Deep Thoughts on The State of Officiating in Professional Sports

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I dare not wade into the intricacies of the National Football League because I am mostly ignorant of them.  But, I offer two Deep Thoughts:

1. If the Major League umpires are storing up some really, really bad call — like a Galarraga-Joyce-esque call — now would be an awesome time for them to make it, because I don’t think anyone would notice; and

2. Based on past comments, I’d guess the union/anti-union sentiment around these parts runs about 75-25% anti-union. And that may be a generous assessment of the size of the pro-union contingent.  With that in mind: does anyone in that anti-union majority care to defend Roger Goodell’s hard line against the regular NFL referees this morning? Remember: they’re not on strike. They’re being locked out because the most successful league in professional sports decided that they’d prefer not to negotiate a pension issue that represents almost inconsequential money to the league, relatively speaking.

Yes, I know this isn’t baseball. But my ability to ignore everything that goes on in other sports is only so great.  And it’s worth noting that what most of us consider the most egregiously bad call in recent baseball history didn’t even decide the outcome of a single baseball game, let alone over 6% of the outcomes of two teams for an entire season like that doozy last night did.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.