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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Whose error was it

--posted by Tony Garcia on 10/13/2005

OK, 9th inning and the score is tied. 2 outs and 2 strikes to the batter. The next pitch was low...very low and possibly hit the ground. If it did hit the ground then the batter can run to first. That is what happened yesterday in the Angels-White Sox Game 2. Did it hit the ground? Don't know. In my opinion it was hard to tell from the replay angle looking straight on. How in the hell can you blame the umpire for missing that call?

Anyway the catcher tried to "sell" the strikeout by throwing the ball back to the mound and running back to the dugout. The batter ran to first base and VOILA, he was called safe at first on a passed ball. The next batter hit the game winning RBI. Enter the I-can-do-better-than-that-ump people.

"The ump gave the signal for an out."
"The ump blew the call...the ball never hit the ground."
"We need instant replay."


As ESPN's Harold Baines correctly pointed out the umpire's "signal" for strikes (not strikeout) was consistant between the "blown call" and the rest of the game.

As I will tell you from personal experience the umpire behind the plate can only do the best he can with that kind of pitch. That is his call (if it hit the ground or not) and is not the "jurisdiction" of the other umps. Unfortunately because of how crappy the pitch was there was not a good angle for the ump to view the end of the pitch. The catcher is blocking is view.

But Yahoo's Ryne Sandberg makes the best point about who is to blame for the whole "controversy".
Many people are pointing fingers at home plate umpire Doug Eddings for making a bad call on A.J. Pierzynski's swinging third strike. The call will forever be debated – Did Eddings' closed fist mean strike three (that was dropped) or did it mean a strikeout?

Either way, with 40,000 Sox fans screaming, Josh Paul can't take anything for granted.

The Los Angeles Angels catcher should have checked with Eddings and made sure what the call was. Instead of trying to "sell" the inning-ending strikeout by rolling the ball back to the mound, Paul should have taken the extra second to either tag out Pierzynski or make the throw to first base.

It's impossible for any home plate umpire to make a call on a low pitch like that. He'll wait to see what develops afterward – whether the catcher asks him if he caught the ball, or tags the batter out, or steps out and throws to first. There's usually communication between the catcher and umpire. In this case, none of the above was done by Paul, who assumed Pierzynski had struck out.

I learned as a rookie not to be an umpire while I was playing. More often than not, if I tossed my bat to the dugout on a pitch that I thought was ball four, I would hear the umpire call a strike before I could leave the batter's box.

Also, while covering second base on steal attempts, we are told to "sell" the out by trying to convince the ump that we made the tag. We pop up and act like we're getting ready to throw the ball around the horn, or if there are two outs, we start running toward the dugout. However, in any of those cases, I would never just roll the ball back to the pitcher's mound. I would keep the ball in my glove and show that I got the out.

You can blame Eddings for his miscommunication, but it is also part of Paul's responsibility to understand what call is being made. He can't take a chance in that situation. Even if it was a blown call by the umpire, Paul showed poor basic fundamentals.
I agree...whether or not the call is blown the catcher (Paul) should not have taken anything for granted. Never assume the call goes your way until the next play starts.

Yahoo's Dan Wetzel obviously has not done much time as an umpire in any fashion...even in sandlot games. He claims a couple of things that are just plain wrong.
1) "Apparently, those umps run tighter than the mob. Not only did home plate umpire Doug Eddings stick to his call and his non-call against overwhelming evidence, all his buddies in blue backed him up."
All his buddies backed him up for two reasons. First, that is not their call to even pay attention to. Second, what overwhelming evidence? I saw a head-on replay over and over and still think it was a traped ball (or a short bounce that was covered/caught quickly). There is a lot of grey area in officiating...go try it some time.

2) "None of the other five umpires on the field would admit they saw Eddings incorrectly rule that the ball hit the dirt after A.J. Pierzynski swung and missed for strike three. And none agreed that the motion Eddings made – that looked about as much "out" as is imaginable – looks like an out signal."

There is an awful lot being made of the "deceiving signal". But think about this. Even if the umpire did make a misleading signal why would that have any bearing on either the catcher's actions? I mean, of ALL of the people in the ballpark there is only one who cannot see the plate umpire's signals: the catcher. So in order to buy this "phantom out signal" line of whining then you must somehow convince us that the catcher would have seen the correct signal (given by a person position directly behind the catcher) and thus would not have thrown the ball back to the mound. An impossible arguement and thus I have to say that this "phantom signal" is a waste of any more discussion.

Dan's article continues on being extraoridinarily harsh on the umpires (both this specific crew and umpires in general). For that reason I have one thing to say to this mindless chimp with column on an internet site.

Hi, Dan, get your ass behind a plate and then come back and say how clearly easy that call was to make. Even in little league with basically straight pitches the simple ball-strike call is not that easy. Based on how narrow-minded your column is I am willing to bet that you not only have never officiated baseball but you have never played beyond t-ball.

Until then, lay off the umps.


Blogger Douglas said...

Great meeting you in person at Keegan's tonight.

October 14, 2005  
Blogger gbradley said...

We was robbed!
Don't put too much heat on Josh Paul.
I'm sure that he is still sick a week later.
Oh he deserves some of the blame, but the umpire tried to sell it like he did not make an "Out" gesture, when he knows that he did.
The way the Sox pitched, One game wouldn't have mattered anyhow.
I'm still rooting for the Red Birds.
Most Valuable Pujols.
OK back to the "Right" track

October 18, 2005  

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