Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Booby Bumbaca - USA Today Criticizes Bucknor While Simultaneously Showing Graphics Exonerating Him

USA Today
's Chris Bumbaca executed a most incredible self-own in the very first sentence of an article attempting to criticize umpire CB Bucknor's Yankees-Rays strike zone, writing, "blaming the umpires is a lazy excuse, especially in the playoffs."

Facts and figures cited by Bumbaca himself further cemented the article author's relationship with fatuity, as, while attempting to malign Bucknor for missing pitches, Bumbaca used graphics that accomplished two unintended goals.

First, the article included images from MLB-owned Baseball Savant that clearly indicated Bucknor made correct calls on several pitches Bumbaca alleged the umpire had missed.

And, second, these graphics seemed to expose Bumbaca's rapport with the rules: specifically Definition of Terms' "A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which..."is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone."

Or, alternatively, the unusual critique unintentionally belied Bumbaca's own quality of visual acuity.

Either way, here's a Commentary Critique and fact check: Print Edition.

Claim: Pitch 5 is off the plate.
Claim 1
: "Pitch 5 is off the plate" (see graphic)
Factual Analysis: Although UEFL f/x found this pitch was located over the edge of home plate and thus categorized it as QOC = Correct (affirmed after processing), we know the general population prefers graphics, and indeed, Bumbaca's article referenced a Savant Gamefeed graphic of the at-bat. Of all pitches during the at-bat to critique, Bumbaca chose Pitch 5 of a first-inning NYY Deivi Garcia vs TB Randy Arozarena at-bat, which the graphic clearly indicates was indeed touching the strike zone.

We're left with two options: Either the author doesn't know the rule referenced above or the author failed to see the visualization referenced in his article and cited as the basis for the claim. Either way, the claim lacks merit. As for the lower pitches ruled "ball"—recall the post-game processing effect on sz_bot/sz_top and remember the accompanying bot/top strike zone boundaries are inaccurate for this reason. Curious that MLB hasn't yet addressed this issue after at least a decade of having been made aware of this problem.
Fact Check Result 1:  False .

Claim: Pitch No. 3 is a ball.
Claim 2
: "Pitch No. 3 is a ball" (see graphic)
Factual Analysis: It would be helpful if the Savant Gamefeed graphic indicated "called strike" versus swings and misses. Nonetheless, Pitch 3 (sidebar: choose a style-guide format and stick with it. Pitch 5 vs Pitch No. 3?) during Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow's swinging strikeout of New York shortstop Gleyber Torres was located off the edge of home plate.
Fact Check Result 2 True .

Claim: Pitch No. 3 is off the plate.
Claim 3
: "Pitch No. 3 is off the plate" (see graphic)
Factual Analysis: Once again, if a journalist wants to use a graphic, it would really be helpful to use a plot or chart that actually supports the claim being made. Though less overt than Claim 1, above, this claim relating to Nick Anderson's strikeout of DJ LeMahieu similarly features a graphic indicating the pitch in question actually touched the strike zone. UEFL f/x had it as a correct strike call.
Fact Check Result 3 False .

There are others, but it's simpler to just list fact check results rather than waste more time: True False True True.

Bucknor's ALDS score on 10/6/20.
The bottom line is really the Bumbaca's lede: "blaming the umpires is a lazy excuse, especially in the playoffs." Even lazier? Not making the connection between graphics being used to denigrate an umpire's performance and the actual facts of the graphics and/or rulebook.

Nonetheless, if Bucknor's 93.6% game Tuesday (higher than one, lower than two others on Tuesday) is to be considered subpar by Bumbaca's standards, what of an article whose own accuracy percentage, pursuant to fact checking, is just 57% (four true claims vs three false ones)? And how is it that certain umpires—who routinely score higher than some and lower than others—routinely absorb criticism while the umpires they score higher than evade such blown-call hit piece critique?

A pending lawsuit alludes to racism.
Expect more science-averse "analysis" from the general public for Angel Hernandez's plate Wednesday night in the Padres-Dodgers series. Does Jamaican or Cuban heritage have anything to do with it; does Hernandez's famous lawsuit against MLB alleging racially-motivated actually portend to a larger systemic problem in the sports world?

I'm sure Twitter will remain civil and decidedly not prejudicial, not even for a second.

Video as follows:


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