Ultimate College Softball
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Dewey

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Reply with quote  #1 
Based on the gameday banter, I fully expected a debate on the WCWS umpire strike zones to be in full bloom.  Then again, with half of us believing pitchers are being squeezed and the other half thinking they're given too much leeway, it probably does make for conversation gridlock.

However, these comments did cause me to reflect back to the time this game of Fastpitch was born.  When it first began, three balls were a walk and two strikes were an out.  I can't recall the exact year this all started but, from what I remember reading, it quickly became apparent, thanks to the pitcher's ability to spin that ball of thread this way, that way, up, down, speed it up, and slow it down, that umpires were visually challenged to see if that homemade sphere intersected the front stoop doormat tangently, or was it a fraction off to one side or the other?  And of course, the batter complained that hitting that ball with this broom stick was hard enough without it being way over there.  Of course, the pitcher said it wasn't way over there and so it went.  The uproar was deafening and something had to be done.

The powers that be huddled together and decided to allow one more ball to the pitcher and one more strike to batter if they both agreed to respect the umpire's dilemma.  That would give the pitcher one more pitch to bite at the edge of that mat, the batter one more whack attempt with the stick, and the umpires a little room for human error.  Happily, everyone agreed and the game developed into one of the greatest sports ever invented...one rich in history and including both legendary pitchers and hitters.  Until now. 

Once again, many are questioning today's umpires abilities to call balls and strikes.  What good are the first three balls or the first two strikes if you miss the last one?  If you are one of these people I ask, "is it once again time to increase the balls and strikes by one each?"  Will five balls and four strikes take the onus off the home plate umpire?  If not, why not?  I am interested in your thoughts.

PS:  If you doubt my facts, go Google while I gi__le. 

pounder

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there is not much difference in 4 and 3 compared to 3 and 2. If they still blow the final strike or ball they still blow it.


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Dewey

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Pounder - While I am trying to have a little fun with my post, your answer is precisely what I'm after.  If some seriously believe the umpire remains the primary focus, regardless of the number of strikes allowed before you are out, then they can never be persuaded to consider the hitter, or pitcher, primarily responsible for the outcome.  This game will forever be, as Pudge put it, squarely on the shoulders of the home plate umpire.  I can't count the number of times last night where a poster said, "how do you hit that pitch", and I wanted to ask why didn't they hit one of the first two?  

fpsb

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Dewey:  The technology exists today that would alleviate the need for any human error in calling balls and strikes.  Major league baseball isn't immune to the same problems with umpires that are inconsistent, incompetent and downright painful to watch.  IMO it is only a matter of time before it's a requirement that every home plate have the built in wizardry and let than home plate umpire tend to keeping the plate clean and calling safe/out subject to video replay of course.  I actually hope this happens in my lifetime.  The WCWS gave the world a glimpse of just how difficult it is for girls to ever know what to expect when they are trying to hit the best pitchers that really don't need extra inches in any direction.  p.s. I defy you to find an umpire that can point to any player's sternum accurately.

WanabeHorsey

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Reply with quote  #5 
MLB umpires are vastly superior in every way to NCAA softball umpires.  Is it the difference in compensation?  Is it lower expectations of the administrators?  Many coaches I know wonder why they even evaluate the umps, nothing changes.  They really do a poor job.  If the telecasts used the rectangle that they do when broadcasting baseball, we would vomit watching the comparisons.
Dewey

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Reply with quote  #6 

fpsb and Wanabe - I've said countless times that umpires should be evaluated and corrected if they are calling an improper strike zone.  I expect they are and somebody much wiser than me can answer for the results.  As for technology...what about the up and down pitch?  Probably not in our lifetime and I'm not sure that's something I want anyway. 

Today's point was to suggest if you get three strikes, or even four in my silly question, and the umpire misses one, what responsibility does the hitter have?  Pounder gave his opinion.  If the batter misses on the first two or three and blue misses one, the umpire blew it.  But my greater point is the level of concern over umpiring.  These last three weeks it's been over the top to say the least.  Maybe it's just this little forum we have here.  It began with what many saw as a small strike zone with the suggestion that we're putting players at risk.  I said at the time, that kind of talk is akin to intimidating an umpire to open up the zone.  Who wants to get a player hurt?

