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Dibble's strike zone, and other images

If you've watched 10 seconds of the Nats on MASN this year, you've heard Rob Dibble complaining about an umpire's poor call. In every instance, the umpire has behaved badly toward the Nats. Rob Dibble is there to correct the record.

Jamie Mottram pointed out just Wednesday that Dibble's strike-zone observations frequently run counter to the actual pitch-charting graphics that appear on the screen during his observations. I hadn't been watching Thursday for more than five minutes when it happened again.

"This is not a strike on the pitch," Dibble said, as Pitch Track displayed what appeared to be a strike. "It's way out of the zone."

Well, maybe the Pitch Track is broken. Maybe they need to shrink the box. Maybe the entire blue circle needs to be inside the lines, as it was in Mottram's example. Or maybe Dibble is just maniacally determined to defend the Nats from every external threat, including a possibly fractionally debatable seventh-inning strike call in mid-May.

I've written positive things about Dibble in the past. Especially at first, he kept me entertained when the team wasn't doing enough of that. But a wise D.C. announcer once suggested to me that local broadcast teams adopt a 60-40 approach: biased 60 percent in favor of the home team, instead of the 50-50 split presumably used by national network teams. That seems reasonable. Dibble's 173-2 split does not.

Seriously, enough with the exhortations for balls to get out of the yard, enough with the yeaaaaarghs and whooooooos when good things happen, and enough with disputing every single call that goes against Washington. Somehow, the Nats have produced a fine ballclub that's currently leading the NL wild card race. Just let people enjoy that.

Other images from the week:

A mildly entertaining image of Nyjer Morgan catching a flyball turned into a meme fest at Lookout Landing. This is among many creative uses of the image.

The Redskins have turned their retail operations over to Maingate Inc., which celebrated the occasion by sending personalized clocks to scores of media members. I'm not quite sure what to do with mine, but I will treasure it.

Alexanders Semin and Ovechkin appear to have both matching luggage, and matching ripped jeans. There's more at Russian Machine Never Breaks about Semin's documented cigarette use, but the luggage is better.

Finally, a co-worker spotted this Metro cleaning vehicle at a Virginia Metro stop Friday morning. That's not acceptable. Heads must roll. Though if you type Metroopensdoors really quick, you almost get Go Pens somewhere there in the middle.

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 14, 2010; 11:17 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Nats , Redskins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: D.C. is only 7th most miserable sports city
Next: A fun Jim Haslett story


Hating on Dibble is UnAmerican

Posted by: Terpsrule | May 14, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I am embarrassed now that I once thought of Dibble's approach to broadcasting as refreshing. I don't know if the reason I now find him intolerable is because he's amped up his original act, his act just got old, or if I was just a total moron for ever liking him in the first place. If Bob Carpenter would ever disagree with him about anything, it's conceivable they could have an amusing crazy guy/voice of reason relationship, but instead it's just crazy grunting guy and his awkward enabler.

Posted by: mrlogical | May 14, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

If any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone, it is a strike. So, no, the entire blue circle (the ball, of course) does not have to be inside the strike zone.

Official rule: (Rule 2.0 A Strike) - A strike is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which- (b) Is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone)

Posted by: phishisgr8 | May 14, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Well, maybe the Pitch Track is broken. Maybe they need to shrink the box. Maybe the entire blue circle needs to be inside the lines, as it was in Mottram's example. Or maybe Dibble is just maniacally determined to defend the Nats from every external threat, including a possibly fractionally debatable seventh-inning strike call in mid-May."

Or maybe all you Dibble-haters just need to chill. Quit cherry-picking examples of things Dibble does that annoy you and slapping them all over the web in an attempt to tar and feather him. Really. Because for every point you make about Dibble doing something bad, there's a counterpoint that could just as easily be found - if only the Dibble fan club was as obsessive as you guys are. For example - and this is something I only even noticed because of all the obsessing you guys were doing over his pitch-track comments already - in last night's game there was a pitch by a Nats pitcher (I forget which one, maybe Slaten) that came in just under elbow-high on the batter and was called a strike. The elusive "high strike" and Dibble went on and on about how it was a good thing that the ump was calling that pitch a strike. Not because it helped the Nats, but because if he didn't you'd be looking at a 3:30-3:45 game time in that rain. Then they showed the replay, and according to the box on the pitch track the pitch was clearly high. The point is that the pitch track box DOES NOT MATTER. It's totally the umpire's judgment where the strike zone is, and it's totally within the announcer's purview to question the umpire's judgment. And BTW, I've never yet heard a case where Dibble's complaining about an umpire's strike zone in a broadcast does not at some point include a disclaimer that "he's doing it to both teams", or sometimes "he's not being consistent, which is the one thing you as a pitcher need from him." There is absolutely nothing wrong with him making these kinds of comments.

