Can we please just let Phil Humber have his perfect game in peace?

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UPDATE: Barra responds. Fair enough: he’s not upset about the call, he’s upset at the media’s reaction to it, Fox not showing the reruns, etc.

10:31 AM: Because my parents had the kids and me over for dinner — and because my parents are old people who like to have dinner at 4:30pm — I missed almost all of Phil Humber’s perfect game on Saturday. I did see the last two outs, though. And it’s obviously the last out which people care about the most.

Today Allen Barra writes about it, however, and he cares more than most, it seems:

I’m not suggesting that FoxNews, MLB, Humber’s team, the Chicago White Sox, or the home team, the Seattle Mariners, are in some kind of conspiracy … No, to hell with that, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Can anyone offer a rational reason why, in the most important pitch of the young season, and a play that was instantly controversial, Fox didn’t show us the pitch from the camera angle that would have given us the clearest view?

Can it be that they know that Ryan successfully checked his swing, that the pitch should have been called ball four, that Runge blew the call, and that therefore Humber’s perfect game is tainted? That’s what I think happened.

Eh. I get that worked up about some things, but I just can’t here.

When I saw it live I thought Brendan Ryan checked his swing. I didn’t get all up in arms about it because the TV angle was horrible and — as Barra notes — Fox decided not to show replays for some reason (I’ll go with incompetence over a conspiracy theory). But my gut feeling was that he checked his swing. Obviously the ump felt differently.

Still: it was a close call, a judgment call and — unlike the Jim Joyce/Armando Galarraga call or other famous blown calls — it was one that is quite often called the way it was called that day, even if it wasn’t ideal. For as much as we want ultra-precision in baseball, we’re never gonna get it on that play.

I’ll throw one more thing on the fire: Brendan Ryan’s reaction to the call may be influencing Barra and others who are critical here. He mildly freaked when the ump said he went around. While he apparently does that a lot — here he is doing the day before the perfect game — normally we don’t see batters have such a reaction to a check swing call, even on a third strike. It’s more of an eyes-roll thing. Some of us are upset, I think, because Ryan was upset and the play ended kinda messy, what with the ball going to the backstop and stuff. It happens.

Anyway, I don’t think there is going to be anything definitive here. This is the best that people who are adamant that Ryan swung can do. And, while clever, I don’t think it necessarily resolves anything. It still looks borderline to me. Probably because check swing calls are always all over the place.

The call happened. Sometimes that call goes the other way. It’s baseball, and even baseball can’t be perfect.  I have no problem saying, however, that Phil Humber was.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.