Nobody From Nowhere (@i8dc)

Occasional Common Sense

Me, F.P., Video Synchronization, and… Rule 7.13?

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Feisty, eh? Background: F.P. Santangelo is the Nationals color guy on TV, an ex-MLB player who provides a nice mix of entertaining and knowledgeable. Some people don’t like his broadcasting, but that’s always going to be true; ask baseball fans about Tim McCarver and they’ll either love him or hate him. I think F.P. does a good job, and I’ve tweeted as much.

The Nats made two errors on one play in the 1st inning of the September 7 2014 game against the Phillies, resulting in one run scoring and Marlon Byrd ending up on third base. The umps had a tough call on this play; the second error was on Anthony Rendon, who threw the ball into the Nats’ dugout trying to throw a baserunner out at home. Byrd, the hitter at the start of the play, gets two bases as of the point Rendon threw the ball. So whether he had gotten to second base at that moment was the difference between Byrd scoring or stopping at third; turned out to be the margin of victory.

The Nationals’ broadcast on MASN very quickly put together a picture-in-picture video of the play, which F.P. said was synced. I was immediately skeptical, and looking quickly at their video, I judged that the two were not actually in perfect sync, and said so. Then I went apple picking. No really!

Checking in on my phone two hours later, I found F.P.’s snarky reply. He may be right, but I’m guessing I know a little more about it than he thinks.

A couple of years ago, during a Braves broadcast, a player sort of lollygagged running home and the third out was made at another base before he reached home. The network quickly put together their two feeds to show that the run should have counted. Or at least it was impossibly close. Only later, when I saw a different wide shot showing both plays did it become apparent that the two events weren’t actually that close in time.

This revealed something I already knew: the various feeds going to the control truck are not automatically in sync. The farther away the source video, the longer it takes to get to the truck, not so much because of the distance but because of the signal repeaters that must be put into the line when the cable length gets long. Each of these take a fraction of a second to do its job, and the more of them there are the longer it takes for the feed to get to the truck. So the various feeds do not come in to the truck “in sync.”

The first time I noticed this was in a Fox game, maybe a playoff game, at Fenway. Whenever they switched to the centerfield camera, the audio would hiccup, repeating a small fraction of a second’s worth of sound. Apparently their solution was to reset the audio based on the known latency of the centerfield feed.

Most of the time these differences don’t matter. But when you’re running a picture-in-picture to determine what happened when, it’s critical.

So F.P. was snarky at me, and being a defensive bastard, I looked at it more closely tonight. And there’s a significant difference between the MASN and CSN “synced” video. Look at the moment Rendon threw the ball on each feed:

"Synced" picture-in-picture establishing the moment Byrd touched 2B. MASN's at left, with Rendon throwing at top, CSN's at right with Rendon throwing at top-right.

“Synced” picture-in-picture establishing the moment Byrd touched 2B. MASN’s at left, with Rendon throwing at top, CSN’s at right with Rendon throwing at top-right.

Both sets of broadcasters said these videos were synced. Obviously they could not both be correct. So which of these is synced, if either?

Looking at other parts of the video, the CSN feed is obviously not synced well. The centerfield camera is nearly one full Marlon Byrd step ahead of the camera behind home plate (which is interesting since the centerfield camera should have more latency; I think it’s because there’s only one camera behind home plate, meaning CSN gets that feed from MASN, which would add to that signal’s delay).

The MASN feed is much closer to perfect synchronization. I still think it’s very slightly off (centerfield camera behind), but I think it’s not more than 1/20th of a second (my source’s framerate). I think several frames showed a very slight difference, but not all did. And it could be dead on – I am not at all sure it’s not.

So kudos to MASN’s video folks! And mea culpa for doubting you. I’d love to hear if they put in the significant effort to keep everything in sync all the time, or if this was set up on the fly for the picture-in-picture. I’ve a feeling F.P. won’t be sharing that information, though.

By the way, syncing the video sources is something MLB should require, so that the replay umps can put two videos next to each other to determine whether a tag on the back is made before a foot touches a base.

Now, why would F.P. be so sarcastic with me? Might be because of this, regarding an out at home last week and the new rule relating to that play:


But obviously a former ballplayer and television personality wouldn’t be upset by a random comment from a nobody from nowhere.

—-UPDATE 9/8/2014, 6pm —-


More first class trolling from the man who lived the dream. Guess he’s talking about Rule 7.13, where he’s just flat wrong. You could look it up.

—-UPDATE 9/9/2014, 11 am—-

I didn’t respond to F.P.’s last tweet. He has now blocked me on Twitter.

