Friday, May 17, 2013

Seems Like it is Always About the Officiating

In the National Basketball Association you cannot believe your eyes with the types of fouls called or missed.

In the National Hockey League you have refs skating at a frantic pace to keep up with the phenoms and there is the appearance that most of what is called is what the stripe-shirted fellow thought he saw. Even with the best video replay usage to date, in the NHL like with all leagues, there are some things the guys on the field of play (at that particular place) have to get right. Whether it's getting the proper positioning for making a call or just refraining from blowing the whistle because the doubt you have kept you from being an over-caffeinated Barney Fife, you cannot expect the replay to cover your blown call.

While the video may not lie, it certainly doesn't always tell the whole truth of what happened.

Sure, baseball has its flaws. Most of those have to do with the umpire's reluctance to admit to their wrongdoing. If they owned up to their mistakes (as Jim Joyce did when he missed a call that would have been a perfect game) everybody would accept their reactions, however overzealous they may be.

But I still think baseball is the least effected in the post-season because the umpires rarely are out of position. It all depends on the strike zone of the home plate umpire. This is why there has to be a grading period throughout the year. With 162 games being played by 30 teams, totaling 4,860 games, the powers that be must be doing their homework to see that the best home plate umpires are in the post-season. This is first and foremost to assuring the baseball world that the BEST TEAM has a chance of proving such a declaration is accurate. (The combination of the local and national media folk insistence as well as our own take on the subject).

In 2010 and 2012 when the San Francisco Giants got their pitching staff together and those talented hurlers began to hit their spots no call by the official/umpire was going to deter the outcome of the game. In baseball, you can get into a cruise control that makes calls by the umpire seem almost incidental to the game. You most certainly cannot say that in the NBA, NHL and Holy Toledo, especially the National Football League.

If the best teams are playing one another how can you miss calls and expect the team on the short-end of the call to come out ahead? Field position, getting to the free-throw line, short-handed due to erroneous calls made by people who thought they saw something and the video replay couldn't verify what they thought they saw. Holy Putty Tat!!

Baseball has a leg up on the other sports. Provided they do their homework during the regular season and the best umps, specifically the home plate umps, are chosen to show the world what is and is not a strike. If baseball slacks and doesn't work out all the kinks during the regular season then that leg up is man's best friend relieving itself and we all suffer.

Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, May 10, 2013

Human Error Acceptable. Unwillingness to Correct Missed Calls- Not Acceptable

An error that is corrected before it can cause damage is an error nonetheless. (I got that from the good people at:

All of this discussion about replacing umpires with robots and modernized video equipment is just blather for the time being. We humans are a sensitive bunch so it'll be some time before those who officiate games are replaced by an efficient insensitive person who functions automatically.

Don't we already have referees or umpires who fit this description? Robots are always thought to walk and talk in a monotonous manner while lacking human emotions. So add the "insensitive" and you meet the qualifications for a robot and or some unhappy soul of a person.

Human error doesn't bother me, heck, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. I barely take my eyes off the stairs I am walking down and inevitably I'm a You Tube sensation for everyone to laugh at until their breath is lost! (That, makes me laugh.) What I can't stand is the attitudes of these umpires who think the players are showing them up.

Who do they think they are? They are those who must have the leeway to bully ballplayers around. And that has everything to do with who is in charge of the umpires.

If an umpire chooses to be smug and emote the vibe that they don't make mistakes, or wouldn't think of correcting them even if in fact they did miss a call, then it is entirely up to their immediate supervisor to notify them that this isn't the Major League baseball way.

We need the emotions of everyone on the field of play.
We need the continued good efforts and hustle of all officials.
We need to feel like the arbiters in professional sports are the best there are.
We need to know a game will not be won or lost because of an official.
(Some of us would like to be able to bet on games but that's another story.)

What we don't need is the half-assed efforts of someone who shies away from looking at a replay for fear of being exposed as THE ONE WHO BLEW THE CALL.

The unwillingness to get the call right because of some attitudinal miscreant(s)in blue is unacceptable.
Nobody, not even family members, bought a ticket to see the officials.

NOTE TO FANS: (Family members, I'm sure, attend games their kinfolk officiate. But they too want to see a well-officiated game. And you have to feel for these people when their relative blows a call. They're the ones slinking in their chair and it's BAM, with the sunglasses! The last thing they need is to be recognized or videoed by someone sitting nearby.)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Day in Baseball (May 9), Was Roberto Clemente a stud for the Pittsburgh Pirates? John Klima's Story on Paul Pettit, Five-Stars

This day in baseball for May 9th has some eye-opening accomplishments. I would like to share those before I speak of the 2013 San Francisco Giants.

