Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Detroit-KC Contested Replay Reflects Video Inequality

1B Umpire Ted Barrett and crew, supported by instant replay review, affirmed Barrett's "foul" call on a 9th inning drive down the right field line off the bat of the Tigers' Delmon Young. With the Royals leading 9-8 with two out and two on in the 9th, stakes were high as the umpires convened to review the play via video.

Video: Young's potential go-ahead HR is ruled foul by 1B Umpire Ted Barrett, upheld via replay (DET)

Conclusively correct, the close call nonetheless brought to light two glaring deficiencies with the instant replay review process, specifically the angular optical illusion and inequality and inconsistency between ballparks.

(1) Angular Optical Illusions
To illustrate the principle of angular optical illusion, consider an April 15, 2011 Adam Lind home run hit at Fenway Park (Video). Hit near Pesky's Pole in right field, Paul Nauert's initial call of HR was overturned after instant replay review when umpires judged the ball's trajectory carried the projectile to the right of the foul pole, rendering it a foul ball. From the angle at or near first base, the drive appeared fair, as the vertical yellow line drawn into the wall, next to the advertisement sign, appears in congruence with the foul pole itself; from the infield foul line, this would appear to be a home run as the ball landed to the left of the vertical line drawn on the wall, suggesting a fair ball.

However, and as the above image indicates, a view from above third base captures the true nature of this illusion: To maintain an appearance of one continuous vertical line when viewed from the infield, the right field corner's foul line is segmented into three separate borders: one on the lower wall, another on the padding and the third being the foul pole itself. This phenomena has also been detailed in "Papi Foul: Red Sox DH David Ortiz Loses Hit to Pesky Angle, Ad Placement."

It is this principle of angular optical illusion that creates the appearance of a fair ball from one angle, and foul from another. As such, instant replay decisions based on one angle may be flawed: When two angles appear to show two separate events, replays can no longer be clear, convincing or conclusive, and it behooves umpires to uphold the original call.

(2) Ballpark Broadcast Inequality
It is no secret that certain MLB teams are far richer than others, in terms of payroll, operations cost or otherwise. That otherwise, of course, includes broadcasting, wherein certain teams have the means with which to allocate a greater amount of funds to their broadcast than others do. For instance, the Yankees' regional sports network (RSN), the YES Network, pays the team a significant rights fee, which is higher than an according fee paid by, say, Fox Sports Kansas City to the Royals or Sun Sports to the Rays.

This effectively, and for the purposes of this discussion, means... more high quality television cameras per broadcast. These HQ cameras, in addition to HD, may have additional features, such as greater frame rate (xMo super slow-motion or even infrared "Hot Spot"). Additionally, nationally televised games tend to carry more cameras of higher quality per broadcast than any regional network; with ESPN featuring Yankees-Red Sox rivalry contests more often than, say, Astros-Padres, it is logical to conclude that if a difficult call must go to instant replay, the New York-Boston umpiring crew will be at a distinct advantage of having more camera angles of higher quality to choose from.

Ballpark broadcast inequality is so apparent, the video game MLB 11: The Show introduced a feature known as "Authentic Broadcast," wherein broadcast angles varied from park-to-park, similar to the real-life variation. This was followed up by TruBroadcast in the 2012 version.

Yet while angular illusions and ballpark inequality affects Quality of Replay from game-to-game and stadium-to-stadium, replay remains remarkably consistent within each actual contest.

For instance, the limitations seen in Kansas City with Young's 9th inning fly ball were present for both the Tigers and Royals for the duration for that specific contest. In that respect, the replay process is fair to both teams playing the same game.

Yet try comparing Detroit-KC to Boston-New York and... well... there is certainly a discrepency.

25 comments :

Anonymous said...

I thought a good indicator of fair/foul, when watching a video, is if the ball disappears behind the pole or if the ball crosses on top of/in front the pole? Watching the video, the ball does seem to disappear behind the pole which would lead me to believe it was actually fair?

I wonder what video angle they had in the "replay room". Maybe, the video was not clear enough to overturn the original call on the field?

Zac said...

Anon @ 6:01: Did you see the angle they showed from center field? It showed the ball crossing on the other (foul) side of the pole. With that angle, plus the fact that the original call was foul, they didn't really have enough evidence to overturn it.

Anonymous said...

It is in fact fair. The way you can tell is where the ball lands vs the pole and knowing the trajecory of the ball going in. It is reall simple actaully. The ball lands in the seats PAST the foul pole. The ball is slicing hard left to right. YOU MUST CONCLUDE that the ball went behind the pole fair OTHERWISE the ball literally would have to make an S-turn in mid air to land were it landed. The physics don't allow anything else, but you expect the umps to be that smart.

tmac said...

Wow.... I didn't think that was all that tough. I'm begging to wonder about Teddy B in the big spots and what he sees. How can you miss this after review.

Anonymous said...

You can also tell its fair based on the right fielder. He's running to where the ball will land. He's following a line that intersects the landing point along the trajectory of the ball which is clearly past the pole. Knowing the hard slice that is on it, the only way for a foul ball is for the ball to land even with or in front of the pole. The fielder is also slightly stunned by the homerun he just witnessed and looks to see the call in hopes that they could screw the call up. They in fact do screw it up.

Anonymous said...

