It’s inherent to the circumstances that these supposed to be some of the best umpires in MLB. If not, they would be relaxing at home while another crew umpired the series. That said, it’s easier to cherry-pick their flaws than their successes. This also makes for better blog reading.
Welke is responsible for one of the worst safe/out calls against the Dodgers you’ll ever see.
Wendelstedt’s strike zone has drawn heavy criticism in the past. Decide for yourself: The blog Strike Zone Maps allows you to compare umpires’ strike zones on certain days (To me, Wendlestedt’s appears to be more consistent, and less forgiving for pitches outside the strike zone, than many.) Baseball Heat Maps confirms that Wendlestedt’s strike zone doesn’t reward too many balls out of the rulebook-defined strike zone.
Miller ejected Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Aug. 1, one of his three ejections in 2013 and one that happened so quickly I didn’t realize it at the time. (For comparison’s sake, Chad Fairchild led MLB umpires with eight.) Welke, Wendlestedt and Hudson have each ejected four players or managers this season.
These are all good talking points for a slow news day, but we might not hear their names again once the games begin — if they’re doing their jobs.
Some bullet points for a Botswanan Independence Day:
• How do these Dodgers compare to their 1988 counterparts? Colleague Tom Hoffarth explores this very question. Here’s a great retrospective of how ESPN covered the Dodgers’ 1988 playoff run. (Note how many more facts, and how much less “noise,” ESPN featured in 1988.)
• Colleague Vincent Bonsignore asks: “Who would you rather play right now? The Cardinals, who steamrolled through September with an 18-8 record and have an uncanny knack of creating magic once they reach the playoffs — see their World Series runs in 2006 and 2011 — or the Braves, who just concluded a 12-14 September?”
• The Braves don’t care if they are the underdogs (and I don’t know that they are).
• Remember how bad the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen was in 2013? Their save percentage, among other things, was the worst in the National League. Today’s news is that their 2014 closer could come from within their own roster.
• Dale Sveum was fired by the Cubs, whose general manager wrote a fairly glowing letter of recommendation for Sveum in the press release announcing the firing.
• The 2013 Dodgers photo gallery to end all 2013 Dodgers photo galleries is here. 162 photos for 162 games.
• I’m OK with this trend of retro Afro-pop acts like the Menahan Street Band and the Budos Band. They can keep appearing out of nowhere — with the same musicians under different names, for all I care. Here’s “Smoke Gets In”: