Behold the Power of the Gatorade

It was fitting that former President George W. Bush was in the front row for this game because he finally got to see one of his beloved Weapons of Mass Destruction in person in the form of home plate umpire Jerry Meals. The work Meals did behind the plate was some of the worst I have seen in all of my years of watching baseball. It was so bad at points that rational baseball men I respect such as Keith Law and Joe Sheehan had to comment on it.

Bad umpiring has done, and will do, more harm to the industry of baseball than any performance-enhancing drugs could do. — Keith Law

Eric Gregg thought the 1-2 to Crawford was outside — Joe Sheehan

The image below shows the balls and strikes plot on pitches called by Jerry Meals in today’s game:

Meals’ zone was very wide, and quite inconsistent on the outside corner to left-handed batters. Dan Johnson was called out on strikes in the second inning when Lewis threw just one pitch in the strike zone.  In the sixth inning, Carl Crawford was retired on three pitches by Darren Oliver – only one of which was in the strike zone (and the at bat Sheehan and Law reacted to).  That was just two examples where the Rays had their bats taken out of their hand by a man in black being paid a six-figure salary to define his own strike zone.  Meals was not alone in his failure as Geoff Kellogg called Elvis Andrus safe on this steal of second base.

I have been quite critical of the shoddy work by umpires this year for the exact reason Law outlined above – it is degrading the quality of the game I love so much. 2010 has had way too many examples of terrible strikezones, blown calls, and that’s just so far in the four post-season playoff series. The simple fix to this situation is to implement an expanded use of instant replay by implementing a booth official and a challenge system much like the NFL does it. However, Bud Selig is a simple-minded man who insists on protecting the integrity of the game’s human element while ignoring the incompetent element his reign as commissioner has created due to any lack of substantive accountability for umpires who fail to enforce the letter of the law. Hunter Wendlestat, Jerry Meals, C.B. Bucknor, and Bob Davidson are names that comes to mind where their prime has either passed them by or never exisited.

Bud Selig waited at least five years too long to address the steroid issue and was finally pushed into action by Jose Canseco’s book. While I have read bits and pieces of Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2%, none of the content in it will push Selig into acting on instant replay. I have said many times that the expanded use of replay will never happen until Bud Selig retires because if he truly wanted it to be part of the game, he would have done so by now. He fought hard for the wildcard, and he fought hard to get the Mitchell Report done. He has also fought just as hard to speak down upon replay every time it is brought up in interviews both in print and on radio. Even in the face of outright fan outrage in 2010, he continues to defer to his special committee or some other meeting without showing any form of true leadership.

Getting back to the game, it was wonderful to see the Rays succeed in spite of the factors playing against them today. Through the first five innings, the game looked much like the first two of this series where the Rays would strike out or strand whatever runners they managed to get on base. The sixth inning saw the bats finally come to life with the ever popular B.J. Upton driving in the game’s first run to tie the game after Matt Joyce ran into an indecisive out as he thought about advancing to third on Nelson Cruz onto to change his mind too late. Ian Kinsler put the Rangers back up with a solo shot on a 3-2 inside fastball which was Garza’s only true mistake on the night as he pitched a phenomenal game. Garza threw 90 pitches in six innings of work, 55 for strikes which included eight swings and misses on his breaking pitches. The only other run of the game came after Mitch Moreland doubles and advanced to third when Jaso seemingly lost Garza’s fastball in the shadows where upon Elvis Andrus drove Moreland in with a groundout.

The Rays bats came back to life in the seventh when Dan Johnson hit a laser off the right field wall for a double and was lifted for Desmond Jennings. Carlos Pena awoke from his weeks-long slumber to drive Jennings in and Pena later scored when Jaso singled off Neftali Feliz who Ron Washington surprisingly used out of character. Both Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena added insurance home runs in the ninth inning before allowing Rafael Soriano to close the game out around a solo home run surrendered to the red-hot Nelson Cruz.

