Monday, October 14, 2019

Cory Blaser's Calls to Gary Sanchez Shadow Solid Night

HP Umpire Cory Blaser's 99.4% night during Game 2 of the Yankees-Astros ALCS fell prey to an 11th inning Gary Sanchez at-bat when Blaser made a grave error in changing a swinging, uncaught strike three call to that of foul ball, followed by a strikeout on a pitch located off the plate, lowering his plate score to 98.9% and subjecting the first-time League Championship Series umpire to a case of recency bias.

Blaser was all set to surpass Joe West for the highest plate score in UEFL f/x history—he had missed just one pitch through 10+ innings of work—and then Gary Sanchez happened.

Blaser originally called a swinging third strike.
With two outs, a runner on first, and a two-strike count, Sanchez swung at a breaking ball from Astros pitcher Josh James that hit the dirt and eluded catcher Robinson Chirinos. Blaser initially got this call correct in that he originally ruled a swinging, uncaught third strike (see accompanying image)...but then he made the rather significant mistake of second-guessing his gut and changing his call in response to Sanchez's actions in claiming a foul ball.

Blaser then said "foul" and called "Time" to kill the play. Houston Manager AJ Hinch came out of the dugout to discuss the play, yet Blaser didn't convene the crew and play continued.

AJ Hinch questions Blaser's foul ball ruling.
When Blaser called the ensuing pitch—located off the outer edge of home plate—strike three, it was New York's turn to be upset and Sanchez was seen talking to Blaser after the Yankees came out for the bottom of the 11th inning, which lasted just one pitch as leadoff Astro Carlos Correa hit a walk-off home run on JA Happ's first offering.

Gil's Call: When we wrote about fixing Replay Review in 2017, we wanted more plays to be reviewable: Sanchez's phantom foul ball should have been one of those. I fully understand how difficult it might be to equitably resolve that kind of an overturn: whether the batter would have been out or safe at first base, etc.
Related PostTmac's Teachable Moments - Let's Fix Replay (1/19/17).

Did Sanchez pull the wool over Blaser's eyes?
But in this situation, context clues sell it for me. First, Sanchez has no intention of running to first base. As Blaser calls the pitch a swinging strike, Sanchez is staying at home plate, then walks back toward Blaser to campaign for a foul ball call. He's not going anywhere. And even if he is, Second, he's slow and won't beat Chirinos's throw. Why? Because, Third, Chirinos breaks for the ball immediately.

In my mind, Sanchez's foul ball defense is tantamount to a defendant falsely claiming, "I never saw that person before in my life," only for the prosecution to offer video evidence of the two people shaking hands. Still, I'd like to see the crew get together here. We've already played a five-hour game, what's a two-minute crew consultation?

Blaser's gut was right. Sanchez was wrong.
Lessons Learned: In the end, two wrongs don't make a right, although in this situation, they did end up balancing the books. One of my favorite pieces of logic (or lack thereof) is New York's general reaction to the called third strike, which I explain in the following video and refute with just one statement: You do realize that had Blaser officiated the prior dropped third strike correctly, the inning would have been over and the strike three call never would have happened, right?

And here's video of 'good-guy' Derek Jeter faking a hit-by-pitch on a foul ball in Tampa Bay. Even the most honest or trustworthy players have a motive to win (or lie) whereas unbiased umpires have no such undue influence. Trust your gut, umps.

As for Blaser, listening to Sanchez cost him a UEFL f/x record...though 98.9% is still a top tier plate's just no Joe West or James Hoye. | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Umpire Blaser's Sanchez's 2019 ALCS Gm 2 AB Reviewed (CCS)


Post a Comment