Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: Bye week in the rearview

I hope the Buffs made good use of the bye week, because the next four games should make for a harrowing slog through October.  I certainly did, using the weekend to expand my sporting horizons by watching a few hours of cricket.  I don't really know what I was watching, or for that matter why I was watching it, but it was a fun change of pace during an other-wise football-filled weekend. 

No Columbus Day for me, I've got work to do.  This week I'm talking umpiring, some site news, BuffsMadness, and a slew of football notes.

Click below for the bag...

Controversy in the Cardinals/Braves play-in game - 

I am an adult rec softball umpire for Boulder Parks and Rec, and have umpired various levels of baseball and softball since I was 13 years old.  While I don't consider myself an umpiring authority, I do know a thing or two about the adjudication of baseball/softball.  I certainly know more than the layman.  Since I'm a hardcore baseball fan, and have an amateur interest in umpiring, my ears perk up whenever there is a umpiring controversy at the major league level.

Friday night (coincidentally, while I was umpiring in Boulder), the NL play-in game was marred by a suspect call, and a ludicrous fan over-reaction to what they think happened.  With runners on first and second, and one out in the bottom of the 8th, Brave Andrelton Simmons meekly popped up to extremely short left field.  Cardinal shortstop Pete Kozma easily drifted back to make the play... only to give up on it at the last second, apparently fearing that left fielder Matt Holliday was about to truck him.  The ball fell between the two, as Holliday, not known for his fielding skills, looked at Kozma like he'd said the world was flat.

Turner Field in Atlanta roared with delight.  The boneheaded fielding failure would load the bases with the bottom of the order coming up... only it wasn't the case.  Left field umpire Sam Holbrook had signaled enforcement of the infield fly rule, making Simmons out, and leaving the Braves with runners only on second and third, with two outs.  Announcers and fans alike began yelling nonsense, immediately deeming the rule incorrectly applied.  The only problem: it certainly was.

"Oh, but it was clearly in the outfield.  It's called the infield fly rule, LOLzzz"  Don't be a moron.  The rule only says "caught by an infielder with ordinary effort," and says nothing about positioning of the ball.  Kozman's effort was ordinary, and he's and infielder.  Further, the clarifying rule comment states, "the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder, —not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines."  Anyone who complains that the ball was in the outfield, or that the left fielder could have made the catch, clearly doesn't know the rule, and isn't someone who should be making public comment on the situation.  That's a play a major league infielder should make easily, and Kozman was in comfortable position to make the play.  The rule certainly applies.

As to the timing of the call (i.e., waiting to make the call as the ball is about to land), I also don't have a problem with it.  In practice, most umpires, including myself, wait until it's apparent the fielder thinks he's going to catch the ball before calling it.  In this case, the shortstop sauntered back, moved under the ball, and waved his arms as if to say "I've got it."  Certainly seems routine to me.  His ability to finish the play is of no consequence.  At that point the umpire made the call, correctly.  Good job, Holbrook.

It's a shame that Holliday and Kozma weren't on the same page, but the rule was enforced as written and practiced.  Was the ball hit to a theoretical gray area (i.e, I doubt the fielder really have used the situation for an unfair advantage)?  Sure, but to blame the umpires for enforcing the rule as written is asinine.
Really?  Over-react much?
Oh, there have certainly been some blown calls throughout the years.  Here are just a few examples.  But, for the most part, major league umpires nail rule interpretations. This was no exception.  Proper application of the rule, Braves fans are assholes, the Earth is round.

Site news: back to business -

In case you gave up on the season weeks ago, you're probably excited on some level for the nationally televised matchup with Arizona St this week.  ESPN, prime time, blackout... this is the kind of game that makes for a crazy atmosphere at Folsom.  I certainly can't wait; in fact, I'm taking Friday off in anticipation of an eventful Thursday night.

One negative of the Thursday scheduling, however, is that my typical posting rhythm is being thrown off.  I've had to move up the schedule, marking my game preview for release Wednesday, and leaving the beer post for Thursday morning.  I don't plan on posting Friday, so look for post game wrap-up Monday as usual.

#BuffsMadness is this Friday -

#BuffsMadness is this Friday... just in case you forgot.  You should all plan on being there, we need to pack Coors for the defending Pac-12 champions!  8:30 start time, after the completion of the CU/ASU volleyball game.  It's free, it's fun, and someone's going to win a trip to the CU/KU game this December.  No excuses, get yourself to the CEC. 

Around the nation of football - 

College Football

West Virginia @ Texas -

Geno Smith continued his assault on Big XII defenses during the Mountaineers' 48-45 win in Austin.  He notched four more touchdowns, and the WVU offense can sometimes look unstoppable.  Geno would've had an even better day if runningback Andrew Buie wasn't getting loose at will.
Washington @ Oregon - 

Speaking of teams who look unstoppable, Oregon blitzed Washington 52-21, making them the clear front-runners in the Pac-12 North.  At no point was Washington even close to competing, and Oregon looks ready to soar to the title game.

Nebraska @ Ohio St -

Oh, sweet, sweet shadenfreude.  The Buckeyes dropped 63 on the Blackshirts en route to a 25-point win over the Huskers.
Not nearly as cool as 62-36, but I'll take it.


Denver @ New England - 

Was anyone really surprised?  31-21, Pats win.  The Broncos have been the victims of a brutal schedule so far, but there's no excuse for the numerous mistakes that kept the comeback from becoming a reality.  Fumbles, drops, etc... it was all pretty ugly. 

Green Bay @ Indianapolis - 

The Colts played their asses off, and won for head coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia last week.  While it was a shame that the win came via a Mason Crosby miss, the Colts deserved the win, and it made for a great story.  The win also produced this excellent piece of trolling:
From: Deadspin

Happy Pseudo-Holiday Monday!


J said...

I'm not big on baseball, so I must ask... what's the point on the infield fly rule?

RumblinBuff said...

The point is to protect the runners. Without the rule, a fielder could intentionally drop the pop, and get an easy play on either the lead runner, or grab a cheap double-play.

The batter is automatically removed, along with the force requiring the runners to advance, allowing them to advance if available, rather than because they are required to.