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Bruce Dowbiggin

MLB: Go Virtual Or Go Home

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The MLB season is just two weeks old, and already baseball’s pig-headed decision not to use virtual technology to call balls/ strikes is looking like a massive blunder. While it jimmied with the DH rules and promised to use a pitch clock next season, MLB leaves the single greatest threat to the sport’s integrity unchanged.

A prime example was Saturday’s Oakland/ Toronto game where veteran umpire Jeff Nelson altered the outcome with his ball/ strike calls. According to Ump Scorecards, Nelson got just 86 percent of his calls correct. Eighteen of his 56 called strikes were actually balls. This produced +1.41 run advantage for Oakland, which won the game 7-5.

Worse, Nelson (who is rated 72nd of 74 MLB umpires) ejected Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoya for pointing out that Nelson was altering the game with his calls. His 86 percent accuracy was the worst on a day when other umps ranged from 90 to 97 percent accuracy. Run advantages ranged from Nelson’s abysmal 1.41 to 1.14 to 0.87 to 0.05.

In the past these numbers were unavailable, but with new technology and bettors looking for edges anyone can see MLB falling short. Especially when there is a clear alternative that will deliver equal results to bathe teams. As we wrote last October, the time has come to go virtual.

“There is power in sports. And then there is umpire power. As we have seen in the 2021 postseason, the ability of a single umpire behind home to shape an outcome is tremendous. That authority comes from the century before hi-tech allowed TV broadcasters to show a virtual strike zone on screen.

If the ump called it a strike, it was a strike. Despite volcanic eruptions from mangers liker Earl Weaver and generations of players blowing off steam there was no recourse. Eventually players were forced to put their bat on their shoulder and walk back to the dugout. Or to the clubhouse, if their tantrum got them tossed from the game.

Rarely was an umpire publicly fired. (Unless it was Dave Pallone who was apparently canned for being gay and upsetting Pete Rose in the days when Rose was an MLB big shot. Certainly none of them were held to any standard in terms of fitness.)

Now, however, the fan can see the virtual strike zone. And can see that an umpire like Laz Diaz, who was behind home plate for the Astros 9-2 win over the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2021 ALCS,  needs to be cashiered. This allows reporter/ author Jeff Passan to tweet:

@jeffpassan Home-plate umpire Laz Diaz has missed 21 ball-strike calls tonight, according to @ESPNStatsInfo. That is the most of any umpire this postseason. The green dot in the upper RH corner is the Eovaldi curveball that would’ve ended top of the ninth with the score 2-2.

The game was no exception for Diaz. As our friends at @umpscorecards show that Diaz missed almost ten percent of his ball/strike calls on average during the season (91.9%). One game he called only 87.6 percent of calls correctly.

Which is not to single out Diaz. For instance, Angel Hernandez missed 356 of the 4833 pitches he called this season for 92.6% accuracy. Brian O’Nora (91.8% accuracy), Jerry Meals (93%), Rob Drake (92.1%), CB Buckner (92.7%) Doug Eddings (92.6%), Larry Vanover (92.5%), Ron Kulpa (91.8%)  and the legend Joe West (92.2%) are among the many who leave something to be desired. (We highly recommend following this detailed site if you are a fan or a bettor.)

While the average ball/ strike accuracy in the wider echelon of umpires hovers in the 92-95 percent range, even the best umpires have single games where their accuracy is in the mid-to-high 80s. Were those games that decided playoff spots? Division titles? Pitchers/ batters getting bonuses? Why did MLB not enforce a higher standard?

Look, 92-95 percent for the human eye in a stressful situation where 50,000 people are screaming at you is an impressive stat. And the umpiring today is scrutinized heavily by MLB for patterns that might produce betting scandals. There’s no doubt that the ball/ strike calling is vastly improved from the day when there were “pitchers’ umps” and “hitters’ umps”.

But the virtual stroke zone shows MLB can have 100 percent accuracy to a defined strike zone. Not to put @umpscorecards out of work, but with a virtual strike zone MLB has the power to remove doubt about the strike zone, end arguments and conspiracies about certain umps and make the games move faster.

One only need look at the Hawkeye system at work now in tennis for calling lines. The days of John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors going ballistic over a line call have magically ended as the computer unequivocally demonstrates that a ball is in or out. The sideshow of rage has now become a shrug of the shoulders as the affected player moves on to the next point, angry at themselves, not the chair umpire or line official.

So why doesn’t MLB use the tech they’ve got? Some suggest they’re leery of upsetting the influential umpires union who guard their privilege zealously, even in the face of some completely useless colleagues. Other still hold with the dinosaurs who say the virtual strike zone is inaccurate or can move unexpectedly.

This just in: Even if the virtual strike zone is off an inch or two it’s the same standard for both pitchers and all hitters. There’s also no need to put people out of work. The home-plate ump can still make calls on foul tips, swinging strikes, plays at the plate and the running of the game. Enough already.”

