During the postseason (and that included Tuesday's tiebreaker game between the Twins and White Sox), Major League Baseball deploys six umpires for each game. This has been the practice since 1947. However, as John Branch of the New York Times asks umpires: does it really help?
Major league umpires spend years learning more than an encyclopedic grasp of baseball’s rules. They figure out where to best position themselves at each base, where to move if the ball is hit over here or out there, and how to instinctively find the best angle and proper distance for their eyes to make the most accurate call.
The job is endlessly rehearsed through clinics and the thankless strata of minor leagues, until the complex choreography is set to muscle memory. At the major league level, there may be no call that an umpire has not made and no angle on a play that an umpire has not seen.
Then the playoffs begin.
And, suddenly, there are two extra umpires on the field, standing along the foul lines in the outfield, maybe for the first time in their lives.