Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Record Breaker: Another Perfecto, Umpiring History Made

Yet again, for the fifth time this season the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League and Major League Baseball witnessed a no-hitter (the 277th in MLB history) and perfect game for the second time this season and 22nd in MLB history today, June 13, when Ted Barrett (65) umpired the plate for San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain's first career no-hitter and perfect game (and the Giants franchise's first perfect game) against the Houston Astros. Tonight's no-hitter becomes the third such contest in less than two weeks. Cain struck out 14 Astros and threw 125 pitches, though only 68 were callable, with 39 balls and 29 called strikes.

MLB is on pace for a record 11 no-hitters in 2012
Brian Runge, who called the most recent both the most recent no-hitter and the most recent perfect game (and the last to work the plate for a Giants no-hitter, thrown by Johnathan Sanchez) worked third base, taking part in his third no-hitter of the year. Barrett also partook in his third no-hitter of the season tonight and his second no-hitter calling balls and strikes in as many seasons. He umpired Angels pitcher Ervin Santana's no-hitter of the Indians on July 27, 2011. Umpires Mike Muchlinski and Angel Campos (both AAA fill-ins) were not part of either previous no-hitter Runge & Barrett worked in 2012.

With this perfect game, Ted Barrett becomes the first umpire in Major League history to work the plate for two perfect games in a career. Barrett called balls and strikes for David Cone's perfect game in July of 1999.

With the increased frequency of the no-hitter, there very well may possibly be something to the idea that we will easily surpass the logarithmic trend prediction of six no-hitters in the 2012 season. Could it be thanks to the human element? The umpiring? Whatever is stirring the pot in 2012, there is no shortage of hair thin close calls.

With another no-hitter, we all of course saw yet another very close play that kept the perfect game and no-hitter intact, as in the previous four no-hitters. The previous four were: Brian Runge's inconclusive ruling of a swing made by Brendan Ryan, Angel Hernandez's correct call of a batted foul ball, Adrian Johnson's incorrect call of foul on a batted ball by Carlos Beltran, and Ted Barrett's inconclusive call of out on Dee Gordon at first base. This time, it was yet another fair/foul call. 1B Umpire Mike Muchlinski ruled a 1-2 batted ball by Astros batter Jordan Schafer foul on a bouncing ball that bounded near the bag at first. Astros Manager Brad Mills shortly questioned the call, as replays showed a very close play.
UEFL Embedded Video: Did Shafer's Foul Ball Hit the First Base Bag?

Video: Cain finishes out his perfect game
Wrap: Astros at Giants 6/13/12
Column: Matt Cain Perfect Game: Saved by the Umpire? [b/r]

Here is a quick look at the statistics of how Ted Barrett called Matt Cain's perfect game & no hitter:
Total Pitches: 125
Swinging Strikes: 14
Foul Balls: 33
In Play, Out: 13
Callable Pitches: 68
Balls: 39
Called Strikes: 29

Correct Called Balls: 38
Incorrect Called Balls (Called balls within the strike zone): 1
Correct Ball %: 97.4%

Correct Called Strikes: 19
Incorrect Called Strikes (Called strikes outside the strike zone): 10
Correct Strike %: <90.0%

Correct % of Called Pitches: <90.0%

Pitch f/x courtesy Brooks Baseball
(Note: Pitches thrown by Cain are squares)


Jon Terry said...

Someone on twitter said that Barrett is now the first umpire to call two perfect games, and he also called pitches for David Cone's in 1999.

Jeremy Dircks said...

That would be correct, Jon. He was behind the dish for that game, with Larry McCoy, Jim Evans, and Chuck Meriwether.

Mike said...

awesome! Mike Muchlinski and I umpired in the late 90's early 2's in Seattle before he went to camp. So happy for him. Can't wait for him to get a full time gig. He's doing a great job. So cool.

Anonymous said...

Umpiring history made tonight with Barrett and Runge on yet another no-no & a perfecto this time around. Nicely done and good job to the umps. As for Muchlinski's call, it might have been blown, but who cares. It's not as if Houston was going to win the game with that one double.

Anonymous said...

Awesome video. Looked like the ball either hit the bag or a large rock and kicked up. No way should a liner bounce up like that if it just hits dirt or grass.

Anonymous said...

Looks like he was generous on the outside for both teams. Does he have that rep?

Anonymous said...

Please don't link to Bleacher Report. It sucks. The ball was tailing hard nearing 1B so the high hop could have come from physics especially since it starts out flat past 1B and then tails up. If it had hit 1B it should have gone foul a lot harder.

Anonymous said...

Well, considering Gil wrote that bleacher report article I thnk it is fair that he posted it.

