Saturday, July 23, 2011

Joe West was the Difference

When you have a team built around pitching and you encounter a home plate umpire who is inconsistent your chances of winning are not good.

The friday, July 22, 2011 game at AT&T between the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Francisco Giants was determined not by those who played the game but rather by an umpire whose strike zone benefitted one pitcher and hampered the other.

Joe West is an attitude in need of adjustment. He's out of the school of Bruce Froemming. A surly mass of humanity who gives the appearance of someone looking for trouble. As if everything a player does is to show him up. And yet when he calls the third strike he is reminiscent of the Leslie Nielsen character in Naked Gun, Lt. Frank Drebin.

On that note alone you might think, "Isn't that hypocritical?" And you would be right.

West gave Milwaukee pitcher, Shaun Marcum, a low strike zone. Judging by how Marcum was tossing 'em last night, I'd say that strike zone fit him to a "T." But Matt Cain didn't get the same strike zone.  Cain got a zone that forced him to have to throw the ball pretty much over the middle of the plate. He got no corners and wasn't getting the low strike like the Milwaukee pitcher. Trouble is, when you are facing a good hitting ball club like the Milwaukee Brewers you are playing with fire and that's exactly what happened.

The Giants bats have been struggling and last night they had this low zone that caused them to let too many pitches go that were rulebook balls called strikes by the calorically challenged West.

In every game the players are all trying to find what the home plate umpire's strike zone is, it's the way the game is played. And sometimes when you have an inconsistent umpire you spend the entire game trying to figure out something that should have been established by the 4th inning, at worst.

Not last night. Giant hitters were laying off the pitches down the middle they thought were low. And then when there were two strikes they'd inevitably swing at one in the dirt. West's strike zone was a godsend for Milwaukee's Marcum.

I really wish the major leagues would have a grading system for umpires who battle the strike zone. I mean c'mon. Why can't they see what I'm seeing? For heaven's sake, a bad home plate umpire can ruin a game. Those games aren't won by the best team but rather the more fortunate team, according to how the pitcher throws and what the bleeping slob is calling balls and strikes.

Chalk the loss of 7/22/11 game at AT&T up to an inconsistent, incompetent, and irascible bum who has no business qualifying to umpire home plate during the post-season. Sure, the Giants get the "L" hung on their record. But the true loser is Joe West.

That's how I saw it, anyone else have any other takes?

Kevin J. Marquez