Written by David Clayton

September 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

Posted in Baseball, Debunkery

How Much Does It Matter When An Umpire Calls A Pitch Wrong?

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With two outs in the 8th inning of the Reds’ 1-0 victory against the Nationals yesterday, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was brought in to face Adam LaRoche with runners on first and second.

The matchup was good for the Reds; the flame-throwing lefty Chapman has a FIP (fielding-independent pitching) of 0.59 — far better than any other pitcher in baseball this year, and is particularly brutal on left-handed hitters, holding them to an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of just .344 this year. LaRoche was 0-2 against Chapman in his career, and has an OPS against lefties this year of .647, vs. .894 against righties.

Chapman missed with his first two two fastballs, at 101 and 99.5 mph. With his third, he throttled back a little more and got a called strike on the outside corner. But this pitch was clearly a ball, and was indeed the worst pitch call umpire Jeff Nelson made on this day.

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Written by David Clayton

July 27, 2014 at 8:45 am

Posted in Debunkery

The One Place I’d Like To See On Each Continent

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I think these likely change from day to day.

North America – Antelope Canyon, Arizona

South America – Machu Pichu, Peru

Europe – St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

Africa – Victoria Falls

Asia – The Treasury at Petra, Jordan

Australia – Great Barrier Reef

Antarctica – Nowhere. Nowhere at all.

Written by David Clayton

July 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Debunkery

How much does Ted Cruz save taxpayers by using his wife’s gold-plated health insurance?

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“FYI: We already have a subsidized health care system. It just subsidizes Ted Cruz’s $40k
policy more than a family trying to get out of poverty.”  — @LOLGOP

Ted Cruz has very publicly and proudly that he doesn’t take the health insurance offered to members of Congress by the United States government, with the clear implication that he doesn’t think it’s right for Congressmen to take such a lavish benefit at taxpayers’ cost. Then news came out that not only does Cruz have another option, as do many married 2-earner families, but his family rationally takes his wife’s employer-supported insurance, which is a far more expensive plan than the one Cruz would get through Congress. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by David Clayton

October 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

Posted in Debunkery

Here’s what’s going to happen. Or not.

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This morning the House GOP pissed all over the emerging deal between Senate Democrats and Republicans. So now this scenario gets closer: Congressional Democrats suing the President for breaking the debt ceiling law. Right, Democrats.

I expect there will be a deal, but whether the technical stuff gets done in time to pay the bills — that’s where the question is.  We may have a deal in place that needs to work its way through the government gears and won’t be done in time for Treasury to legally pay all of the bills, in accordance with both the debt ceiling law and the various Congressional appropriations that are in effect.

So, rather than allowing some obligation to go unmet for a day (or two, who knows), Obama should direct Treasury to go ahead and pay everything, issuing new debt if necessary. Ben Bernanke, lame duck Federal Reserve Chairman, will intervene if necessary, using a broad interpretation of the Fed’s mandate to maintain full employment. What are they gonna do, fire him?

The President will explain these extraordinary actions as necessary due to the idiots in the House GOP, similar to what I described here. And then the law will catch up to reality and everything will go along swimmingly until we hit the next moronic debt limit showdown.

Then there would be discussion about what can be done about the president breaking the letter of the debt ceiling law. And Congressional Democrats should take the President to court.

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Written by David Clayton

October 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Debunkery

Debt limit leverage benefits Obama, not tea party (take 2)

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When we get to the debt limit, which I think we will, here’s what won’t happen. We won’t get a trillion dollar coin, and the Fed won’t issue premium bonds. In other words, no gimmicks. Obama will have a single choice: violate the debt limit or don’t. And he’ll choose to violate it, because the alternative is worse in every way.

Violating the debt limit means continuing to spend as directed by appropriations, and continuing to borrow as needed. It’s likely that the market would demand higher returns in these auctions, but if the auctions were really going badly, the Federal Reserve could buy a lot (or even all) of the issued securities.

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Written by David Clayton

October 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Punditry

Tagged with , , , ,

Why debt ceiling leverage is on Obama’s side

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The government is shut down, the House won’t vote on the Senate’s clean continuing resolution, and the Senate won’t vote on the House’s piecemeal attempts to fund 2.5% of the government. And next week, on or about October 17, the U.S. Treasury will be unable to pay all of the government’s bills because the debt ceiling will be reached.

Most talk about the debt ceiling is that Republicans get leverage through it, just as a ticking bomb gives a hostage-taker leverage. But I think this is wrong; the approaching debt ceiling actually gives Obama leverage.

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Written by David Clayton

October 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Debunkery


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