Saturday, October 31, 2009
The Ref Rally-
About 25 fans showed up for our little anti-ref rally tonight. We lost 6 ppl to bad traffic but we had a great time holding our signs and chanting ref you suck to the crowds walking in. We even had a blind hockey ref join us- his sign said, "sorry about the bad calls!!" Thanks- Rich. I will post the videos asap.
The shirt ban-
After the rally, we headed for the Honda Center. What happened next it troubling. It seems that the security was asked to watch out for "ref you suck" shirts and not allow them inside. I AM TOTALLY SERIOUS (and have witnesses to prove it) We were asked to walk away from the line (about 20 ft away). A bunch of well dressed security guards surrounded us. At first I didn't understand what was happening- but one of the guards told us that "Ref You Suck" was now banned from the arena. "If they allowed "ref you suck" they would also have to allow "Carlyle you suck" or "Kings you suck" and King fans might wear "ducks you suck" (the whole time, I'm thinking ummm- those are lame ideas)
So my question is why the "new rule" ? We asked what they would do to the fans who chant "ref you suck"?? They said there is nothing they can do if the crowd says it. Now I'm really confused. You see, the refs can hear the chant but I really seriously doubt the refs are reading the shirts in the 400's. The so-called ban just pisses off some of their most loyal supporters/customers. Almost everyone who showed up to march were season seat holders. These are people who go to almost every game, spend tons of money on crappy food, over-priced draft beer, and $5 bags of popcorn (some of them even get the $8 zebra popcorn) My point is- why do they want to mess with some of their best customers? When we chant "REF YOU SUCK" it isn't anti-Ducks or anti-NHL. It is actually a chorus of massive support for a team who has been sucking ass (up until tonight) We also heard that security took Ref You Suck! stickers away from kids in line and trashed them. Who made this call?? I would love to know.
I hope this "ban" on a sport fans free speech pisses you off. I hope it makes you want to buy an extra shirt. I hope it makes you wear it under your jersey every time you go to the game- I know i will.
Honda Center You Suck!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
By DAVID BARRON Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Oct. 27, 2009, 12:10AM
Harry How Getty Images
Replays showed third base umpire Tim McClelland, right, missed two calls in Game 4 of the ALCS, one favoring each team.
Thanks to the trucks and trucks of hardware assembled by Fox Sports for its postseason baseball coverage, it took less than 10 seconds for the network to show viewers that umpires had blown a call on the basepaths during Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
But the error, and others, went uncorrected, and Major League Baseball’s limited policy on instant replay remains an issue for fans and viewers as the Yankees, who prevailed against the Twins and Angels in playoff series fraught with questionable calls, meet the Phillies in the World Series.For the men who will call the action on TV and radio, Joe Buck of Fox Sports and Jon Miller of ESPN, the problem has a solution. Baseball, they agree, would be well-served with a replay system similar to that of college football, where selected plays are reviewed by a replay official who has authority to overturn a call at his own behest or after a manager’s challenge. “Maybe, after an initial pushback, the umpires might like the safety net,” Buck said. “Nobody is perfect. I have people who help me and correct me. But at the end of the game, the question should be whether the call was correct. Then it doesn’t become the story we had (in the ALCS).”
Booth ideaMiller suggests positioning the two baseline umpires used during the playoffs in a replay booth, with the authority to contact the crew chief in case they agree calls need to be overturned. “You wouldn’t need to have meetings or anything,” he said. “It could happen very quickly, and you could do it just for the postseason. What they have now with the boundary calls is fine. Just do something a little more in-depth for the postseason. Why not?” Baseball’s replay system governs only “boundary calls,” such as determining whether balls went over the fence or hit atop the wall, whether potential home runs were fair or foul, and whether there was fan interference on potential homers. It has been used 54 times since its introduction in August 2008, and calls were overturned in 22 cases. That policy does not address three blown calls that involved baserunning issues during Game 4 of the ALCS or an error during the Twins-Yankees series that saw a ball in fair territory ruled foul. Not even the strongest proponents of expanded replay suggest the system include balls and strikes. But as Buck noted to viewers during Game 5 of the Yankees-Angels series, playoff errors that were uncorrected and unaddressed by the current policy have called MLB’s credibility into question. “There’s been such a sea change with regard to technology used covering these games, and with it has come a sea change with the way viewers watch games and what they expect and what they see,” Buck said. “This time of year, baseball risks losing some credibility with an audience that expects more with this new technology.” Network technology could be adapted for the task, certainly during the playoffs, when Fox has 15 cameras on hand for LCS games and will have 20 for the World Series. Some producers agree the eight-camera setups used during the regular season are adequate for replay purposes. “Anything is better than nothing,” said Mike Anastassiou, executive producer of Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Houston, which produces regular-season Rangers and Astros games. “Even with the complement that we have for Rangers and Astros games, I think we could be of great help.” FSH uses eight cameras for Astros games — two behind home plate, two in center field, one at the left-field foul pole, one on the third-base side and two on the first-base side.
