13 December 2012

"Striiiiike Three!!!"

An analysis of all 68 full-time Major League umpires' strike-three calls reveals 68 unique styles, running the gamut from Gary Darling's subtle fist pump to Tom Hallion's violent, Mike Tyson-esque punchout. Though nothing in the guidebook requires umpires to devise elaborate gestures, the called strike three injects a splash of color into the sport...

Among the 68 current umpires, 59 (86.8%) typically employ one of two straightforward approaches for calling strike three, punching either straight ahead toward the pitcher or out toward the side. But within that framework, each ump adds his own touches. As a result, perceptive fans can identify the umpire working the plate by his strike-three call. (Umpires usually let swinging strikeouts speak for themselves.)...

Triple-A umpire Shaun Francis said young umps, after the games, ask their colleagues on the bases to critique their mechanics, hoping to earn a coveted promotion to the big leagues. Umpires can earn between about $90,000 and $300,000 a year...

Of course, that moment quickly turns sour if the players don't trust the umpire's judgment to call balls and strikes. That's why Mr. Evans has one crucial piece of advice for all young umps before acting too crazy: If you plan to use a wild strike-three mechanic, you better make sure you get the call right—at least most of the time.
I know this is out of season (and over a year old), but it gives me an excuse to post this video -


- and that gives me an excuse to post another video (see below).

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