How "Perfect" Was Philip Humber's Perfect Game?
You got a guy who is 29 years old and making a comeback from Tommy John surgery - and, to top it off, hasn't won a game this year. He throws a perfect game and nobody - and I mean nobody, including me - wants to put a damper on it. (Did I mention that his wife is nine months pregnant?)
All I want to know is: was the last pitch Philip Humber threw to Brendan Ryan actually a strike?
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.
But I can't make a final judgment because I don't have anything to go on. No matter how many times I saw it on ESPN last night, I can't make a clear call, even when I replayed it in slo-mo several times. You can't determine whether a checked swing is a swinging strike unless you have either the first base umpires' view or the view from the overhead cam.
I'm not suggesting that FoxNews, MLB, Humber's team, the Chicago White Sox, or the home team, the Seattle Mariners, are in some kind of conspiracy ...
No, to hell with that, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. 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?
Can it be that they know that Ryan successfully checked his swing, that the pitch should have been called ball four, that Runge blew the call, and that therefore Humber's perfect game is tainted?
That's what I think happened.
Saturday night I couldn't find a single replay that featured an overhead view. I still can't today. If anyone reading this can find one, I'd appreciate if they posted the evidence here.