Put cameras to useFor televised Big 12 college football games, which have camera angles monitored by the replay booth official, the network also uses eight cameras. For non-televised games, during which the camera feeds are provided for the sole purpose of replay, the network uses four cameras. Tim Scanlan, ESPN’s vice president of event production, said the network uses 14 cameras for Sunday Night Baseball and seven for other televised games, “and we’re still able to provide a second or third look that the umpire doesn’t have. We use the best possible location for the widest and tightest coverage.” ESPN’s camera angles also are available for replay officials at its college football games, and Scanlan said the network could provide a similar setup for baseball. “It seems to me we could easily do that,” he said. “It’s the number of games that are in question, and maybe it’s only a postseason enhancement.” Fox Sports president Ed Goren, meanwhile, said the network has no position on replay issues. “We televise the games,” Goren said. “When the NFL decided to put replay in, it wasn’t the networks going to the NFL. Whatever the rules of the game are is what they are. That is a baseball issue, and we leave it to the baseball people.” Even within broadcast booths, sentiment is not united on expanded replay. Tim McCarver, the veteran catcher who will call his 20th World Series on TV and his 12th for Fox, acknowledged that it has been a “dreadful” postseason for umpires but does not believe replay should be used to review out or safe calls. “Outside of (boundary calls),” he said, “I think the game should be left alone.” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who will work for Fox during the World Series, said Monday: “I think we have to trust the umpires. We cannot make this game a computer game. We have people out there that have jobs, and no matter what the call is, we have to respect that. Sometimes that’s good for baseball. Sometimes that makes people talk about baseball.” Miller, while acknowledging the value of limited replay options, also is cautious about subjecting too much of the game to review. “TV and radio are there to cover the game and not to be an official of the game,” he said. “I’m from the old school. The TV producers and directors are not trained officials of Major League Baseball or the NFL.”
Too blatant to ignoreStill, Miller said, blatant errors could be corrected with replay. “There’s an old bromide in umpiring that if you have to show a play over and over again and freeze the frames and show it from different angles and there’s still one angle that shows one thing and another angle shows it a different way, whatever the umpire called is right,” he said. “On these other calls, if a runner is diving back to second and he’s safe by a foot or a ball hits off the left fielder’s glove two feet in fair territory, you can use the replay for that. The guys (in the replay booth) can look on their own, and a manager is going to come out and complain about it anyway. Why not use that?” firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, October 25, 2009
October 25, 2009, 6:00AMThere's a human underneath that zebra shirt. He's more than a punching bag for irate football fans and conspiracy theorists during an October to forget for SEC officiating.
Meet Birmingham's Marc Curles.
He is a 41-year-old financial planner at Bridgeworth Financial in Mountain Brook. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech. He is the father of two daughters. He is a volunteer at a women's shelter. He is a member of Valleydale Church.
And he's the part-time SEC referee whose crew got suspended until Nov. 14 because of high-profile mistakes in each of its two games this month.
"It's been a rough week," Curles said. "Since (last) Saturday night, as soon as I saw the play in question on the DVD after the game, I knew then that the call was not a good one. It's been eating at me ever since."
Curles called a personal foul Oct. 17 on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter as No. 1 Florida rallied for a 23-20 victory. It was a football play, not an illegal hit, and clearly no penalty should have been called.
You can be ticked at Curles for blowing the call. You can question other calls, too - plays that Curles said he is not allowed by the SEC to comment on.
But what causes a person to seek out a football official away from the field?
How messed up -- my words, not Curles' -- do you have to be to take another human's error so personally?
Will it take bodily harm to a college football official before the sports world gets control of the dangerous fanaticism that surrounds officiating?
Curles said he has received between 75 and 100 negative e-mails and phone messages, some filled with profanity, at home and work since the Florida-Arkansas game.
"You should just quit. You're obviously paid off. The SEC set this up," Curles said of the themes from fans. "Some of it, when you think about it, is kind of comical because there are people who actually believe what they're saying. One or two people said, 'You better hope you never run into me on the street.' But nothing terribly threatening."
For the first time, the SEC publicly announced that officials had been suspended. Curles said it's not for him to say whether the suspension or the announcement was appropriate.
"I had a bad game," he said. "My regret is because of something I did, my whole crew is suffering because of it. We're out there as a team together and I've often said, 'Hey, if somebody misses one, we miss it as a crew.' I certainly buy into that concept. But I wouldn't have a problem if one of my guys on the crew worked a game while I was suspended."
It was Curles' crew -- not him, but another official -- that blew it by flagging Georgia's A.J. Green for excessive celebration against LSU on Oct. 3. In both games, officials performed a cardinal no-no by calling a penalty for something they thought they saw.
"We want to be perfect and when we have two straight games where we have an issue, it bothers us badly," Curles said. "A lot of it had to do with when it happened. If Georgia tackles the kick returner (after the Green penalty) instead of the kick returner returning it 45 yards, and if LSU doesn't score (the winning touchdown), that call is a non-issue.
"If the call that I made in the Florida game happens in the first quarter, that call is probably a non-issue. So there were a lot of things that fell into place for it to be as high profile as it was. It's terribly disappointing. Because I fully believe, and I know the masses would disagree with this, I think we have a very solid crew, a very good crew. Outside those two calls those two games, we had a very solid game for the most part."
Most of Curles' crew has been together for three years. Curles is in his fifth year in the SEC and has worked four bowl games and many high-profile SEC contests, such as Alabama-Georgia in 2008.
Curles said SEC coordinator of officials Rogers Redding, who was once suspended as an SEC official, has encouraged him to hang in there. If Curles is shaken by the past few weeks, he doesn't let on.
"I have no doubts about the crew, and I don't believe anybody else will either when we return," Curles said. "I think we will come back and be confident and we will put this behind us. We will learn from it, but we will put it behind us. We can't dwell on it."
Neither should SEC fans. By all means, demand excellence in officiating.
But there's a line that you don't cross.
"Fans are passionate about their teams, and I understand that," Curles said. "We always say we know we're in a fish bowl as officials, but this is really the first time it's been driven home."
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Video Killed the Officiating Star
Ask the umpiring team that is handling the American League Championship Series and blew two calls in Game 4 on Tuesday night. Ask the SEC football officials who were suspended on Wednesday. The crew was punished after the conference determined the crew was mistaken on Saturday in flagging an Arkansas player for a late hit on a Florida player. The call allowed Florida to continue its final touchdown drive in a game it won 23-20.
