Angels-ChiSox debacle and stupid reporting

Sports fans may have heard that an umpire screw-up in last night’s game doomed the Angels.

Oh, excuse me. I mean, you may have heard that there was a controversial call that allowed the eventual winning run to reach base. Is that neutered enough, or do I need to further excise the suggestion that a human may have been involved so as to achieve fairness and balance? (ESPN recap.)

Ahem. So I was reading an “analysis” at MLB.com by Mike Starr, who’s saying that the integrity of the game is most important. Sure. But then I get to this graf, and I can’t take it anymore:

Television replays appeared to show that Paul caught the ball without it hitting the dirt, though the umpiring crew, which looked at videotape after the game, felt replays showed there was a change of direction in the flight of the pitch and it was inconclusive at best.

Bullshit. What replays showed wasn’t Paul appearing to catch the ball. They showed him catching the ball. Period. If you think the ball wasn’t caught, then either a) you don’t know the rules of the game, b) your eyes are bad, c) you have access, perhaps, to footage shot by a second cameraman on a grassy knoll or something, or d) you’re an umpire covering your ass because you’ve been busted on national TV blowing a game in the ALCS. Because the video makes it pretty darned clear that it was a catch. Near the dirt, yes, but in the dirt, no.

Now, this isn’t about baseball, it’s not about that game, it’s not about the umps missing one (which they did, with disastrous results, but that’s going to happen occasionally, no matter what you do, in a game where the ball zips around at nearly 100 mph and a millimeter makes a difference). It’s about that feckin’ writer feeling obligated to say that the video appeared to show something because hey, if somebody out there disagrees, then we have a controversy and we have to be “balanced.” The gods forbid we say what happened.

Writers like this would probably review the Rodney King video and say that it appears to show a black man being handled firmly by some people who appear to be wearing law enforcement uniforms. Is there footage out there of the Hindenburg appearing to catch fire? And how about that September 11 footage that shows jetliners appearing to crash into the Trade Center?

I have low enough expectations when it comes to “sports journalism,” but goddammit, if you can’t assert that a video shows what it damned well shows then go flip burgers for a living.

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3 comments

  1. I heard this on the NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams said the Angels pretty much admitted they played crappy, so even without the bad call, they may have lost the series.
    I also fail to see why this should be a national news story. He called it the “Call Hear ‘Round the World.” I mean, come on. It’s a frickin’ baseball game!

  2. Haha…The way Williams pumped it up before the story, I thought it was going to be something really interesting, like a huge fight–not a bad call from an ump.
    Alas, as you said, this is America, where celebrity marriages also warrant national news attention. Meh. Nevermind all those “real” news stories, like corporations ripping people off and people dying in Iraq. Those things just aren’t as interesting.
    I digress.

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