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Biased umpiring?

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Biased umpiring?

Postby SirDunkALot » Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:51 am

Click

Thoughts?
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby J.C.Fighter » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:06 am

All I can say is WOW
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby ScarletP » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:06 am

Now now when I'm deciding whether to start a pitcher or leave him on the bench, not only do I have to look at opposing team's BA or the opposing pitcher or home/road splits, but I should also check to see if the umpire is the same race? :-o
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby Bloody Sox » Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:09 am

Interesting, it was hard to evaluate their conclusions without seeing the numbers. They say that umpires of the same race call "more" strikes, but how much is more? If you tell me that white umpires call 58.3% of pitches strikes for white pitchers, but only 58.2% for black pitchers and Hispanic pitchers, then that is a negligible difference that is more than swallowed up by margin of error. But if its a 5-6% difference, then that is kind of scary.

They also say that it is more predominant with white umpires... again, its tough to evaluate this claim without seeing the numbers. Not to mention that since there are MANY more white umpires and pitchers, you are getting a huge sample size of white umpires with white pitchers versus a much smaller sample size of any other combination - that could skew the numbers.

I found it interesting that they claim that when more closely monitored (with QuesTec) that the difference was much smaller... there was another thread here about QuesTec and some were arguing that it should not be used (not me - I like it) - this racial bias (along with a myriad of other human tendencies/biases) is exactly the type of thing QuesTec helps prevent.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby WharfRat » Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:16 am

I'm skeptical this means anything. We're talking about one questionable call per game, at most. These variations seem relatively tiny...
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby WharfRat » Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:17 am

By the way, here is a direct link to the study (PDF).
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby Bloody Sox » Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:57 am

They even explicitly state that the difference in the percentage of strikes called based on ethnicity is less than one pitch per game. This is hardly conclusive of a racial problem in MLB umpiring. I don't doubt for a second that the racial makeup of umpire/pitcher can affect calls, but that's only one of many factors... again, there's a human element at play. You have the age and experience of the pitcher, the reputation of the pitcher as wild/controlled, the specific situations (count, inning, park, weather, etc.). All those elements can and do affect an umpires accuracy. I'm sure how an umpire "feels" about a pitcher (based on past experience as well as race) is just another variable in that equation.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby WharfRat » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:00 pm

Bloody Sox wrote:They even explicitly state that the difference in the percentage of strikes called based on ethnicity is less than one pitch per game. This is hardly conclusive of a racial problem in MLB umpiring. I don't doubt for a second that the racial makeup of umpire/pitcher can affect calls, but that's only one of many factors... again, there's a human element at play. You have the age and experience of the pitcher, the reputation of the pitcher as wild/controlled, the specific situations (count, inning, park, weather, etc.). All those elements can and do affect an umpires accuracy. I'm sure how an umpire "feels" about a pitcher (based on past experience as well as race) is just another variable in that equation.


Well said. There are a zillion things I'd be more concerned about (like umps with wildly inconsistent strike zones) than any subconscious racism happening.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby buffalobillsrul2002 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:53 pm

I see a bunch of problems with this study.
First of all, the white pitchers get the most called strikes from all the umps, which means that they are just better control pitchers. So there's no bias towards white pitchers.

The only race you could make a case for is Asian pitchers, where the white umps call 1-2% more of their pitches strikes that do black or hispanic umpires. Again, I would doubt this is racially based, especially once we consider that their are only a couple thousand pitches to base the hispanic/black ump vs. asian pitcher in the data....
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby Secret Avatar » Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:38 pm

Gimme a break. This seems like an obvious ploy for a discrimination lawsuit or just another "study" by race advocates looking to score some points in the media. As someone already pointed out, there are absolutely no hard numbers supporting the finding of supposed discrimination. If the difference is miniscule or within the margin of error, the "study" is worthless on its face.

In addition, this "study" apparently did not take into account the race of the BATTER the pitcher was facing at the time of the call. This is a fatal flaw. What "bias" is there for a white ump to call a strike thrown by white pitcher to a white batter, or a ball from a "minority" pitcher to a minority player? In either case, the results of the "study" will reflect an increased bias on the call, but in reality there's no bias because the ump's fellow "white" hitter will be penalized (by the strike) and the minority hitter will benefit from the call being a ball. Without knowing which race the hitter was from, the "study" in meaningless.

The study also assumes that all pitchers are exactly the same in their approach to pitching. But it seems to be there are more older white "control" pitchers and more younger latin "power" pitchers right now, which would skew the results in favor of more called strikes by white pitchers without any bias at all.

What does the study define as a "minority" pitcher? In some cases, a pitcher is clearly white (Randy Johnson) or clearly a minority (Dontrelle), but what about guys like Andy Pettitte (who I believe is part Native American)? If Derek Jeter was a pitcher, what race would he be considered? Johnny Damon (he's half Thai)?

Also consider this doozy of a statement: "But, this behavior diminishes when the umpire's calls are more closely scrutinized—for example at ballparks with electronic monitoring systems, in full count situation where there are 3 balls or 2 strikes, or at well-attended games." Are they serious? These biased white umps actually consider how many people are attending the game before they indulge their racism? What about the tens of millions watching on TV? Do they count? This is too silly to take seriously.
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