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

CTV: Thanks For Everything, Lisa. Not Really. Just Leave

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In 2015, actress Amy Schumer did a skit that lampooned women aging in Hollywood. In it Schumer comes upon Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey having a picnic in the woods. Schumer discovers that they’re celebrating Louis-Deyfus’ last day as a “f-able” actress in Hollywood.

It’s that momentous occasion when Hollywood decides “you’re not believably f–kable anymore,” explains Louis-Dreyfus. “You know how Sally Field was Tom Hanks‘ love interest in Punchline, and then, like 20 minutes later, she was his mom in Forrest Gump?” Fey says. Signs of being “un-f-able” any longer are arriving on-set to find that your wardrobe is just a bunch of long sweaters. Or — the clincher — auditioning for Mrs. Claus.

Lisa LaFlamme knows that feeling. She got the long sweaters six weeks ago. The award-winning 58-year-old went from the top news reader at CTV News to “the woman who preceded Omar Sachedina” in about 20 minutes. Worse, the CTV heavy thinkers informed her to keep it under her hat for about six weeks.

No Lloyd Robertson adios. No Craig Oliver long goodbye. Just, don’t let the studio door hit you on the way out. Nice. As double standards go this was a brutal.

Rumours abound as to why the CTV News chiefs and their Bell bosses made the move against the highly rated bingo caller. Likely they looked at demographics. Saw Lisa was boffo with Boomers, but Gen X and Millennials didn’t know her from Sally Field. Then she let her hair go grey. Worse, she was an unrepentantly white birthing person.

Bell is headed more in the direction of black TSN sportscaster Kayla Grey, who turns to social media to confess she’s “fearful” reporting stories about this week’s World Men’s Junior Hockey Championships. Kayla’s worried doing her job objectively will bring her scorn . “I feel icky and gross,” she laments, her heart breaking with each “he shoots, he scores” she’s forced to utter. You can’t make this stuff up.

So hellllo, Omar. Who may not be well known beyond family and friends, but at least he’s not white, icky or gross. And so CTV went ESG to fix a problem they don’t have. The Globe & Mail reported that “CTV National News ratings have fallen slightly this year on a month-over-month basis, from numbers consistently over one million viewers from January through March, to average minute audiences above 900,000 throughout April, and above 800,000 from May through early August.” But they crush CBC.

Cruel firings are not unknown in broadcasting. Anyone in the business long enough has a horror story about a frog-march with the box of possessions at 9:30 A.M.— escorted by security. It was just thought that someone with LaFlamme’s pedigree would at least get a consolation prize and a lunch. Guess not.

It was also believed that, being a good liberal woman, LaFlamme had also built up enough Woke credits to avoid the Paths of Glory ending. But as we wrote after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September of 2020, white liberal women are discovering that all their loyalty to Justin Trudeau and Hillary Clinton has only bought them a bitter cup of regret and dissatisfaction.

“How did this dissatisfaction occur? The second wave of feminists made common cause with the diversity left-wing, meaning victimhood first, last and always. So the movement went from the joys of bra-burning, sexual freedom and a hedonistic script to the tedious chore of finding oppression in every corner of their personal and professional lives. (See: Anita Hill)

They found disappointment in men’s cavalier response to their new sexual liberation— epitomized by Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” and Bill Clinton’s libertine hooks-ups. Available women found themselves disposable women in the free-for-all of sexual freedom. In changing the standard sexual permission from No to Yes, it told men that a woman now had to explain why she was not obliging when sex was in the offing.

Free abortion meant no lingering responsibility for men. If you believe Christine Blasey Ford, it left women broken 30 years later. As Erica Jong defined it— the zipless fuck.

Author Heather Mac Donald describes in her book The Diversity Delusion how women have now, in response, retreated from the hedonistic Sex In The City of the 1970s and 80s to Victorian standards for ceding sexual permission to men. “Liberated” feminists are now assigning men all the responsibility— and hence blame—  for any sexual encounters gone wrong. “So get drunk, spend the night with a stranger, have a relationship end badly— none of it is the fault of the “modern” woman.,” writes Mac Donald.

That abdication of women’s responsibility, says author Camille Paglia, extends to the politics of the office. “What troubles me about the ‘hostile workplace’ category of sexual harassment policy is that women are being returned to their former status of delicate flowers who must be protected from assault by male lechers.” writes Paglia. “Women infantilize themselves when they cede responsibility for sexual encounters to men or after-the-fact grievance committees”.  

Worse, having joined Team Victim, women have discovered that while they may gain equality with men, they have been placed miles behind other grievance groups in the Woke hit parade. While a women must, in Hillary Clinton’s words, always be believed in any “he said/ she said”, this blanket exemption does not apply when a white women is in conflict with many other political flavours of the day. In the wrong equation even devoted feminists can find themselves accused of white privilege or cultural appropriation. 

And, if you’re a conservative woman, you’re placed at the back on virtually every pecking order in the political sphere. So, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s accomplishments are lionized it will be measured against the impact on women who’ve allowed the radical wing of feminism to make them more like Margaret Atwood’s  Handmaid’s Tale than Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman.”

