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Standards change for the playoffs

May 18, 2012 - Michael Palmer
Just about every sports fan can look back on this past season and think of that one game where the officials seemingly robbed their team with one or two bad calls.

While these calls may be a bit of a nuisance in the regular season, when put into a playoff context the results of one bad call can be devastating. One and done means one bad call can end the season.

In my experience, and this is the most annoying aspect of any post season game in any sport, it's been very clear that the standards of officiating changes sharply at the start of the post-season to standards above the regular season. When fouls that would rarely be called during the regular season are suddenly closely scrutinized ….. it is frustrating for players, coaches and fans.

I have heard complaints from basketball fans stating that the state playoff games have become “BORING” and low scoring due to the excessive officiating. Hockey fans know that once Cup play begins more players will be spending time in the penalty box.

An example is the recent Martins Ferry article on their sectional final game with Claymont. A senior pitcher with some 60 plus varsity games, a previous sectional final and regional appearance, is called on the first pitch of a game for an illegal pitch. With no lines marked in the pitchers circle, the call is a judgment by the plate umpire. The reaction by her coach and father clearly illustrated that this infraction had NEVER before been called by any umpire or pointed out by any opposing coach.

Cirstie DelGuzzo struggled to comply with the officiating and to her credit never faltered and showed incredible resiliency in changing her pitching motion and throwing a great game. The Purple Riders won, but what if they had not?

The umpire’s defense of the call was, “These are the rules. I do not make them I just enforce them.”

I know law enforcement officers who have told me that any driver placed under close scrutiny can be pulled over for a violation, if the laws or rules are strictly applied.

My point is that we do not move the fences back, we do not lengthen the base paths, or change the distance to the pitching rubber for the playoffs, so why does the strictness with which officials enforce rules have to tighten?


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