Who has the most control over a baseball game? The manager? The pitcher? The batters? Nope, it's the man behind the catcher, the home plate umpire. At tonight's Bradenton vs. Dunedin game, the umpire liked two kinds of pitches: ones where the catcher did not need to move his glove an inch (pretty much regardless of whether the catcher was set up in the strike zone or not) and pitches right down the middle of the plate thigh-high. All other pitches were called balls -- even one that clearly hit the batter's bat on a check swing (luckily the field umpire called this a foul ball).
With an umpire like that, it wasn't a surprise to see 13 walks resulting in 13 runs. Innings dragged on forever causing a very long night at the ballpark. And, quite frankly, I felt more of a sense of relief that the game was over instead of the thrill of pulling out a close game for the Marauders.
With the home plate umpire's horrendous strike zone in mind, here's how the Marauder players did.