RichMSN said...

I don't think there's any conclusive evidence whatsoever that this call was missed and I think it's ridiculous how this is even getting any attention today. It's almost as if people look for controversy every time something like this happens and this is the best they could do on this game.

JMichael39 said...

When I first saw the video last night on TV, they ONLY showed the view from behind home plate. So I couldn't tell whether the ball first land before the 1st base bag or after. It did seem to hit something and instantly bounce UP and to the right.

The video above, however, shows another view from the first base stands. In slow motion it reveals that the ball first hit the ground about a foot or so before the bag. With that in mind, re-viewing the other angle makes it pretty clear to me that either the top-spin of the ball and/or a small rock caused the ball to deflect up and to the right upon hitting the ground just before the bag. It is still impossible to tell from EITHER angle, whether that deflection caused it to divert far enough and quickly enough to the right to be foul. But you cannot say for sure that it was fair either.

And frankly, if we have to get this meticulous about analyzing the video, I consider it a dead debate...perfect game.

Anonymous said...

The website is called close call sports and this was a close call, so it seems fair that we analyze it. But I will take anything away from Cain's awesome pitching performance just like I won't take anything away from the six Mariners pitchers or Johan Santana's no-hitters despite blown calls in both those games. You areprobably going to find at least 1 controversial call whether it be right or wrong in every game. It is just the nature of the beast.

Anonymous said...

Same poster as above, I meant I will NOT take anything away from Cain's perfect game.

Anonymous said...

Nice ESPN article with quotes from Barret and Runge.

Anonymous said...

Again, if there were replay, there is no way you can overturn the call. Not nearly enough evidence. In fact, it did look foul.

Anonymous said...

What was that ESPN study, found something like 1.3 close calls per game? I guess this is that one close call per game, just happened to come when the Astros were batting and Cain was pitching. Honestly, this is like all the others (Mariners/Santana/etc) in that one call might have some say as to it all, but in the end, a perfect game is a perfect game.

As Jim Joyce has taught us, an imperfect call can contribute to that.

Anonymous said...

It's a tough call, just like the Astros announcers suggest. Still, I personally don't fault Muchlinski for calling it foul here. Yes, it looked fair to me, but this is one of those "inconclusive upon video review therefore upheld" calls. Very close either way.

BUT I will say, if Muchlinski calls this a fair ball, he doesn't get out of San Francisco without a heavy police escort.

Anonymous said...

Agree, nicks the corner of the bag and becomes the second fair/foul blown call during this year's perfect game/no-hitter epidemic.

But it's still perfect in the books.

Jimmy Jack said...

For whatever reason, this is one of the untouchable subjects in baseball. If a pitcher throws a no-hitter or perfect game, you can't talk about the umpire's call that might have been missed for fans take offense to any suggestion that a no-hitter is anything but. Did the ball hit the base? Probably. Should it be noted? Absolutely. Does it take anything away from the pitching performance? No.

Anonymous said...

Curious call, I see it fair too.

Anonymous said...

Let's be sure we get the terminology correct. A blown call is one that is clearly missed.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Giants fan, but I'm pretty objective about missed calls (or so my biased self thinks!).

From the first still photo on the SB Nation article on this topic (link below), it looks like the ball hit the dirt in foul ground a good six inches in front of the bag.

The idea that this video shows otherwise because the ball couldn't have bounced as it did without hitting the bag strikes me as incorrect. The view looking straight down the first base line shows the ball traveling with a wicked slice. That means there's a lot of spin on the ball. That spin could account for its further sideways movement after it hit the dirt.

Combining that fact with the photograph indicating that the ball hit the dirt a non-trivial distance from the bag, and you've got a nearly airtight case against the ball being fair.

In fact, the evidence for the correctness of the "foul" call is strong enough that this is starting to look like a manufactured controversy.

SB Nation link:

Anonymous said...

For me, this call is so inconclusive, I'd agree with either call. If I'm the umpire here, no way in heck I side with Jordan Shafer. The video appears to indicate that ball kicks up at first base, though I can't find anything overwhelming to suggest it is exclusively because it hit the bag. I've got a coin flip that lands on the side of a perfect game. Every time.

Anonymous said...

I think we can all agree that the ball that Schafer hit went from the sweet spot of his bat on a line to first land in fair territory in front of the bag. It next ended up touching the grass in foul territory down the line. Like a re-enactment at Dealey Plaza, these points can be pinpointed from the Zapruder replays. When I do this mental reconstruction, it is very hard to connect the dots and NOT have the line of tha ball's path cross the bag. The geometry just doesn't seem to allow it.

Anonymous said...

Yea that was Foul

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