. But the bat crossing the plate is by no means a determining factor. Due to the fact that it is a ground rule (like calling balls and strikes) with no definite rule, it’s impossible to argue.

  2. mdsullo said...

    He really shouldn’t have even looked like he was checking his swing on a pitch that far outside the strike zone. He was being baited and he bit, so why ponder that he would have the presence of mind to hustle to first? He got caught in the heat of the moment and the rest is history…

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