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 VargoSuccinctly, 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.