It doesn't matter if, after a replay is shown, the umpire turns out to have made the correct call. Those initial impressions of bias are enough -- and once the Rays broadcasters lock onto a perceived slight or three, they will yap about it all. night. long. And pick up where they left off the following day. (A quick search turned up only this one post in July 2006; maybe my other rants were in comments.)
In 2009, when Kennedy took over for Migraine and began immediately whining in tandem with Staats -- the Red Sox began the season against the Rays and played them again at the end of April -- I figured the behaviour had to have been written into his employment agreement. In addition to crying that the umpires have it in for the Rays, Staats and Kennedy also imply that the AL umps are afraid of angering the big-shot teams like the Red Sox or Yankees.
I was burdened with the Rays feed on Tuesday night, and I learned that even though the Rays have the best record in baseball, Staats and Kennedy still see the team as under chronic persecution. Bob Davidson was behind the plate and the whining began in the booth when Carl Crawford was called out on strikes in the third inning.
The useless Fox Trax (like NESN's equally pointless Amica zone; it's a friggin' insurance commercial, not a valid pitch tracking system!) had all of Lester's "questionable" pitches well outside. Thanks to the great f/x data at Brooks Baseball, however, we can take a more accurate look at Lester's pitches and see how Davidson did. (The view is from the umpire's position.)
[Update: Note: See comment re the construction of these zones. Something on the line may actually be outside. So that gives TB a little more reason to be annoyed. It does not change the unprofessional tantrums thrown by the announcers, however (which was the original reason for the post, though the finished post may not reflect that).]
Crawford in 3rd: Turns away from an inside 2-2 pitch and is rung up. It's the 7th pitch of the AB -- high and inside, but within the strike zone.Aybar in 4th: The 2nd and 4th pitches are called strikes. They seem outside, but Davidson made the correct calls. Aybar singles to left.Pena in 4th: The 5th pitch is obviously ball 3. One angle shows it is over the plate, which it is, so Rays TV begrudgingly says that Tampa got a call "this time". That's surprising, since they usually clam up and pretend not to notice. The pitch was high, well out of the strike zone, and not a gift call after all.Kapler in 5th: Called out on strikes on Lester's 2-2 pitch. FSN's overhead camera seems to show the ball travelling over the opposite batters box's chalkline closest to the plate. Kennedy: "That's one heck of a terrible call, Davidson." F/x shows it is borderline and could have been called either way.Bartlett in 5th: Lester seems to have struck Bartlett out (and ended the inning) with a 2-2 pitch (#5). Davidson calls it a ball -- though this one is also borderline -- and Lester ends up walking Bartlett. There are crickets in the Tampa TV booth.Crawford in 5th: Here comes the fun! Lester's first pitch is away and called a strike. Crawford flips out. (He has a reason this time.) He and Davidson are screaming at each other. Crawford gets tossed as Maddon rushes out to the plate and after maybe 5-7 seconds of his yelling, he's tossed as well. Then Maddon and Davidson are going at it, standing so close their noses are nearly touching, each tossing off more f-bombs than I can count.Crawford:
He was like, "That's a good pitch". And I'm thinking to myself, "If the plate is in the other batter's box, that's a good pitch." ... [Davidson] didn't want to back down. I definitely wasn't going to lose a trash-talking contest. It just went from there.Crew chief Tim Tschida:
Carl gradually started moving closer to the umpire. And Bob's line was, "Now you're coming into my space here, back off." And when he said, "Back off," [Crawford] actually moved closer. That's why Carl was ejected from the game. ... Joe's immediate response was, "You're calling stuff off the plate on our guys". And he's arguing balls and strikes. When a manager leaves his position in the dugout to argue a ball-strike decision, it's [an] immediate [ejection].Longoria in 6th: Lester's 2-0 is called a strike. The overhead camera has this one coming in over the chalk line as well. That may be a distortion -- the slightly off to the side center field camera certainly can distort pitches -- because it's borderline here.Upton in 9th: Papelbon's 2nd pitch is called a strike. Seems like another outside call for Boston. Is it a gift? Nope. Upton waves at the next one (SASAHE!) and the Red Sox win.Here is Davidson's calls with lefties batting.And with righties batting.Here is Davidson's zone against everyone. Green = balls and red = strikes.The give and take of getting/not getting calls is about equal, except for Boston getting nine strikes called that were outside the zone to Tampa's right-handed hitters. So Tampa Bay definitely had something to gripe about. However, I'm not sure which batters those nine calls were made on, because they were not the ones that got the Rays' announcers so worked up.
(I was going to add some of the more whiny quotes from TV, but it's too late. Maybe in the morning.)