I'm no rabid Dibble fan, although it may seem so here. Truthfully, I could take him or leave him. I'm just watching the game. But if you guys are going to cite chapter and verse to nail Dibble to the cross, then you really need to read the whole Bible before you start doing it.

And funny, I seem to recall the same criticisms of Ray Knight for being a homer before Dibble was hired. Ray hasn't changed a bit, still says "we" all the time. Yet Dibble's the only one who catches flak for that now. Why is that?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 14, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

A big THUMBS UP vote for both Dibbs and Carp. Dig listening to those guys. Very entertaining and informative. Dibbs blows away both Sutton and Darling.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Agree with Terpsrule

Posted by: jtrufe | May 14, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

BTW calling Dibbs a helpless homer is pretty funny. No one is quicker to lay the wood to the Nats than Dibbs when he feels they are screwing up. He was vicious on them at times last year (and rightly so).

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Crap... forgot one thing.


Posted by: phishisgr8 | May 14, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking that the Pens logo on the vacuum part of the trucked signified "Pens Suck", but I guess I'm feeling charitable.

Posted by: kingbonehead | May 14, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Dibble's presence has led me to employ the mute button much more regularly

Posted by: Brian_ | May 14, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Baseball "analysts" grunting during home runs and final outs is unprofessional.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | May 14, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is terrible. Just because Sutton and Darling were even more terrible doesn't make Dibble any better. When he roots for the Nats and says "we" and "us", it honestly comes off as insincere. Why does he magically like the Nats so much? Because they write his paycheck? And when the Nats play poorly, he rips them apart. How about being a little more even-keeled? Point out the intricacies of the game, give credit where it's due, relax on the umps, and stop pretending like you're a lifetime Nats fan. I can't wait for the day when there's an ex-Nat in the booth. Get Brad Wilkerson in there or something...

Posted by: drobins7 | May 14, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Dibble merely complements one of the worst (if not the worst) broadcasting teams in baseball. Carpenter is the only one of them that is listenable/tolerable. Dibbs, Holliday and Knight are borderline unbearable.

Posted by: juandepadilla | May 14, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Is the box capturing the ball hits the catcher's mitt or where it crosses the plate? I've noticed some trackers recently distinguishing between the two.

Posted by: audacitea | May 14, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Nice, Dan, thanks. About time people started being critical of Dibble. He is horrible.

In addition to the grousing about umpire's calls all the time and the grunting, don't forget about Dibble's non-stop "analysis" and critique of how easy it is to be a big-league pitcher. All it takes is "will" and "toughness" (which apparently Dibble personally did not have enough of to get over his injuries and pitch beyond age 31). And, whenever a pitcher gives up a hit, in hindsight doing the exact opposite of what he actually did.

Also, let's not forgot Dibble's non-stop bashing of Strasburg last Spring as greedy, and questioning his character and desire to pitch. I'm sure Dibble is going to forget all about that less than a month from now.

The Nats are about to get a whole lot more national attention, once Strasburg comes up. It's too bad that they don't have a TV announcing team that measures up.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 14, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Dan..First Wrestling T Shirts and now clocks!

On the Metro truck you sure the connotation isn't that the Penguins suck since its on the vacuum tube?


Posted by: BushH8er | May 14, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'm in the minority... I still find Dibble pretty entertaining. I think he knows the league and players well and provides some good insight. Although the MASN ratings are on the rise, I think this lame network should be pleased to have someone of Dibble's cred / national Q calling their games (he was great as a sidekick to Dan Patrick years ago). Growing up watching Caray / Steve Stone and Brennaman / Nuxhall (and others) and the TBS crew.... those guys are unbelieveable homers, but fun to listen to... and no, I'm not trying to compare Dibble to icons. I guess my point is, although the future is looking bright and ratings are going up, the DC viewers can't exactly be entitled to better than Dibble.


