Ah, the baseball blogging equivalent of the walk of shame.
During yesterday’s game, emotions were high. It was Kris Bryant Day. The Cubs were coming off some really nice wins. The Padres are a competitive team, and James Shields was on the mound. Like you, I really wanted to see the Cubs win.
So, when it appeared that the Padres had been gifted two extra swings that both resulted in homers – netting the Padres the only runs they’d score on the day – I reacted poorly:
YOU GOTTA BE ******* KIDDING ME. EVERY RUN THE PADRES HAVE SCORED TODAY CAME A PITCH AFTER A HORRIBLY MISSED STRIKE THREE CALL.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 17, 2015
Almost the entirety of the EBS that followed as about the “missed” strike calls, and how the Cubs had pretty much been screwed. I accepted it as one of those things that happens throughout a long season, but boy was I steamed.
I was also objectively wrong, and now I deserve to feel like a turd. Which I do.
Brooks Baseball employs PITCHf/x to track every pitch, and, according to the system, both the “missed” strike three by Jason Hammel against Will Middlebrooks and the “missed” strike three by Brian Schlitter against Wil Myers were correctly called balls by homeplate ump Sam Holbrook:
As you can see, although the pitches were very, very close, the Hammel offering to Middlebrooks was just a touch outside, and the Schlitter offering to Myers was just a touch low. And the subsequent pitches were mistakes: Hammel because he went to the same spot three times in a row, and Schlitter because he threw a meatball.
So, there you go. While it’s true that the strike zone was erratic yesterday, Holbrook got those particular calls correct, and we owe him an Internet apology. Sorry, Sam Holbrook.
As for Joe Maddon, who also thought the pitches were strikes and was ejected on that basis, he said the right things after the game:
In short: Maddon thought they were strikes and couldn’t let the second one slide. However, it’s the Cubs’ job to execute even after a call doesn’t go their way, and they didn’t do it. So there’s no blame for the umpire here. Maddon is so very good at the public face aspect of his job, because that was such a heated moment, and yet he explains it perfectly after the game.
And, indeed, in the end, there shouldn’t be any blame for the umpire at all. In this instance, he made the correct calls on these pitches.
I actually now feel a little better about yesterday’s loss, because at least the Cubs earned it.