I've seen hundreds of games over the years and I can't recall any where I thought the balls and strikes calls were responsible for who won.  Umpires are going to miss some on occasion and that's why players are given more than one pitch to determine their fate.  But you two never answered the question...would five balls and four strikes take some of the onus off the umpire?  Or do you agree with Pounder?  Just curious. 


Edit:  For what it's worth, I replayed every Lawrie batter through Enea'sdouble in seventh, (DVR ended).  Third strike to Kim W in fourth, first strike to Paculba in sixth, and first strike to Enea in seventh were only questionable strike calls.  Numerous close pitches called balls on Danielle.  IMO, I'd evaluate it as a very well called game.         

OoklaSoftball

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Reply with quote  #7 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASUSoftballFan
They showed the laptop and software program that Florida uses to track pitches from center field.  Is it possible in that software to mark a pitch in the zone and then call it a ball?  Or does the software put up an error message "that is not possible."?  Questions pondered while watching the strike zone in the first inning of the second game.


Yes you can.  The pitch is noted as "umpire overrule"
Bootstraps

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Reply with quote  #8 
i don't think this year is any different than any other year.  the umpires job is to call strikes/balls.  every umpire has a slightly different strike zone.  its up to the pitcher and the batter to figure out how the strike zone will be called.  thats why pitchers and batters have several chances to accomplish their task.  adding another chance will not make any difference other than making the game longer.  we all want the strike zone to be perfect and consistent across the board but honestly I like it the way it is.  Makes the game competitive.  Good pitchers/batters adjust and capitalize on opportunities.
residentump

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Reply with quote  #9 
So basically, we all agree that softball umpires cannot call an accurate strike zone.

Or rather, the ones that do are accused of having "postage stamps."  It's funny, over the years I have watched hundreds of Di softball games.  The umpires that had zones that seemed accurate (inside and out) were berated and called out by both sides of coaches, pitcher's and players (pretty much everyone except the current batter).  But the umpires that called pitches a little off the plate were virtually left alone.  Is it possible that the DI temas and coaches want and expect these off the zone ptches to be called?

As said earlier, I have never seen a base coach complain about the width of a strike zone (within reason), but I have seen dozens of defensive coaches whine about not getting these pitches.

From what I can tell, softball is stuck with individuals that love the sport of softball and a willing to participate in that sport as they can.  Are there better umpires in NCAA baseball?  Probably.  Are there better umpires in MLB, I hope so.  I would think that the higher levels of the sport (baseball and softball) reward the officials so that they want to be there.  What happens if a softball umpire does a fantastic job calling balls and strikes?  To the point that they are invited to work games elsewhere for higher prestige and monetary gain?  How many of them would stay working softball if they are skilled enough to make a living elsewhere?  So maybe we are stuck with the best crop of "amateur" officials there are.

I am not saying the if we paid umpires more, they would be better.  Not at all.  I just know that if I was a DI official that had the chance to work baseball at high levels, I would probably think about that.

Luckily for me, that is not an option, I get to stay and watch these young athletes develop and do grand things at the small scale.

Maybe I'm rambling...

Yep.  I am.
WanabeHorsey

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Reply with quote  #10 
My answer is no. 

You don't know me, but I am not the guy that yell and screams at umpires, baseball or softball.  I just feel very strongly that the overall level of umpiring in softball is really sadly lacking, not only balls and strikes, but on the field as well.

JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #11 
I would suggest that much of the rhetoric concerning balls and strikes is spawned from a lack of knowledge about what constitutes a "corner strike".
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pounder

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey

Pounder - While I am trying to have a little fun with my post, your answer is precisely what I'm after.  If some seriously believe the umpire remains the primary focus, regardless of the number of strikes allowed before you are out, then they can never be persuaded to consider the hitter, or pitcher, primarily responsible for the outcome.  This game will forever be, as Pudge put it, squarely on the shoulders of the home plate umpire.  I can't count the number of times last night where a poster said, "how do you hit that pitch", and I wanted to ask why didn't they hit one of the first two?  

Dewey, not all strikes thrown are hittable strikes. A ball low on the outside corner for a right hander is most likely a grounder to the right side. Take that strike and see what comes in next. The main problem with the umps is when a pitcher is really hitting her spots. She throws strikes low on the corner that most hitters do not what to swing at and gets ahead in the count. NOW she throws a ball 4 inches outside and the ump gives her that pitch for a strike. That makes a pitcher almost unhittable. We saw some of that in the CWS.