Posted by: BenzoTim | May 14, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I have grown to like Dribble, I mean Dibble on the air. I thought he has tamed it down but I like that he pulls for the home team like a crazy fan even when he isn't right. That's what most homies do. Dibble probably knows he is wrong but who cares.

He gets fairly harsh on some of the players so you may not like what he has to say especially when he talked about how the Nats pitchers made some horrible pitches in the Mets game this week. He said the pitchers should approach pitching to David Wright inside instead of putting the pitch on the outside of the plate where he can inside out the pitch to rightfield and he is generally right about pitching.

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 14, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

how is it any different then when buckhantz says "hayward is fouled, no call"?

I love the local homers.

Posted by: mini_dagger | May 14, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I like Dibble, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 14, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"The point is that the pitch track box DOES NOT MATTER. It's totally the umpire's judgment where the strike zone is, and it's totally within the announcer's purview to question the umpire's judgment."

Actually it DOES matter, because umpires are judged on a daily basis as to how well their calls conform the the strike zone. Dibble is a joke, and his rah rah pom pom waving are just getting ridiculous. Fans are not looking for "fan" to call or analyze a game, they're looking for an announcer. I am truly surprised Dibble has lasted this long.

Posted by: Russtinator | May 14, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Baseball "analysts" grunting during home runs and final outs is unprofessional."

If he was a PBP guy you might have a point. But he's not. He's a jock. Jocks grunt, jocks have tats, jocks say outrageous things. That's who they are. Stop criticizing Dibble under the criteria of what a professional analyst should or shouldn't do. Dibble's not a professional analyst, he just plays one on TV.

And is it really that much of a big leap in professionalism to go from grunting YESSSS! at the final out to screaming "BANG, ZOOM GO THE FIREWORKS!"? Lighten up, people. This is sports. Entertainment. Not something on which the future of the world rides. And if you're watching long enough to catalog every reason why you hate Dibble, then that means you're watching, doesn't it? Which of course is the whole point of having Dibble there.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 14, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Dibble gets cornball at times but whadd'ya want? A robot?

Posted by: richs91 | May 14, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Dibble has his faults, but he's entertaining to listen to--even when he's saying something ridiculous. But the "Get up" when a National hits a long fly ball is getting really annoying. Being a homer and getting excited when the home team does well--I can live with that. Literally cheering in the press box during the game gets to be a bit much.

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 14, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is a lot more balanced than you give him credit for. He's quick to complement the other team's players as well as agree with calls that go against the Nats. I don't think it's fair to say he's a homer. I've seen many instances where he compliments the other teams play and even bashes our own play. Dibble is looking more at the Umps strike zone than the pitch tracker. Keep in mind the ump can't see the pitch tracker. All he wants is a little consistency. I do agree that some of the things he says are kind of off the wall but he's very entertaining.

Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | May 14, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet the people complaining about homers aren't native Washingtonians. I was raised in this area, and I, for one, LIKE homers on my local broadcasts. Dibble, Jurgensen, Huff, whomever.

I would also distinguish between the play-by-play announcer, who should be objective, and the color guys, who are there principally for entertainment value.

Posted by: TomServo | May 14, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

My observation about the same as PAskinsfan17. Very often when an opposing pitcher doesn't get a call he'll say "That was GOOD pitch!" (Which, for either team, does not mean it was a strike.) If he watched the monitor he wouldn't have made the "way out of the zone" blooper, but haven't notice bias in critique of pitch calling. If you're gonna watch a game with an ex-player, let them do what they always do -- root on a personal basis, analyze objectively, and know the difference between the two. He seems to.

Posted by: rschwartz1 | May 14, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I like to drink every time he says something stupid.

Needless to say ive turned into a complete lush-

Posted by: cowboykillah | May 14, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I like Dibble and will continue to yell right along side of him. Thos eof us that got tired of the losing the last two years have a team "we" (ooopppss, I said "we"...) can cheer about. If you don't like him and Carp, turn on the radio.

Posted by: M20832 | May 14, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I like Rob he can be pretty funny. He's more balanced about the strike calls than many seem to think and usually correct. Don't forget he's a pitcher so he cares mucho about these things. Dibs played hard in the majors and was a brawler - a good guy to have around.