Ask the replacement NBA referees who whistled Sixers' Willie Green for a foul on Washington's Mike James on Tuesday night as James attempted a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer. The instant replay showed Green never touched James, who was given three free throws and won the game at the line.
Replay. It's become the new four-letter word to game officials.
"I'm just out there trying to do my job and do it the best I can," Tim McClelland told the media after the two erroneous calls he made Tuesday in the Yankees' win over the Angels. "Unfortunately, there was, by instant replay, two missed calls."
McClelland graduated to the big leagues in 1983 when he famously disallowed a George Brett home run because there was more than the allowed amount of pine tar on Brett's bat. He is largely considered the best umpire in baseball. But even the sharpest eyes and judgment in the game can't compete with technology, and they shouldn't have to.
We've been living with instant replay in this country for nearly half a century now, ever since the fourth quarter of the Dec. 7, 1963, Army-Navy Game. That was when CBS, encouraged by a director named Tony Verna, showed a one-yard touchdown run by Army's Rollie Stichweh for a second time immediately after it happened. It prompted CBS announcer Lindsey Nelson to famously tell the TV audience, "This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!"
That was one replay in one game of one play that was not up for question. At the Angels' stadium on Tuesday night, we witnessed several replays of two questionable calls captured by multiple cameras from myriad vantage points. The Zapruder film hasn't been dissected so much.
The Angels' fans in attendance saw the replays too on the stadium's giant TV screen. So did the umpire who erred, McClelland, and there was nothing he could do to correct his mistake. He was only left to look the rest of the night like the heel he isn't.
That's as unfair a punishment as the incorrect call is to the team that suffers it, and it is time to bring an end to it. If we can see it and it is wrong, then it should be corrected, plain, short and simple. What's wrong with recall? We're accustomed to it in politics and the car industry.
I don't want to hear anymore about how getting it right can be so wrong because it might take too long and slow down our games and take the human element out of the contests by diminishing the role of officials. We don't live like the Flintstones anymore; we live like the Jetsons, and the second edition of The Jetsons stopped being made over 20 years ago.
I don't want replay restricted to home run calls, which baseball started last season, or possession plays in football or buzzer-beaters in basketball. Leave judgment calls -- balls and strikes, pass interference, etc. -- out of consideration for review and leave everything else eligible for a second look. Bang-bang plays at first. Facemask pulls that aren't caught. If a couple guys in a booth can't figure it out in due time, let's turn to a few guys on a couch with a six-pack in front of a 52-inch HDTV with a remote control at the ready and a DVR. We're not talking about rocket science. We're talking about the innate ability to watch television. Hockey understands
When a replay is shown on a big screen and shows the official was wrong, but the game continues on as if nothing happened, we not only have a problem, we have something worse: fraud.
The time has long gone when bad calls are lore. Now bad calls are lies and the impact can be dramatic. After all, the SEC crew that got suspended for making a call that further video review showed was wrong may have influenced the bogus national championship game that the BCS gives us. Take away the score that resulted for Florida and all of a sudden the polls look different and another school is in line for the national title loot.
Most of us who simply watch games seem to be in favor of instant replay to correct mistakes, according to polls taken over the years like a small one taken recently byThe Los Angeles Times. It is management that more often wrestles with the notion, particularly that which represents officials.
"Not only is pace of game an issue but the continued expansion of replay potentially takes away from the spirit of the game," Lamell McMorris, chief negotiator for the World Umpires Association, told Bloomberg.com on Wednesday. "Part of the game is the potential for human error, not just from umpires, but players, that's part of the spirit of the game. It happens."
But with officials, it no longer has to.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Stern hopes regular refs ready to work
NEW YORK -- David Stern is pleased with the performance of his replacement referees, though ready for his regular staff to come back to work.
The NBA's referees union will vote Friday night on a contract proposal from the league. If they accept, as expected, the officials will be back in time for the opening of the regular season Tuesday night.
The league has used replacements, mostly from the NBA Development League and WNBA, during the lockout. Stern said the 62 backups have "responded very well" and predicted that many would referee NBA games again.
"We of course knew we have to provide them with extra support, coaching and training, but they've responded very well," Stern said during his preseason conference call. "We're very pleased with the effort, and we know you'll be seeing many of the people who you've seen on our court as future NBA referees.
"All of that said, we're looking forward to our regular referees ratifying the agreement that we reached and being on the court Tuesday," he said.
The contract between the league and the National Basketball Referees Association expired Sept. 1. The league decided to go with replacement officials after the referees rejected a deal the league said its negotiators had already agreed to.
That raised the possibility of the league starting the season with replacement officials for the first time since 1995. But progress was made in a meeting this week at league headquarters that included Stern, who had previously pulled out of the negotiations after referees lead negotiator Lamell McMorris criticized the commissioner's behavior.
Stern rejoined the talks this week at the request of the referees.
"It was always our intention to make a deal and our hope. I thought that perhaps the rhetoric had gotten a little bit too heated and it would be better for me to withdraw," Stern said. "But it was requested by the other side that I return and that they were coming in to make a deal and they asked me to be there, and I thought I owed them out of my respect to them to honor that request."
The referees' contracts have usually been for five years, but the NBA consented to a two-year deal at the request of the union, which hoped it could renegotiate sooner with the economy in better shape. The sides agreed on a salary structure that would give the refs a slight raise in the second year, but they remained apart on proposed changes to the referees' pension and severance packages, as well as a plan to develop younger officials.
The replacement officials were criticized for calling too many fouls, though the amount decreased later in the exhibition season, which ended Friday night.
"As the preseason went on, they were better," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "I don't think they were arrogant, or anything like that. They gave the explanations and they were doing the best they could.
