## Linkin' Ballpark: The Psyche Of The Umpire Edition

My apologies for the late posting today.  My security team have been going a bit overboard after the death threats I received for questioning Roberto Alomar’s defensive abilities.  That, and I may have gotten caught up looking at some WAR Graphs.

No, you’re a nerd.

Anyway, a fantastic baseball blog called Beyond The Boxscore has been attempting to find patterns to how umpires call a game during certain situations.  For years, we’ve seen data that suggests umpires are more willing to call a pitch that favours the batter when the pitcher is ahead in the count, just as he’s more likely to call a pitch that favours the pitcher when it’s a hitter’s count .  It makes sense, considering that it’s still 2011, and robots don’t call balls and strikes.  We, as fallible humans, most often see what we want to see.

It was assumed that this pattern of benevolent umpireship would also emerge when ball and strike calls were compared to base-out states.  Base-out states refer to all the different possibilities that could happen during an inning, whether it be runners on first and third with one out, or none on with two out.

Bear with me here for a second.  Obviously, there are three outs in baseball, but there are also eight different base states: none on, guy on first, guy on second, guy on third, guys on first and second, guys on first and third, guys on second and third, and the bases loaded.  Combining outs and base states together means that there are twenty four possible situations that a batter will face when he comes to the plate.  These are referred to as base-out states.

In comparing these situations to an umpire’s calls, Beyond The Boxscore found that umpires actually squeeze the zone when the likelihood of scoring a run increases.  In other words, the more friendly that the base-out state is to the hitter (think men on base with none out), the more likely the umpire is to favour the hitter with his calls. This is the exact opposite of what an umpire does when he considers the count when calling balls and strikes.

Likewise, when the base-out state favours the pitcher (think bases empty with two out), the umpire’s strike zone is larger.

I can only speculate as to why this occurs, but my guess is that the umpire’s unconscious mind desires a pattern, and so it tricks him into making calls that would best inspire a pattern of scoring runs or getting outs.  Perhaps this is what commentators thoughtlessly refer to as momentum.

And The Rest

The Cincinnati Reds believe that Edgar Renteria is still worth \$3 million.  Surprisingly, the Cincinnati Reds front office was not taken over by members of Edgar Renteria’s family before this deal was offered to the veteran shortstop.

You can win a third of Renteria’s salary by pitching a perfect video game.

I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but seriously, don’t ever shoot a firearm into a crowd on New Year’s Eve.  The results are never worthwhile.

Gary Sheffield got his widdle feewings hurt by the Rays.  Now he’s 99.9% done.

Does a strikeout wizard have to have such supple wrists?

A graphical account of salary arbitration.

The Cubs convention is a go.  I can’t wait to see the toddler’s birthday party exhibit.

Finally, as Walkoff Walk takes its victory lap around the bases, they stop long enough to say goodbye to one of the newest Blue Jays.