May 28, 2021

Did MLB Alter Pitch-By-Pitch Data To Hide Plate Umpire's Inattention And Incompetence?

After I read a story about Gio Urshela of the Yankees drawing a three-ball walk on Friday night, I went to Gameday's pitch-by-pitch data to see how it was rendered. It showed a four-ball walk. 

Andrew Simon's story (, oddly enough) included video of Urshela's plate appearance, which shows the number of pitches thrown by Detroit's Kyle Funkhouser increasing by one after each pitch. There are no pitches missing from the video. 

From the sounds on the Yankees' broadcast, Urshela fouled off the fourth pitch into or near the first base camera well. The sound of the ball off his bat was clearly audible (and the contact was visible) on the broadcast. MLB's pitch-by-pitch data recorded that pitch as a ball.

Urshela's PA: bfcfbfffb
MLB Gameday:  bfcbbfffb

Since what happened on that fourth pitch was in no way uncertain (unlike, say, missing or misinterpreting the umpire's call of a swinging or taken strike three on a check swing), I'm wondering if MLB intentionally changed the pitch-by-pitch data to cover up the embarrassing fact of plate umpire Vic Carapazza losing track of the count and allowing Urshela to take first base on ball three. (No one on the Tigers seemed to realize what had happened, either.)

Note: I know that Gameday is not infallible; there's a reason why it's called GDGD (for "Goddamn Gameday") in JoS gamethreads. And while I'm sure random games have errors in them, it would an odd coincidence indeed if one of those infrequent mistakes just happened to occur during this particular plate appearance.

MLB intentionally covering up Carapazza's incompetence might not necessarily be my first thought if not for the Manfred Era being rife with idiotic, bone-head, tone-deaf decisions and statements. ("Piece of metal", anyone?)

The Tigers eventually won the game 3-2 in 10 innings.

I'm told it was a "crushing" loss for the Yankees.

Dan Martin, Post:
After the Yankees scored a run in the top of the 10th, [Justin] Wilson was one strike away from a victory before his disastrous season continued. After a close pitch was called a ball, Wilson, who had allowed seven earned runs in over 7.2 innings in his previous eight outings, got Niko Goodrum to fly to right and pinch-hitter Victor Reyes to ground out before [Robbie] Grossman took him deep on a full count. . . .

The Yankees' offense shares plenty of blame for the loss.

In the top of the ninth [Miguel Andujar singled with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Tyler Wade] . . . Wade moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a second wild pitch by Soto on a 3-0 pitch to DJ LeMahieu.

But with runners on the corners and one out, Giancarlo Stanton struck out for the fourth time on the night. That brought up Judge, who also whiffed to keep the game tied.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

One minute Justin Wilson thought he had finished the game.

The struggling Yankees lefty reliever thought he had a called third strike on Tigers' Robbie Grossman and finally something to build on. The next minute, he was watching Grossman crush his next pitch over the left-field wall for a 10th-inning, walk-off home run in the Yankees 3-2 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park Friday night. . . .

Signed to a $5.15 million, one-year deal to bolster the bullpen after the Yankees dumped Adam Ottavino’s $9 millon salary on the Red Sox, [Wilson has] given up nine earned runs in 13.1 innings this year. [ERA: 6.08.]

"I haven't pitched well," Wilson said. . . .

"I think he's been a little inconsistent," [manager Aaron Boone] said. . . .

Boone said he still has confidence in Wilson . . . .

Giancarlo Stanton had a brutal return from the injured list Friday night. The slugger, who missed two weeks with a strained left quad, went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in his first game since May 13th. . . .

Stanton stranded five baserunners as the Yankees went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners.

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