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Biased umpiring?

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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby AdvRider » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:10 pm

Poorly reported story. Maybe the full report answers obvious questions like race of batter and provides detailed statistical breakdowns (don’t have time to read it). Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if the results have some validity.

But I don’t believe it has anything to do with racial discrimination. It may rather be just a manifestation of a subconscious “birds of a feather flock together” mentality that seems natural in mankind and nature at large.

This reminds me of a fascinating little story about the filming of the original “Planet of the Apes” film in I think 1968. I saw this in a documentary about the Planet of the Apes series … Discovery Channel, might have been.

Anyway, there are three kinds of apes in Planet of the Apes -– gorilla, chimpanzee, and orangutan. The actors playing those parts remained in costume all day. Over time, film personnel noticed a weird phenomenon at lunchtime:

The orangutans sat with the orangutans. The chimpanzees sat with the chimpanzees. And the gorillas sat with the gorillas.

Would those same actors have sat with each other if they were not in costume?

Think about it. To me it’s pretty telling of subconscious human nature.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:10 pm

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


Actually, they aren't that tiny; or perhaps the better way of saying it is that even relatively small effects oin a pitch by pitch basis add up to a lot over the course of a season. The effect is large enough to generate a 2-3 win difference for a team over the course of a season and about a $1,000,000 difference in salary per year.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:12 pm

buffalobillsrul2002 wrote: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....


Could be that ALL umpires are biased towards white pitchers, only white umps are MORE biased.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:21 pm

Secret Avatar wrote: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.


Seems to me a lot of people are pretty eager to deny the results without even reading the study. They DO control for hitter's race (see page 17 of the study). Furthermore, they do control for things like pitcher's age and experience, specific parks, counts, etc. One of several ways that they do this is by using "fixed effects", a statistical method which essentially controls for these factors, including the pitcher's "type" and their particular "ethnicity/race". Effectively, this measure includes a variable for each individual pitcher, so effectively you are controlling for the fact that Andy Pettite is pitching, including all the things that make Andy Andy.

I think your bias is showing when you automatically conclude it's too silly to take seriously, when you clearly haven'teven read it carefully or understood the methods. I don't think it's silly at all to think that umps may be less biased when their behavior is being watched more carefully. Do you behave exactly the same way when your behavior is being monitored more closely? Do you drive more carefully when a police car is right behind you? Seems to me that's a pretty universal human behavior.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:13 am

AdvRider wrote:Think about it. To me it’s pretty telling of subconscious human nature.


Isn't civilization all about resisting some of those baser aspects of human nature in pursuit of higher ideals?

Racism is often about those subconcious behaviors. Just because it's "natural" in some sense doesn't mean that it's not racism, unless you think that people are incapable of resisting those impulses.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby IllinoisBandit » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:44 pm

An example of what happens when non-scientists try to draw scientific conclusions.
This study is absolutely ridiculous. Please tell me this was not someone's dissertation and actually earned a PhD from this garbage.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:00 am

IllinoisBandit wrote:An example of what happens when non-scientists try to draw scientific conclusions.
This study is absolutely ridiculous. Please tell me this was not someone's dissertation and actually earned a PhD from this garbage.


One of the authors, Dan Hamermesh is an outstanding economist, holding an endowed chair at UTAustin. Two of the others already have their PhDs.

Did you even read the paper?

What's the term they use for judging something as garbage before even looking at it? Oh, yeah, prejudice.

It really amazes me that people cannot even look at this research without jerking their knee so hard they give themselves a concussion. Take a step back and put your biases aside. Every one of the criticisms that people have offered so far are unfounded, but that's not surprising because people aren't even bothering to read the paper. People are so eager to deny that things lie this happen, that they won't even approach a paper like this with a reasonably open and objective mind.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby IllinoisBandit » Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:01 pm

Ya, I read it. I think it's bogus. I really don't feel like spending the time to debate it, but I really think it's a bunch of statistical nonsense - "searching" for statistically significant differences.

My favorite graph:
Image

So... umpires have a bias during most of the at bat for their race and then reverse their bias when there are two strikes.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby Yoda » Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:39 pm

I think there is some validity to the study. Racism exists everywhere whether people want to admit it or not.
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Re: Biased umpiring?

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:00 pm

IllinoisBandit wrote:Ya, I read it. I think it's bogus. I really don't feel like spending the time to debate it, but I really think it's a bunch of statistical nonsense - "searching" for statistically significant differences.

My favorite graph:
Image

So... umpires have a bias during most of the at bat for their race and then reverse their bias when there are two strikes.


Seems to me to be pretty much as the authors explain it in the text and consistent with other studies of human behavior. When you are being closely monitored (followed by a police car in my example or Questec in the paper) or when you are in situations where you are conciously aware that your decision impacts the outcome (as in when there are two strikes) you conciously focus on making sure you try not to be biased. You bend over backwards to be fair, maybe even to the point where you reverse your bias, when you are either monitored by others or are consciously tryingto monitor your own behavior. But, in those situations where you allow your subconscious tendencies to rule, you tend to favor your bias.

And the net result, as they show, is that black pitchers are disadvantaged.
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