Putting aside for a moment the slight humiliation of yet another Mets pitching product making history in another team’s uniform, Phillip Humber’s
umpire-assisted perfect game this Saturday has the Village Voice’s Allen Barra asking, “was the last pitch Humber threw to (Seattle’s) Brendan Ryan actually a strike?” If Barra could answer the question with a definitive “yes”, he’d written a different column.
I’m not asking whether the ball was outside the strike zone — anyone could see that it was. I’m not asking if the batter is supposed to be guarding the strike zone a little more carefully in those situations, on a full count with two outs – clearly he is. I won’t even ask the question as to whether umpire Brian Runge should have been giving Humber the benefit of the doubt with a perfect game on the line. (The answer to that question is an emphatic No! The umpire is supposed to treat all pitches the same under all circumstances.)
I won’t even ask – though I have to admit I’m just a tad suspicious on this one – why Runge didn’t look down to the first base umpire to confirm if Ryan had checked his swing or gone too far. (Isn’t that what you see done about 3-4 times during an average game?)
What I want to know is this: why didn’t Fox Sports show us Ryan’s half swing from the traditional above-the-plate camera so we could decide for ourselves? I’ll say this: from the angle I saw and the angle ESPN was replaying it last night, there’s no way it looks like Ryan broke the plane of the plate.
Can anyone offer a rational reason why, in the most important pitch of the young season, and a play that was instantly controversial, Fox didn’t show us the pitch from the camera angle that would have given us the clearest view?
Perhaps everyone associated with Fox was too emotional over the pending “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” reunion special to properly focus on their jobs. And perhaps if the network repeatedly showed such a replay, there would be no further second-guessing of Runge’s call.