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How Umpiring Undoes Sabermetric Personality Types

Texas got so slaughtered in Game 3 of the World Series that I was a little shocked to see the whole state of Arlington whining about a bad umpiring call that took place early in the game. 1B umpire Ron Kulpa missed a swipe tag of Matt Holliday by Mike Napoli that would have been the second out of an inning that suddenly yielded runs from the point of the blown call.


In the 2009 ALCS, the same Mike Napoli, then in full catcher's regalia, walked down to third base and tagged two Yankees, neither of whom were standing on a base. Only one was called out. Angels fans spun into a tizzy. It was yet another call in New York's favor, another terrible and egregious call in that postseason of bad umpiring.

Well the Saber set went to work to use Win Expectancy to show that the terrible call only changed the outcome of the game against the Angels a smidgen and led to no direct scoring. In that blindspot of explaining numbers that does not comprehend the emotional reality of what transpired, the numbers-crunching tisk-tisking from computerland only embittered Angels fans.

It is so easy to sit on the sidelines when it is not your team and point out the math (in tonight's case 16-7 = 9 run deficit almost none of which can be hung on Ron Kulpa). Meanwhile Texas fans in general have the feeling that if only umpiring were perfect, their team would have been in a better position to make more of the game for themselves early on.

But there is a disingenuous subset of Texas Rangers fan that clucked all season long about the numbers, about the run differential being so great for the Rangers that there was no reason to panic when the Angels got to within a game and a half. When they were on top, those Antler-Toting Kalculator Kids were too cool to be fans and express emotion. No, they had the numbers with which to justify a passive attitude toward a summer-long pennant race.

And so tonight these same Differential Dweebs ignore a gaping chasm of nine runs and fixate on a bad call. From a commitment to calculus to beating-off to the butterfly effect in one inning. Bad umpiring is the equalizer. It destroys the continuity of their comfortable numbers and, so ensconced in quantifying the real into artificial mathematical representations, the real fan inside them that they have tried to protect with a mountain of spreadsheets is like an infant exposed to the gargoyles and bleacher bums that have heretofore been kept safely stashed under the bed. And now the heresy of feeling over thinking has them grasping at self-pity as a coping mechanism.

You will never understand that your grasp of the game was ever limited. You aren't a well-rounded analyst when your team gets laughably mocked in a 16-7 route and you whine about one umpiring call. You aren't an analyst at all. You're a fan. Welcome aboard. I hope you have to sit in your stadium and see your team lose the next two. And if you choose to fixate on the blown call for the rest of your life, you will show your limited capacity at understanding all the numbers that define the game. But that is because you will be so much bigger than any analyst. You will be a fan.