Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Mailbag

This came up at dinner last night with my wife.... When is instant replay allowed to be used in MLB games? For what type of plays? - Trucker, San Francisco, CA 
Photo Credit:
The current replay system in Major League Baseball allows instant replay to be used to review boundary home run calls to determine:

*fair (home run) or foul
*whether the ball actually left the playing field
*whether the ball was subject to spectator interference

There was a proposal on the table this spring that would expand replay to cover all fair and foul calls as well as balls that are caught or trapped by the player catching the ball. It would also have expanded fan interference reviews beyond the home run boundary to all walls. However, a consensus was not able to be reached on how to implement some of these changes. While it's easy to turn a fair ball into a foul ball, or a hit into an out, the opposite isn't always the case, especially with runners on base. Trying to determine where the runners should end up isn't as simple as it sounds, and as a result of those types of questions, implementation was delayed until at least 2013. 

Philip Humber pitched a perfect game for the White Sox on Saturday. But what if the 3rd batter in 9th inning for the Mariners, Brendan Ryan, had realized more appropriately that the pitch strike 3 was called on was wild, and had sprinted to first, and beat the throw from the catcher? He would have been safe. A strikeout recorded for Humber…. Is it still a perfect game?  - Trucker, San Francisco, CA
Video Screenshot:

No, even though it's technically not an error, and it's by definition a strikeout, nobody can reach base in a perfect game. The pitcher has to retire all 27 hitters without any blemishes. Now as for Ryan's baserunning... it's certainly not going to make Tom Emanski's videos that brought his teams back-to-back-to-back AAU Championships. If he takes off down the line instead of arguing the call with the umpire, I don't know if he beats it, but he at least makes it close.

There are some who are saying that Brendan Ryan checked his swing on the last pitch of Humber's perfect game. I'm not sure, because they never showed the side angle. Regardless, you have to assume the ump made up his mind that anything close was strike three, right? If he had missed the call and ruined the perfect game, that's all we'd be talking about today. Or is that just the pitcher in me talking? - Mike (from Chesapeake, VA in case I make a mailbag)
Photo Credit:
Well, Mike, you made the mailbag. I'm kind of with you that the ump was going to punch out Ryan on anything close and his mind was made up before the pitch was even thrown. While that might not seem fair, that's not something that's exclusive to perfect games. When pitchers get in grooves, they tend to get a few more breaks. But this shouldn't come as a surprise to the hitters. Anyhow, the umpires are in a really tough spot in a game like this. If they make a wrong call like Jim Joyce did robbing Detroit's Armando Galarraga of a perfect game back in 2010, they get crucified. But it's not like that if they err to the other side they won't get the same criticism. If your perfect game is the result of a blown call, does that cheapen it? Some might say it does. In any case, the shot above makes it look like Ryan went and umpire Brian Runge made the right call in punching him out. Still, that's a gutsy call for a home-plate umpire to make.

Ok, so it seems like Wigan is on a mission at the moment to avoid relegation. Back-to-back wins over Top of the table Man U. and Third place Arsenal are not only keeping them in the hunt to stay in the PL next season, but doing what they can to keep the title and champions league races interesting. Can this run of form hold up? And what does this say about their hopes for a successful campaign next season? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit:
Despite Wigan's last minute 2-1 loss to Fulham on Saturday, it's clear that they're playing much better ball as they hope to avoid relegation from the Premier League. As for whether or not they can keep it up, I really don't know. Consistency has hardly been Wigan's calling card this year although they have managed 4 wins and 2 draws in their last 8 matches. Wigan does play bottom-dwellers Blackburn and Wolverhampton the final two weeks of the season and that could very well be the difference in another season in the Premiership and a trip down a division. High drama to be sure. Regardless, I don't know that anything Wigan does to conclude this season will carry over into the 2012-13 campaign. With such a long gap between matches, transfers, injuries, retirements, etc. momentum tends not to roll from season to season.

I like to watch a lot of the mid-table teams play in the EPL but I always wonder about how they can consider simply staying in the Premier League and not getting relegated as a success. Over here in the NFL, NBA, what have you that would constitute a pretty crappy season. How does one quantify being in, say, 12th place as a success? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit:
I think you have to view it the way Americans evaluate a team's college football season. While you're top teams are looking at conference titles and BCS bowls as the measuring sticks for success, you have a lot of schools out there who just aren't going to ever be top-tier football schools: Duke, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Army etc. But that doesn't mean that they have nothing to play for. It just means that success is defined differently. Duke could go 6-6 and qualify for the Insert-My-Ridiculous-Website-Name-Dot-Com Bowl and that could be a hugely successful season for them. Conversely, if LSU or Alabama or Oklahoma goes 6-6, that's a complete disaster. In the Premier League, teams like Swansea City and Stoke City may not be Champions League material, but they can vie for a spot in the Europa League, and they have both the Carling Cup and the FA Cup in which they can contend. Success isn't drawn solely on where they finish during the year, it's what they were able to do as a whole.

Special thanks as always to everyone who wrote in this week. And remember, as the great G$ Meyer says Reading is for Winners, especially when you read Smitty's Mailbag.

Got a question for the mailbag? Click on the link at the top of the page or email us directly at

No comments:

Post a Comment