Referee Crews Influence Games Unintentionally To Different Degrees
Judy Battista of The New York Times wrote an article on August 22, 2010 called Umpires Moved, And A Tactic Is Removed
She explained that some astute coaches tracked referee crews for specific characteristics about how the umpire would move on certain types of plays. Umpires were in the middle of the field and could essentially be used as an obstacle for the offense or defense to run around (or into) during plays.
It's more evidence that different referee crews influence games (unintentionally) in different ways. Back when the umpire always stood in the middle of the field, some referee crews opened up more options for the offense to succeed by using the umpire as an obstacle for defenders. So much so that astute coaches tracked differences among referee crews.
Can you think of some ways referee crews may influence games differently? Any theories you want to offer that someone can try to track during the season? It's easiest to make a theory that can be tested with standard statistics everyone already tracks (to avoid having to watch all the games yourself to track a new statistic!)