Thursday, October 13, 2005

Reports Coming In From All Over

Well, there is no shortage of discussion of last night's third-strike call on the blogosphere. And, predictably, the discussion revolves around creating controversy. Baseball Prospectus' chief anti-White-Sox blowhard, Joe Sheehan (who saw the Sox as a 71 win team this year), predictably says Eddings got the call wrong (subscription required), and that no reasonable person could think otherwise:

The decision--not a call, he'd already made that--was wrong in any number of ways. Paul caught the ball cleanly, and not only did it not hit the dirt, no dirt was even kicked up in the act of catching the pitch. The after-the-fact criticism of Paul for not tagging Pierzynski largely ignored the fact that he had no reason whatsoever to think there was an issue.

Well, I guess Sheehan has not heard of this great discovery called water, which is used to dampen down the heavy, sand, silt and clay dirt used on the infield dirt, and also prevents dirt from kicking up. Perhaps Sheehan can explain the sight of the ball popping up three-to-four inches into Paul's glove, or the shadow and the ball meeting on the aforementioned dirt before it went into Paul's glove? Or perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist in the catcher's box?

Craig Burley at The Hardball Times chimes in with a slightly different perspective; he concedes that the replays were "inconclusive" that the ball hit the dirt, and instead focuses on the gesture made by Doug Eddings with his right hand. Of course, neither Paul nor Pierzynski could have seen that gesture, nor is the physical mechanical gesture conclusive - the verbal "out" call is, and no one except Mike Scioscia has claimed to have heard a verbal out call. Moreover, Paul was in the process of rolling the ball back to the mound when that gesture was made in any case.

The most pro-Sox perspective I have seen comes from homerish piece arguing that Eddings got the call wrong:

The ruling that Paul trapped the ball? Wrong. Every replay I saw showed that he caught the ball. Even umpire supervisor Rich Rieker said later that it was, at best, inconclusive.

That, of course, is not what Rieker said. He said that his review of the replays showed that the ball bounced, and that at best from the Angels' perspective, it was inconclusive. If he meant that "at best it was inconclusive and at worst he clearly caught the ball", why would he have just said he saw it bounced? That does not make sense. In other words, what he said was that most likely it bounced, and at best you couldn't tell whether he caught it, which is exactly the opposite of what the writer was implying. That was clear from the context of the press conference, which I watched in its entirety.

The range of debate created by the call is actually astounding. It ranges from "the ball was clearly caught, there can be no debate, and the Angels should have won," to "the ball clearly bounced, there can be no debate, and the White Sox were going to win anyway because the Angels' staff was cooked and the bottom of their order was up in the 10th." Even my good friend DM at Nats Blog gets it wrong.

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