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As TVs Improve, So Does Umpiring ...

As TV's Improves, So Does Umpiring ...

See how umpiring philosophies have changed over the last two decades as TV equipment has improved the fans view of the game.  That a look and see what you think ...

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Bill Shannon, a
veteran official scorer and baseball historian, says he believes that the play
Monday on which Derek Jeter was called out trying to steal third — even
though he was not tagged — illustrates a shift in umpiring over the past 15

Shannon said that when he began working in baseball in the 1950s, umpires
routinely operated on the theory that if a player appeared to be out to the
fans, then he was out, regardless of whether he was actually tagged before
touching the base.

“Their specific theory was that on tag plays on the bases — not necessarily
at home — if the ball beat the player and it appeared like he was out to the
fans sitting all the way in the bleachers, then that was good enough for the
umpire, and he was out,” Shannon said.

With the improvements in televisions, cameras and instant replay in the
1990s, Shannon said, it became much clearer to fans that
umpires were getting some of those calls wrong. Over the past 15 years umpires
gradually began to look more closely for tags at the bases, Shannon

“It was ‘SportsCenter,’ ” said Shannon, who also works for The
Associated Press as a reporter and is often the pool reporter who interviews
umpires after games. “No longer was the umpire worried about the fans booing in
the stadium; they were now worried about the millions of fans sitting across
the country who could see whether the call was right.”

Few paid attention to the change because umpires were becoming more
accurate. Shannon said he believed that because the play
involved Jeter, who has never been ejected from a game, it came to the

After the game Monday, Jeter said that the third-base umpire, Marty Foster,
told him he was out because the ball beat him to the bag so he didn’t have to
be tagged. Foster did not speak with reporters after the game, but the crew
chief, John Hirschbeck, addressed reporters for about a half-hour. Umpires
rarely talk to reporters for more than a few minutes, even after the most
controversial calls. But Hirschbeck held “a roundtable discussion of sorts”
with about 10 reporters who had gone to the umpires’ locker room demanding an
explanation, Shannon said.


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