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In Praise of PIP (Picture in a Picture)
2003-10-10 16:03
by Mike Carminati

So you say two blowout games bring you down? So you say you're ticked off at FOX for airing two league championship games simultaneously? So you say Jeannie Zelasko in stereo is too much to bear?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm a-here to tell you that I have your salvation-ah. I'm a-here to free your soul—Hallelujah—and challenge your spirit. Yes, sir!

I'm a-here to tell you that PIP is your redemption. Sister Zelasko, oh yes, showed you the way. PIP ensures you see every pitch and miss minimal inane commentary. Praise PIP, brother and sisters! Can I get an amen?

OK, enough of the evangelist bluster. How can you reinvigorate two flaccid games? Watch'em at the same time. Try watching Buffy-spun-off Angel and givinbg your one-month-old a bottle of the course of the night as well. Entertainment through multitasking. Distill them down and the games don't suck as much.

Let's watch, shall we?

Pregame Yanks-Red Sox: Opens with a montage out of A Clockwork Orange: Ted Williams morphs into Joe DiMaggio. Then there are Babe Ruth, Bucky Dent's home run, and excessive subways to represent sexual repression.

Presgame Cubs-Marlins: Cubs montage with blurred picture of Hack Wilson Ernie Banks, Bruce Sutter, Bill Buckner, Sammy Sosa—the ascent of Sammy. Oh, and yeah, the Cubs are playing these guys called the, uh, Marlins?

Sammy—valet parks his car dressed like Huggy Bear (Cubby Bear?).

Red Sox 1st: Fox reports that Johnny Damon received a concussion in high school playing free safety against tight end Warren Sapp (isn't that a contradiction in terms?).

Marlins 1st: Castillo walks.

Rodriguez: Bako goes after foul in stands but Cubs fans don't let him get the ball. I guess they're not throwing that one back. Strikes out on a curveball outside.

Lee: slaps a high fastball to right. First and second.

Cabrera: K on outside fastball.

McCarver: "You hear a lot about the Green Monster in Boston. What you don't hear a lot about is the Blue Monster here at Yankee Stadium."—circles the right field fence on the teleprompter. Lordy mama!

Cubs 1st: Randall Simon: bases loaded, hits high fastball for a single, two runs score.

Marlins 2nd: Encarnacion: dumps a ball to right for a double.

Conine: single goes through on the left, first and third.

Cabrera: strikeout again.

Al Leiter: says that NL is the superior league.

Penny: bunts foul, 0-2. Curveball for a K.

Yankees 2nd: Boone: men on first and second, hits it a mile but foul.

Steve Lyons: The dimwit is challenging Leiter and he's picking on pitchers' hitting. Why doesn't Leiter annihilate this pest? Doesn't he work for the D-Backs? What league are they in anyway?

Prior: gets a pop up to end the inning.

Boone: Pops up to shallow center

Cubs 2nd: Lofton: high hopper takes bad hop past Gonzalez scoring Bako.

Sammy: Long HR to straightaway center on fat pitch in middle of plate, 5-0. Hits TV camera shack.

Yankees 3rd: Jetr: Pops up in front of plate. Mueller gloves it, it pops out of his glove, and he catches it again for the third out (shades of Pete Rose?).

Cubs 3rd: Ramirez: Penny grooves another pitch. HR to left, 6-0.

Bump relieves Penny.

Red Sox 4th: Ortiz: HR to right, Mussina grooves one.

Bako: double to left-center, 7-0.

Lofton: single to the left side, 8-0.

Yanks 4th: Williams: high fastball, out on the warning track.

Marlins 4th: Conine double past Lofton.

Red Sox 5th: Walker: HR? Angel Hernandez calls it foul. Looks like it hit the pole, but may have been deflected by fan. McClelland overrules him. HR. (By the way, Angel Hernandez always reminds me of Angel Fernandez, the guy in the famous Scarface chainsaw scene.)

Mueller: Williams makes a great catch running into wall/

Ramirez: HR right over wall in RF, 4-0.

Steve Palermo: usual words of wisdom—"McClelland was 150% sure" of call (!).

Cubs 5th: Simon hits a ball in left field corner. A fan drops a beer on Conine. Good bye fan.

Gonzlaez: HR to left, 10-0. Helling grooved one.

Bako: Conine misses a foul ball.

Alex Gonzalez comparison: We find out that their nicknames are Sea Bass (under PIP but I'll take their word for it) and Gonzo. Fascinating. Now the announcers are discussing merits of nickname.

Prior: bunts a line drive down 1st base line and stares at it. Who is he, Manny?

Red Sox 6th: Heredia in to pitch for Yanks. 2 men on.

