Monday, August 27, 2012

The Home Plate Umpire Cannot Take More Than One Inning to Get His Focus On, If He's Calling Balls and Strikes

If it's your turn to call balls and strikes you cannot take an inning to get your focus on.  You have to be able to adjust your sight lines by the second batter. The pitcher is depending on you to be on your game so he can adjust to your zone which will help him be on his game.

But what is happening more and more is the umpire takes 3 outs to find his bearings and the pitcher who faced the visiting nine is trailing because he isn't the benefactor of the strike zone the visiting pitcher just got in the bottom half of the first inning.

How many more pitches did the hometown nine hurler have to chuck up to home plate for the umpire to get his focus on and determine what would be a strike and what would be called a ball. Because one thing is for sure, these buffoons in blue don't go by the rule book interpretation of what a strike is, oh heavens no. They have their own special way of deciding what will be called that night.

Over the years you see players going through struggles that make for some form of a slump. For a batter it can be hard luck hitting. Where they are constantly making solid contact but the ball seems to always find the glove of an opposing player.  The same can happen to a pitcher. While he's being informed by his batterymate that he is making all of his pitches it is only because of the extreme movement it either catches the home plate umpire by surprise or his catcher is unable to catch the ball.

Another way hard luck effects a pitcher is when a ball is hit to a fielder and goes right through the wickets for an error. Instead of one out and nobody on base there's a runner on first with nobody out. From small things come rallies big enough to determine the outcome of a game.

In this 2012 season, Giant fans are all too familiar with the trials and tribulations of Tim Lincecum. Last night (August 26 vs the Atlanta Braves) there was another unfortunate break in the opponent's favor. The home plate umpire wasn't seeing Lincecum's pitches as they caught a portion of the plate, in the strike zone. This particular umpire was going by where the ball landed and not where the ball crossed.

In much the same way a ball lined along the third or first base foul lines, it isn't where the ball lands it is if the ball went over any portion of the base (third or first). Some hits take on a banana-shaped arc and as an umpire it may be helpful to straddle the line in question as to where the ball landed (inside or outside the foul line)to help make an accurate call.

Lincecum has to go back to challenging the hitters and trust in his pitches. Make calculated risks that may factor into the batter out-thinking himself if he pays close attention to the details of what a hitter's tendencies may be or have been.

Not having to deal with much adversity in his first few seasons has softened his ability to make adjustments. He appears to have that "I cannot believe what is happening" grimace on his face the instant things begin to go the opponent's way.

It's really bad when his own teammates let him down. Lincecum, like all Giants' pitchers, has had to endure the wrath of limited run support. But I am speaking of something such as a runner on second base and the batter hits a grounder into the hole at shortstop and the fielder really doesn't have a play because the batter-runner has too much speed to allow the shortstop the opportunity to throw him out so he just has to hang onto the ball. That's if the runner doesn't think he can make it to third base. The rule of thumb is if the ball is in front of you remain on the bag. It's only if the ball is behind you do you take the next base. In the August 26, 2012 game vs. the Braves, Brandon Crawford ran on a grounder to shortstop and he ended up bailing the shortstop out by giving the shortstop a makeable play (since the shortstop was facing third base)and he easily threw to the third-baseman to put the tag on Crawford.

It's a long and sometimes frustrating season. This 2012 San Francisco Giant ballclub has had some obstacles it needed to work its way around (as do most major league teams). And so far has exhibited an ability to work through any adversity that has come along. I don't see why any other obstructions would prevent them from finishing first in the National League Western Division. 

I little over one month remains. This is where the season gets very interesting. Will Arizona fade away? Who else will the Dodgers purchase? Who will step up his game on the Giants? All these questions and then some still need to be answered for this 2012 season to come to a conclusion. I'll be tuned into KNBR 680AM.

Kevin Marquez