So far, 4.3 million people watched LaFlamme’s online goodbye. Maybe that will bring her comfort— even if it doesn’t bring back her job.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft YearsIn NHL History, , his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book of by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Find This Beautiful? It Probably Depends On How You Vote

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Today’s children are 30% less aerobically fit than their parents were at their age, a new study (has) found. The study points to climate change and rising temperatures adversely affecting childhood obesity, as children spend less time exercising outdoors.— CBS News

Nice that CBS cares about obesity. Predicably, they tie it to their pet obsession of climate change. Just another indication that even when something deserves attention it must be tortured beyond all logic by the credentialed cliques.

For proof how far this can go look only to Friday’s release by the U.S. Center For Disease Control that announced— Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!—non-vaccinated people should have the same protocols as vaccinated people. Kids can stay in classes after being exposed to the virus. And screening is no longer necessary for this without symptoms.

The admission that non-vaxxed are not the scourge of society or students not a vector for infection would have had you fired from your job by Justin Trudeau or banned from social media giants just a year ago. Today? Meh. Those waiting for apologies or getting their job back had better get a chair. Could be a while.

But social stigmatizing of the unclean has become routine in the age of 21 genders and travel bans. Debunking centuries of Judea-Christian learning and tradition is a party game for the Stephen Colbert set. (Remember when comedians made jokes, not lists of those to be cast into hell?)

Which brings us back to obesity. In May we noted that, far from it being a problem, it was now body affirming when practiced by the correct people. Even if obese people constituted the largest risk group for Covid-19.

“The notion of what constitutes a beautiful body is in the news again as Sports Illustrated featured plus-sized model Yumi Nu on the cover of its annual swimsuit edition. The swimsuit edition is the annual display of beautiful female bodies that traditionally sent nuns and librarians into a censorship fury worthy of Twitter. (And found its way between the mattresses of teenaged boys.)

In what is clearly Woke symbolism, Time Warner’s magazine is attempting to placate  another stigmatized group— plus-sized women— by displaying Nu in all her rounded beauty. “See, it’s normal to be wearing XXX-sized clothing” is the message.

Canadian author/ psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson spoke for those not amused by SI’s project: “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that. It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better.”

But there was a cascade of approval for SI’s choice, recognizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many found Nu stunning and sexy. Feminists applauded her acceptance of bodaciousness.  Fair enough.

Two quibbles. One small and the other massive. First— this will be lost on feminists— the SI Swimsuit edition was created in the 1960s to defeat a stereotype that fit sportswomen were tomboys, unattractive and vaguely butch. In their own way, the early SI models destroyed those stereotypes. They convinced women that muscles aren’t a bringdown.

The more significant point— lost on SI and Time Warner— is that the time of Covid, with its choked hospitals and healthcare system, is hardly the moment to celebrate people who exceed their body-fat index. In fact it might be described as a reckless message that allows people with hereditary or cultural vulnerability to diabetes, stroke and heart attacks to put off weight reduction. 

As we wrote last October, obesity is the silent killer of millions infected with the virus. But one buried by governments, media and health authorities who decided to make vaccine-resisters the real villain of the piece.

“Friends and neighbours we have thought otherwise sane are now seriously demanding that unvaccinated people be sent to the back of the line for health care till all the vaccinated people are satisfied. This triage is equal measures of fear, spite and blithering ignorance of the facts of single-payer health. 

Take this example: one of the factors established very early in the pandemic was the vulnerability of obese and morbidly obese— especially in the elderly. The AMA reports, “The vast majority—78%—of U.S. patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight or had obesity. The numbers for intensive care, invasive mechanical ventilation and death were nearly the same.”

According to the CDC, 42.4 percent of U.S. adults have obesity.  While some are obese for genetic or disease-related reasons, the vast proportion of the obesity is lifestyle induced. The World Obesity Federation has shown that death rates from COVID-19 have been 10 times higher in countries where more than half of the population is overweight.

Yet there is no call from the media and its acolytes to punish the obese for clogging the healthcare system. No demand they be put to the back of the line. Why? Because it doesn’t suit the narrative of right-wing extremism the way that non-vaxxers do. Too many allies of Woke land— in and out of politics— would be shoved down the line if fat were targeted.

University of Oxford researchers found, ”Excess weight is a modifiable risk factor, and investment in the treatment of overweight and obesity and long-term preventive strategies could help reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease.” 

Yet when was the last time you heard Justin Trudeau or president Joe Biden suggest dropping weight to lessen the burden on healthcare? The last time would be the first time, as they have been mute on lifestyle adaptions to clear the ICUs. 

It goes the same for smokers, drinkers, drug abusers and more who— under Canada’s healthcare rules— receive the same treatment in emergency rooms as do those who live clean. According to the howler monkeys of vaccine enforcement only non-vaxxers should be culled from the herd for flooding ICUs.”

It’s not the first time that Wokedom has stifled information contrary to their  societal control. It won’t be the last. In the battle of the bulge it’s not a fashion statement. It’s a matter of life and death. It’s also a matter of saving the healthcare system.”

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft YearsIn NHL History, , his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book of by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

 

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