There in lies the problem. Umps who call the correct strike zone are accused of squeezing the pitcher. Major Leaque umps USED to do this all the time. Remember the strikes that were 6" outside that Greg  Maddux used to get?..NOW the umps call a very good, consistant plate because they are graded on their zone and their job depends on calling the correct rule book plate.
That probably is not feasible for college umps, so they will continue to call their "own" plate.

Facing great pitchers is tough enough, but when you have batters "guessing" which pitches are balls and which are strikes, there is a problem.


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bhblue

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Reply with quote  #13 

Could be that, along with these umpires' judgment, the judgment of those selecting them should be scrutinized.  There are many qualified, eligible, and experienced officials who, in many people's opinion, can call circles around many of the post-season selections.  Their gender, race, or lack of desire to play politics is what keeps them from being selected.  As long as umpiring ability takes a back seat to these considerations, the chances of the game suffering will be higher.

JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #14 
Dewey - Your point is well made and documented. However, let's say that my team is down by one in bottom 7 and I'm leading off. My coach has told me "Get on any way you can - we need base runners". I purposefully run the count to three and two, and the next pitch is six inches off the corner. I start to first only to hear "Strike three". Don't you think that the situation determines the degree of impact on the game of an umpire's call? As to why didn't the batter hit the other two strikes, then why not have a game where one strike is an out and one ball is a walk?
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #15 
pounder - "batters guessing which pitches are balls and strikes". I guarantee you that pitchers have the same problem.
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
Wolfpackfan

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Reply with quote  #16 
If you add 2 more pitches to an at bat then the game would need to develop into a Starter , Middle Reliever and Closer!! For me that would be fine , I think it would add another exciting twist to the game!!!
I have read the comment that the batters and pitchers need to adjust to the strike zone! Not true if the Blues would call a uniform strike zone (preferably the one described in the rule book. The umpires need to set up the same , I  think setting up on one side or the other instead of behind the catcher was a bad decision!!!
The umpires need to be graded with consequences, I have personally seen an umpire with a horrid strike zone start calling a reasonable strike zone when he noticed a grader was in the stands!! That shows me an I really don't care attitude!!
JMO

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JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #17 
I just don't remember as many complaints when the umpire set up directly behind the catcher. Coaches always warned catchers to stay down or "the umpire will call a ball if you pop up and impede the umpire's vision". Setting up in the slot really does create lots of guessing on the opposite corner although umpires would argue that it doesn't. I've said for years that umpires should return to directly behind the catcher where they belong and where the softball gods placed them originally.
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
Wolfpackfan

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Reply with quote  #18 
The 1st time I saw the current stance was Gold Nationals in Salinas CA. You can imagine the uproar for those seeing it for the 1st time! An umpire attending the game as a fan explained to me that it was so the home plate umpire could better gauge the up down portion of the strike zone! I have not seen any more consistency on that portion of the strike zone then before!!
And yes Joisey I agree it seems to have turned it into more of a guessing game!!

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Dewey

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Reply with quote  #19 
I find it interesting that here in the forum, the concern is that strike off the plate.  Meanwhile, I continue a private debate, via PM's with a friend, who suggests Mr. Hadley's smaller strike zone is the worst of the worst.  There will never be a consensus.  For me, it's best to believe we have the best umpiring available, who do the best they can, and rarely, if ever, determine the outcome of a particular game.  And I've concluded, if it were nine balls and eight strikes, we'd still blame the umpire.  I'll learn to accept that.   
pounder

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoiseyGuy
pounder - "batters guessing which pitches are balls and strikes". I guarantee you that pitchers have the same problem.
My kid pitched in the Big Ten, all well do I know.

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pounder
iwitness

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Reply with quote  #21 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey
I find it interesting that here in the forum, the concern is that strike off the plate.  Meanwhile, I continue a private debate, via PM's with a friend, who suggests Mr. Hadley's smaller strike zone is the worst of the worst.  There will never be a consensus.  For me, it's best to believe we have the best umpiring available, who do the best they can, and rarely, if ever, determine the outcome of a particular game.  And I've concluded, if it was nine balls and eight strikes, we'd still blame the umpire.  I'll learn to accept that.   