"The first couple [games] were just foul after foul and call after call and there was no rhythm to the games," Adelman added. "After that, I thought it settled down fairly well. They just called things differently than the normal officials. They're pretty much going by the book."
Some of the replacements likely will get another chance. The current staff includes 17 referees who started as replacements during previous work stoppages.
Meyer says suspension was just
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer thinks the Southeastern Conference was right to suspend an officiating crew after its second controversial call of the year.
Referee Marc Curles' crew called a personal foul on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter as the Gators were rallying for a 23-20 victory last weekend. The league said Wednesday there was no video evidence to support the call.
The same group of officials called the LSU-Georgia game earlier this month, which included a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the league said shouldn't have been called.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the crew would be pulled from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and won't work again until Nov. 14. Bowl assignments could also be impacted.
"If that's the right thing to do, then they did it," Meyer said Thursday. "I don't know all the ins and outs ... [but] I have great confidence in the head dog."
Slive said the entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play, and said the suspension was necessary to maintain accountability among officials.
"Our institutions expect the highest level of officiating in all of our sports and it is the duty of the conference office to uphold that expectation," he said.
SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said it is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew in this type of situation, the only decision that Meyer questioned.
"Why would you do that?" he said. "I don't understand that part."
Later on Thursday Slive issued a public reprimand of Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino for publicly criticizing the officials earlier in the week.
"Coach Petrino has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics," Slive said in a statement. "SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from all public criticism of officials."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report
Thursday, October 22, 2009
CSKA MOSCOW V MANCHESTER UNITED
By Soccernet Staff
October 21, 2009
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has given short shrift to questioning about the FA charge he faces for criticising referee Alan Wiley's fitness.
Luzhniki Stadium: Artificial pitch holds no fear for visibly angry knight
But the 67-year-old was in no mood to answer questions on the subject and cut the conference short when it was raised.
"Silly question gets no answer," he said. "I'm not answering it."
Another reporter replied that "It's not a silly question", Ferguson then got up and left the room, saying only "Good night" as he stormed out.
Prior to that, Ferguson had said that he thinks CSKA Moscow's artificial pitch will help his team's playing style. United face CSKA in their Champions League Group B clash on Wednesday at the Luzhniki stadium where they memorably beat Chelsea on penalties to win the 2008 tournament.
"I watched CSKA's previous Champions League game and I didn't see any issue with it (the pitch) at all," Ferguson told a news conference on Tuesday. "It is a passing surface and we have good passers in our side. When (English league sides) Luton and QPR had them all those years ago we always played well on them.
"We had a great record at those artificial pitches and that was when the artificial pitches weren't as good. The one in Moscow has a far better covering on it.
Despite his confidence, Ferguson, who will be without the injured Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Park Ji-sung and Darren Fletcher, warned about the threat of the 2005 UEFA Cup winners. CSKA are third in Group B after following up their opening defeat at VfL Wolfsburg with victory at home to Besiktas.
"The Champions League for a few years now has had a tremendous amount of quality in it," Ferguson said. "I think the Russian teams in particular have improved a lot in the last few years thanks to big investment. There are a lot of Brazilian players in Russia now. So you can expect a difficult game there and it's a surface which we're not used to playing on."
Ferguson is hoping his United side, who won their opening two matches away to Besiktas and at home to VfL Wolfsburg, can book their place in the knockout stages. "We're in a strong position ourselves after winning our opening two games and, if we can navigate the back-to-back games against CSKA, we're through, I think," he said.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Crew removed from Oct. 31 game
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Southeastern Conference has suspended officials from last weekend's Arkansas-Florida game after the crew was involved in its second controversial call of the year.
Referee Marc Curles' crew called a personal foul on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter as the Gators were rallying for a 23-20 victory. The league said there was no video evidence to support the call.
Fish: Shouldering The Blame
Marc Curles, who blew the call in the Arkansas-Florida game, owns up to the boo-boo, writes Mike Fish. Story
The same group of officials called the LSU-Georgia game earlier this month, which included a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the league said shouldn't have been called.
"A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday. "I believe our officiating program is the best in the country. However, there are times when these actions must be taken."
SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said this is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew like this.
The SEC says the crew will be removed from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and will not be assigned to officiate as a crew until Nov. 14.
The league said the crew's bowl assignments could also be impacted.
"The entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play. I have taken this action because there must be accountability in our officiating program," Slive said. "Our institutions expect the highest level of officiating in all of our sports and it is the duty of the conference office to uphold that expectation."
By George Caulkin
Monday October 19 2009
MIKE JONES will be asked to explain himself to refereeing officials after being castigated for his performance at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The Cheshire-based referee failed to rule out Sunderland's winning goal against Liverpool after Darren Bent's shot was deflected off a beach ball that had been thrown from the crowd, in spite of consulting one of his assistants.
While Liverpool's complaints were muted after their underwhelming performance and a merited defeat, Jones has been told by senior refereeing officials that he made an error.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said only a "saddo" would be aware of a football rule that rarely comes into prominence, but Jeff Winter, a former referee, declared himself "absolutely stunned" that Jones allowed the goal.
"I am absolutely amazed that for a referee at that level of football, that between him, his assistant, the fourth official, they didn't see what had happened and give the correct decision," he said.
"I try to defend referees wherever possible knowing the problems they face but, on this particular occasion, everybody's having a laugh and a joke about it, but this is far more serious in terms of the laws of the game than when the referee doesn't see the ball go over the goalline.
"That is understandable with the pace of the modern game and being unsighted, but this is just basic law. An outside influence is any outside influence. It is anything other than the 22 maximum players on the field and the referee."
- George Caulkin
Three incorrect calls in Game 4 point to the definite need to expand instant replay
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- This was the worst umpiring performance at an Angels game since Leslie Nielsen in "The Naked Gun."