At the Polo Grounds, Carl Hubbell wins his 4th straight and his 20th in a row, subduing the Cubs, 4 - 1. The game is scoreless for six innings. Hubbell matches the mark of Rube Marquard, who won one game in 1911 and 19 straight more in 1912.

1938 - At Boston, Jimmie Foxx drives in five runs on a pair of homers to pace the Red Sox to a 15 - 3 drubbing of Cleveland. Jim Bagby is the winner.

1943 - Due to the poor grade of rubber cement used to make baseballs because of wartime rubber shortages, a different type of baseball is put into play today with dramatic results. In eight games, six home runs are hit compared to a total of nine homers tallied in the season's first 72 games.

In his first game outside of New York City, Jackie Robinson has two hits and scores twice in the Dodgers' 6 - 5 loss to the Phillies. After the game, the Dodgers give their young first baseman a vote of confidence by selling Howie Schultz, Robby's back-up, to the Phils for $50,000. The next day, Branch Rickey announces he's giving up his attempts to pry Johnny Mize away from the Giants.

Heralded Giant rookie Clint Hartung makes his first pitching appearance and throws six shutout innings of relief against the Braves. He will start 20 games and compile his best record at 9-7. He will also play seven games in the outfield and bat .309 for the year. But the Braves win today, 6 - 2, behind Warren Spahn.

The first-place Giants win their 7th in a row as Sheldon "Available" Jones stops the Cubs, 7 - 2. Aided by ten walks and homers by Sid Gordon and Willard Marshall, the Giants pin the loss on starter Ralph Hamner, who allows one hit in three innings.
1950 - Ralph Kiner of the Pirates hits his second grand slam in three days - and the eighth of his career - and adds a 3-run homer to drives in seven runs as the Pirates beat Brooklyn, 10 - 5.
1953 - At Boston, the first-place Yanks beat the Red Sox, 6 - 4. Mickey Mantle hits one homer off Bill Werle and is robbed of another when Jimmy Piersall makes a sensational catch at the Sox bullpen in right-center field.
Roberto Clemente's defensive gem and Ted Kluszewski's leadoff, walk-off, 12th-inning blast over Forbes Field's right field screen give Pittsburgh's Ron Kline a complete-game, 1 - 0 victory over Philly ace, and future Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts. Neither Kline's nor Klu's heroics, however, could have come to pass without Clemente's 4th-inning-ending eye-popper which turns what appears to be a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chico Fernandez into a double play. Clemente catches the ball and fires a perfect on-the-fly strike to the plate to nail a sliding Granny Hamner.
The Pirates' most dangerous hitter, Roberto Clemente, leads his team to a 9 - 6 decision over San Francisco, going 3 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBI, but his scariest shot comes before the game and travels about 60 feet. Les Biederman of The Sporting News reports: "Gino Cimoli can attest that Roberto Clemente hits the ball as hard as any batter in the league. Cimoli was pitching the final turn in batting practice before the night game with the Giants at Forbes Field when Clemente hit the last pitch before the Giants stepped into the cage. It was a liner that caught Cimoli on the left side below the heart and he went down in a heap. The Pirates outfielder walked off under his own steam. X-rays failed to reveal a fracture although Cimoli had a badly bruised side from the terrific impact of the ball."
1966 - At Minneapolis, the Yankees (6-20) edge the Twins, 3 - 2. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Joe Pepitone, with the game-winner in the 9th inning, hit homers for New York.
1967 - Cardinals outfielder # 9 Roger Maris hits his first National League home run on the ninth day of the month in seat 9 of section 9.
1971 - At San Francisco, the Braves and Giants split a pair. After the Giants win the opener, 5 - 2, the Braves take the nitecap, 6 - 5, in 11 innings. Orlando Cepeda connects for a grand slam and solo homer for Atlanta, while Willie McCovey has a 3-run home run for SF. The Braves win it in the 10th when Ralph Garr scores after collecting his 4th hit.
1972 - Career triple No. 160 for Roberto Clemente puts Pittsburgh up, 1 - 0, on Atlanta and the Bucs never look back. Clemente comes home on Richie Hebner's single and solo home runs from Willie Stargell and Dave Cash provide Pittsburgh's next two runs. Cash's 8th-inning RBI double supplies additional insurance and reliever Bruce Kison responds with a perfect 8th and 9th to nail down the 5 - 2 win for starter Dock Ellis.
The Reds' Johnny Bench slugs three home runs and knocks in seven runs in a 9 - 7 defeat of Steve Carlton and the Phillies. Bench homers in the 1st, walks in the 3rd, and homers again in the 5th and 7th. It is the second time Bench has hit three home runs in a game against Carlton; the first came on July 26, 1970. Bench ties a major-league record with four consecutive homers, having hit one in his final at-bat the previous night in the Reds' 7 - 1 win.