They rushed to make a call. One that required a bit more brain power than the average guy possessed on that field that night.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Anon 8:57 -- the right fielder looks sheepish in putting out his arm (pointing it foul)....and he only does this after he looks back and sees the umpire calling foul. If you watch the fielder closely, he originally looks dejected and pissed, because he knows it was a home run.

UmpsRule said...

Conclusively correct? Unless I'm mistaken, that's an obvious home run. Barrett is one of my favorite umps, but as a Tigers fan, I see this as so brutal that somebody might need to be fired. Barrett will likely be behind the plate today, so don't be surprised if Leyland goes off on him on ball/strikes.

Anonymous said...

there is a view from the KC feed (left field camera, blown up on the foul pole) that shows the ball disappear to the foul side. that video is not shown in this highlite clip.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with Barrett's call ON THE FIELD. Even with a 6 man crew, that is an extremely difficult call to make in LIVE action.

That being said, I do wonder what angle they had in the "review room" that showed it was foul? From the angles we have access to (& the reaction of the fielder as one mentioned), the ball apppeared to be fair. I love Barrett and regardless if they got this call wrong, he's a great umpire - always has been and always will be.

I just wish we had more insight as to what they saw when they reviewed it????

Anonymous said...

August 29, 2012 9:48 AM: If so, what about the video from right field that shows the ball disappear on the FAIR side of the pole?

I'd be curious to see that video you mention - please post a link or pic if possible

UmpsRule said...

Yes, I'd like to see a link for that. This is a huge call, the Tigers are in a pennant race, there is absolutely no excuse if they blew this. If I was Leyland and I'd seen the replay that was available per the link above, I'd have gone ballistic.

Anonymous said...

Leyland seems to think they made the right call:

"Well it was a foul ball. It went before the pole, curved. It was definitely a foul ball," Leyland said. "The umpires, I really appreciate them looking at it. These games are huge, obviously, and they really did a good job of doing that. You can't ask them to do it. They did it on their own, and the right results came out of it. It was not a home run."

UmpsRule said...

Well, I stand corrected. However, I still want to see a replay that shows it was foul. I haven't yet.

kickersrule said...

Is it just me or are the Detroit Tigers involved in a lot of controversy all the time?

Russ said...

I posted this on the case play but I will post it again. I was watching the Kansas City feed live and they showed a replay to the left of the foul pole and the camera was looking directly at the pole. You can see the ball and then right before it gets to the pole it dissapears only to reappear over the fence. If it was fair, how could the ball dissapear right at the foul pole. It doesn't make sense to me unless I am missing something. For the record, even the Tigers brodcast agreed this was a foul ball, I'm not exactly sure why so many people are disagreeing with it. I also said this on the other thread, even if this ball might have been fair I am seeing absolutely nothing conclusive to overturn this call and when that is the case you have to stick with the call on the field.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I see two balls disappearing behind the poll on two angles, yet the one angle (from HP) where the ball disappears is so far away, the ball is realy only out of sight for about one frame. With the second angle (from RCF), the ball is out of sight for several frames. I'd be more inclined to believe that CF angle because it was closer and is more convincing to me. I'd go so far as to say the 1st camera is inconclusive but yes, the RCF one is conclusive that the ball was foul.

Jimmy Jack said...

If this was a big market game (or if the All-Star Game material was still left over in KC), we'd have this X-Mo'd to no end and the call would be easy based on that. Unfortunately, all we have are two angles that are not super-slow. Working with the replays given, I would too keep it a foul ball.

Anonymous said...

I tried posting this under my sign in, but the software keeps deleting my posts.

The center field camera on the KC feed definitely shows that the ball passed foul behind the pole. That and the fact that they had no conclusive angle to overturn the umpire's call, so they stuck with the call on the field.

-Zac

Anonymous said...

Lance Barrett almost ejected Mattingly and Ellis for arguing his zone which continues to get smaller ever game (AJ, Ventura ejection) he is going to toss a lot more if that zone doesn't expand!!

wwjd said...

Why was it almost ejected

Russ said...

Asdrubal Cabrera was ejected by Gary Darling for arguing a called third strike. The Indians tend to be among the bigger homers when it comes to announcers but they were both very civil during this ejection.

UmpsRule said...

@ Russ

That's so ironic. I was just thinking earlier today about Cabrera getting ejected.

Russ said...

That's pretty funny umpsrule. I'm not really that surprised that Cabrera got ejected. Even though he had never had a Major league ejection he has argued pretty vociferously at times and I thought it was only a matter of time. Well deserved ejection also, he points his finger right in Darling's face and says "you f%$#@!& suck" That's an ejection every day of the week. The pitch may not have been a strike but there is no excuse to talk like that to an Umpire.

Anonymous said...

Fenway is pure and simple screwed up in the modern game. It's vintage, it's 100 years old and a timeless classic. That's why you have these quirks that seemingly make absolutely no sense. It's about imperfect as baseball can be as played in the turn of century era, in 1912. You take the good with the bad, though in this case, the bad just happens to create a loophole where a fair ball wrongly can be foul and vice versa. Still, I prefer to keep the history of Pesky's pole and the Green Monster, etc. Keep Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger Stadium as they are, the three remaining 'crown jewel' stadiums in major league baseball. It's a uniquely baseball thing - in no other sport can you have a ball get lost in the ivy in just one stadium, in no other sport do you have different dimensions in the outfield. It's purely and uniquely baseball. And I love it.

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