The Rays live to play another day and it remains to be seen whether either manager brings back their ace on three day’s rest to clinch or extend the series or stays true to their word. The Rangers still have not won a home playoff game since relocating to Texas and it would be wonderful to keep it that way tomorrow. I am going to the area on business the next three days so it is my mission to find a ticket for the game tomorrow and not to be gored by anyone’s antlers while cheering for the Rays.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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12 Responses to Behold the Power of the Gatorade

  1. SteveP says:

    I hate to rain on the parade here, but if you look at the brooksbaseball.net breakdown vs. Left-handed hitters for the game:
    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=10&day=9&year=2010&game=gid_2010_10_09_minmlb_nyamlb_1/&prevDate=109

    It shows not a single missed outside call against left-handed hitting. In fact you’ll see that for right-hnaders he didn’t miss any significant pitches (4 or 5 pitches right on the border – the technology is not accurate enough for this kind of a pitch and in any case, not the kind of calls you would kill on). For Lefties, he gave the pitcher the inside of the plate pretty consistently (you can pull the left-hand side of the box over and catch all red, no green). But he missed a couple of called-balls low and outside.

    That chart is not a great proof of Meals’ incompetence – and it definitively shows that he didn’t miss an outside strike-call to Crawford. Love Joe and Keith, but if that is what they were loooking at, the f/x doesn’t agree.

  2. John says:

    I can’t believe I’m asking this seriously, but is it possible MLB umpires are involved in gambling? A person just cannot rise to the highest level of his profession and be this incompetent, can he?

  3. BWoodrum says:

    Am I crazy, or does it seem like each team got their own strike zone? The Rangers’ pitchers got a wide zone with a shallow bottom, the Rays’ got a nearly standard zone (i.e. screwed).

  4. Steve – not sure what link you’re looking at but http://bit.ly/bKSdYO shows just how bad it was to the lefties. If you watched the game in live action, it looked worse. John Jaso walks twice as much as he strikes out so when he takes two pitches off the plate, I’m going to believe they are balls.

  5. Rick says:

    This team’s only consistency is its inconsistency….they’re so unpredictable. I guess that’s what happens when you count of base on balls as your big offensive weapon.

  6. John – I’m not willing to go that far but with the lack of any transparent accountability in the current system, anything can happen. These guys have to be good enough to get called up to the majors but what happens from there is a big unknown. If I made as many mistakes on a project as Meals did last night, my boss would have my head and rather publicly at that.

  7. BW – I think that had more to do with the handedness of the Rangers hitters as most of them were righties. If you look at how the lefties were called, the Rays were being punished more than the Rangers.

  8. Rick – the team is not blessed with power hitters so it has to do what it can do to move runners. I like the lineup MUCH better when a RHP is in there over a LHP and I had confidence the club would win yesterday as Jaso, Johnson, and Joyce would make Lewis work harder and they did in fact help chase him earlier than expected.

  9. SteveP says:

    @Jason – look again at the link I inserted there to the game. It breaks it down into LH and RH hitters. Red are called strikes, green balls. The f/x just doesn’t support it really. And particularly for the LHers unless you;re talking about inside pitches (and those are consistent, no green, all red where he was calling strikes).

    If you don’t like the r-zone or z-zone or whatever it is they are calling it, you won;t get any argumnet from me. But it seems more like a question of attitude rather than actual pitch location here. We all know have latched onto “bad umpiring” and thus that is what we see.

  10. @SteveP,

    You didn’t even use the proper link. Who cares about the balls and strikes in the Yanks-Twins game. The chart that JC used in the body of his article is the correct one. Blow it up, you can see what I cound as 10 red squares that are at least 6 inches off the plate. If you watched the game at all you saw an utter disgrace to the umpiring profession. Go watch video on the Crawford strikeout. The last 2 pitches were in the other batters box as the correct Pitch F/x chart showed. Sorry if I sound like a dick, but you’re wrong and you need to drop it.

  11. EminenceFront says:

    @SteveP

    Stop being so dense. You copy/pasted a link for the Yankees/Twins game. That was not Jerry Meals’ strike zone.

  12. Josh says:

    @SteveP, your looking at the wrong game… it says who the umpire is and what game it is from. The Jerry Meals data is identical to the above chart in the article.

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