First, Dale Scott called New York's Nick Swisher safe when he was most definitely out on a pickoff play at second base in the fourth inning. Then, a few minutes later, Tim McClelland ruled Swisher out for leaving third base too soon after a fly out when it appeared otherwise. Worse, McClelland blew an obvious call on what should have been a double play at third base in the fifth inning. It was such a blatantly bad call that not even McClelland could say why he missed it, though Derek Jeter had the most likely explanation.
"Umpires are human. They make mistakes sometimes," Jeter said. "Umpires are trying their best. Sometimes you get calls and sometimes you don't. I don't think it had any effect on this game."
Jeter is correct that none of those plays affected the outcome. The Yankees blew out the Angels, and New York's 10-1 victory was rarely in doubt after Alex Rodriguez's two-run home run gave New York a 5-0 lead in the fifth. And yes, umpires are human and they make mistakes. And many of the "blown calls" are on plays so close that we recognize the mistaken call only after the fifth viewing in hi-def and ultra-slow-motion from the seventh camera angle.
The problem, however, has been the sheer volume of calls this postseason that range from the merely mistaken to the embarrassingly wrong.
In ascending order of error, there was the missed foul ball on Chase Utley's hit in the Phillies-Rockies series, C.B. Bucknor's "controversial" calls at first base in the Red Sox-Angels series, and Phil Cuzzi's call in the Yankees-Twins series when the left-field umpire somehow ruled Joe Mauer's drive that clearly hit fair was actually a foul ball -- and got no help from his crewmates.
And then there was Tuesday's fiasco.
First, Scott messed up the pickoff attempt on Swisher. Swisher clearly was out diving back into second base -- shortstop Erick Aybar's tag was right on his hand several inches in front of the bag -- but Scott called him safe. No matter. McClelland made up for it moments later when he called Swisher out for leaving too soon on a fly out to center fielder Torii Hunter.
"I said in my heart I thought he left too soon, but the replay showed that he didn't," McClelland acknowledged.
Consider those calls a wash -- Swisher should have been ruled out at second but instead was ruled out at third. McClelland's next call was just plain awful.
I said in my heart I thought [Nick Swisher] left too soon [on a fly ball], but the replay showed that he didn't.” -- Umpire Tim McClelland
With one out in the fifth, Jorge Posada was on third base and Robinson Cano was on second. Melky Cabrera hit a bouncer back to the mound. Darren Oliver fielded the ball and tossed it to catcher Mike Napoli, who chased Posada back to third base. Unfortunately for Posada, Cano had already reached third base. Napoli clearly tagged Cano when he was off third base and then tagged Posada, who also was standing off the base.
McClelland, however, did not see what everyone else in the park and watching on TV saw.
"I thought Cano was on the base," McClelland said. "I was waiting for two players to be on the base, and then there was never the situation where both of them were on the base at the same time. When [Napoli] tagged Cano, I thought Cano was on the base, and when [Napoli] tagged Posada out, I thought Posada was out.
"[The replay] showed that Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. I did not see that for whatever reason. So obviously there were two missed calls. Obviously or not obviously, but there were two missed calls. And I'm just out there trying to do my job and do it the best I can."
McClelland is one of the game's best umpires, but he had a very bad night. It happens. But it's happened too often this postseason, and the question is: What can be done to improve the situation?
First of all, umpires should be assigned to the postseason on the basis of merit. As it is now, various requirements that umpires can't work consecutive postseason series prohibit that. Those requirements should and probably will be changed this winter.
As McClelland demonstrated, however, having good umpires isn't always enough. Which is why another layer of replay needs to be added.
I generally do not favor increased instant replay. One, as Joe Girardi says, it will disrupt the game's flow and the flow is already glacial in the postseason. Secondly, replay almost always will wind up going against your team. How this is possible, I don't know, but that's just the way it is.
ALCS: ANGELS VS. YANKEES
Complete coverage of the Angels-Yankees matchup. More
Nonetheless, there should be a league official in a video booth who can quickly overrule an obvious mistake. I'm not talking about a bang-bang play at first base or a play at home that has to be rerun multiple times from multiple angles at various speeds before you know precisely what happened. I'm not even talking about calls like Tuesday night's on Swisher.
I'm talking about obvious plays like the Mauer ball down the line or the Posada-Cano tag play or the Jeffrey Maier home run ball that only make umpires look bad when they aren't overturned.
Think of this replay official not as a judge but as a friendly editor. I'm often saved from embarrassing errors by editors who correct a silly typo or clear up a brain fart by pointing out that it's Roy Halladay who pitches for Toronto and Matt Holliday who plays outfield for St. Louis. We all make mistakes like this occasionally and it's nice to have someone correct them before we look bad. That's all the replay official would be doing: Pointing out an obvious mistake before it causes any harm or embarrassment.
It would make sure the game is called as accurately as possible, which would benefit the teams and their fans. And it would also benefit the umpires. After all, wouldn't an ump rather have someone help him out by overturning a bad call rather than let him endure sleepless nights, hate mail and years of heckling from outraged fans?
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Yes, you read that right. The worst call of all time. Not just this postseason. Not this entire season. Not this decade. Not this century. I challenge you to think of one that was worse.
At this point, not even Kanye West could interrupt to suggest something worse after McClelland left the entire baseball universe shaking its head at his work during the Yankees' 10-1 victory over the Angels in Game 4 of the ALCS.
To recap: With one out in the top of the fifth inning, New York's Nick Swisher(notes) hit a ground ball back to Darren Oliver(notes). The Angels pitcher immediately threw home and Jorge Posada(notes) was caught in a rundown as he tried to score from third.