Posted by: bob29 | May 14, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I was crushed - crushed - when they hired Dibble last year, as he had long occupied a special place in my personal pantheon of most hated players.

However, he deserves enormous credit for grinding out last season - he and Carpenter did a admirable job of maintaining a glimmer of hope about the future while the product on the field was often a train wreck. At this point, I feel like he has earned the right to be a proxy in the press box for many of us who lived through way, way too many terrible games over the past few years.

In short - he was with the team in the dark times (at least last year...) and I am enjoying his enthusiasm as we turn the corner.

In our home, we have one word to sum up Mr. Dibble's work: "Nice".

(oh, and God bless Debbi Taylor. Glad she brought the warm clothes for this miserable trip!)

Posted by: bringbackfick | May 14, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

TomServo is right on, I agree. I like when Dibble picks a ball up to show pitch mechanics.
And I've liked Ray Knight's work, here.

Posted by: Hattrik | May 14, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Literally cheering in the press box during the game gets to be a bit much."

He's not in the press box, he's in the announcer's booth. Different place, different standards.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 14, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

As someone else has already pointed out, the Pitch Track system is being used as part of the umpire grading process. In the not-too-distant future they can eliminate having the home plate ump call balls and strikes.

But the most interesting/amusing thing is that Dibble refuses to acknowledge when the system "proves" him wrong. On a few occasions he's tried to make like the "box" is inaccurate on breaking pitches (wrong, it's positioned above the plate, not at the catcher's mitt). Otherwise, he just completely ignores what's being shown as he speaks. I have no problem with the guy, not a complaint, just kinda funny sometimes.

Posted by: km352 | May 14, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is fine with me and can be funny. I mean I respect Carpenter a lot too and they provide a good balance to each other.

Posted by: alex35332 | May 14, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I like Dibble too. In this era of political correctness when the talking heads all say the same thing - which is usually nothing - Dibble is a refreshing throwback to a time when people actually spoke their mind. He will criticize both the other team and the Nats. He even has the temerity to criticize the Lerners, MASN, the fans, and anyone or thing that draws his fire. He actually says on the air what most of us think - including when a ball is a strike or not. Sure he's a homer, but that's what I want to hear. We need more personality in today's world, not more mealy-mouthed vanilla pretty boy commentators. Keep up the good work Dibbs.

Posted by: themarks1 | May 14, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Rob Dibble is good for Natstown.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 14, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I'll agree Dibble's homerism is occassionally over-the-top, but I think to say, "In every instance, the umpire has behaved badly toward the Nats," is inaccurate. I realize Steinberg is incapable of watching every second of every Nats game, but Dibble frequently goes to bat for the opposing pitcher, saying a called ball is a "nice pitch." He's also, as has been mentioned in previous comments, very critical of the Nats, particularly the pitchers, when they aren't playing well. He has an intolerance for "pitching scared" and pitchers who respect young players that haven't proven themselves. That being said, Dibble often greatly exceeds the level of favoritism shown by other announcers to their respective home teams. I did not like Dibble at first, but have grown to appreciate his frequent insights into pitching and working hitters.

Posted by: jmnewman87 | May 14, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I love dibble! Its fun listening to your broadcaster root along with you. Its like having one of us in the booth. Has anyone ever listened to the Fox Soccer Channel? Sometimes they replay games with the fans of their respective teams doing the commentary. Its hilarious, entertaining, and much better than a mundane even-keeled analysis. Baseball can be quite boring at times, so its kinda cool having a "colorful" color man. Joe Morgan and John Miller are the best, but this what we have and I dig it. Its better than listening to the Orioles team of palmer and the other guy whose name escapes me. Boring!! LETS GO NATS!!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | May 14, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"As someone else has already pointed out, the Pitch Track system is being used as part of the umpire grading process."

Not sure that the pitch tracking system shown on air and the Zone Evaluation system used to grade umpires are tied together at all. My guess would be that they're two different things.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 14, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I like Dibble!! I have the baseball package and had to watch the Colorado broadcast of last night's game (no longer live in the area) and I missed Dibble terribly. Those Rockies guys were awful talking about how our (I mean The Nat's) pitchers weren't able to hit their mark, while it was pouring rain on them. They can suck it.