Dewey,

It only sounds to me like....you do not have a vested interest in a particular pitcher, athlete or team!!!

Where is your FANaticism??? 
UAFan06

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey
I find it interesting that here in the forum, the concern is that strike off the plate.  Meanwhile, I continue a private debate, via PM's with a friend, who suggests Mr. Hadley's smaller strike zone is the worst of the worst.  There will never be a consensus.  For me, it's best to believe we have the best umpiring available, who do the best they can, and rarely, if ever, determine the outcome of a particular game.  And I've concluded, if it was nine balls and eight strikes, we'd still blame the umpire.  I'll learn to accept that.   


I agree with you except for in one game that I have ever watched.  That was the SEC Championship Game between Florida and Alabama.  In that game, Mr. Chad Stears did determine the outcome of that game imo.  But normally, as bad as the umps can be, I don't think they usually affect the outcome of a game.

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JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #23 
UAFan06 - That was literally the worst bit of umpiring balls and strikes that I've ever seen, and I've seen some bad ones. That umpire ruined what could have been a good game with Nelson opposing Dunne. Neither pitcher had a complete plate to throw to. It really hurt both pitchers and literally controlled the play of the game negatively. I remember that Florida won, but my main memory is that of a game ruined by an inept umpire.
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
Dewey

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Reply with quote  #24 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iwitness
Dewey,

It only sounds to me like....you do not have a vested interest in a particular pitcher, athlete or team!!!

Where is your FANaticism??? 

Quite the contrary iwitness.  In the games involving those near and dear to me, they just set the ball on a tee and say here...now hit it.

Pudge

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Reply with quote  #25 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoiseyGuy
UAFan06 - That was literally the worst bit of umpiring balls and strikes that I've ever seen, and I've seen some bad ones. That umpire ruined what could have been a good game with Nelson opposing Dunne. Neither pitcher had a complete plate to throw to. It really hurt both pitchers and literally controlled the play of the game negatively. I remember that Florida won, but my main memory is that of a game ruined by an inept umpire.


Which do you feel was worse, the UA vs UF game or UF vs UW gm 1?

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UAFan06

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Reply with quote  #26 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pudge

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoiseyGuy
UAFan06 - That was literally the worst bit of umpiring balls and strikes that I've ever seen, and I've seen some bad ones. That umpire ruined what could have been a good game with Nelson opposing Dunne. Neither pitcher had a complete plate to throw to. It really hurt both pitchers and literally controlled the play of the game negatively. I remember that Florida won, but my main memory is that of a game ruined by an inept umpire.


Which do you feel was worse, the UA vs UF game or UF vs UW gm 1?


For me it is by far the UF v. UA game and it isnt even close

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Pudge

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Reply with quote  #27 

How's this (it might be easier), name one game from the entire WCWS where the strikezone was relatively consistent?


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Dewey

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pudge

How's this (it might be easier), name one game from the entire WCWS where the strikezone was relatively consistent?

Final game with regards to Lawrie's pitches.  Probably missed last strike to Kim W with bases loaded, maybe missed first strike to Paculba in sixth and first strike to Enea in seventh before the double.  Every other pitch rather consistent.  Since Washington was victorious, I didn't go back and review all of Nelson's pitches.  Now feel free to tell me which pitches I missed.
Pudge

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Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pudge

How's this (it might be easier), name one game from the entire WCWS where the strikezone was relatively consistent?

Final game with regards to Lawrie's pitches.  Probably missed last strike to Kim W with bases loaded, maybe missed first strike to Paculba in sixth and first strike to Enea in seventh before the double.  Every other pitch rather consistent.  Since Washington was victorious, I didn't go back and review all of Nelson's pitches.  Now feel free to tell me which pitches I missed.

I was thinking that may be the ONLY one. That, and maybe the ASU vs Mizzou game. Other than those two, I can't remember another game where the zone wasn't floating all over the place.


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JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #30 
Pudge - You asked which of two games situations were worse for umpiring. I repeat, and it's no contest at all, that the UF vs. UA game was the worst umpired balls and strikes game I'v ever seen. No comparison in the UF vs. Wash set. In the UF vs Wash set, the umpires made some mistakes. In the UF vs. UA, the umpire was a mistake. I think he was a bad umpire having his worst day.
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
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