It’s amazing to me how we can have one season of playoff baseball surrounded by such idiocy by umpires. I honestly can’t remember another time it was like this, but that could just be because I forget stuff. And I’m not even complaining because the wrong call was made. My issue with umps is that they are so damn adamant in their manhood that they can’t accept the fact that they don’t know the right call. It’s maddening as a baseball fan to see these guys insist on a call when it’s obvious that they were wrong.
I am talking about two plays in particular. Both of these I actually saw, and saw how they were called. The first is of course the “dropped” third strike. Never mind that the ball 1) didn’t hit the dirt, and 2) was called strike three and the “out” sign was given, consistent with every single other third strike in the game where there was no tag or throw required. Debate all you want about whether the ball hit the dirt (it didn’t). How many times in your life has the umpire given the benefit of the doubt to the batter when the ball is actually cleanly gloved by the catcher, whether hitting the dirt or not? They don’t do it. I have seen balls that bounce a foot in front of the glove, but are picked cleanly,a nd the ump rings the guy up. It seems like one of those unwritten rules in the game. But this time, after the ump called the batter out he was fooled by the hitter’s reaction, went all indecisive, then became sure that the wrong call was the right call. You’ll have to trust me on this one, but the adamant reaction by this particular umpire is consistent with umpire reactions throughout the history of the game.
The second brutal call was the “hit batsman” that took place during game 2 of the World Series. You know the one. It’s the call that loaded the bases just prior to the grand slam that gave the White Sox a 6-4 lead. That lead was then erased, but the White Sox won on a bottom of the ninth home run. The major difference in this call was that it directly led to a lead change. There was no tie at the time. One team had the lead, a bad call was made, and one pitch later, the lead changed hands. Plus, this call was not even borderline. It was the umpire’s inability or unwillingness to bend in the least which caused the problem. Had he simply admitted he couldn’t see the play and deferred to another umpire, things may have gone completely differently. Even if the umpire he deferred to had made the same call, the prevailing sentiment would have swung in the umpire’s favor. Let’s look at why.
First, and easiest to determine, the ball hit the bat, not the player. That much was completely obvious on the replays. It wasn’t even close. Second, on the same replay that showed how obvious the call should have been (the center field view), you could see the umpire’s view of the play was obstructed by the catcher’s glove. Third (and the one my initial feeling is based on), the batter’s reaction was clearly not one that said, “that ball hit me.” His reaction was to take a step out of the box (mostly due to his balance being thrown off) and look back waiting for the ball to be called either foul or ball four, which it would have been.
Instead, he got dooor #3, the “it hit you, I know it, and you’re going to first base” call. What utter bullshit. Had the ump immediately called for a conference of the umps in the infield, I have no doubt that the call would have been a foul ball. He didn’t, and it wasn’t. But even more stupid is that other umps who clearly had a better view of the play say and do nothing. They refuse to override their colleagues, and that makes these mistakes far too obvious. In the NFL you often see one of the refs run up and override a call because he had a bteer view of the pertinient info. When a catcher’s glove, the roar of the crowd, and the angle and speed of a play all obstruct the umpire whose call it is from making the right call, someone else needs to step up and correct the obvious errors. I hate to say this, but every single one of these stupid calls just adds fuel to the fire of people calling for instant replay to be instated in baseball.
Despite these calls by moron umpires, we have still had a couple of good World Series games. Let’s just hope that the remaining games can be decided by the players on the field, and not by the glaring inadequacies of the umpires.