Major League Baseball will reportedly add a seventh umpire for the seven-game playoffs series this fall, which is just what the postseason needs: one more chance for a blown call.
Umpires are apparently like wild cards to MLB’s postseason, in that you can’t have enough.
The extra ump will be used in the replay booth, which is a waste. Just watch the replays on the telecast and let the broadcasters make the call. Or do what it seems like they do on NFL telecasts: wait for an ex-umpire to be hired as the replay analyst and let him make the call.
You have to give video replay credit where it’s due: it’s bringing the country closer to full employment one ex-official on television at a time.
This is Bud Selig’s last postseason and he might be lucky to be remembered for presiding over the PED scandal and the tie All-Star Game instead of all the bad calls in October. Because bad playoff decisions have been a lot more common than Royals’ playoff appearances, from the infield pop fly against the Braves that wasn’t to Joe Mauer’s double that wasn’t to A.J. Pierzynski’s strikeout that wasn’t.
All these umpires, yet all these missed calls. It makes you wonder if we need less umpires rather than more.
On to the postseason.
Royals starter James Shields has a big-game reputation but a 4.98 postseason ERA; A’s starter Jon Lester has a 2.11 postseason ERA. But the A’s offense lost 71 points of OPS from before the All-Star Game (.729) to after (.658), in part because of the player dealt (outfielder Yoenis Cespedes) to get Lester, in part because John Jaso (.767) never made it back from a concussion, in part because Brandon Moss hit 21 of his 25 home runs before the break.
The A’s were 66-40 on July 29, 22-34 in the final two months-plus. And they’re 1-13 this century in potential series-clinching games. Either they’re due or they just don’t.
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner hasn’t pitched in more than a week since they were eliminated four days before the Pirates, and has two World Series wins. His opponent, Edinson Volquez, has made one postseason start, for Cincinnati in 2010, and got just five outs.
But Volquez is a lot like last year’s wild-card hero Francisco Liriano: a reclamation project made whole. The Pirates helped lower Liriano’s ERA from 5.34 in 2012 to 3.02 in 2013 and Volquez’s from 5.71 in 2013 to 3.04 in 2014.
Whatever the Pirates told Volquez is working: in his last three starts, he allowed 11 hits and an earned run in 21 innings, fanning 21.