Getting the Call Right

By Blaidd Drwg

What is up with the umpires in MLB right now? Two days last week involved just flat out terrible decisions by the crews involved. I have written about this before – things happen very quickly on a baseball field and calls can get missed or come out wrong. This I understand; the umpires are human and they make mistakes. My issue is when you incorrectly apply a rule or use the replay and still get it wrong.

In case you have been under a rock, here is what happened:

On May 8th in the 9th inning of the A’s-Indians game, Adam Rosales hit a shot to left center field that hit a railing behind the fence and was initially not ruled a home run. Bob Melvin immediately left the dugout and asked for a review, which he was given. Crew chief Angel Hernandez came back out a few minutes later and ruled it a double, even though it was clear to everyone – the players, fans and announcers that the ball did, in fact clear the wall. Well, everyone except the 3 umpires who looked at the replay. Melvin came back out to argue and summarily (and properly) was tossed from the game.

I happened to be watching the Red Sox get pounded by the Twins that evening and was only half paying attention to the TV when they cut into the game about the issue. I looked up at the replay, said, “home run” and immediately tuned back out what the commentators were saying.

My problem here is two-fold – Angel Hernandez made the situation worse by not making himself or the crew available after the game and MLB’s cop-out response to the issue. Hernandez is generally one of the worst umps in baseball and he did nothing to aid that perception by not only getting the call wrong but then not willing to face the music afterwards. At this point, Hernandez needs to be fired – he is horrible at his job and if it was any other profession in America, he probably would have been long gone. MLB’s response was worse:

By rule, the decision to reverse a call by use of instant replay is at the sole discretion of the crew chief. In the opinion of Angel Hernandez, who was last night’s crew chief, there was not clear and convincing evidence to overturn the decision on the field. It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final.

I don’t see how replay is a judgment call. This is MLB admitting that the call was wrong but not being willing to do anything about it. Unless Hernandez was looking at a replay from a different game or looking at it on a 13 inch black and white TV with crappy reception, I don’t see any way he could have gotten it wrong.

Here is a montage of the call from all 4 broadcasts – both radio and TV for the A’s and Indians. They all think it is a home run.

On May 9th, the Astros initiated a pitching change. Astros manager Bo Porter brought in Wesley Wright, who took a couple of warm up pitches before Porter came back out and replaced him with Hector Ambriz. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who probably knows the rules of the game better than any manager, came out to argue that Wright could not come out of the game without facing one batter – Scioscia is right, any pitcher who enters a game needs to face one batter unless he is hurt before the batter is retired or reaches base (which did not appear to be the case here). This is basic rules 101 for umpires and one of the 4 umps on the field – Home Plate – Adrian Johnson, First Base – Fieldin Culbreth, Second Base – Brian O’Nora, Third Base – Bill Welke, should have realized this or at least looked it up if they were not sure. This is a pretty good crew, so it is more inexcusable that they would have botched such a straight forward call.

One thought on “Getting the Call Right

  1. The fact that Angel Hernandez has a job is basically proof that it isn’t possible to get fired as a MLB umpire. They didn’t even suspend him after this one.

    If you told me he had money on the outcome I’d believe you.


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