Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Berating Officials: The Grand New American Pastime?

The media has decided to scapegoat MLB umpire Jim Joyce once again after he made an incorrect call during Game 3 of the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, gladly pointing out that Joyce was also involved in the Armando Galarraga imperfect game in 2010.

In an opposite the editorial entitled "Sensationally Sleazy Stories," I discussed the sports media's fascination with criticism of officials and why the likes of ESPN, Yahoo! and other entertainment outlets are so quick to jump the gun and pull the "blown call" trigger.
"[Umpires] are expected to be perfect the day [they] start, and then improve." - Fmr NL Supervisor Ed Vargo
Succinctly, multiple field experts have long established that scapegoating—or passing the buck and blaming others—is a psychological defense mechanism meant to shield oneself from acknowledgement of an unacceptable truth.

Additionally, society as a whole simply likes watching people—especially "perfect" ones—fail.

And if the media can paint a picture of impartial arbiters being anything less than perfect, it's a huge way to attract fans outraged that a call didn't go their way. The first sentence of the AP release today was indeed, "It's another umpiring call that went the St. Louis Cardinals [sic] way this postseason."

Implying an officiating-related conspiracy while completely disregarding the facts is nothing new in sports.

Closer inspection of ESPN's 2010 study which concluded that umpires miss 20-percent of non-balls/strikes close calls demonstrates that, according to ESPN's data, umpires miss one call for every 220 chances, corresponding to a non-balls/strikes accuracy of 99.55 percent.

Yet the ESPN study spotlighted the 20-percent statistic, failing to so much as mention the 99+ percent figure that verifies the significant accuracy with which umpires operate.

Nonetheless, sensationalist sleaze is only effective when it becomes an unmitigated hit job with blatantly obvious agendas—choirs like to be preached to and the ratings, readership and page views they produce are evidence of sensationalism's success.

As for Joyce, he did miss a call at 1st base during Gm 3... but he also got 4 subsequent bangers 100% right. By the way, the Cardinals won Game 3 of the NLDS by the slimmest of margins—8-0.


Anonymous said...

And how many fielding errors and passed balls and wild pitches have their been so far. Several have been the difference in winning and losing the game. That has appalled me much more than the umpiring. Players that cannot even make the plays. Disgusting.

Russ said...

That AP article is ridiculous. Yes Joyce missed the call but it was in the third inning and a really close call. Whatever. It had very little bearing on an 8-0 game. If it was say Alfonso Marquez who missed this call there would be no story, but since it was Jim Joyce there has to be a story published. Makes me sick quite frankly.

@anon 6:24, you have posted this every single day and the argument is quite old. I respect the Umpires as much as anybody but I am not going to take away what the players do. Sure there are errors but there are still pitchers pitching well, hitters hitting well and fielders fielding well. If you don't like the way they are playing, simply stop watching. Frankly, I could care less how many errors there are.

MattAB said...

You want to talk about sleazy, check out these headlines from when Jim Joyce saved that woman's life in Phoenix.

It doesn't get much more classless than to use the reporting of a heroic event as an opportunity to make a backhanded insult at someone. These articles represent the lowest of the low for "journalism".

Anonymous said...

Sadly though, the powers that be don't like honesty. That's why Steve Berthiume or w/e he is used to say "The umpire ejection fantasy league... if it really exists." Because they don't like people who call it like is.

Nate said...

When a Kansas City Chiefs lineman makes a blanket statement about the "70000 fans" that cheered Matt Cassel's injury, the media jumps on it and denigrates Chiefs fans. However, this was a complete mis-perception of the incident, and KC fans were cheering Cassel's first down pass and subsequent walking off the field under his own power.

When an umpire makes a correct call in Atlanta and fans react by throwing trash on the field and holding up America's pastime for 19 minutes, the media denigrates the umpire, and calls the fans "passionate".

This is the state of sports-journalism. Hell, this is the state of journalism. When can we have common sense back?

Anonymous said...

Reading between the lines, the media wants instant replay and it will be tough to be an MLB umpire until it goes through.

The logic is that if we have the technology to get the play right, we should.....and I spent 8 seasons in the minors, 6 of which were in AA and AAA. I am "pro umpire", but the media wants replay and will use every chance it gets to make the case.

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