One Thing to Accept Human Mistakes, Another for History to be Re-written
The Giants got ripped off from a sweep of the Mets by the umpires, specifically the home umpire, Phil Cuzzi. Even the opposing catcher admitted that Ishikawa was safe, as reported by the great Henry Schulman of the Chronicle. The only person in the stadium who apparently did not see this was the person who had the decision in his hands, the home umpire. Another in the long line of egregious umpire mistakes, capped by the ruining of the perfect no-hitter by James Joyce (who otherwise seems like a nice person and good umpire by most accounts) earlier this season.
Most arguments for why baseball should not put in replays argues for the human element to stay in baseball and not take out umpires. Last I heard ballplayers are human, and more importantly, is the story we all follow. Whether they succeed or fail is what the fans want to see. Umpires are the necessary evil we tolerate so that we may enjoy our reality show, the show that started all the reality shows (but that's another story :^).
First, most people who are upset about this are not calling for umpires to be replaced. I myself enjoy when the umpire gooses things with a nice "Stee-rike threee" echoing through the stadium or an emphatic out call. Most are only asking for the adding of replay as an option during the game for a crucial moment.
Second, some people are against it because it lengthens the game. Hate to break it to them, but we are already doing it. There are regularly breaks for the umpires to huddle together and agree on what actually happened on a plate, calls to the umpires at 1B and 3B to see if the batter checked his swing or not, plus, and here is the killer, video review to see if the homer was really a homer. And to bite the hand that feeds the game, there are numerous commercial breaks that lengthen the game as well. Maybe they can take one less commercial break when there is such a critical play such as this.
Third, there is a very easy way to limit umpire reviews of video replay: just put them into the rules. These types of plays rarely happens more than one time per team per game. So one way to deal with this is to give each team one play per game to ask the umpires to review the play. Or it could be once per week or once per month, but in that case, I would allow teams to accumulate such calls, but still allow only one per game. This gives some additional strategic moves for the manager to contemplate.
Ultimately, I have nothing against umpires, I can accept that they are human and will makes mistakes. I am not asking for sensors all over the place and detect exactly what happens on every play. I only have a problem with the fact that we have very simple and available technology that can be used to give the umpires another look at the situation to see if they had made an outrageous mistake that is a significant factor in how the game turns out.
Why not admit that you are human and sometimes need help. Most of the time, their mistakes only add to the tension of a particular count or situation, and I can accept that. But if the mistake is one that changes who the winner is and who the loser is, or ruins a great accomplishment by a player, and all it would take is a 5 minute review to make sure that you got it right. I don't think that is asking too much.
If that is such a huge problem, then why not get rid of all the other checks: no more checking on check swings, no more umpire huddling to see if the umpire got his call right, no more checking on the HR call. It is what it is, they are human and baseball doesn't really care if they got that call right, just deal with it. Or, better, add another layer of replay review usable only in certain situations at the manager's discretion.
FYI, there is a great post discussing Cuzzi's history of blowing calls at this new Giants site I ran across, 8thInningWeirdness.
There was only one good thing to take away from that game, and that is that Jonathan Sanchez showed his maturity and steadiness in this start. First, he was going up against his idol. Pressure games like that before would cause him to be wild and lose command. In 7 innings, he gave up only 6 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 5. He only gave up 2 ER.
In addition, the MLB reporter noted this blown call and included additional quotes from the Mets catcher, who also noted what the KNBR announcing crew was noting on-air, that the homeplate umpire was very inconsistent in his calls. The KNBR team took to dismissively noting after every two-strike pitch taken by a batter that the umpire appears to not be calling any strikes when the batter does not swing the bat, and thus would call it a ball, he was that odd in his ball and strike calls. Yet, again, Sanchez did not melt down, he was calm, cool, and collected. I guess Whiteside catching helped him a bit.
First, A Question/Poll
Does anyone enjoy or find my discussion about the starters, which follows this, useful or interesting? That question popped in my mind, and I thought I would ask for feedback. I got in this habit last season, and while I find it interesting at times, I can see that maybe it's not really adding value much either. Or if you have any suggestions, I'll be happy to consider them. I just don't want to waste my time doing something nobody cares about.
Eugenio Velez called up, Joe Martinez sent down (Schulman tweet). However, Wellemeyer is having a rehab start in Fresno tonight, so somebody on the 25 man roster should not get comfortable, either Velez or a reliever will probably go down when Wellemeyer is ready, perhaps within a week.
Game 1: James McDonald vs. Bumgarner
Giants: In his first start against the division-rival Dodgers, Bumgarner will be looking for his third consecutive win. In his last outing before the All-Star break against Washington, the rookie lefty threw six innings of one-run ball, allowing seven hits and striking out six.