As catcher Mike Napoli(notes) chased Posada, Robinson Cano(notes) did the right thing and moved from second to third on the play. But when Napoli finally neared Posada at third, he noticed that Cano was — for some unknown reason — standing flatfooted a few feet off the base. Napoli alertly tagged Cano and then turned back to tag out Posada, who was experiencing a similar lapse of judgment on the other side of the bag and foul line.
In a few dumbfounding seconds, it looked like Cano and Posada had joined Dale Berra and Bobby Meacham on the short and embarrassing list of duos to be tagged out by the same defender. But McClelland, despite standing just a few feet away and having the entire debacle right in front of him, only ruled Posada was out. Cano was welcome to third.
Why McClelland possibly decided that Cano was safe despite not touching the bag until after being tagged is beyond this galaxy's rules of logic and it sent Angel Stadium into a bloodthirsty frenzy. There are simply no words for the ruling, other to say that one of the five other umpires should've offered his assistance, McClelland shouldn't ump another game in this series and that it's time for Bud Selig to stop being stubborn and expand the use of instant replay in baseball past disputed home run calls.
Simply put, this shouldn't be happening, especially only one day after it looked like the 2009 postseason had turned the corner with two superb endings in both LCS games.
Here's what McClelland had to say about the play after the game:
"After looking at replays, I'm not sure I believe the replay of the first one ... It showed that Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. I did not see that for whatever reason ... I'm just out there trying to do my job and do it the best I can."
That McClelland's mistake was minimized by the subsequent out by Melky Cabrera(notes) — the Yankees scored no runs off the snafu — is irrelevant. McClelland also made a big mistake in the fourth inning when he ruled that Swisher left third base early while attempting to score on a sacrifice fly. (Replays showed that he had not.)
But at least McClelland will have second base umpire Dale Scott as a partner in commiseration tonight, because Swisher was picked off at second earlier in the inning and shouldn't have even been at third. (That call, of course, was also blown.)
Almost makes you yearn for the foul line ineptitude of Phil Cuzzi, doesn't it?
The man signs thousands of autographs each year, has a t-shirt line, owns a gym and even has his own action figure. No it's not MLB umpire Tim McClelland, NBA ref Joey Crawford, NFL referee Ed Hochuli or boxing ref Joe Cortes. Most fans of those sports hate their big-name officials. Only in mixed martial arts could a guy like "Big" John McCarthy, the merchandising machine, reach popularity levels on par with some top 25 fighters. It's bizarre.
Big John was forced to walk away from his MMA reffing gig when he chose to collect a check from several promotions and media outlets. Now he wants back in and many states are saying there's no room. That includes his homestate California, where he has been re-licensed but wasn't assigned to UFC 104 in Los Angeles. Let the UFC conspiracy theorists howl. It's time for an investigation! Maybe it's time for another Twitter campaign to bring the big man back.
"McCarthy is a licensed referee in California and as such is on our regular rotation list for MMA refs," Dave Thornton, interim executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, wrote Sherdog. "McCarthy is assigned to a Strikeforce show in November in Fresno."
McCarthy rubbed some athletic commissioners the wrong way when he said the state MMA judging and officiating was horrible.
In even worse news, Big John will not be getting a Topps UFC trading card. Jeremy Fullerton from Topps broke the horrific news on the TapouT Radio Show. What the hell! Josh Rosenthal and Yves Lavigne got a card. Fullerton said the decision to give us fans the much coveted Big John card was out of his hands. When will the persecution stop?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
by DARREN DREGER
Twice in this young NHL season, we've seen goals scored after the puck bounced back into play off the netting.
The first occurred in a 3-2 Ottawa Senators overtime win over the New York Islanders on October 8.
The puck hit the netting behind the Islanders goal. Both teams seemed to pause, expecting a whistle that never came.
And Ottawa rookie Peter Regin scored 11 seconds later.
A week later at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the puck bounced off the netting, dropped behind the net where Andrei Kostitsyn found it and then fed Tomas Plekanec in a seven-second sequence in the third period that tied the game at two. Montreal eventually lost to Colorado 3-2 in regulation time.
Now pucks going off netting is not subject to video review, but a surprisingly high number of general managers believe they should be.
Of the 21 general managers who responded to the question asking whether video review should be used to determine whether the puck has come in contact with the netting prior to a goal being scored, 11 voted in favour of a review.
One proponent of video review said, "We can't have the defensive team stop playing for a second or two while the offensive team continues to play resulting in a goal. You would hate to lose a game on a non call. I'm okay if we agree to continue play if the puck hits the netting, but we must decide one way or the other. With current rules, we must check to see if the puck did hit the netting."
An opponent of reviews said he didn't want to expand what can be reviewed, "Because icing and offsides would be next. They cause twenty more times the problem than this relatively isolated play." The general manager said he asked his players if they would want the circumstance subject to video review and they said no.
NHL hockey operations says the agenda for next month's general managers meeting hasn't been established, but based on the response from general managers and the split vote, it's hard to imagine there won't be discussion on the latest target for video review.
Monday, October 19, 2009
PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS
Sir Alex fears being made an example of
By Harry Harris and Soccernet staff
October 19, 2009
Sir Alex Ferguson's camp claims that the Manchester United boss might be unable to gain a "fair hearing" from the Football Association over his attack on referee Alan Wiley. He was officially charged with improper conduct by the FA on Monday over the comments made after the draw with Sunderland.
Sir Alex Ferguson: Set to be charged
Sir Alex had until Friday to deliver a written explanation of his remarks about the official. ESPN Soccernet has been told that despite three apologies, the first on the United official website, the second in a letter to the FA and a third he is ready to make direct to Wiley, the FA felt there was no choice but to charge him.
