Comment and Video of the Weekend
The umpires should have reviewed that Greg Dobbs fly ball that seemed to go over the foul pole down the left field line at Citizens Bank Park last night. Instead, umpire Jim Joyce flat out refused to check the replay — which was instituted for just such situations — and it was ruled a foul ball. The home run would have tied the game.
On this subject, I’d like to share with you a fascinating comment I read on the Phillies forum Back She Goes:
This is really a moot issue, but I’d like to take one more shot at explaining why I think review is useless for a ball hit over the pole.
The simplest way that review could determine this conclusively is if the camera is perfectly aligned with the baseline, and if the ball is hit perfectly straight. Then you can simply extrapolate the line of the foul pole upwards and determine on which side of the line the ball passes. However, even if the camera is aligned, it’s hard to determine if the ball is hit straight (which I would think it practically never is).
If there’s any hook or slice to the ball, it will cross the plane of the baseline at some point. With the camera angle behind homeplate along the baseline, there’s no way to tell if it hooks in front of the line of the pole (which in Dobbs’ case, would have been foul) or behind it (fair)? (Or of course if the path of the ball would have actually intersected the line of the pole, such that the ball would have hit the pole if it were higher.)
The second problem is if the camera isn’t perfectly aligned with the baseline. (This appears to have been the case in last night’s game; it looks like the camera was up the first base line somewhat.) If it’s not, this introduces parallax problems, so that even if you have the hypothetical perfectly straight ball and it appears from the camera to pass directly over the foul pole, it actually does not.
The other possibility would be to use triangulation from two different, perfectly-synchronized cameras. Suppose in addition to the camera (roughly) behind the plate, there’s another camera somewhere down in the left field corner that was pointing towards right field at the time. If the frames are time-synched, and if the exact position of both cameras is known, simple trigonometry can be employed to determine the location of the ball in several frames as it passes close to the pole, and thus the path of the ball. However, I seriously doubt the review facility in New York is equipped to do this.
Now for some levity. Here’s the Keyboard Cat playing off Luis Castillo last night: