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Original Issue

Three Strikes

SI's senior baseball writer takes you deeper inside the game. This is just a taste of what you'll get online.

1 If May seemed like an especially confrontational month for umpires, you should know that it wasn't. Ejections were the lowest of any May in the past seven years. Still, umpires such as Joe West and Bill Hohn(below) provided high-profile meltdowns that lived in regular rotation on the highlight shows. But one area of confrontation is trending upward and bears watching: complaints about balls and strikes, which are up 46% from last year.

2 There's one more factor in the umpiring unrest this year that I hadn't considered until one AL manager told me what's really going on at ground level: The umps are under tremendous pressure to keep the game moving. MLB brass has made the pace of games a high priority, and the umpires are the foot soldiers in this war on dead time.

3 It's not just the umpires who are having a rough year. What the heck has happened to the hitters? Armando Galarraga's pluperfect game would have been the third perfecto in 24 days. Baseball once went 57 years with only two of them.