The comments came in an ESPN interview with Rebecca Lowe after Manchester United and Sunderland drew 2-2 at Old Trafford, with Sir Alex furious over Wiley's fitness.
"The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. He was not fit. It is an indictment of our game," said Ferguson. "You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher's dogs. We have some who are fit. He wasn't fit."
Sir Alex , who flies out to Russia with United on Monday for Champions League action on Wednesday tea-time against CSKA Moscow, will have the statutory 14 days to respond before the FA sort out a date for a hearing.
The FA said in a statement: "Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been charged with improper conduct.
"The charge relates to media comments made by Ferguson about referee Alan Wiley following United's match against Sunderland at Old Trafford on October 3. He has until November 3 to respond to the charge.''
Ferguson apologised to Wiley a week after making the remarks having concluded his attack was ill-judged. He said then: "I apologise to Mr Wiley for any personal embarrassment that my remarks may have caused and to the FA for going public with my views.
"I would wish it to be noted that I have always respected Mr Wiley's integrity and that I did not state or imply that Mr Wiley is a bad referee, that he was in any way biased, that decision-making generally during the game was poor, or that he missed any key incident during the game.
"My only intention in speaking publicly was to highlight what I believe to be a serious and important issue in the game, namely that the fitness levels of referees must match the ever increasing demands of the modern game, which I hope will now be properly addressed through the appropriate formal channels.''
A source close to Sir Alex told ESPN Socccernet: "I don't believe Sir Alex can now get a fair hearing. The Referees' Association has been putting undue pressure on the FA demanding that they inflict severe punishment against him.
"Yet it is unprecedented for any manager to receive a touchline ban for making post-match press comments."
But with new rules on comments about match officials and the FA's tough stance on the Respect campaign, there are growing fears in Sir Alex's camp that they will have to make an example of someone - irrespective of their status in the game.
The source added: "It will be at the discretion of the commission to decide the punishment, so anything is possible, but talk of a five-game ban is just ludicrous."
If there is any draconian punishment, then Sir Alex is sure to appeal, and the United manager has the full backing of his union, the League Managers' Association.
ESPN Soccernet has been told that the LMA and PFA are now engaged in monthly summit meetings with the referees and FA, to remove the chasm that exists between mangers and officials
After the incident with Sir Alex, the wider issues of referees' fitness and indeed their overall competence is now back on the agenda.
Sir Alex's criticism of Wiley's fitness levels has reopened a debate surrounding managers' deep concerns over the standard of refereeing in this country.
The LMA have taken the opportunity of Sir Alex's outspoken attack to insist that a long list of recommendations they issued back in March need to be implemented to improve standards of refereeing overall.
Friday, October 16, 2009
NBA slaps fine on Grizzlies' Hollins
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for comments about officiating made earlier this week.
The comments came after his team's 102-83 loss to Orlando on Monday night and came when someone asked the Memphis coach about rookie Hasheem Thabeet's time on the court with Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard.
Charlotte coach Larry Brown was also fined on Wednesday by the league. He was hit for $60,000 and the Bobcats organization another $60,000 after Brown was ejected from an exhibition game.
Hollins said Wednesday night before the Grizzlies game against the Atlanta Hawks that his comments were taken out of context and were intended to be sarcastic towards a questioner asking to compare the play of a rookie against a player the stature of Howard.
"It was not even directed at the officials," Hollins said. "But, I was quoted, and I have to pay the consequences."
The coach noted that his team was down throughout the game, and believes calls usually even out. He couldn't recall being fined before, particularly as a coach, and the scenario of a preseason game and his team not playing well didn't warrant him criticizing officials Monday.
"I've never had any issues with officiating," Hollins said. "I didn't have any issues in this particular game with officiating. We were down 20 points at the end of the game. I had some issues with some of our players and their efforts at times, and their execution."
The league currently is using replacement officials because of a lockout of the league's regular referees. The replacement group has been under scrutiny to see if they can measure up to the locked out officials.
The league doesn't allow criticism of officials anytime and routinely hands out fine for such comments. That policy was reinforced before the preseason schedule when the replacements took the floor.
While acknowledging he said it, Hollins said the comments were not intended to cast a bad light on the officials in the Orlando game.
As for the fine, "It hurts," Hollins said with a chuckle. "I don't like to lose money at all. I hope they take it in installments."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA has fined Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown $60,000 for his actions surrounding his ejection from an exhibition game on Monday.
The NBA fined the Bobcats an additional $60,000 on Wednesday.
Brown was hit with two technical fouls by replacement referee Kevin Scott, then lingered on the court after being ejected in the third quarter. Scott called for security before Brown left for the locker room on his own accord.
The NBA fined Brown $35,000 for verbally abusing game officials and failing to leave the court in a timely manner. He was fined another $25,000 for publicly criticizing the referees.
The preseason incident is one of several involving replacement officials. The NBA has locked out the regular officials in a labor dispute.
The Bobcats also learned they will be without guard Ronald "Flip" Murray for the remainder of the preseason because of a left shin injury.
Murray was examined Wednesday and team doctor Glenn Perry determined Murray shows early signs of a stress reaction. The team has provided no timetable for his return.
Murray began experiencing pain in the last few days. He missed Monday's preseason loss to Atlanta and did not practice Tuesday.
The Bobcats signed the veteran just before the start of training camp and expect him to serve as a scoring shooting guard off the bench and a backup point guard.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report
Magic, Van Gundy fined $35,000
NEW YORK -- The Orlando Magic and coach Stan Van Gundy have been fined $35,000 each for his criticism of referees earlier in the week.
The fines were announced Friday, a day after Van Gundy's comments about the replacement officials were published.
