FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
During the ALCS, I wrote about umpires and their affect on the game. The column was mostly about Ted Hendry and his amazing strike zone, but I referred to Rich Garcia as the umpire who had the most runs scored in his games. When I saw he was the home plate ump tonight, I wondered what might happen. You see, his stats are quite interesting. He calls slightly fewer strikes relative to balls than the average AL umpire, less than a 1% difference. Yet he has 10% more walks than average in his games and a whopping 22% more runs. I wondered what could cause that and around the fourth inning, came up with a theory, that he runs deep counts and is very reluctant to call strike three.
I'm not saying he's a bad person, nor an incompetent ump. Unlike Hendry, he doesn't have his own unique strike zone. But let's face it, when it comes to the vertical strike zone, the top and bottom are clearly open to interpretation. There will be pitches which are close calls and I think he won't call strike three on a close one. As long as I'm reading his mind, I'll attribute this to not wanting to "determine the outcome of the game." He may look at Hendry's strike zone and think it's absurd, calling strike three on pitches several inches outside. Yet Garcia's impact on the game is at least as great. And in the seventh inning, he may well have determined the winner of the World Series.
I thought Mark Langston threw a perfect pitch to Martinez, right at his knees. If that was called strike three, it's a 5-5 game heading for the eighth, where the Padres scored a run. But it wasn't a strike, Garcia didn't call it so, and the next pitch, necessarily a little higher, broke open the game.
Hero of the Game: Tie between Knoblauch and Martinez
Goat of the Game: Donnie Wall
Pure Second-Guess of the Game: Langston blows the game while Randy Myers watches. Myers then comes in to put out the fire in the eighth.
Reason for optimism for the Padres: Greg Vaughn hit 2 homers
he can carry them for a week
Reason for optimism for the Yankees: they don't need one
For those of you not in the West, who didn't see the UCLA-Oregon game, you missed a beauty. A great comeback by the Beavers, a miracle pass by UCLA, followed by a missed 20 yard FG to send it to overtime. Cade McNown was obviously not feeling well, as he actually threw up before one play and had to be removed for the next play. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever thrown up during a game and won the Heisman Trophy.
How many conference home games does LSU have to lose before people stop calling it Death Valley? They are now 2-5 their last seven conference home games and that's over two seasons in which they have been a championship contender, ranked in the top 20. Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall shred their defense with short passes and leave town with a W.
They lost at home to Temple??? On homecoming weekend, no less, the Hokies turned to Jokies. To be fair, they were playing with their third-string QB. But a Top Ten team (or Top 50, for that matter) should be able to beat Temple at home with their JV squad. Temple and Rutgers both won conference road games the same week. I believe this is a sign of the apocalypse.
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