Posted by: capsfan772 | May 14, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind Dibble at all. At least he's enthusiastic about the franchise, before this month you could have counted the number of people excited about the Nats on one hand.

Sad fact is that the Redskins have the worst booth in town - Larry, Sonny and Sam are absolutely unlistenable these days.

Best DC commentary teams...
Charlie and Dave
Joe and Laughlin
Buck and Chenier (comedy gold)
Chvotkin and... Chvotkin

Posted by: Kev29 | May 14, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

You guys defending Dibble are ridiculous and nunof1 shame on you! I think you just like to argue. Dibble is not a very good color analyst for a few reasons. 1.) He overdoes the homer. I think Mark lerner asked him to do it so he did it. 2.) He tells you something happened when your eyes tell you something different. For instance he'll blame an error on bad pitch selection. 3.) He doesn't talk about the game situations and some of the bad defense that is STILL being played by this team that actually cost bases or runs. For instance, both Guzzie at 2B and Desmond at SS went out to get the ball in shallow center field leaving 2nd base open and lo and behold the batter made a single into a double! 4.) He never tells good old timer stories.

He and Carpy have countless more examples of bad announcing that I could go into detail about but won't right now. But the bottom line is watch other teams baseball announcers. Watch the yankees on YES, watch the Royals, watch the Diamondbacks, watch the Giants, or watch the Orioles! Watch anyone else, and you'll see that the Nationals have the worst announcers in the league. Actually, the got the worst announcers in all of professional sports, and that includes wresting with Jerry "The King" Lawler!

Posted by: Nataholic | May 14, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I love listening to Carp and Dibble. Sure they are homers but like previous posters mentioned, he'll criticize the Nats organization as well as chastise the players not to mention praise opposing players/managers. He also criticizes the umps strike zone vs. both teams, not just the Nats.

You know it's funny, darn near every Pittsburgh fan loved the late Myron Cope and he was pretty much a blithering idiot on the radio but was beloved by all. Dibble does pretty much the same thing, although not nearly as bad, and gets bashed. WTF!? Makes you wonder if the Washington sports writers are just a bunch of closet O's fans.

Posted by: Terpfan76 | May 14, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I loved Sonny, Sam and Frank. They were the best, period. I was not a fan of Larry taking Frank's spot and still don't like it, but have gotten used to it. It's been awhile since I listened to the radio broadcast, but if I recall correctly, either Sonny or Sam has gotten pretty bad about being a blatant homer with the other almost chastising him.

Posted by: Terpfan76 | May 14, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is mildly entertaining, but I find that I actually enjoy the games more when I listen on the radio. Charlie & Dave are SO MUCH BETTER than Carp & Dibble. I think I might go back to my old routine of muting the TV and turning up the radio.

Posted by: ouij | May 14, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Dibs is money. Who cares if he's a homer??

Posted by: smoke26 | May 17, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

You gotta love Dibble for what he is.

Posted by: moshemaizels | May 17, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Count me as pro-Dibble. I like the color guys who refuse to let all the rough edges get polished off. My all time favorite was Jimmy Piersall when he teamed with Harry Caray in the '70s. I thought Brooks Robinson was way underrated as a broadcaster. (Once when he thought the mike was off we learned his true opinion of the other team - "Boy, they stink!"). I liked John Lowenstein (though I hated Mel Proctor). Dibble is in that tradition.

Posted by: jgbay | May 17, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Do I think that Dibble "magically" started liking the Nats when they started signing his paychecks? Well, yes. Just like the players do. How much do you think Adam Dunn cheered for the Nats three years ago? How much do you think he cheers for them now? And he started that cheering the day they inked his contract. Dibble's rooting for the Nats is no more or less insincere than Pudge Rodriguez's.

Oh yeah, and count me in the camp that likes a little (or a lot of) homerism from their color guy. :-)

Posted by: dryw1 | May 17, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Stienz (I know, not exactly lobbying against Dibbs but presenting an angle), Mottram and Reiss should take a look at the momentum of these posts. Dibble is "fine" and is what he is. He's not that bad, can annoy some people, but the Nats do not exactly deserve much better and in fact, should probably be happy they have him.

Posted by: BenzoTim | May 17, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

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