May 7, 2016

Kulpa: Strike 3 To Ortiz Was "In The Zone Right Down The Middle"

Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, on Andrew Miller's full-count pitch to David Ortiz, in the top of the ninth, with the bases loaded and the Red Sox trailing by one run:
[T]he 3-2 pitch, I had it in the zone right down the middle.

If Pitch #6 is "in the zone right down the middle", then Kulpa needs an eye examination and some additional training. Based on his Friday night performance, he has no clear idea what or where the strike zone is.

Miller's sixth pitch was a ball. If Kulpa had done his job properly and without bias, or if MLB was using some mechanism that called balls and strikes correctly, Ortiz would have walked. A run would have scored and the game would have been tied 3-3. But Kulpa, determined to show Ortiz, John Farrell, and the rest of the Red Sox that he was the supreme boss on the field, said "I'll show you" and quite possibly cost the Red Sox a win.

ESPN Stats & Information reported that Kulpa blew 31 ball-strike calls on Friday night. Only six games this season have had a worse performance behind the plate. ESPN said the strike three pitch to Ortiz was nearly half-a-foot out of the strike zone. (If so, then Brooks' zone is too large.)

John Farrell, during his on-field argument: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Kulpa, afterwards: "It's just part of the game."

Sadly, that is true.

MLB believes we need the "human element", which apparently means "games decided by incompetent umpires".

MLB believes that umpires can let their personal feelings dictate how they call the game.

MLB believes that umpires have the right to alter the rules of the game depending on the situation.

MLB will defend Kulpa in this situation, or at the very least stay silent on the matter, thus condoning Kulpa's actions, just as it defends every umpiring decision, no matter how blatantly wrong.


Ben said...

If MLB needs tgo satisfy its fetish for the human element, how about calling the balls and strikes by a guy in New York with a monitor and a robot assistant? He could get one wrong now and then for old time's sake.

Maxwell Horse said...

The Brooks zone is definitely way too large. (And now, frankly, I will question its accuracy every time in the future when I see that Brooks diagram.) There is no way that #5 pitch (the second strike to Ortiz, called) was that far inside the zone. No way.

Maxwell Horse said...

Also, Kulpa's quote of "it's just part of the game" is almost like a subconscious confession that he knows he wasn't doing his job.

Why? Because his quote doesn't make sense otherwise. If he honestly believes those last calls were 100% accurate, then why even make this concessional-toned statement at all? If he was really was accurate, then what is he explaining to the public, exactly? I guess, ostensibly, making 100% accurate calls is "part of the game"; and he feels the need to clarify this because he thinks that the public is mad about calls that are 100% within the strike zone being called strikes. Or something.

allan said...

Remember our adorable Yankee mascot/troll BR, who I could practically summon at will by making some anti-MFY comment, usually by calling them the Chokers? Well, after an absence of 1-2 years, he returned last night under the name "AllanIsAnOldLoser". :>) My favourite part is how he concedes that the Red Sox may win the pennant. My second favourite part is when he accuses me of having a conversation with myself.

johngoldfine said...

I used to be a believer in the human element. I can't say I'm thrilled at the challenge delays, but after that shit last night, okay, I'm a convert to automated and electronic ball/strike calls.

Dr. Jeff said...

So the #5 pitch the one that Ortiz initially freaked out about, and then #6 was the strikeout pitch? A better question is, why did Ortiz argue so strongly about #5, which actually WAS a strike? He has to know that mouthing off to the umps about borderline calls is not going to help his case in the future. Maybe #6 was payback for his tantrum. Either way, he got upset about #5 and that couldn't have helped his game or the mental game vs. the umps. I'm not saying payback is justified, as #6 is clearly a ball, but as a seasoned pro he should know that whining about balls and strikes isn't going to help anything. They could have thrown him out of the game BEFORE strike 3. I love Ortiz, but I didn't like his behavior, especially coming back out of the dugout like a maniac.

tim said...

"part of the game" just fucking PROVES that Kulpa was going to call anything that didn't go into the dirt as a strike on that 3-2 pitch because of Ortiz being (rightfully) pissed at the questionable call on the 5th pitch. MLB umps continue to prove time and time again that there is a petty revenge based bias to any number of calls.

Darren D. Maccanico said...

If the umpire had called every ball/strike absolutely correctly i.e. 'Robotic' then this circumstance NEVER would have occurred .. the game would have been totally different from the first time human and robot disagreed .. You're not allowed to question those 2 calls and subsequent outcomes without questioning prior calls and how 'history' would have been different. It took courage to call 3-1 pitch properly (strike) when so many baseball 'fans' are conditioned to believe 'Presentation' supersedes reality.

allan said...

Umpires cannot forget everything that has happened and concentrate on the next pitch and call it in a vacuum like a "robot" can. That's what we need, not someone who wants to get even with a mouthy hitter. Or an umpire who thinks a rookie has to "earn" the correct calls or has no problem giving a veteran pitcher an extra inch or two on the corners. It's all bullshit. And it has to stop.

Maxwell Horse said...

It's ironic that Ortiz is often accused of thinking he is "bigger than the game."

And yet, what group is more irrationally "bigger than the game" than umpires? You can't ever question balls and strikes. Why? Isn't the point of umpires' existence to get the calls right?

But you can't, because it's offensive and it hurts their feelings. And if you do call their judgment into question, it's acceptable for them to intentionally make the wrong calls against you. Talk about being bigger than the game!

Oh, and they can never lose their jobs, no matter how poorly they officiate. Because of the union. Not even the biggest players have such perpetual job security.

Again, I'd like to point out that the only reason for umps to exist, ostensibly, is to be at the service of the game and get the calls correct. They're meant merely to be tools, a means to an end. (That end being accuracy and fairness.) And yet their personal feelings routinely take precedence over that one basic function.

If an ump "gets back" at a player, or alters the rulebook according to a whim or personal emotion, then it's all "part of the game." But if a player shows emotion on the field (or questions an ump's call) then that player thinks he's bigger than the game. Somewhere along the way we've lost sight of why the games are played (to see the athletes face off against each other) and have turned the supposed upkeepers of the rules into sacred cows.

FenFan said...

Going back over the footage, I think Papi's beef with Strike 2 was that the catcher caught the ball on the outside part of the plate in the dirt. It was this close to being a trap against the ground. More often than not, it would be called a ball for that reason. The NESN K Zone showed it to be a strike on that low outside corner and the chart seems to show it being within the zone.

So maybe Kulpa got that one right, but "Strike 3" clearly was not a strike... and I agree that Kulpa saying that these calls are "part of the game" counters his argument that it was clearly "in the zone down the middle."

allan said...

It looked like after Ortiz took the 3-1 pitch and turned around, he saw McCann with his glove near the ground, which would have been well outside the zone. Maybe that's what pissed him off so much, thinking if it ended up like that, it must have clearly been well out of the zone.

I know Hanley could have still delivered after Ortiz got run up, but it was almost like Kulpa decided to stop the competition between the two teams of players and award the victory to New York himself before the actual end of the game.