Dave’s Free Play, Monday 5/20/13

  • May 20, 2013

#umpshow. You can actually find that trending, especially among baseball fans residing at Twitter. That’s not a really good thing. But anyone who watches the game on a regular basis is well aware about how substandard the game is being officiated these days. There are too many umps who just aren’t very good, and even worse, are downright arrogant.  I’ll bring one arbiter in particular up in this mini-rant.

John Hirschbeck has been around for quite some time. Before they started featuring that box on the screen that indicates where the ball really went, Hirschbeck was lauded as an umpire that had a big zone, but who was also very consistent. Let’s speak the truth on Hirschbeck. Is he consistent? Yes, absolutely. Consistently wrong, that is. Hirschbeck basically never calls high strikes. Note I’m not talking about borderline calls, I’m strictly referring to strikes where the entire baseball is in that box, but he calls it a ball almost every time. Meanwhile, Hirschbeck also has a zone that is ridiculously wide. He regularly calls pitches completely out of the zone, a full baseball wide in fact, as strikes.

If you watched Sunday’s White Sox-Angels game, you know exactly what I mean. Hirschbeck would not give Jake Peavy a high strike, which caused Peavy to walk two guys with the bases loaded in the same inning. That’s something Peavy had done just three times in his entire career, and here it happens twice in one inning. Meanwhile, Jason Vargas figured out pretty quickly that he could get called strikes on pitches clearly outside the zone, and I’ll give him full credit for taking advantage of what was being offered.

One other note that belongs in this diatribe. At some point in the proceedings, Angels broadcaster Mark Gubicza noted that it was a bad idea for any pitcher to show any kind of disagreement with Hirschbeck, even in terms of just the body language. His point was that Hirschbeck might hold that against the pitcher and get really stingy with the strike zone. Gubicza ought to know, being a solid big league starter for several years.

Oh yeah, Hirschbeck is also the ump who tossed Bryce Harper earlier this season for what amounted to having the nerve to look at him  following a call (a bad call, by the way).

I’m thrilled that the recent news indicates widely expanded MLB replay is finally going to happen. Hooray and welcome to the 21st century. Now comes the next step. It’s time to start getting rid of the umps who apparently think they’re the reason we’re watching in the first place.


Personal plays split for a mini-profit on Sunday. It was really nice to actually get a comeback to win a game, as this past week was one where the late innings were a killer for me.

The free play on the Cardinals won, so 4-1 on the last five and looking for a home dog to pay off this evening.

Two personal plays as of now, and they can be purchased by clicking the tab to the right. The weekly package is there as well. For longer term info with guarantees, drop me a line at cokin@cox.net.


05/20 04:10 PM  MLB   (953) CINCINNATI REDS VS (954) NEW YORK METS

Take: (954) NEW YORK METS

The Mets are back home following a pretty good finish to their road trip, as they won three of the final four. As for the Reds, their normally tough bullpen was way off this weekend, and as a result Cincinnati took two late losses at Philadelphia.

Tonight marks the return of Johnny Cueto from his disabled list stint, and Cueto has been chomping at the bit to get back in action. But he’ll be doing so against a lineup that has given him a load of trouble for some reason. The probable Mets starters on Monday night are a collective 23-65 with two HR against Cueto. I’m also factoring the suddenly slumping Reds bullpen into this mix, as they’re a little off their stride right now.

The Mets have Shaun Marcum on the bump tonight and he’s off his best start of the season. The Mets eventually lost that game at St. Louis, but Marcum pitched well enough to win. He is definitely not a dominant pitcher, and Marcum’s mistakes are going to get hit. He’s done reasonably well against the guys he likely faces here, with the probable Reds weighing in at 18/65, 1 HR against Marcum. Also, Marcum might finally be getting a little bit of a correction on what is presently a bloated BABIP.

The team data is somewhat significant here. No doubt the Reds are the clearly superior team, but they’re still currently a losing team on the road. Sub-.500 road teams should generally not be laying in the -160 neighborhood unless they’re facing a team that is really horrendous. The Mets are not good by any means, but they’re also not the Marlins or Astros.

I would put this in the value category. Meaning, the Reds deserve to be favored, but not by this much. The Reds deserve to be the chalk here, but I see the number being about 20 cents higher than it ought to be. That’s enough to get me interested in the Mets as a live home dog tonight.