MLB

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I’m a few days late, but happy baseball, everyone!

Those who know me best know that I’m a huge baseball fan. Those who merely google me know that I once did a radio documentary about baseball that played in a couple VERY small public radio markets. (You can find it on PRX, if you’re really curious…which, I’m sure, you’re not.)

I’m a big Red Sox fan. And I must say, I’m kind of looking forward to a year with no expectations. It’s incredibly freeing to not be so emotionally invested and just watch for the game. Mostly because I’m a bigger baseball fan than I am fan of any one team. I love the fact that baseball is universal. (Okay, not universal, just universal within the bounds of the US, and ESPECIALLY in the Northeast.) I can talk in any elevator, subway car, bar, or street corner about baseball. Even the non-baseball fans know what’s going on.

I’d continue to rant, but instead, I will make a few ridiculous predictions for the season:

*The Red Sox will not finish in last place. Neither will the Yankees. Sorry to all fans who are not Bostonians or New Yorkers.
*The Red Sox will look like they may be the surprise of the season — only to finish just above .500 and miss the playoffs.
*The Washington Nationals won’t be as good as everyone says. But they’ll still win the NL East, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion to…
*The St. Louis Cardinals. Who will win one of the Wild Cards and win the play-in game.
*Houston will be just as bad in the AL as the NL
*Houston will be No-Hit no fewer than twice.
*The Tampa Bay Rays will be no-hit at least once…and still make the playoffs.
*The Cubs won’t win the world series.
*The Cubs won’t make the playoffs.
*The Cubs won’t be worth watching.
*The Marlins will have a shot at the 2nd Wildcard, and it will come down to the last 2 weeks of the season.
*The Pirates, however, won’t.
*The World Series winner will come out of the NL
*Cardinals over Rays.

And the most important prediction of all:
*I will listen to more baseball than ever before, but fewer Red Sox games than usual. Because they won’t be worth it. And I love my SiriusXM radio. Okay — the radio itself isn’t holding up on its 3rd year of life as well as I’d hope, but I love the service.

Now back to watching the Yanks and Sox. Go Sox!

It’s the MLB playoffs. I love baseball. Love love love love it. And in may ways, I’m a purist. I am not entirely sure how I feel about instant replay. I’m not the biggest fan of interleague play — which I’m going to have to get over, since it will happen every day next season (and until the leagues even out again. Hello two more expansion teams?) But I like the wildcard.

And yes, I like the second wildcard. I like the fact that the winning the division matters now. I like the fact that teams have to try. I like that we didn’t have a clue what the playoff picture was until the final game of the season this year. (But I think the higher seed opening on the road is dumb. I do not foresee that lasting, though the other innovations of this season probably will.)

But I write this post to discuss more bad officiating. Only to defend the umpires. The Infield Fly call of the other night. (For those who did not follow the events, follow that link.)

As many have pointed out — including Curt Schilling in the link above — this call was probably not why the Braves lost. It may have completely changed the complexion of the game, but I doubt it.

But now I shall defend the umpire. I do think the call was wrong. I do think an outfield umpire should NEVER make an infield fly call. But we cannot blame the left field umpire. We need to remember that umpires usually are in 4-man crews. Only for the postseason are there outfield umpires. This umpire, Sam Holbrook, is not used to seeing what a popup looks like from the outfield. He spent 162 games (actually, I don’t know how many games umpires actually work in a season…but it’s definitely over 100…) playing 3/4 of them from an infield position and 1/4 of them behind home plate calling balls and strikes. I imagine his non-thought process (I say “non-thought” because I imagine it’s instinct after 11.5 years of MLB service…) was “This is an easy popup in front of me. That must be an infield fly,” because it ALWAYS is an infield fly when there’s an easy popup in front of the 3rd base umpire. He forgot he wasn’t at 3rd base on Friday night.

Did Sam Holbrook make the wrong call? Probably. Did it cost the Braves the game? Probably not. Still a much better call than, y’know, this one.