Walker: grounds out to Johnson behind the bag to end it

Lofton: Hanger. Single to right, 1st and 3rd.

Grudzy: Double on left field line, 11-0.

Sosa: IBB to load bases.

Alou: dribbler to mound. Force at home.

Yanks 6th: Fan "Ed Hillel" says ball hit fan's hand and dropped straight down. Says 6" foul. Maybe hit hand from replay but Ed is on other side of pole!

Marlins 6th: Lee: grooved HR, 11-1.

Cabrera: HR on liner to right, 11-2. Took outside pitch other way—nice!

Red Sox 7th: Ortiz: Ramirez on. Hit by pitch on back foot.

Mueller: ground ball off Jeter's glove as he dives—oopha! Ramirez scores. Second diving play that Jeter didn't make.

White: comes in to pitch for Yanks. White Stripes' "7th Nation Army" playing—did he pick it? I have newfound respect for White.

Cubs 6th: Gonzalez slider on out half of plate, HR, 12-2/

Little girl: gets a foul ball. Dang, I've never gotten one!

Nixon: ground ball through on right, bases loaded.

Mirabelli: one hopper to Soriano, end of inning.

Yanks 7th: Giambi and Williams walk.

Wakefield gone. Embree in.

Prior yanked.

Posada: souble to right-center, 5-1.

Matsui: SF to left, 5-2.

Boone and Johnson: fly out to center.

Marlins 8th: Veres in.

Cabrera: infield single, bases loaded.

Red Sox 8th: "Ed" cam again. Enough Ed!

Encarnacion: grounds into DP, run scores, 12-3.

Jackson: pinch-runs for Sox. Pick off attempt, Jackson goes, out at second.

Contrreas in for Yanks; Guthrie for Cubs.

Marlins 9th: Lenny Harris: PH ground out to first on a nice play to end it.

Yanks 9th: Williamson in for Sox.

Robin Williams in attendance, hanging out with "Ed"?

Babe Ruth in attendance, also with Ed.

Giambi: 2-2, fouled off, ball three inside. Slider—back door. Backwards K. Giambi thought it was a ball.

Fox's director: thinks frenetic cuts spell drama

Maybe Fox wants all camera angles used before the end of game (like the machine that goes "bing" in The Meaning of Life).

Williams: grounds out to first.

Posada: ducks out on called strike. Swings and misses the slider. Ball outside. Inside, almost hits him. Foul tip. Fouled off. Called strike. Ballgame.

Fans: taking pictures and kissing foul pole.

Ed: gone, must be hanging out with Robin Williams.

Pole Stir

Here are the rules that pertain to fan or rather spectator interference:


When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference. APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out. There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpire's judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred…


No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach's box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference…

There are only three possible scenarios: 1) The ball hit the foul pole. 2) The ball hit the fan's hand fair or foul and fell straight down. Or 3) the ball hit the fan's hand fair or foul and then the pole.

So given that, what is the call?

In the first case, the ball is a home run.

From the rules, the last two cases are in essence the same since the ball is dead once it hits the fan's hand. Also from the rules, the ball can either by a foul ball, an out, or a hit if it was going to land fair.

The ball was clearly high enough that it was not going to be caught by the rightfielder. Therefore, it could not be called an out and if it is called a fair ball, it must be a home run.

Clearing the fan reached out. Therefore, Rule 3.16 tells us to apply the rule 3.15 section on intentional interference.

Both rules tell us that the ball is immediately "dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference". So it’s the up to the umpire.

But Angel Hernandez called it foul. Here's what the rulebook says about that:


(a) Any umpire's decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions…

So why didn't the ruling stand?


(a) The umpire in chief shall stand behind the catcher. (He usually is called the plate umpire.) His duties shall be to:... (3) Call and declare fair balls and fouls except those commonly called by field umpires; …(b) A field umpire may take any position on the playing field he thinks best suited to make impending decisions on the bases. His duties shall be to: … (3) Aid the umpire in chief in every manner in enforcing the rules, and excepting the power to forfeit the game, shall have equal authority with the umpire in chief in administering and enforcing the rules and maintaining discipline. (c) If different decisions should be made on one play by different umpires, the umpire in chief shall call all the umpires into consultation, with no manager or player [or "Ed"] present. After consultation, the umpire in chief (unless another umpire may have been designated by the league president) shall determine which decision shall prevail, based on which umpire was in best position and which decision was most likely correct. Play shall proceed as if only the final decision had been made.

The crew chief disagreed and called the ball a home run. The replays seem to support this call. Therefore, the umps not only followed the rules, they for once got the call right. Mark your calendars.

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