Van Gundy became the third coach in three days to be fined. The Charlotte Bobcats and coach Larry Brown were each fined $60,000 on Wednesday for Brown's verbal abuse of officials and refusal to leave the court in timely manner after he was ejected during a preseason game, and his subsequent postgame criticism.
Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was also penalized $25,000 on Wednesday for his critical comments.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
By Soccernet staff
October 12, 2009
Sir Alex Ferguson's apology to Alan Wiley has been described as "half-hearted" by Alan Leighton, the national secretary of the union Prospect that represents match officials.
Sir Alex Ferguson watches his side play Sunderland.
Ferguson has courted controversy following a personal attack on Wiley that came after a 2-2 draw with Sunderland on October 3. Speaking on ESPN, the Manchester United manager accused the referee of not being fit enough and needing a rest during the game.
It has been reported that Ferguson's criticism forced Wiley to consider his future in the game and the United boss issued an apology after being contacted by the Football Association to explain his contentious comments.
His contrition has not satisfied Prospect though, who have already threatened legal action if the FA does not impose a satisfactory punishment. Instead of drawing a line under the row, they claim Ferguson's apology has broadened the argument by appearing to indicate that the fitness of all referees is a concern.
"I think it's a half-hearted apology at best really, and it probably exacerbates the position, rather than resolving it," Leighton told BBC Radio Five Live.
"He clearly hasn't retracted the statement about Alan being unfit so it's not an apology for the main offence caused - and then he widens it to question the fitness of other referees, so he seems to be opening another can of worms which I don't think is very helpful at all.
"Referees are very fit...they have sports scientists who test them regularly throughout the season. They don't just pass a fitness test at the start of the season. Their body fats and BMI are regularly monitored, there are get-togethers every two or three weeks where they are put through extensive training and testing.
"I think the punishment should be a UEFA-type coaching ban, which is rather more than a touchline ban. Referees always accept decisions are going to be pored over - they have no problem with legitimate criticism.
"What's problematic is when the integrity and key components of refereeing are being questioned in a totally unwarranted and unfounded way - and we will defend our members when they are.''
The passage in Ferguson's apology that appears to have angered Prospect read: "My only intention in speaking publicly, was to highlight what I believe to be a serious and important issue in the game, namely that the fitness levels of referees must match the ever increasing demands of the modern game, which I hope will now be properly addressed through the appropriate formal channels."
Dean: Refs got call wrong vs. Huskies
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona wide receiver Delashaun Dean says he will never wear those football shoes again, not after that weird play in Seattle.
Nick Foles' short pass under duress bounced off Dean's size 14½ shoe -- and, the receiver insists, hit the ground -- then Washington's Mason Foster grabbed it out of the air and ran 37 yards with 2:37 left for what proved to be the winning touchdown in the Huskies' 36-33 victory.
ESPN.com's Ted Miller writes about all things Pac-10 in his conference blog.
"I felt it graze my foot, but the way the ball bounced up, it would have hit my foot a lot harder," Dean said. "I figured it had to hit the ground, then after seeing the pictures you could actually see the black beads from the turf jump up when the ball hit the ground. It's pretty obvious when you look at it. I don't know how it got missed."
The play was on display on several Web sites Monday, and from one replay angle, captured in stop action, the ball appeared to hit the ground.
Mike Stoops, as emotional as coaches get on the sideline, said he was resigned to the non-call.
"They are what they call," he said at his Monday news conference. "You guys know how frustrated I get, but that's just part of it. It's not going to change. There's nothing you can do about it now. It is what it is. You just live with it and go on."
Foles, a redshirt sophomore who completed 39-of-53 passes for 384 yards and a touchdown in his second start, has had a hard time living with the outcome. He threw two interceptions in the game -- the goofy one and another on a desperation pass at the finish.
"It's sort of hard to sleep," he said. "I keep replaying the game in my head a billion times."
Arizona had a 33-21 lead with less than three minutes to play in Seattle before Washington scored two touchdowns in a span of 18 seconds.
After the subsequent kickoff, Foles went to the line of scrimmage on first down and saw the Huskies packed in to stop the run. He decided to throw the short pass to Dean, a play that had worked all night.
"All we needed was like a first down and we could seal the game," Foles said.
But this time, he said, a linebacker got in his line of vision "and made me throw a bad ball."
"It was probably a bad decision by me," Foles said. "... I was just trying to throw it low. If he caught it, he caught it. If not, it's an incomplete pass."
Did he think the ball touched the ground?
"I don't know," Foles said. "I thought it did when I looked at it, but it's one of those things where the ref's got to make a call. I guess they didn't have enough evidence to overturn it. It's a tough break, a weird bounce and we just have to move forward."
It was an odd end to a trip that got off to a strange start when starting defensive tackle Earl Mitchell got knocked in the head when someone quickly opened a door to the baseball office in the hallway of McKale Center on Friday morning. Mitchell required a few stitches above his eye and did not make the trip to Seattle that afternoon.
He said he expects to play this Saturday against Stanford in the first of three straight Pac-10 home games for the Wildcats.
Stoops thought the referees wrongly overturned a fumble call that Arizona recovered earlier in the game and that the timekeeper was slow in turning on the clock several times. What does he think of replay reviews now?
"I think it probably evens out. That's what they say, 'Life always evens itself out.' That's what you hope," Stoops said. "I don't know. It helped Washington. It's funny how it evened out very quickly, you know what I'm saying."
Stoops talked about things the Wildcats could have controlled. They made eight trips to the red zone but settled for field goals four times. Then there were two crucial personal fouls, the second on Vuna Tuihalamaka moved the ball from the Arizona 40 to the 25, setting up Locker's TD pass that cut the lead to five.
Still, the outcome gnawed on the Arizona coach.
"We played awfully well in that game," Stoops said. "We played good enough to win."