Thursday, August 28, 2008

From: Let's Play Ball (Without any Delays) To: 2008's Just Get the Call Right

All the statistics in baseball with new ones popping up all of the time, due to the growing interest in Fantasy baseball and figuring out ways to enhance a player's value, and yet most of the numbers accumulated are erroneous. (A quick reference to the Thesaurus suggests others words, since the Baseball Gods are looked in such high esteem let's offer as many ways of describing their behavior as possible..apocryphal, defective, unreliable, misleading or discrepant.)

Whether an umpire missed seeing where the ball hit, or a batter-runner or baserunner missed a base or ran past the guy in front of him, the numbers that are supposedly etched in stone are variations of what should have been. Except, of course, for those homers lost due to inclement weather.

On the eve of baseball's 2008 Just Get the Call Right, with the installation of video cameras in an 18-by-24 foot room that is said to have so many computers and television screens, it looks like NASA's Mission Control. Located on the 5th floor of a former banking factory, in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, this place of Getting the Call Right is referred to as Network Operations Center (NOC).

Here's a smidgeon of examples proving that the numbers considered to be somewhat etched in stone (i.e. Babe Ruth-714 homers, Harmon Killebrew-573 homers...Lou Gehrig 493 homers or Mickey Mantle-536 homers) aren't the exact totals, afterall.

On 4-15-1930, Babe Ruth hit a ball into the right-center-field stands, in Philadelphia off Robert "Lefty" Grove but because the ball struck a loud speaker and bounced back onto the field it was ruled a double.

On 9-26-1930, Babe Ruth hit another ball that again struck the loud speaker in Philadelphia off Cy Perkins for the same result.

On 7-5-1921, Ruth hit a ball into the rightfield stands at the Polo Grounds in the 6th inning and should've had another in the 4th inning but a fan reached out over the fence to catch the ball. Home plate umpire, Tommy Connolly consulted with base umpire Ollie Chill and they ruled the hit to be a double. Ruth was already at third base and returned to second only after a long argument.

On 4/26/1931: Lou Gehrig hit a homer into the centerfield bleachers at Griffith Stadium. The ball caromed back to the centerfielder. The runner on first (Lyn Lary) returned to the dugout thinking the ball was caught (what, no base coaches?). Gehrig was declared out for passing the runner and lost the home run. He ended the year tied in homers with Babe Ruth.

On 4/28/1956: Mickey Mantle drilled a ball into the Fenway Park centerfield bleachers in the 8th inning. The blast off Dave Sisler landed 3 or 4 rows up in the stands. The ball was bouncing around while a number of fans tried to grab the apparently greasy orb only to see it bounce back onto the field. Mantle hustled and beat the throw to third base for a triple. Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Frank Crosetti surrounded second base umpire, Ed Rommel, trying to convince him that the ball reached the seats, but the ump ruled that the ball hit the top of the wall and not in the seats. (Plays like this must have been the reason for newer stadiums to incorporate the yellow line as an easier way for umps to distinguish whether the ball was or was not a home run.)

On 7/1/59: Harmon Clayton Killebrew, born in Payette, Idaho, a player credited with hitting 573 homers had a homer taken away from him. And as you will see, this will not be the only one.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, according to fellow 500-HR club member, Ted Williams, the Killer blasted a Jerry Casale pitch towards left field where Ted was patrolling. According to an umpire in the game, Bob Stewart, the ball struck the visiting bullpen fence and was not out of the park. The ball rolled almost all the way back to third base. Williams stood watching as the ball rolled, with his hands on his hips. According to Williams-a player known for his incredible eyesight, which isn't something you could say about the aforementioned umpire Stewart, 'the ball struck the screen on the left field foul pole a couple of feet above the fence. I saw no point in chasing a home run."
Killebrew was awarded a double.

On 6/12/59: Harmon had a homer nullified due to a rainout. He hit this one off Cleveland hurler, Herb Score.

6/5/1973: Harmon and Rod Carew both lost homers off of Cleveland pitcher Dick Bosman, once again to inclement weather.

On 7/17/1961: Both Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle lost homers they hit off Hal Brown due to the game being called to inclement weather.

6/20/1969: Joe Pepitone lost a grand slam in the first inning when he tagged Mike Nagy at Fenway Park. The game was called one batter later, with nobody out and a torrential downpour hitting. This game was certainly not meant to be.

8/12/1969: Hammerin' Henry Aaron lost a homer he hit off Phillie pitcher Larry Jackson.

5/25/1971: Frank Robinson of the Orioles and Ken "the Hawk" Harrelson, of the Indians lost homers due to inclement weather.

4/15/1984: Michael Jack Schmidt lost a homer he hit at Olympic Stadium in Montreal when the rains came pouring down.

9/6/96: Ken Griffey, Jr., lost a homer off Jack McDowell at Jacobs Field, in Cleveland when along with the umpires, John Fogarty wondered, "Who'll Stop the Rain?" This would have been Griffey Jr.'s 50th homer that year. He would finish with 49.

(Note: Bobby Bonds would have been the first 40-HR, 40-Stolen base player had a homer of his not been nullified due to inclement weather.)

(thanks to

Kevin Marquez