D-gers: Barring something unforeseen, James McDonald will make his 2010 Dodgers debut as the latest fifth-starter. It was McDonald's job to lose last April and he did. He bowed out of the running early this spring and spent the first half regaining his command and confidence.Bumgarner should win the game. If Ely were still pitching well, McDonald wouldn't have been called up. The D-gers are desperate for starting pitching and if McDonald, who had a poor (relatively to the majors) 4.17 ERA in AAA, can't cut it, they will be reaching out to free agents who are still sitting on the sidelines, like Pedro Martinez, starting pitchers who were just dumped (like the Cards grabbing the yummy Jeff Suppan and hoping they have another Jeff Weaver on their hands), because they really have a bare cupboard of prospects and can't expect to trade their way into a nice starting pitcher.
So McDonald, who hasn't performed that well in AAA in brief stints over the years, should not be expected to pitch a great game for the D-gers, while Bumgarner has been on a nice roll. Should be a Giants win (but as always, it's all relative).
Giants: Lincecum is coming off a shutout gem against the Mets, in which he allowed only six hits and, perhaps more importantly, only issued one walk. Against the Dodgers on April 17, Lincecum allowed one run in seven innings to earn the win.
D-gers: Clayton Kershaw has been pretty good at bouncing back from rough starts and he gets another chance in this game after getting pushed around by the Cardinals in 4 1/3 innings. Kershaw had unusual trouble with fastball command in steamy Busch Stadium.
Giants: Zito began the second half by allowing just two hits in eight innings against the Mets. Zito is historically much more dominant in the second half compared to the first, sporting a better record (76-40 to 65-70) and ERA (3.39 to 4.18).
D-gers: According to manager Joe Torre, Chad Billingsley's problems in St. Louis were caused by a recurring mechanical flaw that has hounded him since last year and results in flattening out his pitches. He lasted only four innings and gave up 10 hits.
That umpire's call still makes me sick. It would have been a stirring sweep and would have given us better momentum going into the LA series. Plus we lost a game against San Diego in the standings.
Now we got a kick in the gut and have to rise above that in this series. The Giants this season has had a number of ups and downs, but have been able to rise to the challenge (as well as fall) a number of times, so this will be another test of their will and readiness to take the next step forward. We particularly need our pitchers to continue their nice run that started after the All-Star break.
Seems like we have a good chance of winning the series and outside chance of sweeping. We need to win the series, and obviously ideally sweep the series, and return the favor to them for sweeping us earlier. Winning the series puts us two games ahead of LA, but sweeping puts us four games ahead of them. Both the pitching and the offense will need to execute. Unfortunately, both have been spotty in producing this season, though obviously good during this stretch, particularly the offense, though the pitching has been better since the break.
The D-gers seem to rise to the task against us with Torre at the helm. They were 11-7 against us last season, 5-1 this season. They have won 6 of 8 series, sweeping two of them.
Zito had a nice game last time, just didn't have offense. Only Burrell and Rowand had good offense. Sandoval was OK, but all the other starters struggled, including Molina, who is no longer here, and Huff and Posey, who have been our hottest hitters since. Uribe was battling a hurt ring finger, but with the All-Star break to heal up, he has been 4-13 with a walk.
Atop our lineup we have an issue. Sanchez I'm getting a little worried about, after hitting well for a while, he has been in a 6 week slide where he has hit .224/.274/.291/.565 during that time. We are winning in spite of his struggles in the 2-spot, which he might need to relinquish if he continues any further, though he at least brought it up a notch during the winning, hitting .255/.305/.309/.614. But we need more than that if we are to beat LA.
Luckily, the LA series marked the ending of lead-off hitter, Torres, two-week slide which he followed up by hitting .306/.370/.695/1.064. That more than made up for Sanchez's struggles, but we can't expect Torres to hit THAT well in the future, though a mid-800 OPS does appear to be his talent level right now after he revamped his batting mechanics. And that OBP range is probably sustainable, he just went crazy and hit 5 homers in an 8 game stretch, which obviously helped with the great winning stretch. He drove in 9 runs during that period.
But, hate as much to say this, but with Posey's emergence during this winning stretch, he will need to continue to step up and produce big numbers. He would put an exclamation point on this period of winning if he can help lead the Giants to good results here in LA. That, along with Bumgarner starting today could make a big statement to LA that this is the new Giants generation, led by these new guys.
No Giants rookie position prospect has put a similar charge into the offense since probably Will Clark joining the team (Sandoval was a nice addition, but was merely steadily good when he came up; he did not go crazy on the opposition until the following season in June, when he was no longer a rookie).
Go Giants! Beat LA!