First, was the call correct? It’s not entirely clear. The sequence has been replayed and dissected a thousand times. Some contend that the videotape shows that Paul trapped the ball against the dirt. This view supports Eddings’ call. Most of the media, though, holds the opposite opinion-that the video shows Paul catching Kelvim Escobar’s pitch cleanly; the ball never touched the dirt. Since the replay has not produced a consensus, we have to ask a different question. If it is unclear whether the third strike is caught or not, how should the umpire err? Should he avoid the controversial call and declare the ball caught? And, if he decides that the ball was not caught, must he declare his call in a very specific way so there is no lack of clarity in anybody’s mind-namely, for the hitter and for the catcher and his teammates? That brings us to question two.
What’s the procedure to follow in this situation? If the catcher drops the third strike, the umpire’s first step is clear. He is supposed to call the third strike and not call the batter out. This is obvious. But then the analysis enters murky territory. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia condemned Eddings’ hand motion for the third strike call. Because Eddings used a closed fist to signal the third strike, Scioscia says, the third out is implied, and the game goes to extra innings. But even if Scioscia is wrong and we accept that Eddings called the third strike but not the third out, did Eddings follow the umpiring guidelines? Not necessarily. Some-including Paul-say that if the third strike is dropped, the umpire is supposed to go out of his way to make the situation obvious. That is to say, he not only shouldn’t call the third out, but he also should explicitly declare “No catch, no catch.” The ump, it seems, should go out of his way to make clear the dropped third strike situation and should not stay quiet as if to test the catcher’s ability to react. So Eddings is partially at fault. But Paul is the idiot in this case no matter how you look at the scenario. It’s the bottom of the ninth in game two of the league championship, and your team is on the verge of going to extra innings in which it can take a decisive 2-0 series lead. In this situation one must exercise caution and take every step imaginable to ensure that the final out is made. If there is any question whatsoever as to whether you caught the ball, or if for whatever reason the umpire didn’t clearly signal the final out, then you stand up, retrieve the ball, lob it to the first baseman, and that’s that. Doesn’t require too much effort, just a little common sense and care.
Recurring heart issues
Jason Collier, a 28-year-old center for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, died suddenly Saturday morning at his home. Initial reports indicate the cause of death was likely cardiac arrest. Collier was 7’0,” 260 lbs. but had no previously recorded heart problems and passed his training camp physical just weeks ago. The autopsy report has not yet been released, and it is too early to speculate whether basketball had anything to do with his death. But training camp, the week-long process in which NBA head coaches prepare their teams for the rigors of the regular season, had ended just a week before, and the Hawks were in the midst of their preseason schedule. There is no clear evidence yet to suggest that the death is connected to the death of 49ers lineman Thomas Herrion earlier this year or to the death of Vikings tackle Korey Stringer in 2001. Herrion died after a preseason game, and Stringer died after a training camp workout. Both weighed 335 lbs., 75 lbs. more than Collier. But Collier was 7’0″ and Herrion and Stringer were 6’3″ and 6’4″, respectively. Up until now the NFL has received most of the criticism for encouraging its players to be unhealthily large, but taller players in the NBA have frequently suffered irregular heartbeats and other heart issues. Both leagues need to come to a better understanding of what these large players are capable of handling without putting their health at risk.
Yankees still suck
A Daily Collegian columnist wrote last week in the UMass daily newspaper that Red Sox fans overuse the chant “Yankees suck” and suggested that they should stop employing the negative slogan altogether. “When the currently-decomposing Bernie Williams hits a 302-foot wind-aided pop-up that gently caresses the bottom of Pesky’s Pole? Yankees suck. When the Patriots win the Super Bowl and toilet paper flows like wine from the riotous Southwest towers? Yankees suck,” writer Matt Brochu lamented. “This is why we should collectively pull an ‘Old Yeller,’ take it behind the shed and shoot it,” he said. I couldn’t consider his argument more ridiculous. First of all, the main reason he said fans need to dispense with the chant now is that an era ended in the Yankees/Sox rivalry with last season’s Sox win. An era in the rivalry did end, but stopping “Yankees suck” is about the worst thing Sox fans could do. In fact, the biggest danger in the post-curse period is that the Yankees-Sox rivalry-which has defined the Sox franchise and the lives of Sox fans for so long-will be sapped of its unique degree of viciousness. Sox fans shouldn’t mitigate the “Yankees suck” chant. They should amplify it and increase the variety of its use. “Yankees suck” at Pats, Bruins and Celtics games is a good start, but let’s see fans break out the chant at figure skating and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On that note, the “Williams Sucks” chant needs to be substantially expanded and featured at every home Amherst football game.