Baseball has such a rich tradition and history that there are many things you can read to put yourself back-in-time to a day when things were simpler. I know they had their difficulties like you and I but in reading about baseball it's the old-time stories that'll fetch your interest. Seems the writers had a way of capturing the readers interest although the recent book about the Milwaukee Braves also has that same knack for pulling the reader into the story and making them feel like they were there.

John Klima, who wrote "Bushville Wins" (after a comment Casey Stengel made about Milwaukee) also wrote about a player who signed for the biggest bonus before ever having played an inning. Entitled, "Deal of the Century," about Paul Pettit. The guy turned out to be a pretty decent player and when his arm was damaged Bobby Bragan offered him a position at first base and the guy lit the league up. But the "good ole boy" owners put him on some sort of unwritten blacklist and he wasn't picked up by any team, therefore retiring from baseball. Best story I have read in a while.

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Introductions Into Games are Beyond Cheesy

Have you heard these introductions to Giant games? Some are clever, darn near spot on. While others are revolting to have to hear more than once (depending on how many times the Giants play the team in that particular series).

What do I mean when I hear the word "cheesy"? What does anyone mean when the mere utterance of the word sounds like a throat lozenge that regurgitates up out of the throat versus sliding down the sore pharynx.

Words like: styleless, tasteless, unfashionable, unbecoming, unseemly, outmoded, inferior, overdone, unrefined, and or inappropriate.

The Padres usually get an obnoxious opening and I think the Padres give the Giants a battle every time. Even if the Giants come out with a winning series record it wasn't like every game was a 9-0 victory (which equates to the losing team forfeiting).

Their current intro for the Philadelphia Phillies makes this Giant's fan wonder, 'What if the Phillies win?' It's so pathetic. And wouldn't you know, the Phillies win the first two games by identical scores of 6-2.

Show a little decorum when you do these introductions, KNBR, 680AM. Don't be so pro-Giant and anti-opponent. It just doesn't sound good. Anything remotely close to "homerism" should be left to those organizations that don't care how pathetic incessant gushing sounds.

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some Umpires Just Cannot Call Balls and Strikes

C.B. Bucknor is not very adept at calling balls and strikes. Never was and never has been. You naturally give someone the benefit of the doubt, and in looking at his biography I can see he is a thoughtful person who is socially responsible to where he was born (Jamaica, West Indies). I am not judging him as a person nor do I have the God-given right to do such a thing. But I can judge him as an umpire based on his inconsistencies and inability to stick to the same strike zone from the top of the first inning to the bottom of the ninth.

Yesterday's game between the Giants and the Diamondbacks had C.B. behind the plate. Whenever the Giants' broadcaster tells you who the home plate umpire for that game is, C.B. Bucknor is a name that makes the savvy fan cringe. Unfortunately, Tim Lincecum had the daunting task of having to pitch with C.B. behind Buster calling balls and strikes.

Tim Lincecum throws a batting practice fastball when C.B. is behind the plate because the five-sided slab of whitened rubber set at ground level at the front corner of the diamond doesn't have the corners. It may as well be a pitcher's plate. Whether it's horizontal or vertical depends on the inning, I suppose.

In listening to last night's game, on more than one occasion both Jon Miller and Dave Fleming mentioned how "that's not a call that has been made for most of the game," or "wait a minute, it's coming. Pause. Ball?" Interpretation, from this listener, if you've listened to Jon Miller and became acquainted with his explanations for rules and regulations within the game of baseball and he has nothing further to add it's akin to ammending the current rule book. He doesn't have the authority to do such a thing. But he should because he understands the strike zone much better than a few of these incompetents who don't give fans of baseball the confidence they (the umpires) know a strike from a ball.

I'm not defending Lincecum. His fastball is no longer as intimidating as it once was but if he is not being allowed to do his job to the fullest of his capabilities because the thing he is constantly working with- THE STRIKE ZONE - is varied according to whomever is behind his catcher then there is something to be said about that as well.

Most of us are human, right? We have to cut anyone- giving one hell of an effort- some slack so we go the "consistency" route. It doesn't do the batters and pitchers on that day any good. Their livelihoods are effected tremendously due to their numbers (those that determine their availability for their current team's starting lineup or if their skills are deteriorating to "trade bait" status) not being up to par. Fact is if you can't do the job within the framework of the rulebook, which has to be the game's bible to an umpire, then find another line of work.

How they are grading umpires is suspect at best. Because more umpires have conflicting strike zones than do not. I'm all for individuality but it's head scratching when the Monday umpire's strike zone is worlds apart from Tuesday's, Thursday's, Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's. Know what I mean?

Kevin J. Marquez