I'm enduring another difficult weekend for Tampa Bay sports.
The Bucs lost to the Dallas Cowboys in very disappointing fashion.
When you're facing the venerable Brad Johnson instead of Tony Romo, you can't go out and lose the game. Sure, the officials gave the Cowboys some key assistance on their lone touchdown drive near the end of the first half, but the Bucs had ample opportunity to earn the win in spite of it and just plain came up short. Some credit obviously goes to the Dallas defense, but at the same time I'm sure that the Bucs will feel that they left points on the field other than Matt Bryant's errant 51 yard field goal try.
Oh unhappy day. And it would get worse.
The Devil*Rays followed up Saturday's disappointing loss by losing again to the Phillies on Sunday.
The loss on Saturday/Sunday morning was tough to take mainly because the team gave it away in the ninth inning. The loss on Sunday night was aggravating because the Rays really needed this one and because the umpires played too big a part.
Yes, Carl Crawford should have been out at first on that nifty play by Jamie Moyer during game three. And yes Moyer had three balls called strikes in the first inning (none particularly close, by my reckoning), though the umpire called a better game after putting the idea of a giant strike zone in Rays' hitters minds for one inning. Overall the Phillies played better, and the umpiring wasn't notably lopsided.
In the fourth game, however, Andy Sonnanstine simply wasn't getting the same type of calls that the Phillies pitcher was getting. Be it low, right, left, Joe Blanton had an excellent shot at a strike while Sonnanstine would just have to throw closer to the middle of the plate to get a strike called. The umpire had Sonnanstine on the ropes on the mound and Rays hitters tied up at the plate and dictated the tone of the game as a result.
Some of my outrage was tempered by the eventual margin of victory. The Phillies first run was scored by a runner who had been tagged out at third but got a reprieve from the myopic third base umpire. A one-run victory by Philadelphia would have really steamed me.
So. Not to take too much credit from the Phillies. The 2-1 lead in the series was earned, and I can't produce evidence that the Rays would have won with the game called perfectly. I just enjoy the games less when the umpires meddle with things.
One additional note: That graphic Fox uses to show the ball in relation to the plate (lower right of the screen, on occasion) is pretty much useless. Sometimes it accidentally agrees with the actual position of the ball in relation to the plate, but more often it seems to match the spot where the catcher caught the ball.
May 16, 2011: Fixed various misspellings of Andy Sonnanstine's last name. Sorry, Andy.